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Panoramic Photo Showcases Stunning Baroque Library

Panoramic view of Philosophical Hall in Prague's Strahov Monastery library.

In February of this year, photographer Jeffrey Martin took on the daunting task of photographing every square inch of Philosophical Hall, the lavishly decorated Baroque reading room located in Prague’s Strahov Monastery library. As reported on the Wired website, Martin’s goal was to compile thousands of still images into a high resolution panoramic photo that shows the entire hall in 360-degrees. Part of a library that is nearly nine centuries old, Philosophical Hall holds 42,000 rare books, including some owned by Napoleon. The library contains many of the most influential books of Central Europe during the 18th century.

Philosophical Hall is not open to the general public, so Martin was granted special access to the room for five days of shooting. The photographer used a GigaPanBot mounted Canon 550D to capture the entire library. “I started from the ceiling, and by the time they kicked me out at 5 p.m. the first day, I had done maybe 20 percent of the hall,” he tells Wired. “So I hit pause and left everything right where it was until the next morning. That’s one advantage of shooting in an 18th-century library — my camera is the least valuable thing in the room.”

At the end of the shoot, Martin had 2,947 separate images that were then color corrected and digitally stitched together in an automated process that took 111 hours. He then spent an additional 20 hours aligning and re-touching the image by hand. The final product, a whopping 40-gigapixel, 283 GB panoramic image was posted on the 360 Cities website last week. Viewers can pan around the whole room and zoom in to see stunning details like the names on individual book spines or the meticulous craftsmanship of the trompe l’oeil ceiling fresco painted by artist Franz Anton Maulbertsch in 1794.

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