Cornell offers a course on designing with microcontrollers, and this year’s final project submissions featured a couple of groups who decided to build robotic photographers that help capture selfies.
You might remember the photo above from last year. For a while, it circulated the web like mad, claiming to show Hurricane Sandy bearing down menacingly on the Statue of Liberty. But if you’ve read our previous coverage on the photo, you’ll know that it is, in fact, a fake — a composite of a Statue of Liberty picture and a well-known photo by weather photographer Mike Hollingshead.
Photo fakes like this wind up going viral online all the time, often helped along by Twitter where retweet upon retweet puts it in front of thousands of unsuspecting people. Having had enough, a group of researchers from the University of Maryland, IBM Research Labs and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology are trying to do something about it. Read more…
Large portrait taking gigs can be a bit of a nightmare. If you’re taking multiple portraits of a few hundred people, trying to sort through those and organize them so that they’re easily found is no walk in the park. Fortunately, you can find an automatic solution to this problem on Robert Bieber’s photo blog Bieber Photographic.
If you look past the unfortunate name (sorry, couldn’t help myself), the system that he put together for distributing mass amounts of portraits taken at his church is pretty ingenious, and he puts the whole thing up as a walkthrough in case you want to follow the same steps. Without going into too much detail, he basically used several scripts to generate QR code cards, link them to the photos of each person, and put thumbnails linking to the originals online online where each individual could find their portraits — all without doing any manual sorting. If this sounds like something that would benefit you, be sure to check out the original post for the whole walkthrough and links to all of his pre-written scripts.
Automating Mass Portraits With QR Codes [Bieber Photographic]
In sharp contrast to the Leica way of doing things by hand, Canon has just announced that it is planning on completely eliminating the need for a human production line as early as 2015. So while your future Leica M10 will still be completely hand-made (with a price tag to match), your future 5D Mark IV (or maybe Mark VI by then) will be entirely robot-made.
Fortunately, Canon spokesperson Jan Misumi assured the press that the move won’t lead to job losses, as employees will be moved into other parts of the company. But it does seem to take a little bit of the humanity you see in the Leica making of video out of camera manufacturing.
ifttt (If This Then That) is a new service that lets you automate tasks across different social media services you’re signed up for, including Dropbox, Flickr, Instagram, and Facebook. All you have to do is choose what “this” and “that” are, and the service will take care of handling the task. For example, you can use ifttt to automatically send every photo uploaded to Facebook that’s tagged with your name to your Dropbox account, or have it send all of your new Instagram photos to a particular Facebook album. Each task is called a “recipe”, and you can browse the most popular ones here.
We’ve seen DSLR photo booth projects before, but usually they’re just simple ways for guests at an event to take self-portraits of themselves. Kevin over at I Dream In Code actually made a fancy photo booth for his brother’s wedding that prints out a nice keepsake for guests:
It is an Arduino connected to a Staples easy button. When pressed, it starts the sequence of taking 4 pictures on the Canon T3i, triggered through the 2.5mm earphone jack.
The pictures are wirelessly transferred over an adhoc network using an EyeFi Pro SD card. On the laptop, it is looking in a directory for 4 pictures, takes the 4 of them, combines them into one photo along with a picture of Andrew and Jenn, and prints it out.
The entire process from pressing the Easy Button to having the photo pop out takes about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Check out his blog post for more of the technical details.
This light painting photograph was created by a group of students over in Germany using a swarm of seven Roomba automated vacuum cleaners. Each one had a different colored LED light attached to the top, making the resulting photo look like some kind of robotic Jackson Pollock painting. There’s actually an entire Flickr group dedicated to using Roombas for light painting — check it out of you have one of these robot minions serving you in your home.
PicTreat is a free online application that allows you to quickly and easily retouch portraits using patent-pending face detection and correction technology.
By “correction”, they mean the application can make your skin “smooth and shiny”, remove “irritating skin flaws”, fix red-eye, and correct color balance.
While we would prefer not to promote our culture’s obsession with outward appearance, we wanted to examine the technology behind this application.
Here’s an example of a before and after displayed on the front page:
To test exactly what the application does to a portrait, I decided to use the portrait of President Obama that I referred to recently. However, the app apparently couldn’t find any “blemishes”, and returned a nearly identical image — albeit with mildly smoother skin.
Thus, I decided to test how the service retouches a photograph by altering the photograph manually. Using Photoshop, I added some red-eye, added some spots to his face, and gave the photo a green tint. Here are the original, altered, and PicTreated images:
The app successfully corrected the artificial red-eye, restored the color to almost what it was originally, and left the random spots I added alone (which it should, lest it remove things like birthmarks).
In spite of the interesting technology behind PicTreat, many may find the app offensive due to the fact that it intentionally removes such things as freckles (a taboo among photo editors) and uses the slogan, “everybody’s perfect”.
What are your thoughts on this kind of service?
Image credit: Obama portrait by the Obama-Biden Transition Project