May 20, 2013

Using Photoshop to help find missing kids

A few years ago, John Penn was invited to attend the Internet Crimes Against Children Conference and share his knowledge as a Photoshop engineer. The experience changed his life. Now he’s a Senior Solutions Architect helping law enforcement agencies around the world use Photoshop to combat the exploitation of children.

8:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

May 16, 2013

The World’s Smallest Movie


I remember in the early 80’s “drawing” on an IBM PCjr, fastidiously pecking out pixel after pixel. Now the company behind that artistic juggernaut has taken that approach to an insane extreme:

You’re about to see the movie that holds the Guinness World Records™ record for the World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film. The ability to move single atoms — the smallest particles of any element in the universe — is crucial to IBM’s research in the field of atomic memory. But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times. A movie made with atoms.

The making-of is fascinating:

Presumably, notes Adobe video PM Al Mooney, it was edited in Premiere Proton. ;-)

6:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

September 18, 2012

A new Photoshop extension detects image manipulation

I’m excited to announce that the company founded by my old boss & friend Kevin Connor, working together with image authenticity pioneer Dr. Hany Farid, has released their first product, FourMatch—an extension for Photoshop CS5/CS6 that “instantly distinguishes unmodified digital camera files from those that may have been edited.” From the press release:

FourMatch… appears as a floating panel that automatically and instantly provides an assessment of any open JPEG image. A green light in the panel indicates that the file matches a verified original signature in FourMatch software’s extensive and growing database of more than 70,000 signatures. If a match is not found, the panel displays any relevant information that can aid the investigator in further assessing the photo’s reliability.

Check it out in action, and see also coverage in the NY Times:

One other neat detail:

Fourandsix will donate 2 percent of their proceeds from the sale of this software to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The donation will support NCMEC efforts to find missing children and prevent the abduction and sexual exploitation of children. 

8:42 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

September 16, 2012

NASA Remembers Neil Armstrong

Interesting: I didn’t know that the Apollo 11 mission patch deliberately omitted the crew members’ names.


8:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 05, 2012

Insane in the literal membrane

The crazy nerds at Backyard Brains have created “the world’s first cephalo-iPod,” pumping Cypress Hill through the body of an unsuspecting squid:

An iPod plays music by converting digital music to a small current that it sends to tiny magnets in the earbuds. The magnets are connected to cones that vibrate and produce sound.

Since this is the same electrical current that neurons use to communicate, we cut off the ear buds and instead placed the wire into the fin nerve. When the iPod sends bass frequencies (


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September 01, 2012

A great Mars Rover animation

I don’t know who’s finding this NASA animation more fascinating—me or the @Micronaxx:

6:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

August 10, 2012

Fascinating fluids photography… in space

To be a 57-year-old, highly regarded astronaut-scientist in orbit at this moment & yet to bring this level of boyish wonder to appreciating the natural world—well, I think Don Pettit must be doing something right.


11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

August 09, 2012

Adobe & MIT team up on Halide, a new imaging language

Last month I broke the somewhat sad news that Adobe’s Pixel Bender language is being retired, but for a good cause: we can now redirect effort & try other ways to achieve similar goals. To that end, Adobe researchers have teamed up with staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to define Halide, a new programming language for imaging. It promises faster, more compact, and more portable code.

According to MIT News,

In tests, the MIT researchers used Halide to rewrite several common image-processing algorithms whose performance had already been optimized by seasoned programmers. The Halide versions were typically about one-third as long but offered significant performance gains — two-, three-, or even six-fold speedups. In one instance, the Halide program was actually longer than the original — but the speedup was 70-fold.

Hot damn. #progress

8:24 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 25, 2012

Slow Motion Footage of Lightning Shot at 7,207 FPS

Amazing capture from Tom Warner:

Check out NASA’s Astronomy Site of the Day for more details. [Via]

8:08 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

July 23, 2012

Nighttime views from the ISS

“Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station,” writes creator Knate Myers. “All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in Photoshop.”

[Via Jim Goldstein]

8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

July 09, 2012

All 135 Space Shuttle launches at once


I couldn’t stick around for the Challenger incident, though. [Via]

8:08 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

June 06, 2012

Time lapse: Venus flies past the Sun

Who just happens to have specially modified binoculars sitting around his office when Venus flies by the Sun for the last time in our lifetimes? Yes, Russell Brown, of course.

Yesterday afternoon I started hearing a growing crowd of Photoshop folks gathering near my door, excitedly chattering as they peered upwards. Below is a radically higher-res version of what we saw:


10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

May 22, 2012

View to an eclipse

Photographer Cory Poole captured 700 images from a telescope with “a very narrow bandpass allowing you to see the chromosphere and not the much brighter photosphere below it,” then used them to create this video:

Or, as my Photoshop-centric brain saw it, “He’s moving two overlapping paths with a Boolean operation & red stroke/inner shadow layer style applied.” Because, yes, I need to get out a lot more.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic features a gorgeous gallery of images that capture the event from points all around the world.


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April 08, 2012

A ride on the Space Shuttle’s booster


From the upcoming Special Edition Ascent: Commemorating Space Shuttle, a movie from the point of view of the Solid Rocket Booster with sound mixing and enhancement done by the folks at Skywalker Sound. The sound is all from the camera microphones and not fake or replaced with foley artist sound. The Skywalker sound folks just helped bring it out and make it more audible.

8:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 15, 2012

A camera so fast, it can see photons moving

Oh my:

MIT Media Lab researchers have created a new imaging system that can acquire visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second. That’s fast enough to produce a slow-motion video of light traveling through objects.


