Category Archive: technology


1.8 Gigapixel Cameras Fly on US Drones

Gizmodo has written about the “World’s Highest Resolution Camera”, with 1.8 gigapixels, which is being developed for the US government. They shared this clip from the PBS show NOVA which recently broadcast an episode called “Rise of the Drones”.

This is the next generation of surveillance. … It is important for the public to know that some of these capabilities exist. – BAE Systems Engineer Yiannis Antioniades, who designed the sensor

I know some folks working on drone-related journalism and drone-related photography. This should give you some more ideas about what might be possible. And I can’t help but think of what extreme ‘Google Street View’ style projects could be possible from a camera also known as “Wide-Area Persistant Stare’. Maybe some day we’ll see such a thing, for now it remains a classified US Government program.

Scott also recommends having a look at the Dronestagram project, which compiles Google Maps aerial landscapes of the sites of drone strikes. You can follow them on Instagram or on Tumblr.

Trevor Paglen Photographs the Limit of Vision at Black Sites

At that extreme distance [44miles] vision itself collapses. Literally you can look as hard and with the most powerful equipment you can and there is nothing to see. Because at those distances there is so much heat and so much haze and so much turbulence in the atmosphere that the photons that make up light are literally coming apart from each other. Color is literally coming apart.

Now it turns out that it is harder to take a picture of something on the ground that is 30 or 40 miles away than it is to take a picture of Jupiter, for example, that is hundreds of millions of miles away.

You come up against the physical limit of vision. That is really what you see in the photograph, is you see vision falling apart. Now at the same time it is a photograph of this weapons range, but it is also a photograph of the impossibility of trying to see this weapons range in a certain way.

We have previously written about Trevor Paglen’s groundbreaking photography projects about military patches, spy satellites, CIA Black Sites and Limit-Telephotography but I just came across this video interview with him explaining the physical limits of light and photography that his work about “black sites” is confronting. An interesting thought.

(via ASX.TV: Trevor Paglen – “Black Sites” (2012))

Apple patents location-based camera disabling

from US patent 8,254,902

from US patent 8,254,902

This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings), and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area. -U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902

U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902, Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device, was recently issued to Apple, Inc, makers of the iPhone and other wireless devices. The patent describes a method for restricting the function of a wireless device upon the occurrence of specific events such as when the device enters a specified area; that is, it will be possible to remotely disable all sounds on patrons’ cell phones at a movie theater or to disable the camera function of a phone when the phone is in a concert venue.

Here’s an example from the patent of a scenario in which such function-disabling devices might be deployed: “a wireless camera hidden in an area or brought in by another individual (e.g., a cellular phone camera) where privacy is normally reasonably expected such as a department store changing room, bathroom or locker room is one example of a significant threat to such privacy…The command instructs the device to enter into a “lockdown” mode. Different facilities may enact different “lockdown” modes. For instance, a locker room facility may issue a command that prevents use of a cellular phone camera or laptop computer camera while in that area, thereby preventing surreptitious imaging of customers/users. Customers of such facilities may be willing to pay extra for the peace of mind associated with knowing that they are not being secretly photographed.”

This specific case seems relatively fine; I don’t want people taking pictures of me in my gym locker room. And there are plenty of legitimate uses for this sort of technology; many device manufacturers produce cell phones without cameras or laptops without webcams for use in high security business or government environments. But we’re living in an era in which photographers are regularly placed under suspicion, accosted, or apprehended by security guards and police and the general public for taking pictures of publicly viewable things from public spaces (we’ve covered this a lot in the past, and Carlos Miller’s Photography Is Not A Crime blog is a good one-stop shop for regular updates on this sort of thing). I can easily imagine shopping malls, amusement parks, concert venues, convention sites, skyscrapers, and other highly controlled areas implementing these technological restrictions on picture taking in order to prevent unauthorized pictures from getting out. Or, in a perversion of the old Kodak Picture Spot or an odd twist to the “Free Speech Zones“, pictures might be allowed only in specific locations that provide the appropriate branding or appearance that the site’s owners wish to impart in tourists’ photos. I never like slippery slope arguments; there’s no telling when, how, or if this technology will ever be used. However, it will be an interesting one to watch.

