Category Archives: Photography

Tour the International Space Station via Google Street View

European astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth last month after spending six months aboard the International Space Station, capturing the first Street View imagery captured beyond our planet:

[T]he Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS. Then I collected still photos in space, that were then sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.

You can read about the mission on the Google Blog & check out the behind-the-scenes process here:

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[YouTube]

Amazing slow-mo footage of hummingbirds

Check out some wonderful work from National Geographic photographer Anand Varma. Interesting details:

A 2013 University of Toronto study concluded that if hummingbirds were the size of an average human, they’d need to drink more than one 12-ounce can of soda for every minute they’re hovering, because they burn sugar so fast.

Kottke adds,

some hummingbirds can beat their wings 100 times in a second and can sip nectar 15 times per second. I also like the locals’ name for the Cuban bee hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird: zunzuncito (little buzz buzz).

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Google AI roams Street View to create & polish beautiful panos

“Our virtual photographer ‘travelled’ ~40,000 panoramas in areas like the Alps, Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada, Big Sur in California and Yellowstone National Park,” hunting for the best compositions, writes Hui Fang of the Google Research team.

Per PetaPixel, “Once it finds a nice-looking photo, it uses post-processing techniques to improve the look of the shot like photographers do in Photoshop or Lightroom. Edits include cropping, tweaking saturation, applying HDR effects, adding dramatic lighting with ‘content-aware brightness adjustments.’”

Potentially interesting sidenote: In 2013, before Google Photos became a standalone product, Google+ was backing up & applying semantic Auto Enhance to more than half a billion photos per day. The process mimicked the edits a skilled human would apply (e.g. treating skin differently from skies, sharpening & brightening). This all happened automatically, so almost no one noticed, and when we turned it off, almost no one cared (cf. bad wine). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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“Muscle-Up”: An “impossible” drone-shot tour de force

Robert McIntosh masterfully pilots his tiny homebrew drone over—and through—the landscape of Muscle Beach, resulting in this eye-popping video: 

Before you join me in saying, “Damn it, why does my drone footage always look like comparatively shite,” notice that he heavily stabilized his images using ReelSteady for Adobe After Effects, and that he was willing to endure quite a few crashes along the way. You can see the unstabilized footage & some mishaps here:

According to Cinema 5D,

Mcintosh claims to have used the “world’s smallest HD drone” which he describes as follows: The drone weighs in at an astonishing 94.7 grams WITH the stripped down Gopro! (120 grams takeoff weight with lipo flight battery and foam roll cage)For reference, a stock Gopro Hero 5 black weighs 118 grams!It’s less that 5″ wide and 3″ tall, Sporting 2″ propellers.

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As Jim might say, “This is the strangest life I’ve ever known…”

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Automatically share photos of specific people via Google Photos

Computer vision FTW!

Bad old world: Even though I’m standing next to my wife while she snaps pics of our kids, it’s only if Facebook buzzes my phone that I see what she took & shared. The rest remain a mystery.

Good new world: Every photo I take of the kids can be automatically shared with her, and vice versa. 

With shared libraries, sending and receiving photos with one person is effortless—you can automatically share your full photo library or customize just what you want to share. Suggested sharing uses machine learning to automatically identify photos and suggest recipients, making sharing as simple as a single tap. 

I’ve been waiting for this for years. Setup is super simple: pick your partner, select people to share (or whole library), send invite; goodness ensues. You can check out the details here, and you can use the feature now on iOS, Android, and Web. Enjoy!

Photography: “Swirling rays, knot holes, termites and rot” inside wood

Take a hypnotic tour through the inside of wood (really!) courtesy of engineer/animator Brett Foxwell and musician/animator Conor Grebel. As Colossal notes, “Watching this full-screen in HD with sound makes all the difference.”

“Fascinated with the shapes and textures found in both newly-cut and long-dead pieces of wood, I envisioned a world composed entirely of these forms,” Foxwell told Colossal. “As I began to engage with the material, I conceived a method using a milling machine and an animation camera setup to scan through a wood sample photographically and capture its entire structure. Although a difficult and tedious technique to refine, it yielded gorgeous imagery at once abstract and very real. Between the twisting growth rings, swirling rays, knot holes, termites and rot, I found there is a lot going on inside of wood.”

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[YouTube] [Via]