Clay Bavor


The Google Logo in 884 4×6 Photographs

A few years ago, I had the thought that it would be neat to create a “real” photomosaic. That is, instead of just printing off a poster where you have a bunch of tiny, postage-stamp-sized images playing the role of the “tiles” that make up the larger, underlying image, you’d have a bunch of real, high-resolution 4×6 photographs doing the job.

There were a few aspects of the project that appealed to me (i.e., that made it complicated.) First, in order to have enough “tiles” to make the underlying image clear, the mosaic would have to be really, really large, so a giant wall became a requirement. Second, for you to be able to appreciate both the underlying image and the individual tiles, you would have to be able to see the mosaic from a large distance (so the tiles blend to create the larger image) and also be able to walk right up to it to look at individual photographs. So the giant wall would have to be at the end of a long hallway or outdoors in an open space. And third, if you can inspect individual images, then those images would have to be nice, crisp, high-resolution photographs. So I knew I couldn’t just source a bunch of images off of the web. I’d have to get the original image files, suitable for printing, directly from photographers.

On Thursday night, after many months of planning, and with help of several dozen friends and fellow Googlers, everything finally came together. Using 884 individually printed 4×6 photographs of people, places, and things around the U.K. (all of which were taken by Googlers), a bunch of us in Google’s offices in London created a giant  Google logo on a ~10×20 foot wall.

It really is something you have to experience in person to take in the full effect. Seeing it from 100 feet away, parsing it clearly as the Google logo, and then walking right up to it to inspect the details of individual images is very cool. But for anyone not in London, here’s an attempt to recreate that experience with a zoomed out view, a zoomed in view (the bottom right of the “G” and the lower left of the red “o”), and then an individual tile image.

(This is the lower right of the big G and the lower left of the red o.)

(This is the lower right of the big G and the lower left of the red o.)

(This is Greg Block’s photo, not mine.)

(This is Greg Block’s photo, not mine.)

I also took a time lapse video of the construction process to show how everything came together. (The camera took a shot every 7 seconds, so about 5.5 hours of work are compressed to 1:20 here.) I suggest watching the video in HD (you can change the setting once the video starts playing) and in full screen mode so you can see the individual photos.

I want to thank everyone who contributed their photographs, their time, and their brain cells (I did not anticipate the effect that a dozen large tubes of rubber cement in an enclosed space would have!) to make this project happen. Thanks especially to Ade Oshineye, Ana Harris, Beth Foster, Christopher Allen, Dan Crow, Don Dresser, Gabriel Hughes, Greg Block, Jonathan Barker, Kyle Maddison, Ludwik Grodzki, Maarten Wilke, Noah Samuels, Noam Wolf, Rian Liebenberg, Ronnie Boadi, Sarah Hunter, and Simon Birkenhead for contributing a total of over 4,000 photographs, and to Ana Harris, Annabel Tucker, Beth Foster, Caitlin Pantos, Gavin Barnard, Greg Block, Jonathan Barker, Kajal Patel, Marco Duarte, Mike Smith, Rob Gates, Simon Birkenhead, and Tom Ayles who helped with construction. And, of course, thank you Kelly for being patient and supportive throughout the 40 or 50 hours it took to do all this!

[Update on May 12, 2010: replaced the YouTube video with a version with music.]

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