11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

January 20, 2012

Astrophotography: Comet Lovejoy

Here’s a “Night Time Lapse of Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) rising above the Andes near Santiago de Chile, 23rd December 2011, just before sunrise. Set of 4 sequences taken with different lenses “zooming in” the scene.” The sequences grow more visually impressive over time, though having just watched “Melancholia,” I found the object’s steady growth a bit unnerving.


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December 22, 2011

(rt) Interesting aviation photography

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December 19, 2011

A 3D planetary animation made in Photoshop Extended

Every time I think I know the limits of what one can do with Photoshop…

Creator Panos Efstathiadis shows how it’s done in this tutorial.

10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

December 11, 2011

Images pulled straight from the human brain

Photoshop plug-in (featuring the world’s most invasive USB dongle) next, maybe? :-) Via Kottke:

This is incredible…researchers at Berkeley have developed a system that reads people’s minds while they watch a video and then roughly reconstructs what they were watching from thousands of hours of YouTube videos. This short demo shows how it works:

2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

November 30, 2011

“Photoshopped or Not? A Tool to Tell”

My longtime boss Kevin Connor left Adobe earlier this year to launch a startup, Fourandsix, aimed at “revealing the truth behind every photograph.” Now his co-founder (and Adobe collaborator) Hany Farid has published some interesting research:

Dr. Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Dartmouth, are proposing a software tool for measuring how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered, a 1-to-5 scale that distinguishes the infinitesimal from the fantastic. Their research is being published this week in a scholarly journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Check out the interactive presentation of before & after images. Details are on the NY Times.

8:12 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

September 28, 2011

Video: Aurora seen from the ISS in Orbit

Just like it says on the tin. And lovely.

[Via Jim Goldstein]

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September 24, 2011

Time lapse: Earth from above

James Drake downloaded 600 photos from the International Space Station, then stitched them together to create this fly-over. Check it out in fullscreen HD & watch for the lightning storms.


9:17 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

August 30, 2011

(rt) Scientific photography: Escher in water, eggs exploding, & more

8:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 28, 2011

Exhibit: Photo Tampering Throughout History

You can build a business manipulating photos; how about building one by detecting those manipulations?

My longtime boss Kevin Connor was instrumental in building Photoshop, Lightroom, and PS Elements into the successes they are today, and he taught me the ropes of product management. After 15 years he was ready to try starting his own company, so this spring he teamed up with Dr. Hany Farid (“the father of digital image forensics,” said NOVA). Together they’ve started forensics company Fourandsix (get the pun?), aimed at “revealing the truth behind every photograph.”

Now they’ve put up Photo Tampering Throughout History, an interesting collection of famous (and infamous) forgeries & manipulations from Abraham Lincoln’s day to the present. Numerous examples include before & after images plus brief histories of what happened.

I wish Kevin & Hany great success in this new endeavor, and I can’t wait to see the tools & services they introduce.


10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 18, 2011

‪SIGGRAPH 2011 Video Preview‬‏

Three minutes of fascinating advances, narrated by Adobe’s Adam Finkelstein:


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July 17, 2011

Great NASA resources commemorating the Shuttle & Shepard

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June 21, 2011

A tour of Earth from space

Dr. Justin Wilkinson from NASA provides a beautifully unhurried tour of Earth from above, as shot by astronauts in orbit.


8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

April 18, 2011

(rt) Scientific Photography: Sunspots, satellite images, & more

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April 12, 2011

Astronomical distances

Happy 50th anniversary of human space flight!. Healing Brush creator Todor Georgiev, noting that April 12 is World Cosmonautics Day, somewhat ruefully observes:

If 50 years ago we had a state-of-the-art spaceship, and if we launched a flight to the nearest star (at the same time as Gagarin’s flight), where would we be now? Already there and back, right? No. Or maybe halfway there? No! The answer is: We would have travelled 0.03% of the way. I just did the math. It would take us 150,000 years to get there. And I am not counting the costs.

Lest that get you down, here’s NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and Jethro Tull founder Ian Anderson in an earth/space flute duet playing homage to Yuri Gagarin. (Also, you might like Chopping Block’s Above Earth t-shirt, commemorating 23 historic flights. The little chimp & dog silhouettes make it for me.)

4:41 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

March 19, 2011

Video: A Blood-Red Eclipse

Happy supermoon. In the lunar spirit, here’s a lovely time lapse from last December:

Check out the Vimeo page for brief making-of info on the piece (stabilized in After Effects CS5) from photographer William Castleman. [Via]

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March 17, 2011

A photographic (non-CGI) fly-by of Saturn

The IMAX film “Outside In” is produced from “hundreds of thousands of still photos” taken by the Cassini orbiter. I have a hard time believing that the footage is real, but I’m hardly an expert. Check it out:

The filmmaking is a non-profit effort being supported by individuals & a few companies. [Via]

Update: See comments for some technical details from the filmmaker & others.

8:42 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

January 07, 2011

Video: Show your bones

Crafty German folks + gaming hardware = Creepy good times.

“The cross section isn’t actually the user’s skeleton but a volume visualization of a medical data set,” notes PCWorld. Here’s more info on the Medical Augmented Reality project.

9:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 07, 2010

(rt) Photography: Strange Cargo from the skies

1:09 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 14, 2010

Video: Ultra slow-mo water on nanotubes

Extremely high frame rates capture “Water Droplet Bouncing on a Superhydrophobic Carbon Nanotube Array”–which, for my money, would make a solid Pink Floyd song title.

