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Mapping the human face in 900 megapixels

These intricate and detailed portraits of the human face were created using a custom robotic camera that snapped 600 images over half an hour.

Daniel Boschung is a cartographer, but not as you know it.

A subject is mapped by the Robotic camera. (Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

He creates intricate photographs captured by his robotic camera that provide incredibly high-resolution overviews of paintings and insects.

For his latest project, Boschung set his camera on faces. He asked his subjects to remain perfectly still for 30 minutes as the robot took their portrait.

Each of the finished photos consists of 600 individual shots all stitched together. The level of detail that has been captured is amazing, turning a regular portrait into a map of the human face. Eyelashes, stray hairs and pores get captured in all their macro glory with incredible depth-of-field. Just like a gigapixel image, you can zoom in and out to explore every facet of the photo.

The photos are all taken by an ABB industrial robot that has been programmed specifically to take the images in the correct order and orientation. A Canon 5D Mark II is the workhorse responsible for churning out the images, equipped with a 180mm macro lens that has been customised to act as a telecentrical lens. This means that the optical image of the actual aperture stop is set at infinity.

Illuminating 600 images taken in quick succession would usually present a problem with overheating and variable colour temperature when using normal studio flashes, so Boschung used the Scoro S 32000 RFS 2 from Broncolor.

The finished product. You wouldn't look particularly happy either if you had to sit perfectly still with no expression for half an hour. (Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

The finished portraits can be explored on the project website. You can take a closer look at how the robotic camera arrangement operates in the video below.