10 of the Most Breathtaking Panoramic Photos We've Ever Seen

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Photographs rarely live up to the fullness of actually being there. But more and more digital technology provides new ways to counteract the flatness of photos, elevating panoramic and high-resolution photography to new realms both in terms of technique and in the way images are presented. 360-degree rotation, massive composites, and interactive controls allow us to explore photography in some very enticing ways. For the voyeuristically inclined, the advent of huge multi-giga-pixel images means zooming and panning indefinitely across an endless sea of visual detail. We’ve gathered ten such breathtaking panoramas for you to feast your eyes upon. Click through the links and take your time exploring some truly spacious visual masterpieces.

Cour de Marbre by Jean-François Rauzier

Slate recently posted a series of Hyperphotos by Jean-François Rauzier, surreal panoramas of infinite regress, including this visually disorienting composition of La Cour de Marbre at the Palace of Versailles.

Sistine Chapel

Gawk at Michelangelo’s masterpiece in this spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the Sistine Chapel hosted by the Vatican website. It even includes its own heavenly musical accompaniment.

Prague by Jeffrey Martin

360Cities is replete with impressive panoramas. This 18-gigapixel photo of Prague by Jeffrey Martin, taken from a TV tower, claims to be the largest spherical panoramic photo ever.

Vertical panorama by Christoprudov Dmitry

Panoramic photography tends to have a noticeably horizontal bias. Just try to resist peeking into all the delightfully vignetted window scenes in this voyeuristic panorama by Christoprudov Dmitry. [via Colossal]

Dubai by Gerald Donovan

The level of detail in this massive, 45 gigapixel photo of Dubai is overwhelming. Gerald Donovan used a similar imaging technology as that found on NASA’s Mars rovers to capture 4250 separate shots of the Middle Eastern financial hub. [via Popsci]

Hiroshima by Jeffrey Martin

These amazing historical photos from the Hiroshima Peace Museum, stitched together into a 360-degree panorama, are an amazing and unsettling portrayal of the devastation inflicted by the US upon the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. These images have been composited from photographs taken by Japanese and Americans just six months after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. The series includes five different panoramic views. [via TechCrunch]

London 2012 100m Final from Spherical Images

If you were lucky enough to be in the crowd as Usain Bolt crossed the finishing line during this year’s Olympics, Spherical Images has made it possible for you to zoom in and tag yourself.

Paris 26 Gigapixels

Paris 26 Gigapixels is a panoramic photography project that allows you to zoom in to a disturbingly intimate extent. The resulting image stitches together 2346 single photos into one sweepingly high-resolution view of Paris.

Shackleton’s Hut by Google

Google recently extended its photographic prowess to the most uninhabited continent with some new Streetview imagery of Antarctica. You can retrace the steps of Ernest Shackleton (and get a good glimpse of his food rations) with these interactive preservations of historical Antarctic sites.

Shanghai 272 Gigapixels

Purportedly the largest digital photograph ever created, this insanely high-resolution panoramic view of Shanghai weighs in at an astounding 272 gigapixels. You can zoom forever, exploring an inconceivable level of detail rivaled only by perching on a rooftop with a good pair of binoculars. [via Huffington Post]