Here’s more info on the project. I really want to see the water on the half pipe bust a McTwist. [Via]

8:24 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

August 30, 2010

Big money (literally)

  • What’s the name for those fine, moiré-looking swirls often found on banknotes?  Guillochés, it turns out.  Aegir Hallmundur features a nice set of them, plus info on how they were created.  See also his Future of Money designs. [Via]
  • The folks at the GigaPan project provide close-ups of guillochés, pennies, and much more with their new giant close-ups. Here they demonstrate photographing a circuit board:

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August 29, 2010

Video: More excellent Shuttle launch/return footage

Clearly I will never tire of this stuff. Onboard cameras capture the journey of shuttle Atlantis into space, plus the return of the solid rocket boosters:

[Previously: Camera strapped to Space Shuttle boosters] [Via Rick Spitzer]

11:35 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

August 23, 2010

Video: Camera strapped to Space Shuttle boosters

Man is this cool:

Just before the 6-minute mark, you can see the parachutes deploy, followed by splash down some 30 seconds later. [Via]

By the way, on the off chance you’re wondering what this possibly has to do with Adobe or this blog, I’ll just note that I have a soft spot for the overlap of science & imaging (see related category).

3:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

August 09, 2010

Scientific art: Macro eyes, colorful brains, & more

  • Phil Hart has posted a lovely gallery of Bioluminescence and Weather Phenomena.  For me the two will always be associated with my one cruise in the US Navy, watching bioluminescent algae spatter the bridge windows of our ship all night during heavy seas–then puking my guts out (rinse & repeat). [Via]
  • Your Beautiful Eyes: I kinda can’t deal with this macro photography by Suren Manvelyan. (I feel a T.J. Eckleburg reference coming on.) [Via]
  • The Beautiful Brain: Artist, former lawyer, and MS patient Elizabeth Jameson colors images of her own & others’ brains, using her art to “make medical imaging and its representative humanity more accessible.” [Via]
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June 17, 2010

From great heights: Cool weather balloon + camera project

Colin Rich used a homemade weather balloon to carry cameras to an altitude of 125,000 feet:

According to PetaPixel,

After purchasing two Canon compact cameras on eBay, Rich programmed them to take 3 photos every 3 minutes, and shoot a minute of video every fourth minute. The cameras were then insulated in styrofoam, and sent up to 125,000 feet before the balloon burst. With the help of a parachute, the cameras descended for 35 minutes and landed about 15-20 miles away.

It’s a great time to be alive. [Via]

9:16 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

January 05, 2010

Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2009

(Photo by Matthias Rempel, NCAR)

1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 30, 2009

Video: Rapid creation of 3D using a video camera

Check out this bit of cleverness:

It reminds me of a more automated version of the Video Trace technology (see demo) that popped up around two years ago. It also brings to mind Strata’s Foto 3D, a tool for generating 3D models from within Photoshop using just a series of photographs.
I know Photoshop’s entry into 3D can sometimes be a little confusing (e.g. wasn’t the app big/complex enough already?), but we see 3D becoming more and more accessible & ubiquitous. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” For more info you may want to see “Photoshop 3D is not about 3D.”

1:34 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 21, 2009

(rt) Photography: Amazing bird photography, Mars, & more

  • Andrew Zuckerman just crushes it with his bird book. Outstanding. [Via]

July 20, 2009

Moon reunion

Happy 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

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July 16, 2009

Where Eagles Dare

Today, as you’re probably reading elsewhere, marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, humanity’s first landing on the moon. Follow along with the mission on the beautiful We Choose The Moon. Related links of interest:

[For many more space-/imaging-related links, see this blog’s scientific & technical imaging category.]

6:14 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

April 17, 2009

Friday Science: All space, all the time

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April 04, 2009

Saturday Science: Beautiful bubbles, balloons, & more

And finally, a space-related quote o’ the day: “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” — Fred Hoyle

2:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

March 02, 2009

Monday Science

It’s been a while since I last shared science-related bits. Without further ado:

2:44 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

December 26, 2008

Science Friday: Microscopic Obama heads & more

  • “Catching Criminals With Photoshop”: In an interview Jim Hoerricks, LAPD, talks about how he uses the app in his work. For lots more from Jim, check out his Forensic Photoshop blog.
  • 4:30 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    December 09, 2008

    Recent scientific imaging goodness

    • Big worlds:
      • Miloslav Druckmuller combined 55 shots to create this striking eclipse image. Reader Vojtech Tryhuk passed along the links and says, “[He] is using a set of software specially developed for processing of Sun eclipse photographs, all written by himself and his colleagues.”
      • The Big Picture is running a Hubble Advent calendar, adding an eye-popping new image from the space telescope each day.
      • The International Space Station is turning 10 this month, and TBP rounds up a great sampling of images. If you’re low on time, just see this shot.
    10:12 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    November 12, 2008

    Science Friday: From Mexican caves to the Sun

    9:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

    July 29, 2008

    Great space photography o’ the day

    • Happy 50th birthday, NASA! [Via]
    • The Big Picture features some excellent images of man on the Moon–both past and future.  (I’ve gotta get one of those ATHLETE vehicles for a future Death Valley outing.)  They also feature recent volcanic activity.
    • The Hubble recently spotted–er, spied–Jupiter’s Great Red Spot eating the "Baby Red Spot."  More beautiful high-res shots of Jupiter & its moons–including amazing shots of volcanoes in action–are here.
    • VAMP, the Virtual Astronomy Multimedia Project, aims to "vastly multiply the use of, astronomy image resources… by systematically linking resource archives worldwide."  The Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM) standard they’ve devised works builds on Adobe’s XMP technology. [Via Robert Hurt]

    10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    June 21, 2008

    Saturday Science: Great photos of Earth, Mars, & beyond’s new feature The Big Picture dispenses with traditional peanut-sized Web photos and showcases great images in the news.  Site designer/developer/writer/photo editor Alan Taylor talks about his brainchild and how it came to be. [Via]  Lately they’ve been harvesting the best photos that billions of tax dollars can buy:


    • The Sky, From Above features gorgeous shots of the Space Shuttle at liftoff, as well as of thunderstorms over the American Midwest and more.  [Via]
    • In Martian Skies, you can view panoramas from Mars and watch dust devils skittering across the Martian landscape.
    • The site also features a retrospective of some of the great images sent back home by the Cassini space probe over the past four years. [Via]

    On related notes, apparently the Mars Phoenix rover is broadcasting via Twitter.  Also, NASA’s new space suit design looks rather trim & buff.  I kind of miss the human Jiffy Pop bag look, though.

