Is a new picture revolution truly upon us?
Something is going on in the field of photography. A new kind of science in the magic of visuals, both in principle and philosophy, is about to come out of a lab and into your hands. It will be in the form of a new camera that can do what is being touted as the “digital light field photography.”
The light field is a core concept in imaging science, representing fundamentally more powerful data than in regular photographs. The light field fully defines how a scene appears. It is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space – it’s all the light rays in a scene. Conventional cameras cannot record the light field.
The way we communicate visually is evolving rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing in lockstep. Light field cameras offer astonishing capabilities. They allow both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views. With these amazing capabilities, pictures become immersive, interactive visual stories that were never before possible – they become living pictures.
Ren Ng, Founder and CEO of Lytro on turning the concept of light field photography into reality:
We have something special here. Our mission is to change photography forever, making conventional cameras a thing of the past. Humans have always had a fundamental need to share our stories visually, and from cave paintings to digital cameras we have been on a long search for ways to make a better picture. Light field cameras are the next big step in that picture revolution.
If your head isn’t spinning yet, and you’ve grown marvelously curious in drilling into the core science of it all, you can download and peruse the awesome dissertation from a direct link at Lytro’s website that Ren Ng submitted in 2006 to the Department of Computer Science and the Committee on Graduate Studies of Stanford University “in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.” Clearly, this is where the new imaging science had its genesis.
And now, for that all-important question: What is the art that this science is making possible?