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I am building a house at the moment.

At the north side of the house there is a forest.

I wanted to create a very-high res photo of the forest to create a photo wallpaper (rug? what is the correct english word, large scale print to glue to the wall). I do not have any windows on the north side.

This would have a width of >10m though so I would need a high resolution.

I do NOT want a panorama with a visible distortion.

Also as the forest is quite near (see attached picture from the roof, crop of a panorama, in winter, I would take the picture in summer). rooftop picture

What would be the appropriate method to create such a picture? Focus Stacking + Image Stacking to create a superresolution pciture? Would I take pictures from multiple poings parallel to the edge of the forest to counter distortion?

Available Hardware:

  • Sony a6000
  • Sony a7 (friends)
  • different high quality lenses with different focal length
  • Gigapan Epic Pro automated Panorama head

Further Information: The photographic mural should cover the inside of the wall, viewing distance would be between 5 meters (max) at 90° up to 0,5m at 90° and everything inbetween (also other angles).

This would not have to be perfect, but "good enough"

Width would be ~15m, height between 3 and 6

An alternative would be to take an existing ultra-high-res picture of a forest and use this. Not as good concerning locality, but probably much better concerning quality of picture. Any suggestions on a source for a picture like that?

I would like the solution should be doable without heavy investment (Hasselblad, Linear Motion Camera and so on)

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    If you want little distortion, you should probably use a tele lens and shoot from afar – timvrhn Jun 17 at 13:07
  • Do you want this mural along the exterior wall, or indoors? What is the expected viewing distance? What, roughly, is your budget for this? – mattdm Jun 17 at 13:50
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    @timvrhn From the picture in the question, the distance between the house and the trees seem to be about the same as the height of the house. If you wan't to take a picture of the trees from above somewhere behind the house, you would have to do that from an angle of at least 45°. How do you want to do that without distorting the persprective of the trees? If the goal is to make a wall paper with the illusion of looking through the wall out on the trees, the perspective would be way off. – jarnbjo Jun 17 at 14:02
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    PS: "rug" is almost exclusively for floor coverings. (Or, metaphorically, a terrible wig, but that's a different story entirely.) "Wallpaper" is understandable, although wallpaper tends to be a repeating pattern. Perhaps "large photographic mural". – mattdm Jun 17 at 14:56
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    What is the square root of -1? Sometimes there are no solutions to a particular problem. Creating a distortion free panoramic image of a three dimensional forest from a short distance is one such problem. – Michael C Jun 18 at 5:57
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What you are asking for is an orthographic view of a very wide, very tall three dimensional subject that can be taken from a relatively close distance.

Theoretically speaking, the most elegant way to do this would be with a linear motion scan camera, a/k/a parallel motion scan camera, such as those used for aerial or satellite ground surveys. Obviously, you'd want a wider angle of view and much shorter focus distance than is typically the case with aerial/satellite photography. Something more like the digital scanning back large format cameras used for art reproduction would be closer to what you need.

The camera scans one vertical line at a time as the camera moves horizontally with respect to the subject or, as is sometimes the case with much smaller subjects, the subject moves relative to the camera as the image is scanned one line at a time.

The camera would need to make several horizontal passes at various heights. The length of each pass would be determined by the width of the forest that you want depicted on the wall mural. Each pass would produce a long strip image with limited height coverage. The collection of the strips could then be stacked vertically in the way panoramic photos are created.

It wouldn't be perfect, but the minor amounts of perspective distortion would all be vertically oriented, so not very noticeable with trees that are much taller than they are wide. It wouldn't be cheap, either. Digital linear motion scanning systems are prohibitively expensive, as is the computational power needed to process such images.

  • Thank you for the answer, unfortunately even though this is technically a solution it is too expensive for me. – DeepB Jun 18 at 8:57
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    @DeepB I think "good enough" can be achieved doing this manually. Draw a line parallel to the wall and take a series of photographs along the line, on portrait orientation. Then merge with a panorama software. The closest I have done is a large field of several microscopic images, and Hugin worked flawlessly (but you'll need quite a lot of RAM). – Davidmh Jun 18 at 15:10
  • @Davidmh With three dimensional subject, what you suggest won't work, as the position of trees further back will move from one side to the other of trees in the front from one frame to the next. The camera needs to be moving the width of one column of pixels as each column of pixels is exposed. – Michael C Jun 18 at 23:57
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I calculated the required image resolution if you have a 12m x 2.5m wall, with a viewing distance of 0.75m.


The rough numbers:
Pixels per inch (PPI): 125
Minimum image dimensions: 58050 x 12300 px
Megapixels: 714


As far as I can tell, the highest MP number cameras can currently reach is 50.6 with the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R models. Seeing as how you'll be short by a mere 660 megapixels, there's two options:

  1. Shoot multiple frames, stitch them together later. To create strip-panoramas, the camera moves horizontally and vertically, but keeps the same distance from the subject and does not yaw or tilt. This method will result in a large, high resolution photo. A big plus from this method is that you could effectively counter distortion. It beats the need for a wide angle lens, and instead you can use a regular or tele lens, and stitch together the photos- make this photo a mural, and it will appear as if you are right in front of the trees from any point in the photo
  2. Opt-out of high resolution at close viewing distance, and accept a lower resolution image. Having a close viewing distance is like pixel peeping, that's not how you view entire images and especially with a big wall you will more than often glance over it.

A calculator such as this one should help you in determining the needed image resolution.

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    @jarnbjo this would be a strip-panorama, a type of panorama without distortion. If you consider this not to be a solution, I happily invite you to present a better alternative – timvrhn Jun 17 at 14:29
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    The whole point of making a strip-panorama by stitching multiple photos shot on one plane is to prevent distortion. As of now it would appear you are disagreeing with the method because you think it introduces distortion, even though it does not! – timvrhn Jun 17 at 14:58
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    Given enough overlap, it's definitely possible, just computationally expensive. And maybe not easily done in an off-the-shelf manner. – mattdm Jun 17 at 15:31
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    I don't see how a strip panorama works for a scene like this. There are trees at different distances from the camera; in some shots a tree further away will be to the left of a tree closer by, and in other shots that same tree will be to the right of it. Strip panoramas only work for flat scenes. – Roel Schroeven Jun 17 at 16:02
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    @timvrhn Not my downvote. Ignore the rating, focus on your content. How realistic this thing needs to be, versus the effort? On one side, raze the house down, use a dedicated system to take the picture, rebuild it. On the other, make the wallpaper in sections, edit a bit the edges to remove any glaring discontinuities and move on. Remember, the wall isn't a single viewpoint anyway, the print itself might be the panorama – Fábio Dias Jun 17 at 17:02

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