    2:31 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    June 10, 2008

    Photoshop science: Fugazi edition

    (In the Donnie Brasco, instead of DC punk, sense of the word)


    9:14 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    May 15, 2008

    Counting chickens in Africa, via Photoshop

    A few years ago I heard from a researcher at DuPont who was, as I recall, using Photoshop’s Histogram palette & other tools to analyze samples of Kevlar and other materials.  Later I visited the Johnson Space Flight Center and talked to a team about using Photoshop’s Ruler Tool to assess possible cracks in space shuttle heat shields photographed during flight.  No matter what you think a given feature is designed to do, customers will always find interesting ways to push it farther.


    In that vein, Chris Ing gets crafty on, using the new analysis tools in PS CS3 Extended to do everything from estimating chicken density in Africa* (by analyzing the "integrated density" of various regions of an info graphic) to calculating the height of Kirsten Dunst (studiously cross-checked against something called Chickipedia–and no, I’m not feigning ignorance).  Should you find yourself "interested in comparing the circularity of your head to that of a friend," you’ve got a kindred spirit.

    * Sorry, the pre-/post-hatched counting enhancement will have to wait for a future release. (We’ll sic Chris on it.) We’ve heard somewhere that it’s an important distinction…

    4:54 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    April 28, 2008

    Air cannons & soda fountains

    Okay, so their connection to this blog is tenuous at best, but these semi-science-y vids are too fun not to share:

    • A while back I mentioned the 150-T-shirt Human Flipbook that Colle+McVoy created for sandwich chain Erbert & Gerbert.  Now they’ve returned with  Gotta love the insane whooping of geeks celebrating. [Via Dustin Black]
    • Some 1,500 Belgian kids did their best Blue Man impression, launching sticky geysers of foam as they attempted to create the world’s largest Diet Coke/Mentos explosion.  I can’t find a video of this stunt, but these guys were apparently trying to outdo these folks in Cincinnati.
    7:36 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

    April 14, 2008

    Brains, nukes, and beautiful math

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    March 29, 2008

    Science drops: Tumbling hippies, Chinese cannons, & more

    Okay, I’m getting a little far afield of scientific imaging per se, but I found the following interesting & thought you might as well.

    • Oh man–tumbling hippies + Jabberwocky + amino acids: this 1971 MIT video has it all.  When that hoodling organ sountrack kicks in, you know it’s gonna be good. (Skip ahead 3:30 or so to the dancing.) [Via]
    • Hmm–I wonder whether these come in “Ps” or “Ai”: periodic table rings. [Via Jeffrey Warnock]  (Of course, a more committed geek would go with knuckle tattoos–the arm already having been done.)
    • The Chinese government is apparently trying to control the weather at the Olympics, literally shooting clouds out of the sky.  Seriously.
    • Lunar images & infographics:
    • I’m not sure that it constitutes scientific imaging, but Wikipedia hosts a beautiful column of fire.  Talk about an awesome blossom.
    7:29 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    March 14, 2008

    Giant lasers, DIY galaxies, and more

    In honor of today being Pi Day (mmm, Pi…), it seems appropriate to share a wad of science-y bits:

    1:32 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    February 17, 2008

    Digital imaging in, and of, space

    11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    December 28, 2007

    Print your own beating heart & more

    9:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    December 16, 2007

    Antarctica in HD, bug photos, & more

    [Filed under Scientific & Technical Imaging]

    4:46 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    November 17, 2007

    Getting Mooned in HD, and in colors

    10:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    November 10, 2007

    Glowing Brains, Adobe X-rays, & more

    Droppin’ some Saturday science:


    12:43 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    November 03, 2007

    Sputnik via Flash, the wobbly moon, & more

    Spacing out this weekend:

    • Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the NY Times offers a nice, brief interactive tour of that first human-made spacecraft, as well as a timeline of space exploration.
    • Evidently the moon wobbles during a lunar cycle, as this timelapse animation shows. [Via]
    • Speaking of our satellite, Adobe’s resident Academy Award-winner Mike Kanfer enthusiastically recommends the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon.  I get chills watching the trailer.
    • What if we had no moon?  In Astrobiology Magazine scientist Bernard Foing charts the moon’s influences on the history of earth, from the formation of solid land to the development of our eyes. [Via]
    • CNET shows images from a Japanese space probe in lunar orbit. They report, “China is expected to launch its first lunar exploration satellite later this month; India has plans for a moon launch in April 2008; the next U.S. moon mission is slated for 2008; and Russia could be flying private citizens around the moon and back as early as 2009.”
    • Meanwhile Google is offering a $30 million prize to a private team that can land a robot on the moon.
    • And speaking of Google, hide your crops, Cheech: law enforcement uses Google Earth.
    • Fast networking technology has enabled researchers to assemble an Earth-sized telescope. [Via]
    • Nerding out on Wikipedia, I happened across a cool shot of a Delta IV rocket lift-off.

