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Obama's inauguration, in two billion pixels or less

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this panorama is a J. K. Rowling–esque tome. Stitched together from 220 individual photographs, New York City photographer David Bergman's composite image of Pres. Barack Obama's inaugural address last week boasts a whopping 1,474 megapixels.

To capture the historic moment, Bergman utilized a GigaPan system, a robotic camera mount that NASA helped develop and that is closely related to the swiveling camera mount on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. According to Bergman's blog, it took a Macbook Pro six and a half hours to assemble the individual snapshots into the finished panorama.

The result, as might be expected for an image composed of more than a billion pixels, is stunningly detailed. Zooming in here and there finds former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich looking somewhat bored, cellist Yo-Yo Ma capturing the action on an iPhone, and new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, looking on from above. But thousands upon thousands of faces are distinguishable—if you were in attendance, try finding yourself by navigating the image viewer's zoom and pan controls.

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