‘Face Cartography’ Captures Portraits at a Whopping 900 Megapixels

Using an industrial–strength robotic arm, custom software, a Canon EOS Mark ll and a 180mm macro lens converted into a telecentrical lens, Swiss photographer Daniel Boschung has created an automated portrait machine. Made to map out “Face Cartography“, the machine and resulting images capture incredibly detailed and hyperrealistic photographs of subjects.

Every resulting gigapixel portrait consists of around 600 shots, resulting in a mind-blowing 900-megapixel image. At this level of detail, each portrait seems to bring to life every topographical detail of the human face. Pores turn into sinkholes, 5 o’clock shadow turns into a forest of saplings and wrinkles rise and fall like canyons and mountains.


With it being an automated process, the session isn’t a short or easy one and leads to some interesting results as Boschung himself notes:

Emotions are completely missing. Emotions show up only briefly while Macro photography takes half an hour. The person has to stay motionless while being photographed by the robot

The gallery on his site links out to a version of the photograph that allows you to zoom in on every detail if you’d like to take a look for yourself. Each portrait offers a unique journey as you travel across the various facial landscapes of individuals ranging in age from teens to senior citizens.

Between the lack of emotion, the detail in the images, and the overall result of the photos, it certainly flips the definition of “portrait” as we know it on its head. Curious to hear your thoughts on the project and resulting photos. Let us know below!

(via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Photographs by Daniel Boschung

  • David Liang

    This could be a retouchers dream or a nightmare lol.

  • Alan Klughammer

    How closely do you want to investigate someones pores?
    I would also not call the photos above portraits. They are almost id photos, lacking in emotion or personality.

  • Peter Kasbergen

    What’s a Canon EOS mark II?

  • Julien

    It’s strange that in the video he doesn’t really show how much you can zoom in. He doesn’t zoom in much more than what you could show with a standard DSLR portrait… And his website isn’t working anymore. More visitors than expected, so I guess I won’t be able to see what it really looks like… Oh well…

  • RT

    Just don’t get why you’d go to such lengths and expense! i guess not everything has to have a purpose..

  • Adam Cross

    a portrait is a portrait,

  • Nigel Bird

    They look like glorified mug-shots. I find them depressing, and that’s taking nothing away from the ingenuity of the photographer. I see a real obsession with the Hyper-Real across all the arts at the moment, from portrait, landscape, photography. It leaves me questioning really what is the point, do we really want to see the harsh, uncompromising reality of everything. I don’t quite get the point or understand this obsession.

  • j

    i completely agree, but things will bounce back.

  • Anand

    waste of time

  • Stan B.

    Are these as “honest” as Chuck’s?

  • Morpheuse Esq.

    i probably could capture these with an 8×10 or bigger, or even wet plate at ISO1 and still do that thing they did, at the very fraction of the time they used. Unless of course, the highlight here is its shot using robot hands, of which i say we photographers are really and truly, stuffed…

  • macingosh

    A totally useless vacuum blown up to the max.

  • Mike

    Just pick your favorite mark 2 :D

  • jmmgarza

    I want this setup.

  • wayne.carroll

    Ha-ha. I shouldn’t say this but they don’t look devoid of emotion they just look Swiss.

  • Doitnow

    OK now do Porn.

  • Michelangelo

    Mmm.. A robotic arm, a super macro lens, sync software, a buch of very expensive tech stuff… Why don’t pick up an 8×10 view camera and shot a single frame with a nice fine grained film? You can do the same at a fraction of the time and cost!

  • Michelangelo

    I perfectly agree.. could be a standard 12 mpx image on the screen

  • tttulio

    close-up porn will never be the same again

  • JT

    Does anyone know the stitching software that they are using?

  • Veronica M. Perez

    I disagree that there is a lack of emotion. Each picture tells a story of emotion. Are we becoming so numb that we can’t see it anymore?

  • malez


  • Cynical Bloke

    This reminds me of gigapixel images that mainly seem to be shot in the worst light. Technically good, creatively s***

  • Jake

    Website works fine, and it’s clearly greater than 12mpx.

  • Jake

    I think it’s less about art and more about stretching new technology to its limits. Just like any new photographer who gets their first telephoto and takes boring pictures of the moon all night just because now they can, give it some time and the novelty will be replaced by creative inspiration again.

  • Alan Klughammer

    Yes, but unfortunately these don’t qualify IMHO.
    From Wikipedia:
    “A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture,
    or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its
    expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position.”

  • Joey

    Hmm, Looks like a Brenizer Method to me…

  • Adam Cross

    Wikipedia just clarifies my point, nothing in that quote says that a photo ID doesn’t qualify as a portrait. If you don’t think they’re portraits then that’s fine, that’s your opinion. you’re still technically wrong though ;)

  • Frances Rebollido

    Zooming in on the landscape of the face, I was actually very fascinated. Of course, it is excessive for the standards but when taken as it is, which is offering us a new perspective on the portrait, it can be deemed as art. And if it still passes off as extravagant art to you, the methodology is actually quite apt for diagnostic science. Still a worthwhile venture.

  • Snaptaker

    A 10×8 neg scanned at 4,000 ppi is equivalent to 1280 Megapixels. I suggest he uses a 10×8 camera instead which is much lighter than a robot arm and the paraphernalia that goes with it. He can then spend his time soliciting more expressions from his sitters instead of trying their patience while he takes 600 shots.

  • Alan Klughammer

    If these are showing personality, then these are all pretty boring people.
    I am impressed with the tech behind the photos, I think it was a bit of a fail in terms of subject matter though.