Category Archives: Scientific & Technical Imaging

Amazing footage of Perseverance landing on Mars

Insanely magical.

The real footage in this video was captured by several cameras that are part of the rover’s entry, descent, and landing suite. The views include a camera looking down from the spacecraft’s descent stage (a kind of rocket-powered jet pack that helps fly the rover to its landing site), a camera on the rover looking up at the descent stage, a camera on the top of the aeroshell (a capsule protecting the rover) looking up at that parachute, and a camera on the bottom of the rover looking down at the Martian surface.

If that’s up your alley, check out this 4K video showing images of the red planet (captured earlier):

Per Laughing Squid,

Elderfox Studios took photographic footage taken by various Mars space rovers and compiled them into an absolutely astonishing 4K rendered video that reveals the surface of Mars. The original photos used in this short but stunning documentary were from NASAJPL-CaltechMSSSCornell University and ASU.

The World's Smallest Movie

WTF, IBM, GTFO…
I remember in the early 80’s “drawing” on an IBM PCjr, fastidiously pecking out pixel after pixel. Now the company behind that artistic juggernaut has taken that approach to an insane extreme:

You’re about to see the movie that holds the Guinness World Records™ record for the World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film. The ability to move single atoms — the smallest particles of any element in the universe — is crucial to IBM’s research in the field of atomic memory. But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times. A movie made with atoms.


The making-of is fascinating:

Presumably, notes Adobe video PM Al Mooney, it was edited in Premiere Proton. 😉

A new Photoshop extension detects image manipulation

I’m excited to announce that the company founded by my old boss & friend Kevin Connor, working together with image authenticity pioneer Dr. Hany Farid, has released their first product, FourMatch—an extension for Photoshop CS5/CS6 that “instantly distinguishes unmodified digital camera files from those that may have been edited.” From the press release:

FourMatch… appears as a floating panel that automatically and instantly provides an assessment of any open JPEG image. A green light in the panel indicates that the file matches a verified original signature in FourMatch software’s extensive and growing database of more than 70,000 signatures. If a match is not found, the panel displays any relevant information that can aid the investigator in further assessing the photo’s reliability.

Check it out in action, and see also coverage in the NY Times:

One other neat detail:

Fourandsix will donate 2 percent of their proceeds from the sale of this software to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The donation will support NCMEC efforts to find missing children and prevent the abduction and sexual exploitation of children. 

Insane in the literal membrane

The crazy nerds at Backyard Brains have created “the world’s first cephalo-iPod,” pumping Cypress Hill through the body of an unsuspecting squid:

An iPod plays music by converting digital music to a small current that it sends to tiny magnets in the earbuds. The magnets are connected to cones that vibrate and produce sound.
Since this is the same electrical current that neurons use to communicate, we cut off the ear buds and instead placed the wire into the fin nerve. When the iPod sends bass frequencies (<100Hz) the axons in the nerves have enough charge to fire an action potential. This will in turn cause the muscles in the chromatophores to contract.


[Via]

Adobe & MIT team up on Halide, a new imaging language

Last month I broke the somewhat sad news that Adobe’s Pixel Bender language is being retired, but for a good cause: we can now redirect effort & try other ways to achieve similar goals. To that end, Adobe researchers have teamed up with staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to define Halide, a new programming language for imaging. It promises faster, more compact, and more portable code.

According to MIT News,

In tests, the MIT researchers used Halide to rewrite several common image-processing algorithms whose performance had already been optimized by seasoned programmers. The Halide versions were typically about one-third as long but offered significant performance gains — two-, three-, or even six-fold speedups. In one instance, the Halide program was actually longer than the original — but the speedup was 70-fold.

Hot damn. #progress

View to an eclipse

Photographer Cory Poole captured 700 images from a telescope with “a very narrow bandpass allowing you to see the chromosphere and not the much brighter photosphere below it,” then used them to create this video:

Or, as my Photoshop-centric brain saw it, “He’s moving two overlapping paths with a Boolean operation & red stroke/inner shadow layer style applied.” Because, yes, I need to get out a lot more.
Elsewhere, the Atlantic features a gorgeous gallery of images that capture the event from points all around the world.
[Via]

A ride on the Space Shuttle's booster

Boom:

From the upcoming Special Edition Ascent: Commemorating Space Shuttle, a movie from the point of view of the Solid Rocket Booster with sound mixing and enhancement done by the folks at Skywalker Sound. The sound is all from the camera microphones and not fake or replaced with foley artist sound. The Skywalker sound folks just helped bring it out and make it more audible.

Astrophotography: Comet Lovejoy

Here’s a “Night Time Lapse of Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) rising above the Andes near Santiago de Chile, 23rd December 2011, just before sunrise. Set of 4 sequences taken with different lenses “zooming in” the scene.” The sequences grow more visually impressive over time, though having just watched “Melancholia,” I found the object’s steady growth a bit unnerving.

[Via]

"Photoshopped or Not? A Tool to Tell"

My longtime boss Kevin Connor left Adobe earlier this year to launch a startup, Fourandsix, aimed at “revealing the truth behind every photograph.” Now his co-founder (and Adobe collaborator) Hany Farid has published some interesting research:

Dr. Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Dartmouth, are proposing a software tool for measuring how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered, a 1-to-5 scale that distinguishes the infinitesimal from the fantastic. Their research is being published this week in a scholarly journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Check out the interactive presentation of before & after images. Details are on the NY Times.

