How an Airplane Hangar Became Earth's Biggest Camera
Six artists created a 31-foot-tall photo and broke a Guinness World Record.
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A 2,000-year-old camera technique is behind the world’s new largest camera and picture, which is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Dubbed “The Great Picture” by the museum, the seamless photograph is a staggering 31 feet tall and 107 feet wide. It depicts an abandoned Marine Corps air station in Southern California.
The ancient technique used to create the photo is called “camera obscura.” It may sounds mysterious, but the technique is beyond simple, relying on a small pinhole that shines light from the scene into a pitch-black camera body.
In this case, the pinhole used to create the 3,375-square-foot image was under a quarter of an inch in diameter. The camera body was a 12,000-square-foot fighter jet hangar at the Marine Corps station.
The photo was created in 2006 by six artists: Jerry Burchfield, Mark Chamberlain, Jacques Garnier, Rob Johnson, Douglas McCulloh, and Clayton Spada. Along with a team of hundreds of volunteers, they carefully sealed the old hangar from all outside light. They then placed the quarter-inch pinhole between the metal hangar doors to act as the camera’s aperture.
Twisted Sifter reports that after a 35-minute exposure time, volunteers developed the photo in a tray of developing solution the size of an Olympic swimming pool. And after five hours in the developer, the photo was “rinsed” with fire hoses.
If you want to see “The Great Picture” in person, the exhibit will run at the the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, now through November.
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