Gigapixel art by Ghigo Roli

Italian photographer Ghigo Roli combines gigapixels with art. With over 30 years experience in cultural heritage photography, Ghigo applies high resolution panoramic photography to reveal the secrets of paintings, sculptures and architecture, thereby showing them in their true dimension.


Discover how Ghigo showcases "Gigapixel Art" by visiting his website:

image: Ghigo Roli -


Ghigo has shared some background information on his gigapixel work with the VR Drive which may be inspiring for many of our customers. Enjoy!

*"In November and December 2018 and in February 2019 I carried out a campaign of gigapixel real size photographs  of all the 36 stained glass windows of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, both in the upper and lower church.

The stained glass windows, painted in the last decades of the thirteenth century and in the early fourteenth century, constitute the oldest and most important cycle of this kind in Italy.

This photographic campaign was commissioned by the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, which will make it available to scholars. Despite their unquestionable importance, these stained glass windows still have many aspects to be explored (for instance for what concerns their style and the artist who realized them). The gigapixel shooting allows a very detailed analysis that would not otherwise be possible. The entire photographic campaign will also become part of the rich photo library of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.

The windows are often in uncomfortable and elevated positions. This forced me to use a 12 meter high telescopic pole, on which I installed the VR-Drive head. I therefore had to command it remotely via WI-FI. I would not have been able to realize photographs characterised by such a resolution if I had not used this head, whose precision and maneuverability allowed me to perform precise multirow stitchings.


image: Ghigo Roli -


The obtained gigapixel images reproduce the glass panels on a 1: 1 scale at 300 dpi and weigh from a minimum of about 8 Gigabytes up to a maximum of 14 GB for the largest four-light window. A minimum of 180 shots to a maximum of 325 shots were needed to obtain the complete images.

Moreover, as far as all the windows of the lower church are concerned, these numbers had to be doubled due to large metal chandeliers placed in the middle of the chapel that could not be moved.  I was therefore forced to do two shots from slightly different angles and then merge them and delete the chandeliers that partially covered the windows by using Photoshop.

Given this situation, I had  to use two computers: the first one to control the VR-Drive head and the second one to control images and operate the camera.

Finally, at the end of the shooting, I downloaded the Raw files and proceeded to a first conversion and I checked whether there were any errors. On average, all this required a day of shooting for each window and at least another day for the post-production and editing. In some cases I had to repeat the entire shooting of a panel a second time.

I used the new Canon EOS R cameras that offer a very good focus even in low light conditions as in this case, in addition to an excellent dynamic range. Remote shots were checked by using the Canon's EOS Utility.


image: Ghigo Roli -

Given the difficult and often changeable lighting conditions, both in terms of exposure and colour ( they changed every time a cloud passed!), I decided to work in Live-View and chose the “quality mode” with manual single-shot. After a quick check I used to correct, if necessary, focus, exposure and colour temperature and shoot via the camera Wi-Fi.  Then I downloaded a low resolution jpg file to verify the correct focus. I often had to shoot again a second time, and sometimes thrice.

Given the great variability of shooting conditions, I chose to use the EF 100-400mm f / 4.5-5.6L IS II USM zoom, often together with the 1.4 X multiplier.

I always worked between f.16 and f.22 to get a depth of field sufficient to compensate for the inclination of the most angular shots, with shutter times ranging from 1 second up to 20 seconds and ISO sensitivity between 800 and 1600. Between one shot and another it was necessary to wait several seconds for the camera to stop vibrating. As these focal lengths were installed on a 12-meter pole, a breath of air or the passage of a group of tourists could create oscillations of over a minute, despite the robustness of the Basilica!”


image: Ghigo Roli -

Thank you Ghigo for this in-depth report - and all the best for your future gigapixel ventures!

back - Printable version