Many law enforcement agencies and communities this week are commemorating National Police Week, which takes place during the week of May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day. During this week, we’re thinking about how photographs play more of a role than ever in helping law enforcement officials gather evidence. To learn more, we met with Adobe Sr. Solutions Architect John Penn II, who dedicates his work to helping law enforcement solve cases with digital imaging technology.
How did you get started in your current role as Senior Solutions Architect?
John: Fifteen years ago this week I started at Adobe as a senior computer scientist on Photoshop and that was my primary job for a decade. About 10 years ago, a colleague on the Adobe Philanthropy Council asked if I’d be interested in attending a law enforcement conference and attending a session on Photoshop. That conference turned out to be the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children conference. One of the sessions at that conference by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was on identifying the victims of child exploitation. At the time, this was relatively new to law enforcement. I was both horrified by the nature of the crimes, but also intrigued by how images could be used to rescue the young victims of those crimes. I was confident that Photoshop could play a role in these investigations, and that spawned a personal interest that became the focus of my career. After years of working to help law enforcement in these cases in my personal time, with some persistence and support from others at Adobe, the work became my full time job and Senior Solutions Architect for Law Enforcement Technologies became my title.
In what ways does Photoshop technology help law enforcement?
John: Cameras have become an integrated part of our society. They are carried in our pockets and mounted to walls. As a result, crimes are more and more frequently captured in images and video. In daily life it’s no longer uncommon to see images or video of a crime in progress played on the news. Law enforcement would like to leverage that evidence to solve crimes. But sometimes, the critical clues are locked away behind sensor noise, poor lighting, blurry images or are in minute and hard to see details. Photoshop is a powerful tool in the hands of trained law enforcement, which can assist them in getting crucial information from digital media.
Of course, beyond working with image evidence, there are many other tools in Photoshop that are useful to law enforcement. Photoshop is used in a wide variety of forensic sciences including document forensics, working with fingerprints and processing other kinds of evidence.
What types of crimes do you help solve or prevent with digital imaging?
John: Digital imaging is important to a wide variety of law enforcement work. It’s used in the analysis of photos that law enforcement takes when investigating a crime scene. It’s used in different ways when separating a fingerprint from a complex background in a digital image in a forensic lab. In investigating crimes against children it’s used in different ways. Each type of crime and each investigator will have different techniques at their disposal to investigate the crime at hand.
For example, in cases when law enforcement is conducting surveillance on a suspect vehicle, it may not be possible to secure a photo of the car from an angle that won’t give away the investigation. While it’s always best to capture an image in a way that won’t need post-processing, there are techniques in Photoshop that can help clarify the contents of images. In the example below, a vehicle is photographed with a DSLR from a rather severe angle making it difficult to read the plates on the font of the vehicle. After some processing in Photoshop we’re able to clearly make out the plate number and registered state on the vehicle.
Techniques like this have varied results, so it’s critical to understand how to apply the techniques as well as how other factors including resolution, lighting, camera noise and blur will effect the results. Which is why we offer training and materials to law enforcement doing this type of processing. Just as important is listening to law enforcement and having an open communication channel with the investigators in the field doing this kind of work. That helps us develop better algorithms and techniques that take into consideration real-world factors we may not anticipate in development of features.
Can you tell a story or provide a specific example of a time that the technology in Photoshop helped solve a crime and/or save a life?
John: Because of the nature of the work, as well as legal and privacy concerns, I can’t give a specific example. But I can generally say that there are many examples of Photoshop and other Adobe tools like Premiere, Audition and Acrobat used to help solve crimes and save lives. I’m incredibly proud of the tools we develop and the innovation and care that’s put into them. I’ve seen Photoshop put to incredible use, and along with great police work, rescue the most innocent victims from some of the worst crimes imaginable.
Can you share any insight into new technology you’re developing to benefit law enforcement?
John: I can share insight into the thought process behind the new tools we’re developing. For me understanding the investigative challenges and the role technology plays in the commission or solving of the crime, is critical to the development of useful tools. For example, understanding what happens to a photo in the various stages of its lifecycle, from camera to evidence, can make all the difference between a tool that works well in the lab, and one that works well in the field.
How do you see the relationship between Photoshop and law enforcement advancing as technology improves?
John: I see the work with law enforcement as an ongoing partnership. I think it’s critical that we understand the challenges law enforcement faces, especially in investigating crimes against children. I expect that as we come to better understand those challenges we will continue to develop tools that will help them be successful in their mission.
I feel like I have the best job at Adobe, because I get to sit right in the middle of that relationship. At Adobe I live and work with the amazingly talented and creative folks on the Photoshop team and other teams at the company. But I also have the opportunity to work with the incredibly dedicated folks in law enforcement and other organizations like NCMEC, who are constantly working to keep our communities and children safe.
If you’ve been a long time Photoshop customer, we’ve established quite a predictable routine.