    [File under Scientific & Technical Imaging]

    7:37 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    October 13, 2007

    Adobe puts 3D insect eyes on your camera

    “Why,” I wondered for a long time, “is a wild-haired Eastern European guy walking around our floor carrying a medium-format camera & a hot glue gun?”  The answer, I discovered, is that Adobe research scientist Todor Georgiev* has been working on algorithms for use with a plenoptic camera & was motivated to build his own lenticular lens array.

    So, what does any of that mean?  The goal is to let cameras capture a moment in time from multiple slightly different perspectives.  The resulting image (a series of smaller images, actually) might then enable the photographer to change the focal distance of the photo after the fact, or to use depth information to aid in selecting & editing objects. has more info & images, and I think the potential comes through best in’s video of Adobe VP Dave Story showing off the lens.  Gizmodo writes, “It’s a way-cool demo, but it might be a while before you see such a fancy lens on everyday cameras. But a focus brush in Photoshop? Whoa. Sign us up.” [Via Cari Gushiken]

    *Okay, his hair seems to be less wild these days, but Todor still kicks out “light reading” like this (PDF). I think I left my copy at the beach.

    3:11 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    October 11, 2007

    Undersea photography, ancient anatomy, & more

    Lots of cool scientific & technical imaging has popped up recently:

    9:54 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    September 05, 2007

    Fighter jets, galaxies, & infrared squirrels

    From the world of scientific & technical imaging:

    • "You come across the body of a tramp, which in itself is not so disturbing. Until it is turned over to reveal…. ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!"  Er, sorry, I digress.  Joe Lencioni has captured some great macro shots of yellow ants (acanthomyops to their friends).
    • Seed Magazine features a fascinating video tour of scientific visualizations–from Benoît Mandelbrot’s early fractals to an atomic simulation that required six months of supercomputer rendering to depict 20 nanoseconds’ worth of motion.  (Oh, and the closing soundtrack is from Dub Side of the Moon.) [Via]
    • reports on a cool technique for astrophotography–taking up to 20 images per second, then using computer image processing to sift & combine the sharpest results, compensating for degradation caused by Earth’s atmosphere.  Details & before/after images are on the Lucky Imaging site.
    • NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) telescope has captures pix of a star with a comet’s tail. [Via]
    • Who knew that squirrels have infrared-emitting tails, useful for confusing rattlesnakes?  This is kind of thing you learn when grad students get to wander around with expensive camera gear. [Via]
    • A Russian air show produced a terrific image of an Su-27 dropping flares.  (Who needs safety regulations?)
    • Inspire Underground hosts a photo essay on prepping the Space Shuttle for launch. [Via]  Post lift-off, the Shuttle crew captured some lovely shots. [Via]

    8:55 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    May 24, 2007

    Scientific bits: Seadevils, severed arms, & Stephen Hawking

    8:04 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    May 05, 2007

    World’s first terapixel image, online via Flash

    Medical imaging company Aperio has created what it’s calling "the world’s first terapixel image"–i.e. an image containing more than one trillion pixels. The image itself, depicting a breast cancer scan*, is a 1,095,630 x 939,495 pixel whopper that tips the scales at 2875.94GB.  More info is in the press release.

    From a Photoshop/Adobe perspective, it’s cool to see this image displayed via the Flash Player, using the same Zoomify technology that’s in Photoshop CS3.  The folks at Aperio write,

    You may be interested to know Aperio has implemented BigTIFF – support for TIFF files larger than 4GB.  After linking the new version of libtiff into our ImageServer, we were able to use the Zoomify viewer with no changes at all.  Pretty impressive. By way of demonstration we’ve made the world’s first terapixel image, and it can be viewed right in a standard web browser with the Zoomify technology."

    [For more Zoomify hugeness, check out the 8.6 gigapixel fresco mentioned previously.]

    *Not the most asethetically compelling image–unless, I suppose, it proves that one doesn’t have breast cancer

    5:58 PM | Permalink | Comments [7]

    April 11, 2007

    Hexagonal storms, ancient beasts, & more

    //na// Scientific imaging bits of interest:

    3:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    March 29, 2007

    Big Science: Life-sized whale in Flash, more

    10:36 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

    March 05, 2007

    Digital imaging goes to court

    CNET reported recently on a court case that involved image authentication software as well as human experts, both seeking to distinguish unretouched photographs from those created or altered using digital tools.  After disallowing the software, written by Hany Farid & his team at Dartmouth, the judge ultimately disallowed a human witness, ruling that neither one could adequately distinguish between real & synthetic images.  The story includes some short excerpts from the judge’s rulings, offering some insight into the legal issues at play (e.g. "Protected speech"–manmade imagery–"does not become unprotected merely because it resembles the latter"–illegal pornography, etc.).

    As I’ve mentioned previously, Adobe has been collaborating with Dr. Farid & his team for a few years, so we wanted to know his take on the ruling.  He replied,

    The news story didn’t quite get it right. Our program correctly classifies about 70% of photographic images while correctly classifying 99.5% of computer-generated images. That is, an error rate of 0.5%. We configured the classifier in this way so as to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant. The prosecutor decided not to use our testimony because of other reasons, not because of a high error rate.

    The defense argues that the lay person cannot tell the difference between photographic and CG images. Following this ruling by Gertner, we performed a study to see just how well human subjects are at distinguishing. They turn out to be surprisingly good.  Here is a short abstract describing our results. [Observers correctly classified 83% of the photographic images and 82% of the CG images.]

