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One iPhone in a very large crowd


In traditional photography, the time elapsed between the shutter snap and the careful, loupe & light table examination of the captured images for some unexpected surprise or Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" might be days or weeks. With photographer David Bergman's massive panorama of Tuesday's presidential inauguration, the challenge wasn't in waiting for the darkroom process to complete (although the Gigapan software did crank away on his MacBook Pro for over six hours to generate the 1,474 megapixel, 2 gigabyte master file); it was combing through the enormous image to discover those moments Bergman didn't even know he had photographed. Several commenters on Bergman's blog have already found themselves or family members in the crowd.

One moment that Bergman did discover quickly: a prominent attendee of the inauguration, 'bow-syncing' cellist Yo-Yo Ma, was caught in the panorama making an image of his own, using a familiar-looking smartphone. See the video zoom below for the context of Ma's snapshot in the larger image.

As digital imaging has replaced film photography for newsgathering and journalism, there have been counterexamples of newsworthy images that would have long been deleted except for the fact that they were shot on film instead of on memory cards. In this case, the image of Yo-Yo Ma and his phone wouldn't have been preserved, except that it was captured by chance and 'mined' out of the massive, frozen decisive moment.

Image & zoom video used with permission of the photographer; all rights reserved.

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