Every 18 to 24 months we deliver a new version of the software, packed with the latest features and functionality, as well as hundreds of big and small enhancements. It’s been a regularly timed cycle aimed at serving the needs of individuals working on design or photography related projects.
For us, the development process itself is anything but “routine.” The team is continually researching the latest imaging science and then figuring out how to deliver it to you as a new capability that significantly improves your creative process. We look far into the future, apart from what we know to be true today, and aspire to have it all work like magic. You’ve set the bar high to ensure we help you to push hard against existing creative limitations. For that reason alone, we’re never content with the status quo.
Good News – No More Waiting
We simply can’t sit back when the world is changing so rapidly. Waiting 18 to 24 months to catch up isn’t acceptable for any of our customers. We need to respond quickly to meet your evolving needs and to do so, we have to break from the old way of doing things.
This isn’t a new concept for us, or you. With Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), photographers have demanded we generate camera compatibility updates at least 8 times per year, compared with once every two years when we first launched the product in 2003. The number of cameras ACR supports has increased dramatically by 1600%!
In many cases, we also finish some features well before the official release date. Popular features in Photoshop CS6 like Content Aware Move, Content Aware Patch and Background Save were all complete by August, but due to our traditional delivery cycle, we couldn’t get them to you until nine-months later in May.
We’ve decided that Photoshop will no longer be software you have to wait years for. We’re ready to react quickly to external forces and will serve up more new features throughout the year, so you can push your creativity as far as the latest technology will allow. This steady stream of features will give you the opportunity to learn new tricks at your own pace, versus having to wrap your head around all that’s loaded into just one release.
We’re thrilled to announce that the next version of Photoshop, the world’s most popular digital imaging software, will be available to Creative Cloud members this June! This release, called Photoshop CC, will deliver dozens of new features, including capabilities in sharpening, upsampling and reducing blur, improvements to designer tools, added capabilities in Adobe Camera Raw, and much more.
With incredible advancements in digital imaging technology and endless possibilities for creative professionals, the Photoshop team wants to enable you to take advantage of new innovations as soon as they are available. That’s why we’re releasing Photoshop CC only six months after the release of Photoshop 13.1 in the Creative Cloud. Adobe Sr. Director of Product Management and Customer Engagement Maria Yap shares her thoughts on what this release means for creative professionals here.
There’s something in Photoshop CC for everyone, from designers to photographers. With robust integration with all of your favorite Adobe creative software, integration with Behance, seamless file sharing, and much more, now is the time to become a Creative Cloud member.
Here’s just some of what’s new in this release:
- All-new Smart Sharpen: Photoshop CC analyzes image data to maximize clarity and minimize noise and halo. A range of new editable options lets you fine-tune images to get richer textures, crisper edges and more distinct details.
As Chief Customer Advocate for Digital Imaging products, I monitor our forums and social media communities to help our customers get the answers, tips and tools they need to be successful with our software. I’ll be keeping an eye out for inquiries from you, but the following are some questions I thought the Photoshop community, specifically might have.
A: A Creative Cloud single-app membership is available at a special introductory price of $9.99 per month (with an annual commitment) for our loyal customers who currently own Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS6. Offer available until July 31st, 2013 (terms and conditions).
Be sure to choose “Required CS3+ purchase” from the pop-up to see the $9.99 price:
A Photoshop CC single-app membership includes:
All the features originally found in Photoshop Extended, including support for 3D, and other measurement and analysis tools, plus:
- New Photoshop CC features, like – Sync settings, camera shake reduction, intelligent upsampling, editable rounded rectangles, Adobe Camera Raw 8 (ACR8) improvements – including Automatic Upright and Advanced Healing Brush, as well as regular updates throughout the year.
- Bridge CC – Now with HiDPI support for Mac hardware with Retina displays.
- 20GB of cloud-based storage – Storage has been doubled from 10GB originally offered with Single app membership to 20GB.
- Multi-device access – Ability to easily access and share your work on virtually any device.
- Behance ProSite membership – A personal portfolio site builder that transforms a public Behance portfolio into a fully customized personal portfolio on your own URL. (Note: a Behance ProSite membership is normally $99 per year by itself)
- Access to Creative Cloud Learn – Aggregating hundred of instructional videos from Adobe and our expert training partners as well as the home of Creative Voices, a new video series from Adobe showcasing industry professionals and how they turn inspiration & experimentation into cutting edge creative work.
It’s been raining cats and dogs on the Photoshop Elements Facebook page! It’s even raining rabbits, horses, hamsters and squirrels. For the last month, the Photoshop Elements community has been sharing photos of their favorite four-legged friends to our Fur-tography gallery. So far, we’ve received over 2,600 photo submissions showcasing pets of all shapes and sizes.
Stop by the Fur-tography gallery to see the photos that have been shared, and submit your own by May 3. In the meantime, don’t forget to read our pet photography tips to see how you can get better shots of your animals.