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Night viewing through a "virtual microscope" to see 717 billion pixels

Night viewing through a “virtual microscope” to see 717 billion pixels

Never before, nor anywhere else in the world has a work of art been painted in such detail. The largest digital image created from a work of art appears this morning On the site of the Rijksmuseum.

8430 pic

The image consists of 8,430 images taken with a 100-megapixel camera. An image contains 717 billion pixels, so the distance between two pixels on the canvas is 5 micrometers (0.005 mm). De Nachtwacht canvas measures 3.63 meters by 4.37 meters. If you want to save the file on a computer, you will need 5.6 TB of free space.

Check out how detailed the photo is here:

To make sure every image was clear, De Nachtwacht’s surface had to be scanned with a laser to fine-tune the camera. A spokesman for the Rijksmuseum said the photo was actually taken for researchers. “But why do we keep this picture to ourselves?” he says. Night watch belongs to everyone.

night watch operation

“Operation Night Watch” began in 2019 and is the largest-ever investigation of a Rembrandt masterpiece from 1642. For example, a sketch was discovered under layers of paint for a Rembrandt masterpiece last month. The researchers work in a glass room that allows the audience to follow the process.

Although this was never the goal, the museum also encourages hobbyists to take a closer look at the painting. Who knows, more details will emerge. “It’s always nice to discover something,” says a company spokesperson.

Rob Erdmann, mastermind of the project at the Rijksmuseum, is proud of the photo. “We can see every ounce of dye and every stroke,” he says. “We see paint that Rembrandt didn’t mix perfectly in on his palette. We can look into a crack and see layers of paint in it. It’s like going for a walk in the Grand Canyon and seeing the geological layers.”

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Interested museums

The project took two years and eight months: two years to technically prepare, two months to shoot and six months to combine all the images into one. Erdmann says other museums, such as the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery in London, have already expressed interest.