Posts Tagged ‘Cameras’

Magic Software Re-Focuses Your Blurred Photos

06 Dec

Back when I used to spend time in the darkroom, somebody once asked me if they could cancel out their mis-focussed photos by just dialing the enlarger’s lens in the opposite direction. I laughed, but I couldn’t help wishing it was true.

25 years later, it can be done, not in wet darkroom but with your computer. A new Photoshop plugin from Topaz Labs corrects focus-blur, as well as motion-blur caused by camera-shake.

It does this by reverse-engineering the blur, using something called “image deconvolution technology”. This actually correct the blur instead of just increasing edge-sharpness, another technique which makes photos appear sharper, but does nothing to fix them.

There’s a 30-day free trial for the InFocus plugin (the software costs $70 otherwise), so I gave it a quick test drive, with pretty bad results. It seems that every image I tried it with ended up with speckly artifacts all over it. Images with more detail fair better: an out-of-focus portrait doesn’t fare as well as a detailed architectural shot, for instance.

It’s worth a try, and the sample images on the site show that, in practiced hands, it works well. But more important is what it means for digital photography. With imaging tech always improving, otherwise hopeless photos could be saved in the future. You’d better go out and buy another hard-drive to store all the photos you’d otherwise toss out: if you wait long enough, some piece of software will come along and turn it into a masterpiece.

Topaz InFocus product page [Topaz Labs]

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Black Silicon Discovery Could Change Digital Photography, Night Vision Forever [Black Silicon]

12 Oct

With the accidental discovery of "black silicon," Harvard physicists may have very well changed the digital photography, solar power and night vision industries forever. What is black silicon, you say? Well, it's just as it sounds. Black silicon. It's what this revolutionary new material does that's important, starting with light sensitivity. Early indications show black silicon is 100 to 500 times more sensitive to light than a traditional silicon wafer.

To create the special silicon, Harvard physicist Eric Mazur shined a super powerful laser onto a silicon wafer. The laser's output briefly matches all the energy produced by the sun falling onto the Earth's entire surface at a given moment in time. To spice the experiment up, he also had researchers apply sulfur hexafluoride, which the semiconductor industry uses to make etchings in silicon for circuitry. Seriously, he did this just for kicks and to secure more funding for an old project.

“I got tired of metals and was worrying that my Army funding would dry up,” he said. “I wrote the new direction into a research proposal without thinking much about it — I just wrote it in; I don’t know why," he said.

The new experiment made the silicon black to the naked eye. Under an electron microscope, however, the dark sheen was revealed to be thousands, if not millions, of tiny spikes. As we said above, those spikes had an amazing effect on the light sensitivity of the wafer. Mazur said the material also absorbs about twice as much visible light as traditional silicon, and can detect infrared light that is invisible to today's silicon detectors.

And there's no change to the manufacturing process, Mazur said, so existing semiconductor facilities can create black silicon without much additional effort or, more importantly, money. [New York Times]


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Giant Photography Captures Landscape-Sized Ladscapes [Clips]

30 Sep

When you hear about a camera that's the size of a trailer, you figure it's a novelty used by a struggling artist looking to make a name. But watching this clip that explores the giant photography of John Chiara, you realize he's not just a salesman exhibiting a clown camera. He's an artist who painstakingly sets up a shot that's balanced with car lifts, controls the exposure by placing his hand over parts of the lens and then develops the film in a sewage pipe. And the results are pretty extraordinary. This clip documents Chiara's complete process and it runs about 7 worthwhile minutes. Load it up when you've got the time. [via Neatorama]

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