You may have heard that digital cameras can be made sensitive to infrared light by removing the IR filter found inside, but did you now that something similar can be done with the human eye? People who have aphakia, or the absence of the lens on the eye, have reported the ability to see ultraviolet wavelengths. Claude Monet was one such person. Carl Zimmer writes,
Late in his life, Claude Monet developed cataracts. As his lenses degraded, they blocked parts of the visible spectrum, and the colors he perceived grew muddy. Monet’s cataracts left him struggling to paint; he complained to friends that he felt as if he saw everything in a fog. After years of failed treatments, he agreed at age 82 to have the lens of his left eye completely removed. Light could now stream through the opening unimpeded. Monet could now see familiar colors again. And he could also see colors he had never seen before. Monet began to see–and to paint–in ultraviolet.
[...] With his lens removed, Monet continued to paint. Flowers remained one of his favorite subjects. Only now the flowers were different. When most people look at water lily flowers, they appear white. After his cataract surgery, Monet’s blue-tuned pigments could grab some of the UV light bouncing off of the petals. He started to paint the flowers a whitish-blue.
The lens on a human eye ordinarily filters out UV rays, so we don’t see many of the things certain animals see. For example, the males and females of some butterfly species look identical to the human eye but very different to UV-sensitive eyes — the males sport bright patterns in order to attract the females!
This amazing photograph of sailor Alex Thomson walking on the keel of an 8-ton yacht was created with courage rather than Photoshop. It was an ad for fashion house HUGO BOSS, which has sponsored Alex Thomson Racing since 2003. The conditions for the shot had to be just right, and the skipper had to carefully keep the yacht at a 45-degree angle for up to a minute to avoid crushing Thomson and the jet ski driver. Read more…
Facebook officially filed to become a publicly traded company today and, in doing so, spilled the beans on many of its internal figures and statistics that are normally under wraps. A crazy fact that emerged is that an average of 250 million photographs are uploaded to the service every day. That’s equal to 10.4 million per hour, 174,000 per minute, or 3,000 photographs per second. In terms of storage, the photos and videos hosted by the service take up 100 petabytes, or 100 million gigabytes. Wowzers.
French artist Philippe Ramette captures surreal self-portraits in which he appears to be defying gravity. Rather than use digital trickery, Ramette — who started his career as a sculptor — builds metal support structures that allow him to stand or sit at impossible angles. Read more…
For a fine arts project at his university, art student Joel Brochu spent a whopping 8 months meticulously recreating a photograph using tiny nonpareils (the tiny sprinkles used on cakes and donuts). 221,184 individual sprinkles were placed on the 4-foot-wide board, which was covered with double-sided tape and a thin layer of glue. Each sprinkle was placed by hand using jewelry tweezers. Read more…
Want to see what pure dedication looks like? This music video for the song “In Your Arms” by Kina Grannis is a stop-motion animation done with a background composed of jelly beans. It’s a crazy project that required 22 months, 1,357 hours, 30 people, and 288,000 jelly beans. They could have used CGI, of course, but each frame was carefully created by hand and photographed with a still camera. It’s even more mind-blowing given this fact: none of it was done with a green screen. Read more…
Daily photo projects have become quite popular as of late, and a number of viral time-lapse videos feature people who take one self-portrait a day over many years. However, if you think taking a photo every day requires a crazy amount of dedication, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
For an entire year, from April 11, 1980 through April 11, 1981, legendary performance artist Tehching Hsieh punched a time clock and took a self-portrait every hour (i.e. 24 times a day) on the hour. At the end of the year, he ended up with 8,760 photos and combined them into a time-lapse video showing the passing of a year (and the growth of his hair). Now that’s crazy!
We’re now one step closer to being able to take photographs with our minds. Scientists at UC Berkeley have come up with a way to reconstruct what the human brain sees:
[Subjects] watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers
[...] brain activity recorded while subjects viewed the first set of clips was fed into a computer program that learned, second by second, to associate visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity.
Brain activity evoked by the second set of clips was used to test the movie reconstruction algorithm. This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program so that it could predict the brain activity that each film clip would most likely evoke in each subject.
Finally, the 100 clips that the computer program decided were most similar to the clip that the subject had probably seen were merged to produce a blurry yet continuous reconstruction of the original movie. [#]
Unlike the cat brain research video we shared a while back, the resulting imagery in this project isn’t directly generated from brain signals but is instead reconstructed from YouTube clips similar to what the person is thinking. They’re still calling it a “major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery” though. In the future this technology might be used to record not just our visual memories, but even our dreams!
We’ve shared a couple stories in the past month on how human eyes are very subjective and horrible as light meters, and here’s yet another mind-boggling example of how easily our eyes can be fooled by context. In the image above, the “blue” and the “green” stripes are exactly the same color.
Eran Amir created this “stop-motion within a stop-motion” using 1,500 separate photographs and 500 volunteers. The massive amounts of work, creativity, and planning that this project must have required is mind-boggling.