This image might look like some kind of screenshot from an old 16-bit video game, but it’s actually the first photo ever made of an atom’s shadow. Researchers at Griffith University in Australia suspended a ytterbium atom in midair, shot it with a laser beam, and then used a Fresnel lens on the other side to snap a photograph of the dark shadow left by the atom. Scientist Erik Streed has a writeup explaining how they accomplished it and the project’s implications for other research.
Hovering somewhere between “novel idea” and “pointlessly stupid,” InstaCRT is a new iOS app that bills itself as “the world’s first real camera filter.” Photographs processed through the app are given a CRT monitor look that doesn’t involve any digital fakery. Instead, your photo is actually sent to the creators’ machine located in Stockholm, Sweden, where it’s displayed on a tiny CRT monitor and then photographed by a DSLR. The new photo is then beamed back to your phone in less than a minute. Read more…
Virgin America airlines is producing the “first-ever film made at 35,000 feet”, titled Departure Date. It’s a movie that takes place entirely inside the cabin of an airplane that’s actually airborne. 20 hours of in-flight shooting was done on Virgin flights that spanned 3 continents and covered 28,000 miles. The film was written and directed by Kat Coiro and stars some pretty well known faces. It’ll premier next month at LA Film Fest, and will soon be available in its entirety on the in-flight TV system of Virgin flights.
Samsung has developed what the company claims is the world’s first CMOS sensor that can capture both RGB and range images at the same time. Microsoft’s Kinect has received a good deal of attention as of late for its depth-sensing capabilities, but it uses separate sensors for RGB images and range images. Samsung’s new solution combines both functions into a single image sensor by introducing “z-pixels” alongside the standard red, blue, and green pixels. This allows the sensor to capture 480×360 depth images while 1920×720 photos are being exposed. One of the big trends in the next decade may be depth-aware devices, and this new development certainly goes a long way towards making that a reality.
Lomography has launched the LomoKino, the world’s first consumer 35mm movie camera. It’s an old-school hand-cranked camera that uses standard rolls of 35mm film (yeah, the kind you use in film cameras). The camera captures 144 individual frames onto each roll of film, producing a video that lasts 50-60 seconds. Once you have your film developed, you can watch it using a separate LomoKinoScope: a hand-cranked movie viewer! Read more…
Seeing a double rainbow is a relatively rare treat, but how about three or four rainbows? Scientists have only reported seeing triple rainbows five times over the past 250 years, but German photographer Michael Theusner was recently able to capture this first ever photograph of a fourth-order rainbow. Ordinary rainbows (first and second order) appear in the area of the sky opposite the sun (and aren’t seen in his shot), but when higher order rainbows appear, they show up on the sunward side.
Last year, U.S. Naval Academy meteorologist Raymond Lee and a colleague, Philip Laven, laid out a prediction for the conditions that would produce third-order rainbows, and they challenged rainbow-chasers to go out and find one. Among the requirements: dark thunderclouds, and either a heavy downpour or a rainstorm with nearly uniform rain droplets. If the sun broke through the clouds under these conditions, it could project a dim tertiary rainbow against the dark clouds nearby, they said. [#]
Back in May, a photographer named Michael Grossman followed this advice and succeeded in capturing the first ever photo of a third-order rainbow. Lee’s challenge and Grossman’s success are what inspired Theusner to try his hand at photographing higher order rainbows. You can find more background info on Theusner’s blog and in his recently published scientific paper.
Instagram is changing not just the way photos can be shared, but how music videos can be made. UK indie rock band The Vaccines recently created a website that asked fans to snap photographs of themselves while at music festivals and then tag them with “#VACCINESVIDEO”. After receiving nearly 3,000 submissions, the band used them to create the music video for their song “Wetsuit”. Aside from a few video clips, everything you see in the video was submitted through Instagram.
P.S. Building upon this idea: what if a band were to ask fans to snap photos during a live performance of a song, and then combine the photos afterward using the timestamps of the photos to sync them with the song? That would be crazy.
Cell phone photography is a huge trend these days with Instagram skyrocketing past 10 million users this past weekend, but have you ever wondered how it all started? An entrepreneur named Philippe Kahn is credited with creating the camera phone back in 1997. On June 11th of that year, Kahn took the first “camera phone” photo of his newborn daughter in a maternity ward, and then wirelessly transmitted the photo to more than 2,000 people around the world. Since “camera phones” didn’t exist at that time, Kahn actually hacked together a primitive one by combining a digital camera and a cell phone to send the photos in real time.
Kahn then went on to start LightSurf, a company that was hugely influential in picture messaging. LightSurf technology is still used by Sprint, Verizon, and other major carriers around the world.
Wedding photographer Brian Adams and wedding videographer Rainer Flor claim to be the first to capture a wedding entirely using the iPhone 4. Flor volunteered his own wedding last November for the experiment, and a total of three iPhone 4s were used: two for the photos and one for the video.
“We proved that the iPhone technology is advanced enough to handle an event like a wedding, and simple enough that it doesn’t take a lot of experience or extra equipment to shoot high-quality video and pictures,” said Adams. “The user still has to have some creativity and a good eye, but this gives them a great tool.”
Would you rather have a great photographer shoot your wedding with an iPhone 4, or a mediocre photographer shoot using professional gear?