Notes about imaging

January 8, 2022 permalink

Lippmann Photography — First Color Spectrum Photos

In the 1890s the French physicist Gabriel Lippmann devised a new method of taking photographs that led to the first photographic recording of color:

Lippmann’s color photography process involved projecting the optical image as usual onto a photographic plate. The projection was done through a glass plate coated with a transparent emulsion of very fine silver halide grains on the other side. There was also a liquid mercury mirror in contact with the emulsion, so the projected light traveled through the emulsion, hit the mirror, and was reflected back into the emulsion.

The resulting plates are pretty cool looking, as seen in the video — very similar to the discovery of holography decades later — and technically they record a wider spectrum of color than our standard modern imaging techniques. He won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his research, but the method was largely shelved due to the complexity of the process and the inability to make color prints, which also didn’t appear commercially until much later.

In 2021 researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne published a paper on their research into Lippmann’s images, including a new method that lets us see the images closer to the original color captured in the photographic scene.

Side trivia: among Lippmann’s doctoral students at the Sarbonne was Maria Sklodowska, later a winner of multiple Nobel prizes herself, under her better-known married name: Marie Curie!


July 26, 2010 permalink

Non Square Pixels

The man who created the first scanned digital photograph in 1957, Russel Kirsch, pioneer of the pixel, apologizes in the May/July issue of Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Now 81 years old, he offers up a replacement (sorta) for the square pixel he first devised: tessellated 6×6 pixel masks that offer much smoother images with lower overall resolution. The resulting file sizes are slightly larger but the improved visual quality is pretty stunning, as seen in the closeup above. His research was inspired by the ancient 6th Century tile mosaics in Ravenna, Italy.

There are a lot of comments out there complaining that square pixels are more efficient, image and wavelet compression is old news, etc., and that’s true, but if you actually read the article you’ll find that the point isn’t so much the shape, the efficiency, or even the capture/display technology needed, but rather that this could be a good method for reducing the resolution of images somewhat while still retaining visual clarity, important in medical applications and in situations where low-resolution images are still tossed around.

Bonus: the man in the demo photo above is his son, the subject of the first-ever digital photograph!

(Via ScienceNews)

November 28, 2009 permalink

dpBestflow: Digital Photography Best Practices

The American Society of Media Photographers has a new resource up for people working with digital images: dpBestflow rounds up the best practices and workflows for digital photography, in neat, easy-to-digest pieces, with tips on subjects ranging from camera file formats to desktop hardware to room lighting. If you look at their handy Quick Reference overview, be sure to note that each bullet point links to a more in-depth piece if you’re interesting in drilling down for more info…

(Via John Nack)

August 4, 2009 permalink

First TV Broadcast: Papier Mâché Felix the Cat

This papier-mâché Felix the Cat was the first image to be broadcast over experimental television in preparation for the first public RCA broadcast in 1928. Black and white and made of durable material, they had him revolving on a turntable, beaming out as a tiny test image so engineers could adjust the signal. Early TV technology fascinates me.

There’s more good info on early test patterns over at Design Observer.