    Elsewhere in the world of "Fauxtography" and image authenticity:

    • In the wake of last summer’s digital manipulation blow-up, Reuters has posted guidelines on what is–and is not–acceptable to do to an image in Photoshop. [Via]
    • Calling it "’The Most Culturally Significant Feature’ of Canon’s new 1D MkIII," Micah Marty heralds "the embedding of inviolable GPS coordinates into ‘data-verifiable’ raw files."
    • Sort of the Ur-Photoshop: This page depicts disappearing commissars and the like from Russia, documenting the Soviet government’s notorious practice or doctoring photos to remove those who’d fallen from favor. [Via]
    • These practices know no borders, as apparently evidenced by a current Iranian controversy, complete with Flash demo. [Via Tom Hogarty]
    • Of course, if you really want to fake people out, just take a half-naked photo of yourself, mail it to the newspaper, and tell them that it’s a Gucci ad. Seems to work like a charm. [Via]

    [Update: PS–Not imaging but audio: Hart Shafer reports on Adobe Audition being used to confirm musical plagiarism.]

    3:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    March 04, 2007

    Under a Blood Red Moon

    10:38 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    February 03, 2007

    Photographing Saturn; Rocking Jupiter

    NASA’s JPL has surveyed the public & posted the favorite photos of Saturn taken by the Cassini-Huygens mission. You can see more from their collection here. [Via]  And if you’d like to try your own hand at photographing the planet, see’s advice on how to Capture the Lord of the Rings (with a little help from Photoshop).

    The space connection keeps reminding me of a drive-by beat-down administered to the band Train (the guys who brought you "Drops of Jupiter," and who have apparently sold four million albums–to whom, no one knows): "Watching her cry, I knew Benchley had hit bottom. I had reached the mythical state of total anti-rock, which I call ‘Train,’ after the band. When the head of every drum is torn, and all guitars out of tune, when the microphone melts in your hand, that’s Train, and I was in Train all the way up to my drops of Jupiter."

    12:53 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    January 15, 2007

    Genetic mutation named after Photoshop

    Psst–read any good overviews of the Functions of the Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay Pathway in Drosophila Development lately?  (Yeah, who hasn’t, I know…)  I mention it because a mutant phenotype (specifically, a fluorescent protein in fruit flies) has now been nicknamed "photoshop" by researchers Mark Metzstein & Mark Krasnow.  ["Shouldn’t that be Adobe® Photoshop® software?" murmur a dozen voices in Adobe Legal. ;-) ]  They write, "We named this the ‘photoshop’ phenotype because it increased visualization of clones like that achieved by digital enhancement with Photoshop software (Adobe,"  [Ah, says Legal.]  As a highly nonsense-mediated individual, I say very cool, guys!

    Surfing the Nodes of Ranvier,

    3:09 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    January 12, 2007

    Chemical Romance, Daahk Mattah, & More

    • features the work of Harvard/MIT researcher Felice Frankel, showing how she uses Photoshop to depict the beauty in a chemical reaction (see animation).
    • In their continuing quest to blow my little Arts & Legos mind, scientists have unveiled a 3D map of dark matter (see larger image). [Via]  I had to smile on this one, remembering that the Photoshop CS1 was codenamed "Dark Matter."  In one of the early go/no go meetings, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen–who is from Brooklyn & very much has the accent to prove it–joked, "I’d really like to thank you for picking a name with two ‘R’s in it.  Daahk Mattah…"
    • It’s not imaging-related, but the Celestron Sky Scout has been a huge hit at the Nack compound.  (I have it on good authority that I was recently hitched, but you wouldn’t know it on these cold, clear nights: la esposa keeps bailing on me to learn about the heavens courtesy of the Sky Scout!)
    7:32 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    January 08, 2007

    Decoding scrambled pixels

    Removing data from a digital file is sometimes easier said than done. Redacting PDFs has sometimes proven tricky (something the Acrobat team has worked to address), and now a research report notes methods for unscrambling numbers or text that have been obscured via simple Photoshop tricks. [Via]

    I asked a few Photoshop engieneers for comments & got some useful nuggets:

    • Gregg Wilensky says, "The ability to recover text that is blurred is limited by the amount of
      noise in the image (and knowledge of the blurring function). So, adding
      a bunch of noise to the image is better, but still not foolproof. I
      would suggest completely replacing the text with noise and blurring that
      (for aesthetics)."
    • Jerry Harris notes, "Having a known set of limited targets, OCR numbers in his example, makes the
      reconstruction task a bit more realistic in terms of useful results than
    • And Todor Georgiev writes, "Using a known set of blur kernels (those in Photoshop!),
      and a known set of targets, limits the set of possible outcomes
      and makes this technique work. But slightly change lighting
      and/or use custom blur filter, and your data is safe."
    12:30 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    December 30, 2006

    Atmospheric photography

    • Marc Pawliger passed along this gallery from, containing some interesting time lapse stuff.  Shots like this one make me remember how much I have yet to learn about my camera.  As the text is in French, I can’t read much of it, but I think "Arc de brume" sounds great. [Update: Here’s the site in English.]
    • Seeking atmosphere of a different kind, Nicole Bengiveno has captured some beautiful impressions around NYC.  (The music may or may not be your cup of tea; I preferred to nuke it and focus just on the visuals.) [Via]
    4:02 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    December 10, 2006