(via PetaPixel)

Embarrassing party photos posted on Facebook? Not with this beer cooler / photoblocker

“Ostensibly, the Norte Photoblocker is a functional beer cooler surrounded by four sensors that can detect the flashes from cameras or cell phones. If a flash goes off in the direction of the Photoblocker, it fires its own flash to flood the resulting photos with bright white and obscure anyone nearby.” -Gizmag, Norte Photoblocker keeps your face out of embarrassing club photos

Apparently this actually exists. A South American beer brand called Cerveza Norte has developed a beer cooler/photoblocker device in partnership with Brazil-based ad agency Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi. The device keeps a beverage cold and is outfitted with an array of flashbulbs. If the device detects a flash from a camera pointed in its direction, the photoblocker fires its own flash in order to overexpose the picture being taken. Watch the video above (skip to 0:38 to see the device), and it will all be clear. The device has been field-tested in bars in Argentina, and it works as advertised. No word on when the photoblocker will be available for purchase. Fast Company has a little more background.

This isn’t the first such device. A few years ago, NYU grad student Adam Harvey developed an anti-paparazzi clutch purse that operates in a similar way.

(via /.)

Find copyright violations of your pictures with src-img bookmarklet

The src-img overlay on an image of Hutterite children by M. Scott Brauer

The src-img overlay on an image of Hutterite children by M. Scott Brauer

Google Image Search recently received a major upgrade in the form of a search by image function. By uploading an image to the search engine, or using an image url, Google finds images that it thinks are the same or similar. Reverse image search isn’t new–TinEye has been doing it for a while–but Google’s massive indexing capabilities make it a cut above the rest. These tools are useful for finding the source of images online, and for photographers, offer a powerful opportunity to find copyright violations. But uploading an image each time you want to do an image search can be tedious. Enter src-img.

With src-img, a javascript bookmarklet that you drag to your browser’s bookmarks bar, all images on a page are overlaid with a ?¿ link, as in the screenshot at the top of this post. Clicking the ?¿ opens up a Google Image Search on the image (here’s an example from the image above, with a copyright violation I’ve just now found…). It streamlines the whole process.

Now, once you’ve found an infringement, you’ve got to figure out what to do about it. Photo Attorney Carolyn Wright offers both a list of ideas of what to do once your work has been infringed, and, on the PhotoShelter blog, ways you can protect your images from infringement online.

Need a Halloween costume? Here’s a fully-functioning digital camera costume.

Tyler Card and Adam Barr - fully-functioning camera Halloween costume

Tyler Card and Adam Barr - fully-functioning camera Halloween costume

Need a last-minute Halloween costume idea? You probably don’t have time to do it now, but Tyler Card and Adam Barr built a fully-functioning digital camera Halloween costume. There’s a behind-the-scenes video (warning, annoying and loud music…) that documents the process of making the whole thing. The guts of it all are a torn-apart laptop and an actual digital camera that outputs directly to the computer’s LCD. One click of the giant shutter, and there’s a picture visible on the back of the costume. Pretty great!

(via PetaPixel)

And since I think that’s Tyler in the costume, that also makes him…wait for it…a camera card. Zing!

Weird photo science: putting fake objects into real photos

We recently wrote about unblurring blurry photos a couple weeks ago. Now comes video (embedded above) showing real-time, dynamic, and easy-to-do insertion of fake objects into any photo. This is part of research led by Kevin Karsch, a PhD student at the University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign. The user makes a bare-bones sketch of objects and lighting in the photo, and then drags an object into the image. The software then realistically places the object into the photo with proper lighting and collision. It’s difficult to describe, so you really should watch the video. Look for animations going through photos, bouncing off walls, casting proper shadows, and interrupting complex light patterns in a very natural way. Ordinarily, this sort of composite work would take expertise and hours, but the narrator says that one example in the video was done by a novice user in just 10 minutes.

