Five years ago, physicist Graham Flint set out to develop a camera that would achieve the equivalent of a resolution of 1,000 megapixels. Using the largest roll-film format (9" x 18"), Flint reached that goal and has since achieved 4,000 megapixels with custom-built Gigapxl cameras. The cameras capture images with stunning, unprecedented resolution.
An exhibition of Flint's ultra-high-resolution photographs from the Gigapxl Project is now on view at the Museum of Photographic Arts in "Graham Flint: American Landscapes at 1000 Megapixels."
Flint started the Gigapxl Project to bring together the cutting-edge technology of photographic optics, film technology and digital processing. The project's goal is to compile a coast-to-coast portrait of America's most memorable landscapes. The project will create for future generations a worldwide archive of vanishing cultural and archaeological sites. To date, the photographs encompass 46 states and provinces, 28 national parks, 39 state/regional parks and monuments, and 91 cities.
MoPA will exhibit 11 of Flint's color photographs, ranging up to 22 feet in length and 4.5 feet in height, including panoramas of San Diego and Pittsburgh, and La Jolla's helioport.
It would take a video wall of 10,000 television screens or 600 prints from a professional digital SLR camera to capture as much information contained in a single Gigapxl exposure. A 4,000-megapixel image can be printed at 10' x 20', while having the clarity of a 4" x 6" print made with a 3-megapixel digital camera.
The large-scale photographs provide such detail that the images appear almost eerily unreal. An image of the famous reflecting pool at Balboa Park is rendered in such detail that a carved relief depicting Father Junipero Serra in the plasterwork can be clearly delineated, though the photograph was taken at a distance of 100 yards.
Flint has designed cameras for projects that range from cold-war espionage to the Hubble Space Telescope. As a semi-retired physicist turned full-time photographer, Flint now spends weeks at a time on the road and in the field with his cameras.
Lens culture has always been a part of his profession. Early in his career, Flint co-invented the world's first infrared laser rangefinder. He also pioneered lasers for eye surgery and space-based weaponry.
"Science and photography have always been linked, from William Henry Fox-Talbot's invention of photography to the use of it in medicine or at NASA," said MoPA curator Carol McCusker. "With many contemporary art photographers making larger and larger images, Graham Flint has developed state-of-the-art camera technology; he offers exquisite detail as a vital component of beauty."
Flint held positions as chief of Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT) Laser Devices Laboratory, executive vice president of International Laser Systems, and director of the Air Force's Developmental Optics Facility. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of Photera Technologies, a California-based corporation specializing in ultra-high-resolution imagery and laser digital cinema.
"Graham Flint: American Landscapes at 1000 Megapixels" is on view through Sept. 18. The MoPA gallery is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays until 9 p.m. Admission is $6 adults; $4 students, seniors and military; and free to members and children under 12. Admission is free to the public on the second Tuesday of the month.