Mark Gee’s Full Moon Silhouettes

Sun September 7, 2014

Video Credit & Copyright: Mark Gee

Video Credit & Copyright: Mark Gee

This is an amazing video of a full moon rise over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. On January 28, 2013, after many previous failed attempts at videotaping a full moonrise, Mark Gee finally placed his camera about 2.1km away on the other side of the city and waited for the full moon to rise. What he caught using the video capability of his Canon 1D MK4 is a beautifully simple example of silhouette photography with the people on Mount Victoria Lookout in silhouette against the moon.

Full Moon Silhouettes from Mark Gee on Vimeo.

This is not a time lapse and, as the moon makes its rise, you can actually see a couple calmly walking into the scene. Then, as the moon rises higher, it reveals other people who had been there all along waiting for the spectacle to start. Though the accompanying music is beautiful, I actually turned it off and enjoyed the show “au naturel.”

The video is as it came off the memory card and there has been no manipulation whatsoever. Technically it was quite a challenge to get the final result. I shot it on a Canon ID MkIV in video mode with a Canon EF 500mm f/4L and a Canon 2x extender II, giving me the equivalent focal length of 1300mm.

via apod


The Transparent Display Edges Closer to Reality as MIT Student Confines Light in a Thin Slab of Photonic Crystal

Tue August 26, 2014

The transparent display in many SciFi movies and TV shows (including Extant) looks really cool. The problem has always been that light escapes the transparent glass. Recently, MIT graduate student Wade Hsu and colleagues have shown that they are now able to confine light in the surface of a photonic crystal slab and thus design a transparent display using nanoparticles.

We can take a piece of glass which is originally transparent and put in nanoparticles that only scatter a particular, narrow bandwidth of light. Light in the visible spectrum is made of many different wavelengths from 300 nanometers to 750 nanometers. If we have such a structure, then most of the light can pass through, so it is still transparent, but if we project light of that particular narrow bandwidth, light can be scattered strongly as if it were hitting a regular screen. -Wade Hsu

Read the whole article at: MIT

Editor’s note: Pair this transparent display with the transparent solar cell and you could have a truly interesting product.


#TimsDark Experiment: Canadian Tim Hortons Coffee Shop Where Servers Wear Infrared Goggles and Customers Drink In Complete Darkness

Mon August 25, 2014

I hope US fast food firm Burger King (BK) knows what it is getting into with the purchase of Canadian iconic Tim Hortons coffee shops. The young execs at BK better realize that this is not a shop that you buy and then drop when you have no need of it anymore: it could well ignite the simmering resentment Canadians feel toward their neighbor (and best friend) to the south.

In one “experiment,” a Timmys was painted completely black outside and cloistered so it was pitch black inside — as in, you can see zilch.

Customers gingerly felt their way inside as servers wearing infrared goggles directed them to the counter, took their orders and served them their order of Double-Double. Apparently, the extreme darkness heightened their sense of taste and a great-tasting coffee was elevated to even greater heights of flavor.

Of course, if you believe this was an actual store with actual customers, there’s still a bridge for sale somewhere…


Microsoft Turns Your Long Boring Video Into A Smooth Hyperlapse Video

Wed August 13, 2014

© microsoft

© microsoft

We know enough not to subject our family and friends to our long boring videos (perhaps from our GoPro or Google Glass). We could speed them up to shorten them into an acceptably short version. Unfortunately, speeding up a video also amplifies every little camera shake, yielding an erratic, jerky video.

Now, Microsoft may have an answer: it has presented a Proxy Geometry algorithm that can take your long video and convert in into a time-lapse video with a smoothly moving camera. They call the result a hyperlapse video. It is quite impressive. No idea if they will make the algorithm publicly available anytime soon.

Read the paper and view the technical video at: microsoft


Extracting Sound From Visual Cues: You Probably Don’t Want To Share Secrets While Eating From A Bag of Potato Chips

Tue August 5, 2014

If you think that people are hacking your cellphone and listening to your conversations, this news should freak you out even more.

Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in a video, for example:

  • Intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.
  • Useful audio signals from videos of aluminum foil, the surface of a glass of water, and even the leaves of a potted plant (vibrating at less than a hundredth of a pixel).

