In the April 2010, Vol. 1 e-News issue, Thomas Hayden reported on the plans for his ambitious Grand Canyon GigaView project. He would use an automated camera attachment to record 360 degree panoramas of the Canyon’s spectacular scenery.
In the article below, Thomas explains how to access the amazingly detailed panoramas he captured during his 18-day private raft trip through one of our great national treasures.
Double click on the GigaPan icon to the left of “Grand Canyon GigaView #27” to enter the 360-degree view. There you can click and drag to take in the full panorama at Havasu Creek. You can also zoom in for more detail. This is a preview of what you’ll find in the other 26 GigaPan images. There are further directions in the story for accessing all the images.
In 1937, Buzz Holmstrom sat by the side of the Colorado River below the last major rapid of the Grand Canyon and reflected on his journey alone through 1,100 river miles of the Colorado Plateau. Describing the river in his journal, he wrote, “Anyone who it allows to go through its canyons & see its wonders should feel thankful & privileged.”
I certainly feel both thankful and privileged for having had the opportunity to see the Canyon again, for it allowing my friends and I to pass safely again and, this time, for the ability to share some of the experience with others in a new way. We launched at Lees Ferry on March 29, 2010 and took out at Diamond Creek 18 days later, having rafted 225 river miles. It was only a fraction of what “Barnacle Buzz” ran back then, but this trip was enough to leave nine people with varying appetites for adventure both exhausted and extraordinarily fulfilled.
|As was detailed in the April NRS newsletter, my plan was to create a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon via 360 degree images in ultra high resolution. I have been back at my Portland home for some time now, reliving the journey through the images captured over those 18 days. Of the over 5,000 pictures taken on the river, just under half of them were actually snapped with my finger. The other half were shot when a remarkable little robot, called a GigaPan Epic 100, pressed the shutter button as it took a series of pictures that are now stitched together into spherical panoramas from various locations throughout the Canyon.|The GigaPan Epic 100 set up and ready to record a 360 degree image © Thomas Hayden
After a great deal of processing, discovery and negotiating with various software programs, Grand Canyon GigaView is now online. The project is comprised of 27 spherical GigaPan images from camps, side canyons, waterfalls and view points along the river corridor. Designed to be a virtual tour of the Canyon, the website I’ve put together is also a day-by-day trip report with a log detailing the day’s events and a “standard” photo slideshow that accesses my other photos on Flickr.
Click on http://grandcanyongigaview.tumblr.com/ to enter Thomas’ trip report, with the 360-degree images, other photos, videos and his day-by-day description of the group’s activities.
The GigaPan images are displayed with two players for each image. The first is a Google Earth embed that will zoom in from space to the location of the GigaPan. If you don’t have Google Earth on your computer yet, the box will display a link where you can get it. When you double-click the GigaPan icon, you are immersed in the spherical panorama and can look around them in 360 x 360 degrees. You can also zoom in to examine objects of interest to a degree rarely seen in online panoramas.
The second player for each GigaPan images comes from GigaPan Systems and allows the user to explore snapshots taken from within the image, which is displayed on a flat, two-dimensional plane instead of wrapped around the viewer. Jumping from one snapshot to the next is another method of interacting with and exploring the larger picture.
View at Havasu Creek, in two-dimensional format. © Thomas Hayden
Grand Canyon GigaView is intended to be explored full screen in Google Earth. Zooming through the Canyon, the user finds seemingly random spheres of photorealism at the river side and pops in and out of them to enrich the virtual experience with clarity and detail. This is definitely possible, but until Google updates the GigaPan layer in the Earth software, a viewer will need to download the KML files I’ve linked to on each page of the trip report. Alternatively, the files can also be accessed at GigaPan.org via the links below and clicking on the “View in Google Earth” link at each image. Once each file has been opened or saved, all of the images should be stored in your “My Places” tab in the program. Check the GigaPan Photos box in the Gallery Layer and zoom out until you can see the entire canyon with all of the images labeled “Grand Canyon GigaView #xx.”
iPhone users can explore Grand Canyon GigaView via the Pixeet app by simply zooming into the Grand Canyon on the map.
Eventually, Google Earth will update the GigaPan layer and virtual visitors will find the immersive images by the side of the Colorado River there. They will have a glimpse at the boats and gear we depended on, see where we camped and marvel at the sapphire blue waters of Havasu Creek just as we did. Hopefully, the images will spark the kind of wonder that will lead them to book a trip or, even better, vote to protect the Grand Canyon and places like it.
Grand Canyon GigaView, in all of its forms, current and future, was made possible through the contributions of individuals and companies like NRS, who generously backed the project through Kickstarter.com and provided me with some truly excellent river gear.
These are the links to each of the GigaPan images in the order they were taken:
To view the GigaPan images in this format, you must first download Google Earth. After you’ve downloaded this free program, click on a link below.
The image will open up in the two-dimensional format. To view it in the 360-degree format, scroll down and on the right side of the screen, click on the link, “View in Google Earth 4.2+”. You’ll be asked whether you want to Open or Save the image. When you click “Open”, you’ll be zoomed into the wraparound panorama!
Grand Canyon GigaView #1 The Pack in Flagstaff - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48921/
Grand Canyon GigaView #2 - Badger Creek Rapid - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48653/
Grand Canyon GigaView #3 - Soap Creek Rapid - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48647/
Grand Canyon GigaView #4 Soap Creek Morning - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48982/
Grand Canyon GigaView #5 North Canyon - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48986/
Grand Canyon GigaView #6 Redwall Cavern - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49000/
Grand Canyon GigaView #7 Nautaloid Canyon Camp - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49002/
Grand Canyon GigaView #8 Nankoweap Group - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49020/
Grand Canyon GigaView #9 Nankoweap - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49022/
Grand Canyon GigaView #10 The Little Colorado Confluence 1 - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49048/
Grand Canyon GigaView #11 The Little Colorado 2 - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49052/
Grand Canyon GigaView #12 Upper Tanner - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48606/
Grand Canyon GigaView #13 Hance Rapid - On the Boats - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49055/
Grand Canyon GigaView #14 Hance Rapid - In the Rocks Above - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49060/
Grand Canyon GigaView #15 Hance Rapid - Mouth of the Red Canyon - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49076/
Grand Canyon GigaView #16 Crystal Creek - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49085/
Grand Canyon GigaView #17 Over Crystal - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49113/
Grand Canyon GigaView #18 Over Crystal 2 – Pano - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49179/
Grand Canyon GigaView #19 Lower Bass - In Kitchen - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49203/
Grand Canyon GigaView #20 - Over Shinumo Creek - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/48452/
Grand Canyon GigaView #21 Shinumo Creek - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49230/
Grand Canyon GigaView #22 Over Lower Bass - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49231/
Grand Canyon GigaView #23 Over Lower Bass – Pano - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49235/
Grand Canyon GigaView #24 Elves Chasm - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49528/
Grand Canyon GigaView #25 Blacktail Canyon - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49419/
Grand Canyon GigaView #26 Deer Creek Falls - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49585/
Grand Canyon GigaView #27 Havasu - http://gigapan.org/gigapans/49451/