I found this video via James Fallows’ blog at the Atlantic. Fallows calls this the latest, “What hath God wrought?” moment for technology and links to a short essay worrying about the democratization of image manipulation tools.

The End of Blurry Photos?

Have a look at this ‘sneak peek’ of a future feature in Photoshop which will automatically un-blur your blurry images. It is from this year’s Adobe MAX conference. Pretty cool.



With only a few clicks, a blurry image is quickly analyzed, allowed Photoshop to discern exactly how the image was messed up (sic). That is to say, if you accidentally moved your hand slightly to the right and down while the shutter snapped, it’ll pick that up. And then it reverses it—and that’s the totally magical part. – Gizmodo

Saw on Gizmodo, who got it from PetaPixel.

Newstweek – device modifies news websites on the fly on public WiFi connections

Newstweek: fixing the facts from newstweek on Vimeo.

An inherent value of print is its immutability. What was written online last year or last week, may have disappeared or been drastically modified; there is no record of what was except for what is. Newstweek, a strange little device that intercepts and changes news websites on open public WiFi networks, demonstrates just how tenuous world of digital media can be. The miniature computer was designed to be deployed in coffee shops and similar public spaces. When plugged in, and directed by an administrator over the internet, Newstweek replaces the contents of news websites with whatever the administrator chooses. In the example video above, and the extended video at hackaday, unsuspecting users computers display slightly modified versions of news articles, with headlines or text inserted to reflect the politics of these activists. The creators of the device, Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, want their work to address the issue of trustworthiness as it relates to the gatekeepers of the national and international media conversation. There’s an interview with them at ComputerWorld. There’s also good discussion of the device and its implications at sci-fi author Charlie Stross’ blog.

It’s all very insidious, and I’m frightened to consider the possibilities for these devices in the wrong hands (or anybody’s hands, really). And while the above demonstration of device is eye-opening, there aren’t many degrees of separation between Newstweek and filtering and personalization already performed by most websites. That issue’s been on my mind lately as Eli Pariser’s book, “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You,” has been making the rounds lately. At it’s most innocuous, sites like facebook only show you information from your strongest connections, using algorithms to decide which friends are most important to you. Somewhere up the sinister spectrum a bit, e-commerce sites might change prices of items based on your shopping habits or items that you had viewed previously. Even further along the line, China’s government this week temporarily banned the words “Inner Mongolia” online to stem the spread of protests in the region (this would be like if the Obama administration made it impossible to write “Montana” on any blogs, twitter, or facebook). In each of these cases, as in the Newstweek example, the problem not only lies in the types of changes being made, but also in just how difficult it is to discern that any change has been made.

You can learn how to build your own Newstweek device here.

Erwitt and De Keyzer release iPad books

I love the emergence of photo books on the iPad. Perhaps what these apps do best is make difficult to find material (Capitolio, for instance, just officially sold out in North America, I learned on Facebook) easily available in an affordable way. Sure, it’s nothing like an actual book in one’s hands, but viewing photos on an iPad does wonders for photography that one might only ever see on a computer screen. These apps offer a hand-crafted and distraction-free way to view the work that a laptop screen just can’t match. Now, like Christopher Anderson’s Capitolio and World Press Photo’s 2011 photo annual before, two more Magnum photographers have released iPad collections of their work.

Carl De Keyzer - Zona - now on the iPad

Carl De Keyzer - Zona - now on the iPad

First is Carl De Keyzer‘s breathtaking Zona: Siberian Prison Camps (also available in print; and there’s a 77-image edit on De Keyzer’s website). I’ve long been a fan of the work, but have never gotten a chance to see the book in person.

Elliott Erwitt - now on the iPad

Elliott Erwitt - now on the iPad

And secondly, Elliott Erwitt has a retrospective collection of his work now available on the iPad. The book/app has 343 photos from his 60-year career and also features commentary from the man himself and some behind the scenes video.

By the way, if you click through our link to buy the apps, we get a (very) small cut of the sale. It’s a way for us to keep the lights on here at dvafoto. Thanks to those of you who have clicked through us in the past!