Photographer upconverted this lightning photo to 5.45 gigapixels

In 2016, Dan Piech photographed an amazing lightning bolt over New York City. The shot was so popular that he spent hundreds of hours upconverting it to a massive 5.45 gigapixel file that can be printed at 50 feet wide with no loss.

The image, titled Hand of Zeus," was painstakingly stitched together from dozens of images after the lucky original image was initially captured:

At 5pm, one of the most powerful lightning strikes I've ever witnessed suddenly pierced the sky directly in front of me, branching all the way across the Hudson river. And my Canon 5Ds camera was ready, exposing the moment with its 50-megapixel sensor.

Many weeks later, I finally found a moment with the right sky conditions. At the same time in the afternoon, another storm was arriving from the west. As was needed, the cloud cover was thicker on the southern side of the storm front and an opening in the clouds to the northeast was providing the much-needed spotlight on the buildings that gave the original exposure such a dramatic aesthetic.

Frantically, I rushed to the exact same location as the original exposure, hoping to get there before the lighting conditions changed or the rain came. When I arrived, instead of setting up my gear with the goal of capturing a lightning photo, I set it up with the goal of creating a 5,000-megapixel VAST photo. Among other things, this meant affixing a large 400mm telephoto lens to my camera instead of the 24mm wide-angle lens I used for the original shot. Over the following 15 minutes, I exposed 111 frames, each one capturing a small section of the scene. When stitched together, these frames would encompass the full field of view as the original single-exposure photo, but amount to an image that had orders of magnitude higher resolution.

Impressive work and dedication!

Upconverting "The Hand of Zeus" from 40 to 5.449 megapixels (Vast via PetaPixel)