    More animals in the womb, plus a space shot

    • A number of folks have commented on the amazing images of animals in the womb, so I’m following up with some more info I’ve found.  In support of the special program airing tonight on its namesake channel (9PM PST), National Geographic has posted some great online resources, including a video preview, an interactive timeline, and more photos. The show is scheduled to air tomorrow night as well.
    • This NYT story about last night’s launch of the shuttle Discovery includes a couple of really dramatic photos. has another, as well as an image of the shuttle’s rotating service structure at night. (Seeing that shot, I can almost smell the airplane glue & feel the Xacto cuts as I struggled to build a model version years ago. That effort did not end well…) And here’s a video of the launch.
    6:09 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    November 24, 2006

    Animals photographed in the womb, & more

    • Using a combination of three-dimensional ultrasound scans, computer graphics and tiny cameras, a team of filmmakers has been able to show the entire process of animal gestation from conception to birth.  Here’s the article and amazing photo gallery.  [Via]
    • Created in After Effects & Lightwave by XVIVO for Harvard biology students, The Inner Life of a Cell depicts mighty mitochondria and the like doing their thing; check it out in high- or low-res Flash video. [Via]
    • Among the more unusual images I’ve seen, here’s the sun shot through the Earth, displaying neutrinos that pass through the planet’s mass.
    • Speaking of celestial imagery, this month’s National Geographic features stupendously gorgeous images of Saturn–just a hint of which can be found on their site.  [See also previous]
    • Rick Lieder must have the patience of Job, and it pays off in his insect macrophotography at [Via]
    • BibliOdyssey has posted The Concept of Mammals, a collection of antique critter renderings. "As was the fashion of the time," they write, "the animals were placed in contrived settings and often given human facial qualities, which only serves to heighten the sense of bizarre. And thankful we are too." [Via]  The site is jammed with other good bits, including claws, shells, whales, and more. (And if stuff trips your trigger, check out Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.)
    7:15 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    November 09, 2006

    More stellar imagery (literally)

    • The Photoshop team got a treat today when astro photographer David Malin paid us a visit.  David shared a selection of his work and techniques with the team, and put in some good requests (some of which we are delighted to be addressing).  His site features a wealth of photos, including 50 Favourite Images from the Anglo-Australian Observatory. 
    • Along similar lines, I recently discovered a collection of 100 Great Images from the Hubble, as well as this stunner.  And speaking of the famous telescope, in response to the news that it’s been decided to keep the Hubble flying (yeah!), the NYT has posted a short essay on the history of "NASA’s Comeback Kid." As always, if you want to open the raw imagery from the Hubble directly in Photoshop, check out the free FITS Liberator plug-in.
    • My friend Phil Metschan, an art director at ILM, has created some concept art for his rocket-science brother’s proposed space flight technology. (More pix are on pp. 41-45 of the PDF.)  It’s kind of funny for me to think that just a few years ago Phil and I were in NYC, building the Gucci site in Flash.  Seems a world away now…

    [At the other end of the size spectrum, David has created some beautiful micrographs from very tiny subjects (crystals, etc.).  The images remind me a bit of Mac pioneer Bill Atkinson‘s ridiculously lovely coffee table book Within the Stone.]

    9:39 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    November 07, 2006

    Drawing tools: Rat brains, willows, and Director

    • Mikons is "a new form of self-expression that connects people through visual symbols (personal tags)," and the site creators call their Mikon Machine (created using Director) "the most advanced drawing tool of its kind available on the Internet."
      They plan to add color, text input, a product builder, and a store to enable artists to sell their designs.
    • Cumulate Draw offers a some similar capabilities but is done by leveraging the scripting engines built into modern Web browsers [Via]
    • If having humans in the loop gets you down, why not try a little tree art? British artist Tim Knowles attaches pens to the branches of various trees, letting them draw whatever the wind dictates.  I’m having trouble getting the photos to appear in my browser, but here’s a link in case you have more luck.
    • Not out there enough for you?  Okay, how about 50,000 rat neurons in a petri dish driving a robot arm in Australia, translating neural activity into drawings? Read all about it.
    11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    October 14, 2006

    Beautiful scientific imagery

    • The Cassini space probe has produced a stunning image of Saturn and its rings.  The panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.  Check it out in high res.  [Via]
    • Elsewhere in space, Wikipedia features a great shot of a sunset on Mars (in no way to be confused with Breakfast on Pluto).   And in case you missed it earlier, check out that shot of the space shuttle in front of the sun.  As a celebutante would say, "That hot."
    • Slightly closer to Earth, the NYT has a story and slide show of backyard rocket builders in the desert. Their creations–some able to fly to 94,000 feet–are a bit more impressive than my old DIY constructions (paper towel tube, "D" rocket engine, and as many Black Cats as I could cram in). Yeah, but mine blowed up real good.
    • And much, much closer to earth, the NYT shows the entomological images of Dr. Thomas Eisner. This bombardier beetle is out of hand, though the shell constructions seem a little close to the rogue taxidermy of MART.
    8:11 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    September 24, 2006

    Mona’s from Mars, Photoshop’s from Venus

    Photoshop’s use in the sciences has been getting some good press lately:

    (See the Science & Tech category for more stories.)

    6:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    May 22, 2006

    Photoshop & the Dead Sea Scrolls

    Ah–here’s a great example of a non-traditional use of Photoshop that I’ve been wanting to share for a while. Researchers at USC’s West Semitic Research Project have been using Photoshop to aid in analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls and other historic texts. Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, director of the WSRP, writes, “Adobe Photoshop CS2 is the single most important enabler in the WSRP’s work. It is pivotal to our ability to unlock the history of the ancient past.” We’ve put together a 4-page article (PDF) that talks more about the work:

    Frequently, Photoshop CS2 is used to combine parchment or papyrus fragments of texts that are often physically separated in different museums and libraries in what amounts to digital jigsaw puzzles. Some writing is so tiny that researchers use a fiber-optic “light brush” to direct a very narrow beam of light onto a small area. In such cases, Photoshop CS2 allows scholars to combine images to build composites out of the smaller images. Some writing cannot be seen at all because the background is too dark or the ink itself is too faded. In this case, researchers use infrared and ultraviolet imaging to reclaim the ink traces. Because infrared and ultraviolet images sometimes hide as well as reveal data, scholars use Photoshop CS2 to combine various images in order to have all the visual information available for viewing.


