This 717-Billion-Pixel Image Is The Highest-Resolution Picture Of An Artwork Ever Taken

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The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has released what it claims is the highest-resolution photograph of a work of art ever taken. This 717-billion-pixel image of a famous Rembrandt painting was created by stitching together 8,439 individual 100-megapixel images.

In its website, the museum wrote “This is the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of a work of art. It is 717 gigapixels, or 717,000,000,000 pixels, in size”. One pixel is smaller than a human red blood cell, with a space of 5 micrometers (0.005 mm) between them.

A total of 8,439 100-megapixel images were stitched together to create this 717-billion-pixel digital twin of the huge painting
Image Credit: Rijksmuseum

The crew took 8439 individual photos measuring 5.5cm by 4.1cm with a 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D 400 MS camera. Artificial intelligence was utilized to stitch together these smaller pictures to create the final huge image, which was 5.6 terabytes in size.

To build this monstrous digital twin, the Rijksmuseum’s “Operation Night Watch” research team had to stage a complex operation. The heavy lifting was done by a Hasselblad H6D placed on a bespoke boom arm. Because each shot had a depth of field of only 125 micrometres (0.005 in), the team laser-scanned the painting’s surface, fine-tuned focus before each shot, and employed a neural network to assure ideal colour and clarity for each exposure.

The Operation Night Watch team at work
Image Credit: Rijksmuseum

There’s now an insane amount of detail for Operation Night Watch researchers and other art historians to explore – and a neural network that can help with tasks like comparing pigment particles and mapping the use of lead soaps across the painting – with the distance between pixels just 5 micrometres (0.0002 in) and each pixel representing a space smaller than a human red blood cell.

You can marvel at the wonderful texture of a firm leather collar, the play of light along a pistol barrel, the ruddy blotching on the red watchman’s nose, or the delightfully craptastic dog in the lower right, which ol’ Rembrandt undoubtedly hoped no one would see.

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