Monday, 28 December 2015

Forensics - Femto-photography

In a photo we may marvel at the frozen movement of a bird, captured in one thousandth of a second.  High-speed cameras have existed for decades that can capture a speeding bullet in just one millionth of a second.  Take the iconic image above captured by by Harold "Doc" Edgerton in 1964.  Imagine if we could freeze not just the movement of our subject in time, but also the movement of light itself with an infinitesimally short exposure time? 

Light travels at a speed just shy of 300,000,000 meters per second.  How fast would a camera shutter have to be to truly stop light in it's tracks?  Not one millionth, or one billionth, but one trillionth of a second!  I invite you to watch this amazing TED Talk by one of the discoverers of a new field in science and photography.  Here is Prof. Ramesh Raskar, on Femto-photography

Potential in Birding

In the posting about Measurements From Photographs I discussed the difficulties involved in making correct size measurements from 2D images.  3D technologies would seem to be the answer and the femto-camera could be one way of going about it.  Where a bird is moving about it may be possible with current technology to generate a 3D image through a composite of 2D grabs, as outlined HERE.  However femto-photography goes a step further.  The ability to effectively scan around corners by bouncing light off objects creates interesting options to allow an observer generate a 3D image without having to change the position of the camera or subject.  Working at near the speed of light such a powerful camera might potentially scan a scene in 3D using multiple exposures in a fraction of the time it would take a modern DSLR to generate a sharp 2D image.  How long before this kind of technology becomes reality in the field?

Light and Materials
The ability to study how light interacts with materials will teach us a lot.  Light is absorbed, reflected and transmitted through different anatomical structures on the surface of a bird.  Imagine being able to watch single photons of light interact with an iridescent, structural colour on a bird's feather or watch a photon bounce around inside a bird's beak illuminating it's internal structures before passing through.

For more visit the dedicated web-page HERE.