In one experiment, they recovered sound from the vibrating earbuds plugged into a laptop playing music. Then, they played the garbled sound bites back to Shazam to automatically recognize and identify the song being played.

“When sound hits an object, it causes the object to vibrate,” says Abe Davis, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and first author on the new paper. “The motion of this vibration creates a very subtle visual signal that’s usually invisible to the naked eye. People didn’t realize that this information was there.”

Luckily, you cannot recover these sound bites using a regular smart phone video. The researchers explain that reconstructing audio from video “requires that the frequency of the video samples — the number of frames of video captured per second — be higher than the frequency of the audio signal.

So, you need a camera capable of filming at high-speed (2,000 to 6,000 fps) — which is much faster than the 60 fps possible with some smartphones and much faster than the 200fps possible with some digital cameras, but well below the frame rates of the best commercial high-speed cameras, which can top 100,000 frames per second.

The researchers even took advantage of the rolling shutter effect exhibited by some cameras to recover sound from a plastic bag of candy.

Read more about The Visual Microphone: Passive Recovery of Sound from Video.

via MITnews


Close-up Footage of The Predatory Attack of The Great White Shark

Tue August 5, 2014

In 2013, a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a specially equipped REMUS “SharkCam” underwater vehicle to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to film great white sharks in the wild.

What you are about to see is not the usual shark attack through the bars of a shark cage we are so used to seeing in shark documentaries. You are about to get eye-to-eye with Great White Sharks! At @ 1:28, 1:50 and 3:05, you won’t want to miss the attack footage. The grating sounds of teeth against metal just add to the terrifying sight.

REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted from Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. on Vimeo.

Reminds me of an attack dog tenaciously biting down on an intruder’s arm. The sharks must be mistaking the SharkCam for a real underwater animal that has invaded its territory. That the SharkCam came out of these predatory attacks in one piece attest to its tough construction.

via DIYPhotography

Articles, Videos

MIT Media Lab Develops Display Technology That Automatically Corrects For Vision Defects

Sat August 2, 2014

© Christine Daniloff/MIT - Click to view animation

© Christine Daniloff/MIT – Click to view animation

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects and could lead to e-reader and smartphone displays that let users dispense with glasses.

Imagine being able to consult your car’s dashboard-mounted GPS display without putting your glasses on (for far-sighted drivers) or read your tablet’s display without the need for reading glasses.

The vision-correcting display projects slightly different images to different parts of the viewer’s pupil. Using technology the Camera Culture Group has already developed for their glasses-free 3-D displays, two liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are used in parallel to carefully tailor the images displayed on the LCDs to each other to allow the system to mask perspectives. The researchers plan to incorporate a third project which diagnoses vision defects so that the same device could determine the user’s prescription and automatically correct for it.

The first spectacles were invented in the 13th century. Today, of course, we have contact lenses and surgery, but it’s all invasive in the sense that you either have to put something in your eye, wear something on your head, or undergo surgery. We have a different solution that basically puts the glasses on the display, rather than on your head. It will not be able to help you see the rest of the world more sharply, but today, we spend a huge portion of our time interacting with the digital world.
– Gordon Wetzstein/MIT

Read the whole article at: MIT News


Nikon D810: “Every Moment Counts (A Short Film Presented By Nikon Canada)”

Wed July 16, 2014

With its new D810, Nikon demonstrates the advanced cinematic power of its HD-SLR cameras (D4S, D4 and D810) for capturing broadcast quality video in “Every Moment Counts,” a short film directed by Preston Kanak.

“Every Moment Counts” creates an intimate portrait of Manny Vaughn, a real-life cod fisherman from Nova Scotia’s New Minas/Centreville community.

The story is a slice of life representing essential themes of the local culture — hard work, family, and dedication — set against the breathtaking beauty of the region.

Preston Kanak is a celebrated cinematographer who specializes in short films and time-lapse photography. He filmed his latest project, the “Every Moment Counts” campaign, in select locations around Nova Scotia to create an intimate portrait of a local rural fisherman and the thrilling geography of East Coast life. His purpose was to capture and share the beauty of the Canada’s East Coast with the rest of the country.

