Your phone’s camera didn’t capture the moment. It computed it.

The way our cameras process and represent images is changing in a subtle but fundamental way, shifting cameras from ‘capturing the moment’ to creating it with algorithmic computations.

Reporting about the camera on Google’s new Pixel 4 smartphone, Brian Chen of the New York Times writes:

“When you take a digital photo, you’re not actually shooting a photo anymore.

‘Most photos you take these days are not a photo where you click the photo and get one shot,’ said Ren Ng, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘These days it takes a burst of images and computes all of that data into a final photograph.’

Computational photography has been around for years. One of the earliest forms was HDR, for high dynamic range, which involved taking a burst of photos at different exposures and blending the best parts of them into one optimal image.

Over the last few years, more sophisticated computational photography has rapidly improved the photos taken on our phones.”

This technology is evident in Google’s Night Sight, which is capable of capturing low-light photos without a flash.

Why it’s hot: 

In a world where the veracity of photographs and videos is coming into question because of digital manipulation, it’s interesting that alteration is now baked in.

Shuttershock Gets Strange…Imagines Stranger Things 3 with Only Stock Imagery

In preparation for the July 4 release of Netflix’s Stranger Things 3, Shutterstock has gotten in on the world of the Upside Down by releasing its own version made entirely of Shutterstock stock footage.

Via Adweek:

If you’re eagerly awaiting the July 4 debut of Stranger Things’ third season—dubbed Stranger Things 3—on Netflix, Shutterstock is hoping it can quench your thirst with a version of its own, made entirely from stock footage.

The stock-footage company’s new campaign, Strange Things, intended to parody the science-fiction horror aesthetic that’s made Stranger Things a pop-culture phenomenon and the recipient of dozens of awards nominations.

“Enjoy binge watching strange things?” the ad for Shutterstock reads as an ominous synth plays. “Well, you’re in luck. We have millions of strange things. Like 80’s things, shady things, upside down things—and even stranger things.”

Save for the iconic cast of the show, the video—made entirely from Shutterstock’s own assets—points to the breadth of the company’s stock-footage library.

Your Perspective…is Biased

People are fascinating creatures. We have the ability to create, communicate and con. Even when someone excels at “reading the room” they can only read what has been “written”, and what if that turns about to be a bit more fiction than truth?

Empathy, especially through interviewing is a valuable tool in finding insight and inspiration. Both the interviewer and interviewee  play an integral part in the process.Those interviews can drastically change the outputs

Why It’s Hot:

I think the line “It’s like 6 totally different people” really captures how we as people can receive and process information. The lesson to take is – dig deeper. We’re all humans, maybe the person you’re interviewing is having a bad day, maybe they just won the lottery…without going in for a deeper dive we may miss the true essence.


Your Instagram Posts May Hold Clues to Your Mental Health

The photos you share online speak volumes. They can serve as a form of self-expression or a record of travel. They can reflect your style and your quirks. But they might convey even more than you realize: The photos you share may hold clues to your mental health, new research suggests.

From the colors and faces in their photos to the enhancements they make before posting them, Instagram users with a history of depression seem to present the world differently from their peers, according to the study, published this week in the journal EPJ Data Science.

“People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people,” said Andrew Reece, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and co-author of the study with Christopher Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont.

The pair identified participants as “depressed” or “healthy” based on whether they reported having received a clinical diagnosis of depression in the past. They then used machine-learning tools to find patterns in the photos and to create a model predicting depression by the posts.

They found that depressed participants used fewer Instagram filters, those which allow users to digitally alter a photo’s brightness and coloring before it is posted. When these users did add a filter, they tended to choose “Inkwell,” which drains a photo of its color, making it black-and-white. The healthier users tended to prefer “Valencia,” which lightens a photo’s tint.

Depressed participants were more likely to post photos containing a face. But when healthier participants did post photos with faces, theirs tended to feature more of them, on average.

The researchers used software to analyze each photo’s hue, color saturation and brightness, as well as the number of faces it contained. They also collected information about the number of posts per user and the number of comments and likes on each post.

Though they warned that their findings may not apply to all Instagram users, Mr. Reece and Mr. Danforth argued that the results suggest that a similar machine-learning model could someday prove useful in conducting or augmenting mental health screenings.

“We reveal a great deal about our behavior with our activities,” Mr. Danforth said, “and we’re a lot more predictable than we’d like to think.”

Source: New York Times

Why It’s Hot

The link between photos and health is an interesting one to explore. The role of new/alternate technologies (or just creative ways of using existing ones) in identifying illness — whether mental or otherwise — is something we are sure to see more of.

If a picture paints a thousand words…

Experts who want to pierce North Korea’s extreme secrecy have to be creative. One surprisingly rich resource: the country’s own propaganda, like the photo below.

Thanks to high-tech forensics, analysts and intelligence agencies are using photos to track North Korea’s internal politics and expanding weapons programs with stunning granularity.

The bomb, Kim’s outfit, the entourage and the missile have all been thoroughly dissected

Analysts believe some details may have been deliberately revealed to demonstrate the country’s growing capabilities. Whereas most such images are doctored, if only to improve Mr. Kim’s appearance, they noticed that this was conspicuously unretouched — perhaps a message to the foreign intelligence agencies who conduct such analyses.

Whereas analysts had long doubted the country’s grandiose claims, analysts said, “2016 was about showing us all the capabilities that we had mocked.”

Why It’s Hot
As countries around the world debate security and the measures appropriate to ensure it, we must remain vigilant against unintended consequences to areas like privacy and data protection.

Photographer captures the eerie reality of our smartphone addiction

While working in a coffee shop one morning in upstate New York, photographer Eric Pickersgill was struck by the image of a family sitting together, but engaging separately with their own devices.

