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A bit of magic by pressing the shutter

Spectre, using computational photography, can make people disappear… Spooky, isn’t it?. Credit: Chroma Noir LLC

Now, I don’t know about you but I am one of those people that wait for 5 minutes before photographing a temple (I just did that several times in Laos two weeks ago) waiting for that fleeting instant when there are not person between you (your lens) and the temple.

Yes, I know, there is are some tricks to achieve the same result by using a tripod and a bit of Photoshop. The idea is that if you take a few pictures at some 30″ distance the probability that persons will be crowing the same spot are low, so what you do is to combine all the images into one (that’s why you need a tripod, to make sure they are all aligned) and with Photoshop you delete from each one the people annoying your sense of beauty… Similarly, if you place your camera on the tripod and place black filters on the lens to extend the exposure time to something like 5′, people (and whatever moves) will just fade away leaving in the photo only those parts that are standing still (but of course you have to deal with long exposure noise….).

The problem is that you have to carry a tripod around, wait a few minutes at each spot and then spend some time (quite a bit actually) to erase what you don’t like.

Now I discovered an app, Spectre, that automate all of that in the field. As you can imagine I immediately bought it (turns out it is a bit more expensive than what is stated in the article, but still quite cheaper than the effort of moving around with a tripod…).

Spectre is basically a computational photography app you can use to simulate long exposure. Rather than taking a single shot with a long exposure it takes hundreds of them and then using artificial intelligence combines them all into a single shot. In doing that it lets you choose what it is you want to get rid of, what effect you want to keep (like trailing lights from cars) and gets rid of noise on top.

That is amazing, and it is all resulting from the capability to interpret the photo on the bases of what you like to get.

Expect to see many more applications of computational photography and get ready to expect the unexpected!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

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