Utilizing the Nikon D4S, D4 and D810 HD-SLR cameras exclusively to create a photo and video series, Preston sought to do justice to the country’s most distinctive province by capturing its rugged and earthy landscape, unique light conditions, memorable locations, and east-coast culture.

In order to fully capture the essence of the environment in challenging shooting situations, Preston utilized specialized camera movements using camera sliders, cranes, underwater housing and octocopters. He also took advantage of the Nikon D4’s powerful features to create a series of intimate, stylized portraits of the fisherman using continuous lighting setups.

The Every Moment Counts campaign includes a photo series, 30-second teaser, three-minute documentary and a behind-the-scenes video discussing the capabilities of Nikon’s professional HD-SLRs and the technical specifications that make the Nikon products indispensable for filmmakers.


UAV Drone Robots May Soon Assist In Lighting Setup

Sat July 12, 2014

If you work as a photographer’s assistant setting up lighting for the photographer, be advised that your job may soon be fulfilled by “squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the positions necessary to produce lighting effects specified through a simple, intuitive, camera-mounted interface.

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University presented a prototype system that uses an autonomous helicopter to produce a difficult effect called “rim lighting,” in which only the edge of the photographer’s subject is strongly lit. The helicopter worked at very high speed to automatically maintain the rim width that the photographer specified even if the subject — or photographer — moved.

When will this Unassisted Autonomous Vehicle (UAV) technology move from the lab to the field?

“Clearly, taking the UAV system out of the lab and into the real world, and making it robust enough to be practical is a challenge, [...] but also something that should be doable given the rapid advancement of all of these technologies.”

Continue Reading »


Camera Gets No Respect, Is Shaved Off 0.5 mm At A Time

Thu July 10, 2014

A camera in the wrong hands can be a dangerous — or beautiful — thing.

Take Laurin Döpfner, for example, adept at using an industrial edge sander. Give her a camera and she decides to record how objects look like, sliced (or more crudely here, sanded off) 0.5 mm at a time using her edge sander.

Nothing escapes her maniacal fingers: wood, walnut, transformer (that’s the electrical, not the robotic, type), skull (not sure where she was able to get her hands on that) and GASP! the old camera (which the new one is replacing?).

She even caught it all in a time lapse video and we bring you proof of her misdeeds. Mercifully, we don’t see the actual weapon, only the (okay, we admit it) beautiful results.

Verschleif from Laurin Döpfner on Vimeo.

via kottke

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How Lenses Are Made

Sat July 5, 2014

We “discovered” this 2011 Discovery Channel video on how lenses are made. (The video refers to “television” lenses and the lenses are from JML Optical.) Though there are lots of marketing videos out there promoting this or that brand lens, they do not really educate much. This video, on the other hand, is more technical and gives an eye-opening explanation of how camera lenses are made, including the all-important electron-beam coating.

It seems to be a very manual endeavor and I wonder if it’s not much more automated these days. Anyways, it is very dependent on the people grinding the glass, polishing it and assembling it to make the finished product. After watching this video, it makes you want to handle your lens with a little bit more care, doesn’t it?

Tutorials, Videos

DIY: Build A $5 DSLR LCD Hood

Fri July 4, 2014

Most digital camera LCDs don’t fare too well in bright sunlight. The image displayed is washed out and it can be quite challenging composing on the LCD. If you have a viewfinder, it helps tremendously. However, when you are filming a movie, you do really depend a lot on the larger image displayed on the LCD. One solution to the washed out LCD in bright sunlight is to purchase an LCD Hood. If you do lots of filming in bright sunlight, the expense is fully justified. But, if you only do it occasionally, you may want to consider the following DIY option.

An LCD Hood is a cover for your DSLR’s LCD to block out the sun’s rays so you can have a clear unwashed view in bright light. Why spend $200 for an LCD hood when you can easily build one for around $5 from items you probably already have lying at home? In this Youtube video, user Knoptop shows how to build one.

From Knoptop

There are other designs out there but we found this one easy to understand and it seems to require less effort and no maths. ;) The one problem you may have is to find a container that is the right size for your LCD.

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