“I didn’t make that picture, but it exists in my mind as an image — a very emotionally charged image,” he wrote in a statement to Mashable.

This moment would go on to inspire Pickersgill’s latest project titled “Removed,” a series that takes the tech out of photos of people engaging with smartphones and tablets.

What’s left are eerie images of couples, families, friends and strangers staring blankly at their empty hands.

cody_and_erica debbie_kevin headon michelle_and_jimmy grant snoopys wendy_brian_kids Angie_and_Me eric-pickersgill-thumbnail


Source: Mashable

Why It’s Hot

Well, this puts some things in perspective. Technology is so ingrained into our lives at this point — and we know it well, but we hardly ever take a step back. This is a great artistic expression of the need to separate ourselves from technology from time to time.



Google Builds AI Image Network That Could Benefit Search


Improvements in image recognition for Google mean building an artificial neural network where the software is capable of recognizing, learning, and eventually, generating its own network in the likeness of the original. It’s one way that the future of search could improve on serving results, and perhaps another way to give creative advertising agencies an alternative perspective.

Artificial Neural Networks, a Google research project, relies on software based on the structure of how biological brains learn when being shown millions of images. It is trained by seeing millions of examples. The researchers gradually adjust the network parameters until it gives the desired results, such as recognizing the image.

If an image is incorrect, researchers adjust the neurons as images change to help the network reach the correct conclusion. There are between 10 and 30 layers of “artificial neurons,” and each talks to the next until it learns to redraw the correct image and recognized when the last layer is reached.

One remaining challenge is an understanding of what exactly goes on at each layer. “We know that after training, each layer progressively extracts higher and higher-level features of the image, until the final layer essentially makes a decision on what the image shows,” wrote a team of Google software researchers in a blog post. “For example, the first layer maybe looks for edges or corners. Intermediate layers interpret the basic features to look for overall shapes or components, like a door or a leaf. The final few layers assemble those into complete interpretations — these neurons activate in response to very complex things such as entire buildings or trees.”

The researchers were surprised to find neural networks that were trained to discriminate between different kinds of images have quite a bit of the information needed to generate images too,” according to researchers, who learned that the technology doesn’t look for the signals once thought to recreate the image.

The researchers used an image of dumbbells to provide an example. In this case, the network failed to completely identify the dumbbells because it lacked a muscular weightlifter in the picture that most would associate with the exercise equipment.

Researchers said the techniques help to better understand and visualize how neural networks are able to carry out difficult classification tasks, improve network architecture, and check what the network has learned during training. They also suggest it might make a tool for artists, or perhaps creative advertising agencies, presenting a way to remix visual concepts or even shed a little light on the roots of the creative advertising process in general.


Read the full story here

“Dronies” Are the New Selfies

Smile for the drone camera!

A U.K.-based firm is building a self-flying micro-drone called Zano, with which athletes can capture photos and HD videos of themselves doing fun stunts or other hard-to-snap moments and, of course, the everyday selfie-taker can be free from having their extended arm dominate every photo.


While Zano does not require constant external guidance and control from the user, it will link to a mobile app by which users can tell the device to stay put in one position or to move around for a different angle. The nano-drone is still in development backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign and the company is planning for lift off next summer.

Via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: The possibilities are endless. Drones are all the rage, from security to commercial use (Amazon Prime Air, anyone?) and for private, recreational purposes. With technology constantly advancing and our desire to capture and share every moment of our lives building, the idea of programming a drone to snap “dronies” isn’t much of a surprise. Selfies have become a part of our modern culture, and soon, instead of having to rely on a friend or asking a stranger, people will be able to position a drone via their smartphone to snap themselves in a new way.

Apart from taking “dronies,” self-flying camera drones can be used for a host of other purposes. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see where the drones soar from here.

Where a Picture is Worth a Thousand Songs

They always say a picture is worth a thousand words… well, how about a thousand songs? That’s where the fun new iOS app, Moodsnap, comes in!

Moodsnap is the world’s first image-based music streaming app, where deciding what to hear is as easy as knowing how you feel. Simply launch the app, click on a photograph that matches your mood, and presto!

That’s right, in Moodsnap, music stations are crowd-sourced collections of songs that users have collectively associated with emotive photographs. It is the community’s judgement of what songs feel right for each photograph, that fuels the listening experience for everyone.

Moodsnap is uniquely powered by Spotify and is free for Spotify Premium subscribers on iOS. Check out the app here!





Why It’s Hot

Taste-algorithms for music are nothing new, but usually are based off of components like artists, songs, or even activities. Photography has become a huge aspect of social media and the way the mass is expressing themselves. Music has always been a way to express and show emotion. Music and photography share that they are a way people identify and find common interests, so it makes sense they should be integrated. There may be potential for brands to use this as well. Such as having consumers upload pictures that create a brand playlist…. interesting.



Introducing MadWhips – for auto enthusiasts and more

If you’re into car photography and cars in general, here’s a community you might be interested in joining. Described as the “largest automotive photography-focused social network in the world,” MadWhips wants to be the 500px of the auto world. Having amassed seven years worth of photos, the Canadian company launched a new website and app this week that allows users to view photos and info on mostly exotic vehicles, taken by photographers and car enthusiasts.
MadWhips says it has more than a million Instagram followers, as well as 150,000-plus Facebook fans and 12,000-plus Twitter followers for its photos.

Why It's Hot

It's hot because it is focused on a specific content that many people feel very passionate about. I see this trend developing into other areas as well. MadWhips CEO says, medicationca “The engagement among our followers on social networks, particularly Instagram and Facebook, shows that there’s a big demand for our content. We’re gaining over 25,000 new followers a week.”
The site accepts advertising too and I already saw some ad network inventory.