Exhibit: Photo Tampering Throughout History

You can build a business manipulating photos; how about building one by detecting those manipulations?

My longtime boss Kevin Connor was instrumental in building Photoshop, Lightroom, and PS Elements into the successes they are today, and he taught me the ropes of product management. After 15 years he was ready to try starting his own company, so this spring he teamed up with Dr. Hany Farid (“the father of digital image forensics,” said NOVA). Together they’ve started forensics company Fourandsix (get the pun?), aimed at “revealing the truth behind every photograph.”

Now they’ve put up Photo Tampering Throughout History, an interesting collection of famous (and infamous) forgeries & manipulations from Abraham Lincoln’s day to the present. Numerous examples include before & after images plus brief histories of what happened.

I wish Kevin & Hany great success in this new endeavor, and I can’t wait to see the tools & services they introduce.

Related/previous:

Astronomical distances

Happy 50th anniversary of human space flight!. Healing Brush creator Todor Georgiev, noting that April 12 is World Cosmonautics Day, somewhat ruefully observes:

If 50 years ago we had a state-of-the-art spaceship, and if we launched a flight to the nearest star (at the same time as Gagarin’s flight), where would we be now? Already there and back, right? No. Or maybe halfway there? No! The answer is: We would have travelled 0.03% of the way. I just did the math. It would take us 150,000 years to get there. And I am not counting the costs.

Lest that get you down, here’s NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and Jethro Tull founder Ian Anderson in an earth/space flute duet playing homage to Yuri Gagarin. (Also, you might like Chopping Block’s Above Earth t-shirt, commemorating 23 historic flights. The little chimp & dog silhouettes make it for me.)

A photographic (non-CGI) fly-by of Saturn

The IMAX film “Outside In” is produced from “hundreds of thousands of still photos” taken by the Cassini orbiter. I have a hard time believing that the footage is real, but I’m hardly an expert. Check it out:

The filmmaking is a non-profit effort being supported by individuals & a few companies. [Via]
Update: See comments for some technical details from the filmmaker & others.

(rt) Photography: Strange Cargo from the skies

Big money (literally)

  • What’s the name for those fine, moiré-looking swirls often found on banknotes?  Guillochés, it turns out.  Aegir Hallmundur features a nice set of them, plus info on how they were created.  See also his Future of Money designs. [Via]
  • The folks at the GigaPan project provide close-ups of guillochés, pennies, and much more with their new giant close-ups. Here they demonstrate photographing a circuit board:

Scientific art: Macro eyes, colorful brains, & more

  • Phil Hart has posted a lovely gallery of Bioluminescence and Weather Phenomena.  For me the two will always be associated with my one cruise in the US Navy, watching bioluminescent algae spatter the bridge windows of our ship all night during heavy seas–then puking my guts out (rinse & repeat). [Via]
  • Your Beautiful Eyes: I kinda can’t deal with this macro photography by Suren Manvelyan. (I feel a T.J. Eckleburg reference coming on.) [Via]
  • The Beautiful Brain: Artist, former lawyer, and MS patient Elizabeth Jameson colors images of her own & others’ brains, using her art to “make medical imaging and its representative humanity more accessible.” [Via]

From great heights: Cool weather balloon + camera project

Colin Rich used a homemade weather balloon to carry cameras to an altitude of 125,000 feet:

According to PetaPixel,

After purchasing two Canon compact cameras on eBay, Rich programmed them to take 3 photos every 3 minutes, and shoot a minute of video every fourth minute. The cameras were then insulated in styrofoam, and sent up to 125,000 feet before the balloon burst. With the help of a parachute, the cameras descended for 35 minutes and landed about 15-20 miles away.

It’s a great time to be alive. [Via]

Video: Rapid creation of 3D using a video camera

Check out this bit of cleverness:

It reminds me of a more automated version of the Video Trace technology (see demo) that popped up around two years ago. It also brings to mind Strata’s Foto 3D, a tool for generating 3D models from within Photoshop using just a series of photographs.
I know Photoshop’s entry into 3D can sometimes be a little confusing (e.g. wasn’t the app big/complex enough already?), but we see 3D becoming more and more accessible & ubiquitous. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” For more info you may want to see “Photoshop 3D is not about 3D.”

Moon reunion

Happy 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

Where Eagles Dare

Today, as you’re probably reading elsewhere, marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, humanity’s first landing on the moon. Follow along with the mission on the beautiful We Choose The Moon. Related links of interest:

[For many more space-/imaging-related links, see this blog’s scientific & technical imaging category.]

Friday Science: All space, all the time

Saturday Science: Beautiful bubbles, balloons, & more

And finally, a space-related quote o’ the day: “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” — Fred Hoyle

Monday Science

It’s been a while since I last shared science-related bits. Without further ado:

Science Friday: Microscopic Obama heads & more

Recent scientific imaging goodness

  • Big worlds:
    • Miloslav Druckmuller combined 55 shots to create this striking eclipse image. Reader Vojtech Tryhuk passed along the links and says, “[He] is using a set of software specially developed for processing of Sun eclipse photographs, all written by himself and his colleagues.”
    • The Big Picture is running a Hubble Advent calendar, adding an eye-popping new image from the space telescope each day.
    • The International Space Station is turning 10 this month, and TBP rounds up a great sampling of images. If you’re low on time, just see this shot.