Posts Tagged ‘physics’

This New Flat Lens Captures Perfect Colors Without Chromatic Aberration


A team of researchers at Harvard are trying to revolutionize the world of optical lenses. Instead of traditional curved lenses that suffer from various optical flaws, they are working on a completely flat and ultra-thin lens that overcomes age-old problems and pushes optical quality to the limits of the laws of nature.
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Photographer Uses Giant Blackburn Pendulum to Create Abstract Large Format Light Paintings


Lovers of light painting photography, large format photography, symmetry and physics each have a distinct reason to enjoy photographer Paul Wainwright‘s Pendulum Project.

Created in the pitch blackness of his barn at night, Wainwright shoots these beautiful light paintings with the help of a massive Blackburn pendulum he built himself and a large format camera packing 4×5 sheet film. Read more…

The Inverse Square Law of Light Explained in Simple Terms for Photographers

If the term “inverse square law of light” immediately sets you to hyperventilating as flashbacks of college physics begin playing in your mind’s eye, take a few breaths into that paper bag, calm down, and click play on the video above.

In 6 minutes, Karl Taylor will explain this law and how it affects you specifically as a photographer without overwhelming you in the process. Read more…

Diving Into the Tech Behind the Lytro Illum and Its Impressive 30-250mm f/2.0 Lens


Lytro came into the photography world not only to create a novelty product, but to fundamentally change how we approach image capture. Because despite light field photography being around for over a century, it’s only with the latest technology that the company is able to exploit what it is a camera is truly capable of doing.

We recently spoke with Lytro about its upcoming Illum camera a bit, diving into the technology behind the specs and revealing how Lytro’s approach is allowing the company to not only step, but leap into the future. Read more…

Video: Educational Tutorial on the History, Physics and Uses of Cinema Lighting

Back in April, we shared the first of cinematographer Mark Vargo‘s informative series of videos on different photographic concepts. The videos are meant to educate photographers and videographers alike on these concepts so that they might “unleash their creative potential.”

The first video was on the types and uses of light meters, and now Vargo has finally released the second video in the series, dubbed “Let There Be Light.” Read more…

The Only Known Photograph of Einstein Deriving his Famous E=mc2 Equation


At a public lecture in Pittsburgh in 1934, four hundred lucky students were privy to a lecture by Albert Einstein, in which the great man mathematically derived his famous mass-energy equivalence equation: E=mc2. What you see above is a photo from that lecture, and what is thought to be the only surviving photo that shows Einstein working on that derivation. Read more…

Scientific Curiosity Captured in Photos

Caleb Charland is a Maine-based photographer who combines a love of scientific experiments and photographs into wonderful and amazing photographs. If Isaac Newton or Benjamin Franklin were into photography, their photographs might look something like these:

“Wooden Box with Horseshoe Magnet”

“Atomic Model”

“Demonstration with Hair Dryer and Aluminum Foil”

“Candle in a Vortex of Water”

“Fifteen Hours”

Regarding his work, Charland tells us,

Wonder is a state of mind somewhere between knowledge and uncertainty. It is the basis of my practice and results in images that are simultaneously familiar and strange. I utilize everyday objects and fundamental forces to illustrate experiences of wonder. Each photograph begins with a simple question “How would this look? Is that possible? What would happen if…?” and develops through a sculptural process of experimentation. As I explore the garage and search through the basement to solve these pictures, I find ways to exploit the mysterious qualities of these everyday objects and familiar materials.

To check out more of his work, you can visit his website.

Image credits: Photographs by Caleb Charland and used with permission.

Colleagues Claim Physics Nobel Laureates Undeserving

boyleandsmithAbout two weeks ago we reported that the “Fathers of Digital Photography” who invented the CCD sensor had won a Nobel Prize in physics for their revolutionary achievement. Now, two colleagues of Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith are claiming that the Nobel committee erred by doing “extremely poor research”.

Eugene Gordon and Mike Tompsett worked with Boyle and Smith at Bell Laboratories, where the CCD was invented. They claim that Boyle and Smith were taking the concept in the wrong direction, studying its applications in memory rather than imaging. Furthermore, they believe that Tompsett, who formerly led the CCD researcher group, should have been awarded the prize after being the first two build two examples of the device. Tompsett told Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail:

If you take it all literally, the prize should have been given to me, I think if their name is on it, mine should be, too.

Smith rejected the criticism saying that while Tompsett could be credited for engineering prowess, he wasn’t the original source of the idea.

Though smaller committees play an important role in the Nobel Prize selection process, nomination is made by thousands of people and scrutinized by the experts in each field. However, despite the apparent reliability of the extensive, multi-step process, the Nobel Prize has received its fair share of controversy, and this is simply another entry on the list.

Fathers of Digital Photography win Nobel Prize in Physics

boyleandsmithThe technology behind DSLRs, video cameras, web cams, and even astrophotography and medical imaging would not be where it is today without the combined ingenuity of Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics today in Stockholm.

In 1969, Boyle and Smith invented the first digital imaging sensor, the charge-coupled device, or the CCD sensor. The two scientists developed CCD technology from 1921 Nobel Prize predecessor Albert Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect, through which light is converted into electrons. In short, CCD sensors capture the electron signals in the form of image points, or pixels.

The invention of the CCD sensor ushered in the digital age of photography, facilitating distribution of photographs and broadening the use of digital imaging into the fields of medicine and astronomy.

Currently, CCD sensors are still employed in a variety of cameras such as the Hasselblad digital H series (which costs as much as a high-end economy car), the entry-level Nikon D40, and the average phone camera and webcam, including the Apple iSight.


CCD sensors, which are generally recognized as more mature since they were developed earlier, tend to be preferred when high sensitivity, accurate color, and more pixels are needed. Thus, CCD sensors are also used in the Hubble Space Telescope and medical imaging. Also, smaller cameras, like webcams and compact digital cameras, have smaller sensors, so the CCD sensor can compensate for the reduced sensor area, which usually results in lower light sensitivity and higher noise.

Most modern DSLRs use complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor sensors, or CMOS — you’ll usually see this listed next to most camera specs. CMOS sensors have lineage from CCD sensors, capturing light in the same way.

CMOS sensors took over the camera industry over the last decade, mostly because they are cheaper to manufacture, as they’re made like a computer microchip. Additionally, they require less energy to capture an image, and thus require a smaller battery, which is more friendly and practical for the average consumer. Most modern CMOS sensors are also have a built-in image processor, unlike CCD sensors, which is solely devoted to capturing light, and has a separate unit to process image data.

CMOS and CCD sensors have a complementary relationship; neither is considered particularly superior to the other, especially as technology continues to improve for both.

And as technology advances, so does mankind. The Nobel Prize for inventing the CCD celebrates not only the innovation of Boyle and Smith, but the far-reaching impact of photography on humanity through technology, communication, aesthetics, and science.

For more information about the Nobel Prize winners, visit the Nobel Prize site.

Image Credit: Boyle and Smith mugshots by the National Academy of Engineering, CCD by GEEZETH