As a veteran photographer who has witnessed the digital revolution that effectively beheaded film photography, I can say that I’ve seen a lot in my day. And now that digital is here, the evolution has accelerated so that one can hardly keep pace with the innovations. Cameras that cost $5,000 when launched are replaced by cousins that are faster, more sensitive and have more features, at half the price.
Even my tiny iPod offers an HDR (High Dynamic Range) app. Admittedly, I have one of them- Pro HDR- on my device. Unbelievably, it does a very nice job… for a $1.99 phone app. So I was naturally intrigued by an article in today’s New York Times, which explores the future world of photography, from the perspective of some top academic research labs in America.
Here It Comes!
Are you ready for cameras that can realio, trulio take a picture around a corner and into a darkened room? Well, believe it, because researchers at M.I.T. are using lasers mounted inside a camera to fire pulses at one-trillionth of a second. The laser light bounces off walls and doors to illuminate what’s in another room. Creepy! It’s a ways off before we’ll see it in the marketplace, thank heavens.
I can’t imagine that innovation would be useful for my photography, but the CIA is probably foaming at the mouth waiting for it. However, another app that researchers are working on would be ideal for landscape photographers. It mathematically calculates the exact spot from which a photo was taken so you can re-shoot the scene precisely. That bests even GPS technology, which can get us to a scene, but not help us place the camera exactly. I can imagine using it to follow a scene through the seasons, for example, or perhaps to record environmental changes over time.
Closed Code Stifles Innovation
Apparently, one of the big issues in this burgeoning field is that cameras, unlike computers, are closed source. In other words, programmers can’t fiddle with the middle and add code that will allow them to experiment with new techniques. However, some forward-thinking companies are jumping on the bandwagon and giving the researchers access to the top-secret computer chips and code.
To see the NY Times article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/business/19novel.html?_r=1&hpw