Panoramic History Lesson At 140,000 MegaPixels

You may well have never heard of the photographers Charles Fontayne and William Porter, and that isn’t surprising. Partly because they were doing their thing in the 1800s and partly because it was only recently that some New York based conservators discovered just how talented they were.

In 1848 they photographed 2 miles of the Cincinnati waterfront in Ohio USA, using 8 Daguerreotype plates. A quite modern technology at the time with quite astounding resolution.

However is was only during recent restoration that they found the images could be magnified up to 30 times with no loss of quality. The whole panorama could be blown up to 170′ × 20′. That’s the equivalent of 140,000 megapixels per image. Yes 140,000. In 1848. The detail is immense and reveals a wonderful record of a 19thC city frozen in time (click through to the Wired Image for some fun). I have a copy of RedBubble’s first book (In the Moment – # copy 774) for the first person to tell us at approximately what time the photo was taken (and how they know).

Now, thanks to the genius of the electricity and the internet, you can check out RedBubble’s own Ohio Photographers Group and see if Fontayne and Porter have any relatives, or even check out what the Cincinnati waterfront looks like today: