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The Internet Media Technology

Masterpieces Online — High Culture At High Resolution 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the extreme-close-up dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "You can now see the finest details of some of the finest Italian masterpieces with just one click of your mouse. High-resolution images of classic paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Botticelli are now online with that opportunity. You can zoom in to the smallest details, even ones you wouldn't see when viewing the paintings in person at a museum. The images have a resolution of up to 28 billion pixels, which is about 3,000 times more than a photo from an average digital camera."
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Masterpieces Online — High Culture At High Resolution

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  • and who said that 10Mpix is more than enough?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851)
      10Mpix is enough for anybody that is wanting to make an 8x10 print, and by enough, I mean way more than you need, even if you throw away quite a few of the pixels.

      You only need more pixels when you need a larger image and you need to be closer than what the current number allows. A 6mp camera is more than enough for a billboard, where you're expecting to be a hundred feet away or more. Whereas a 20mp camera wouldn't be anywhere near enough if you were expecting to stand 10 feet away.

      But, then again, I
      • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:13PM (#33770864)
        You only need more pixels when you need a larger image and you need to be closer than what the current number allows.

        Of course, in a sense, nothing has changed here: back in the day when we all used cellulose film, we all knew that if we wanted an image that needed blowing up to a large size, we needed a larger-format negative. We used to swear by the 6x6 cm "medium" format (e.g. from Hasselblad or Rolleiflex) for quick work, but if we wanted really crisp resolution, we used 5x4" or sometimes 8x10" plates.

        Although I occasionally miss the discipline of black-and-white (always with Ilford film), there's only one thing that has really disappointed me with the move to digital photography: the apparent failure of print media to approximate the luminous colour and definition of Cibachrome (now, I believe, known as Ilfochrome) colour prints created from positive transparencies. Many years ago, I used to do this myself, but now I don't even have a darkroom...
        • It use to bother me that photo printers aren't all that great, but for me at least, I found I almost never print my photos any more. I view them exclusively on my computer. Now the only time I print a photo is when I want to give a copy to my in-laws who don't have a computer. Anyone else I just give a CD or email. Heck of a lot cheaper that way! heh

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ffreeloader (1105115)

      I know you're either trolling, or joking, but these images are made by taking an orderly group of images of small parts of the painting by rows and columns to get complete coverage with a professional dslr and good lens, and then stitching the images together with software. There are many, many examples of these types of images out on the internet. You can find pictures of this type of cities, mountains in the Alps, and many other subjects by Googling for giga-pixel images.

    • Looking at a digital image, *regardless* of how deep the image density might be, is experientially different from and inferior to seeing the work in person. There are elements to a painting, print, or book which simply can not be captured as a 2 dimensional image.

      These digital archives are a wonderful resource and offer access to a much broader audience. They are generally, however, a pale shadow of the work in the real world.

      I'm reminded of my late friend, Herb Belkin, "Digital is like pornography; analog

      • If your friend had said 'live performance' he would have been correct. Analog, however, sucks donkey balls.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:02AM (#33770504)
    I think they missed one. I don't see Dogs Playing Poker. [wikipedia.org] I'm just sayin' ...
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Yeah; there's really no good reason that something like this shouldn't eventually be available for anything painted before copyrights started to be obnoxious, and it would be a real boon to students of the arts.
      • Re:I Don't See ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:22AM (#33770598)
        Not really, it would be better than what we currently have, but prints are barely better than nothing. You can't reproduce with pixels what was created with pigments, it just doesn't work. You cannot currently create an image on a monitor that uses brown. No combination of RBG values will give you brown. You're also not going to be able to appreciate the effect of translucent glazing or the brushwork. Not to mention the monitor calibration and control of the lighting conditions.

        For somebody with no or little knowledge of art, it would be sufficient, but it's really a pale shade of the real thing.
        • Re:I Don't See ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:33AM (#33770650) Homepage Journal

          The other day I found myself ranting to a friend on that very subject. I'd never really been interested in 1600s-era art based on prints. Once I saw some with my own eyes -- wow, the difference defies description. NO print ever shows even a hint of the depth, glow, and sense of its own reality that you get from seeing these works in person.

          I see we've killed their server so I'll have to wait on seeing what this effort looks like. However, I'm of the opinion that any access is better than NO access (since most of us cannot travel to see all these works in person).

          And as to brown on a monitor... the nearest you can come is actually a sort of grubby purple that fools the eye if you don't look too closely, or lack real brown to compare to. Very irritating (especially when trying to get it visually-right for a client's logo -- all in BROWN!)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jack2000 (1178961)
            What are you people, colorblind or something? I see a perfect brown on my 21" CRT monitor.
            • by Reziac (43301) *

              What you see, if you look closer (at the pixel level), is not precisely brown; it's a conglomeration of other colours. And no, I'm not only *not* colour-blind, I see fine shades of colour that most people don't. Which is why I'm so damned persnickety about my work monitor (only ViewSonic CRTs are sufficiently true).

              HTML approximates brown as "Milk Chocolate", #780000. In RBG it's R120-B0-G0, in CMYK it's C52-M98-Y96-K12.

              If you see a "perfect brown" it's because something did a good job of balancing those ot

              • You mean dithering? Um, I don't think so. Check out the bottom-middle square in this [wikimedia.org]. Every pixel on my screen is exactly the same color, and yes I looked closer.

                • I think he's talking about the red, green, and blue subpixels that make up each addressable display pixel. which is in fact a kind of dithering.
                • by Reziac (43301) *

                  I was working from a full colour scan of a print, not from a preset. I did try using an outline and single colour fill, but it looked wrong; it needed shading to look right onscreen, even tho it *appears* as all one colour. What I used for the adjacent text (cited numbers) was the closest visual match to the total effect.

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                What you see, if you look closer (at the pixel level), is not precisely brown; it's a conglomeration of other colours.

                But most people do not look at digital photos at the pixel level

                • by Reziac (43301) *

                  Point was, it looked wrong, so I examined it at the pixel level to find out why, and to see if it could be fixed.

                  That slashdotters persistently and deliberately misunderstand this... well, maybe they need to simply read posts rather than examining them pixel by pixel ;)

          • by Peeteriz (821290)

            Is the customer satisfied with how his logo is displayed to common users in electronic devices like TV or internet? Even for most non-tech companies the majority of customers would interact electronically nowadays, they wouldn't see that much of your paper documents or newspaper ads, but would see quite a lot of your TV/online ads (B2C) and electronic communications in B2B - so if the logo looks poor there, then it's a weakness of the logo that can be changed only by moving to a different logo.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Reziac (43301) *

              I did get it to where it looks good, but it took a lot of swearing. And I'd started with a scan of the original (best copy available -- it was an existing print logo to be used on their website). Had to do a lot of finagling with the tint to get it to where what the eye *sees* on a monitor is the intended shade of brown. On examining it at the pixel level, the reason became clear -- there ain't no such shade as 'brown' in the CRT spectrum.

              • Re:I Don't See ... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by bertok (226922) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:37PM (#33773754)

                I did get it to where it looks good, but it took a lot of swearing. And I'd started with a scan of the original (best copy available -- it was an existing print logo to be used on their website). Had to do a lot of finagling with the tint to get it to where what the eye *sees* on a monitor is the intended shade of brown. On examining it at the pixel level, the reason became clear -- there ain't no such shade as 'brown' in the CRT spectrum.

                There's no such shade as "brown" on the real spectrum. As a graphics designer, I thought you'd understand that.

                Every color other than red, green, or blue will always be a mixture on all monitors at the "pixel" level. Your monitor isn't somehow lying to you, or cheating you out of a real color, it's mixing colors using additive blending, just like it happens in with light in real life as well.

                If it looks the "same" at a distance, than for all practical purposes, it is the same. Putting your nose up to the glass and claiming that it's all "pixelated" - and hence somehow fake - is just stupid.

                For professional work, why don't you get a wide-gamut monitor like the some of the new Dell monitors [dell.com]? They have a narrower color gamut than the human eye, but wider than sRGB, Adobe RGB, and CMYK.

                And unlike your stone-age CRT, an LCD doesn't flicker, has a higher resolution, the pixels are perfectly square, the edge looks just as perfect as the center, and their color calibration drifts less with time. And if you get a matching video card, you can also get 30-bit color (10+10+10), which gives you 1024 shades of each color channel instead of the usual 256. It makes a significant difference when editing images with a lot of shadow detail.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Peach Rings (1782482)

                  Real life is usually subtractive color, not additive.

                • Re:I Don't See ... (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:46PM (#33774598) Homepage Journal

                  Yeah, I know there's no such colour as... [insert combo-of-whatevers here] ...but it's still a convenient shorthand for what we SEE. Imagine if these what-we-see colours had no names and you had to refer to each by its numbers!

                  As to examining pixels, that's what I wound up doing because the initial brown looked wrong (like it wanted to be a bruised purple instead). There's nothing stupid about taking something down to its component parts to see why it's not working.

                  I've seen exactly *one* LCD that I deemed entirely suitable, and the damned thing cost $2200 (and that was at the trade-show discount). A wee ways out of my budget, probably for the next century. -- One of the issues that drives me nuts is that they're sensitive to viewing angle. Not so much from side-to-side anymore but still from up-to-down. So if you don't always slouch at the same height, the image changes. The very expensive one lacked this visual defect.

                  And as you note there's the issue of matching the video card to the LCD, notably the resolution. Not an issue with a CRT. I really hate being stuck on someone else's notion of MY ideal resolution, because otherwise the aspect ratio is munged, or it displays interlaced (I've seen both problems).

                  I've also found the average LCD's total light output wearing on my eyes.

                  I suppose if I was made of money, or doing graphics as a fulltime job, it would be worth whatever investment was required to get it how I want it. As it is, my stone-age solution works better for me, for a fraction of the investment.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by bertok (226922)

                    Yeah, I know there's no such colour as... [insert combo-of-whatevers here] ...but it's still a convenient shorthand for what we SEE. Imagine if these what-we-see colours had no names and you had to refer to each by its numbers!

                    What you "see" is a combination of colors, essentially red, green, and blue. Technically, natural light is a continuous spectrum of colors with a complex map of varying intensities, but your eyes physically can't sense that. In effect, your eyes have only "blue-yellow" and "green-red" sensors, which are mathematically identical to an additive mixture of red, green, and blue. It's not a cheat, or an over-simplification, monitors are designed to match how humans see. There are lots of limitations to color rep

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Peach Rings (1782482)

            Um [wikimedia.org].

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          You also can't look at the piece from different angles to see the raised brush strokes.

          Digital photography has come a long way. Higher end cameras have more than 8 bits for colors, megapixels are getting to a reasonable amount for even 11x17 prints viewed close up.

          However, nuances are still lost, and it probably will take a major advance in cameras, perhaps with a lens that moves around and takes a number of snapshots from slightly different angles, then uses the pictures to reconstruct as close to a gesta

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            It's a pity no common image format or display device has more than 8 bits. We're way past the point in history where we should be using 16 bits for image storage and display (in fact we're probably reaching the point where it should all be floating point...)

            • It's a pity no common image format or display device has more than 8 bits

              We have 16 bit (and 32 bit) image formats. TIFF, PSD and even JPEG2000 (may it rest in peace). Display devices are another matter however there are 16 bit, wide gamut displays available commercially - just very expensive and thus not suitable for everyday use.

              If you're complaining about any Internet browser's ability to display accurate color (no matter what the bit depth), well, you're sort of right. However, the newer browser

            • by ZosX (517789)

              Most imaging sensors are only capable of 12-14 bit depth. That's still greater dynamic range than film. Furthermore, most displays are only optimized for 8-bit color, rendering even 16-bit color more or less useless on a screen. Sure you can make 32-bit images in photoshop, but they won't look anything like you would expect on your 8-16 bit monitor.

        • by Spatial (1235392)

          No combination of RBG values will give you brown.

          Let me guess: you've never played Gears of War.

        • No combination of RBG values will give you brown.

          Would that were true. Seems that for several decades of the 20th century, paint companies in Australia were only capable of producing a yucky mess known as "Mission Brown", easily replicated in RGB. And no, I'm not going to mention the code, because I want it obliterated from the visible spectrum. :-]
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, just the way our eyes can perceive only a pale shade of the real thing. Art is something you need to touch, to eat, to vomit on and to make love to. It's a physical thing!

        • by FooAtWFU (699187)
          "What we currently have" is often a tiny little 2-by-3 inch thumbnail in the Art History textbook, or an 800x600 (if you're lucky) version on $website. You just can't have masterpieces to more than one museum at a time. Yeah, it won't be the real thing, and I wouldn't write a Ph.D. on it or anything, but said that it would be "a boon" (a blessing or desirable state), not a panacea.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You cannot currently create an image on a monitor that uses brown. No combination of RBG values will give you brown.

          Clearly, you've never played Quake 2.

        • No brown? Clearly you haven't used Ubuntu...
        • by durdur (252098)

          You can't reproduce with pixels what was created with pigments, it just doesn't work.

          So true. I am no art expert, but I've been privileged to see a few incredible and memorable works in museums, including Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party". What you see on a monitor does not compare.

          • Agreed - even works with a much more subdued palette like "Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist's Mother" by Whistler represent a totally different experience when seen directly. Most of the other more colorful Impressionist stuff just blows me away.
        • by rdnetto (955205)

          You cannot currently create an image on a monitor that uses brown.

          Ubuntu begs to differ

  • by iammani (1392285) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:19AM (#33770580)

    Caravaggio, Bacchus [haltadefinizione.com]
    Botticelli, The Birth of Venus [haltadefinizione.com]
    Sandro Botticelli, La Primavera [haltadefinizione.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iammani (1392285)

      Mmm looks like you could open one of the above links and navigate to other images within the flash app.

    • by Andy Smith (55346)

      Damn, site is down. Can someone mirror? ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trufagus (1803250)

      The link in the summary goes to a page at 'skunkpost' that merely reprints an AP article.

      I don't care about skunkpost or AP, but if it is AP's article then the link should go to the original. Otherwise we will get sites simply reprinting other people's articles and then submitting their reprint to /. etc.

      I realize this problem is as old as the Internet (probably much older) but it would be SO EASY for /. to stop contributing to the problem.

      • by Trufagus (1803250)

        And a few hours later then is already another item - "the new data centre capitol of america" - that contains a single link and lo-and-behold that link is also to skunkpost.

        Is there some relationship between /. and skunkpost or are the skunkpost people just systematically using /. to promote their site?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Fearless96 (1059568)
      These, too:

      Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, Battesimo di Cristo [haltadefinizione.com]
      Leonardo da Vinci, Annunciazione [haltadefinizione.com]
  • by short (66530)

    So I have to square root the billion pixels first and guess the painting size or guess the parameters of "an average digital camera"... Why they just cannot say the DPI? slashdot is a technical magazine or - ok, it is no longer.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:25AM (#33770612) Homepage

    ...protected by copyright under USA law. If you are in the USA you are free to download them and share them.

    • by lyinhart (1352173)

      ...protected by copyright under USA law. If you are in the USA you are free to download them and share them.

      Hm, I think some folks would be willing to debate that: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/07/11/1239244/UKs-National-Portrait-Gallery-Threatens-To-Sue-Wikipedia-User [slashdot.org]

      • by game kid (805301)

        That, and you'll have to deal with the "HALTA DEFINIZIONE" marks baked in at least some of the image tiles. No free lunch etc.

        That aside, the closeups are a jarring reminder that these paintings will crumble forever someday. Or at least I'm scared of such art being lost after the Iraq lootings [wikipedia.org]. I wonder why the first thing I zoomed into was Venus's nostril, though...

      • See Bridgeman vs. Corel. [wikipedia.org]
      • I've mentioned this before, but I purchased an art e-book for a class because I had no other choice. Approximately every tenth image was a blank "This image removed due to copyright restrictions." In a fucking textbook I had paid for.

        I feel justified in my piracy of other textbooks...
      • by Animats (122034)

        Hm, I think some folks would be willing to debate that: UKs-National-Portrait-Gallery-Threatens-To-Sue-Wikipedia-User

        They threatened that back in 2009, but when Wikipedia's lawyers replied, the National Portrait Gallery never filed suit.

        It's been over a decade since Bridgeman vs. Corel, and it hasn't been overturned. At least one related US case has made it to the appellate level (Meshwerks vs. Toyota) and not only did the appeals court cite Bridgeman as good law, they extended it to 3D scans of 3D

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        They were trying to sue under English law.

  • This will be really cool in a week or so when the servers recover from having 10 gigapixel images slash-dotted...
  • by santax (1541065) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:41AM (#33770690)
    He is probably wondering when he sees the data-costs after getting slashdotted if it wouldn't have been better to just buy a couple more paintings. From Rembrand or something like that.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:42AM (#33770698) Homepage

    Those images have "Halta Definizione" stamped all over them. But it looks like that's being done client-side; the stamps appear and disappear as you scroll and change resolution. Someone should extract the underlying images and post them to the Wikimedia Commons in PNG format. This is legal; see "Bridgeman vs. Corel".

    • Anyone remember what Italian copyright law says?

      The html pages all have "© 2010 - Hal9000 - Tutti i diritti riservati." at the bottom, but it's entirely plausible that they could just mean the contents and derivative works of the website proper, and not the old master images.

      • Italy is a Berne signatory so copyright notices are not required.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        If it is anything like English law, and it probably is given they are both implementing the same EU copyright directives, the photograph has a copyright separate from the underlying image, so you can't copy it, however you could take your own identical photo of the original painting.

        • AFAIK, in most European countries reproductions of two-dimensional works don't generate new copyrights. The UK seems to be one of the few countries where museums can legally claim to own the copyrights to photos/scans of very old paintings.
    • by Pawnn (1708484)
      Go right ahead! You'll be a hero.

      Unfortunately, to do a decent job at what you're saying would take several days of effort. Heck, even to make wallpaper sized image would take hours.

      I think someone smarter than me might have an easier time hacking the site and finding access to the raw images than to do what you're suggesting.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Fred Foobar (756957)

        Look at the source code of (for example) http://www.haltadefinizione.com/magnifier.jsp?idopera=10 [haltadefinizione.com]. In there you'll find this code:

        swf.addVariable("xml","/immagini/opere/10/imgfull/properties_krpano.xml");

        That's a relative address—the full URL is http://www.haltadefinizione.com/immagini/opere/10/imgfull/properties_krpano.xml [haltadefinizione.com]. That file contains stuff like this:

        <image type="CYLINDER" hfov="1.00" multires="true" tilesize="256">
        <level tiledimagewidth="181273" tiledimageheight="113625">

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Fred Foobar (756957)

          If you do decide to download the full images, keep this in mind: Each tile image is between about 15KB and 50KB or so (let's say 30KB average), so the full detail image consists of roughly 9 gigabytes of JPEG images. Please, everyone, for the sake of their servers don't try to download it all at once! (I would personally try to trickle download it over the course of a week or so to be nice on their servers.)

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:20PM (#33771604)

    I don't get the sad Flash UI implemented for viewing the art. Why not just use DeepZoom or a variation to seamlessly zoom and pan the images. (Deepzoom is a MS technology, but it can be used with Silverlight or even generic HTML and is exactly what this company is trying to do.)

    Love the high resolution images and availability; however, using the page UI and how freaking slow the UI is doesn't make a good impression.

    • Remember the shitstorm the last time somebody posted a slashdot story about a high res image and the website required silverlight? Yeah.
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Love the high resolution images and availability; however, using the page UI and how freaking slow the UI is doesn't make a good impression.

      Eh??? My impression was that it was basically "Google Maps for paintings." Pan, scroll, zoom... it was all pretty seamless and about as fast as I'd expect it to be.

      And how exactly is a UI that "can be used with Silverlight" any better than a "sad Flash UI"?

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      IBM had such a technology, intended for retail advertising sites (so you could zoom in on product images to the level of fine details) in 1998, and it didn't need flash or much else that was fancy -- it worked in Netscape v3. However, I've never seen it deployed, so maybe it never made it past the marketing stage. They did demo it at trade shows, tho.

  • Two fallen boogers and a nose-hair

  • In all the years I had been staring at now-low-res images of the last supper, never had I hoticed it's filled with this HALTA thing everywhere.

    Do you think it's some secret society Leonardo belonged to? It's all so exciting.
  • Another direct link: http://www.haltadefinizione.com/magnifier.jsp?idopera=3 [haltadefinizione.com]

    Fans of the Baroque will be aware that Andrea Pozzo is best known for his use of "quadratura", the technique intermixing paintings of architectural details with elements of fancy. What is less well known is that Pozzo was an early admirer of Spongebob Squarepants. One of these amazingly highly detailed pictures shows that his "Gloria di Sant'Ignazio", painted in 1685 for the nave of the church of St. Ignazio in Rome, include a sly t

  • My girlfriend is an artist and would like to see more like this. Anyone have a good reference for higher resolution images besides google searches?

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