Computational Photography Is the Future… Are You Ready?

by planetMitchLeave a Comment

Computational Photography is coming whether you're ready or not… and frankly, many of us don't even recognize it as it is coming.

You know I've talked about the Light L16 which is indeed a true computational photography camera and I love that camera (so much so I started lightRumors), but thinking of what comes out of our camera as “data” instead of “images” might take some time to fully comprehend for many.

But even the smartphones are using more and more software to ‘make' the image. It is no longer just light going thru a lens and landing on film recording a scene.

One aspect to think about is the legal ramifications… we used to trust a photo as a record of an event… but with as much as can be done in software, can we really trust a photo in the future?

OK Computer: Computational photography is here to stay!

Via Witness:

In 2014, the World Press Photo Foundation — the publishers of Witness — commissioned research on “The Integrity of the Image” to assess contemporary industry standards worldwide. The purpose of the report was to produce some form of understanding concerning ethics in the digital image, especially the issue of post-production manipulation due to widespread concerns expressed within the photographic community about the credibility of news and documentary images. Nearly four years later, things have changed and understanding that change is what I want and need to address here.

One of the findings outlined in ‘The Integrity of the Image’ is that “we are now in an era of computational photography, where most cameras capture data rather than images. This means that there is no original image, and that all images require processing to exist.” The report continues:

In the digital era, we still think of the camera [as] a picture-making device. This, however, is a mistake. In the digital era, we need to understand the camera as a data-collection device, a device which is “gathering as much data as you can about the scene, and then later using advanced computational techniques to process that data into the final image…”

Computational photography

However, we are no longer in the digital era; we are now in the computational one. Pedantic? No, accurate. Not in all areas of photographic capture yet, but certainly in the principle one of smartphone photography.

According to “The Integrity of the Image”:

Debates about digital manipulation often proceed in terms of how images are captured in camera and then post-processed outside the camera. However, this is a rendering of the problem dependent on an analogue view of photography, one which fails to appreciate the radical changes of the digital era. If we understand that digital photography is computational, then every image requires “post-processing” in order to be an image. We have no original image in computational, digital photography. At the point of capture there is only data that has to be processed. This means “post-processing” is a necessity in the making of an image. Therefore, the assumption that we have an in-camera image which can function as the authentic, original image is no longer sustainable.

I agree with much of this, and in 2014 it was true, but things have changed and this is how.

Read full article at Witness “OK Computer: Computational photography is here to stay!”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Witness)


chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind

He's incredibly happy running planet5D and sharing so much joy of photography and filmmaking with his readers.

Leave a Comment