    • The WSRP maintains online guides for scholars using Photoshop in their research.
    • John Dowdell mentions Adobe’s growing focus on imaging science and outreach to scientists–for example, the image authentication work on which Adobe’s been collaborating with Dr. Hani Farid & his team.
    • The Photoshop product pages cover ways in which the application’s capabilities have grown for these users in the most recent releases.
      9:58 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    May 16, 2006

    Photoshop & bugs (the exoskeletal kind)

    Now that we’ve squashed some bugs in Photoshop CS2*, we can look at an instance of the tools being used in conjunction with actual insects. Microscopy UK talks about photographing slide mounts using a combination of digital SLRs, microscope, and slide scanner. The Photoshop content here is limited, so I’m passing it along as much for the great high-res imagery as anything. [Tangentially related: Berkeley scientists have been inspired by insect vision to create new camera lens designs.]
    * Speaking of Photoshop and bugs (the other, bad kind), there’s a Photoshop Top Issues RSS feed as well as a dedicated product support page. If you see something going haywire, please let us know (and send us your feature ideas, too). We probably won’t respond to each report directly, but we do read them all, and we use the info to guide product planning. Thanks.

    7:11 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    February 04, 2006

    Scientific illustration in Photoshop

    Keeping the science theme going, I’ve gathered some examples of Photoshop’s use in scientific illustration:

    • Olduvai George is home to the natual history illustrations and paintings of Carl Buell. Check out how he builds a mammoth layer by layer. [Via]
    • Greg Martin’s site features outstanding space renderings & photography in a slick Flash gallery.
    • The space art of 17-year-old Alyn Hunter is featured on deviantART, along with that of other space artists.
    • Gary Tonge collects his photo-realistic sci-fi renderings in Visions Afar. [via]
    • Joana Garrido uses 3D software plus Photoshop to render ancient creatures.
    • Science blog includes a wealth of additional links, including ones to online marketplace and illustration degree programs like the one at UC Santa Cruz. And for yet more scientific illustration links, see my previous entry.

    By the way, on the subject of scientific illustration, I recently discovered Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, an amazing collection of 18th-century illustrations of animals, plants and insects. And if that’s up your alley, see also Dream Anatomy, a collection of antique anatomical renderings drawn from the National Library of Medicine. [Via] Or for a more modern spin, see the adorable (?) squirting stomachs of I Heart Guts [Via].
    [PS–6 minutes after I posted this, a copy of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities showed up at my door. Score!]

    12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    Photoshop & Rocket Scientists

    News of astronauts firing an empty space suit into orbit (seems like such a dude thing to do, doesn’t it? “Heh heh–when it hits the atmosphere it’ll blow up real good, heh heh”) got me thinking about Photoshop’s role in space imaging.
    Data captured by the Hubble Space Telescope & other high-powered telescopes are stored in the FITS format, as packets that need to be re-assembled for use on computers. To make the public-domain data widely available (beyond the 900 or so pro astronomers in the world), a team from the European Southern Observatory, ESA, and NASA created the FITS Liberator plug-in for Photoshop. NASA’s Hubble Source features an article on creating your own color Hubble images using the tools together. As of version 1.6.05 FITS Liberator had some 50,000 users, and version 2.0 (released in August) takes advantage of new 32-bit HDR imaging support in Photoshop CS2.
    Check out the image gallery, and drop us a line if you try out FITS Liberator with Photoshop. We’d love to hear your story & see your images.
    [More SuitSat links here and here]

    10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    January 26, 2006

    Image authenticity & Photoshop

    The topic of verifying image authenticity, covered well in the NY Times article It May Look Authentic; Here’s How To Tell It Isn’t, continues to draw considerable attention. Photoshop of course gets pressed into duty on the falsification side, so Adobe staff have been fielding a number of press inquiries on this subject.

    What may be less obvious is Adobe’s interest in the other side of the coin: image analysis & authentication. Last summer Dr. Hany Farid (mentioned in the Times article) spent his sabbatical from Dartmouth at Adobe, collaborating with the Advanced Technology Group on tools & techniques for detecting image manipulation. Photoshop is heavily used by a wide range of government & scientific bodies, aiding in everything from detecting forged checks (you’d be amazed what a few adjustment layers can reveal) to cleaning up satellite imagery to analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls (more info on that soon). At the request of image retouchers who need to document their work, we added the Edit History Log, making it possible to store a textual log of edits done to an image (essential for reproducibility). Combined with the ability to embed raw files as Smart Objects, this feature makes it possible for a Photoshop document to contain essentially the negative, the print, and a printable record of edits performed.

    For more on Dr. Farid’s research & tools, see his own site as well as this National Geographic article on detecting forged artwork. For more on Photoshop in scientific imaging, now details how scientific features have grown over the last few releases, alongside white papers on best practices.

    3:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

    November 12, 2005

    Todor & Jeff’s Image Science Hut: Coming Thursday

    No, they don’t wear fezzes and matching shirts, but resident brainiacs Todor Georgiev and Jeff Chien have been behind some of the more eye-popping features in the last few releases of Photoshop, including the Healing Brush, Patch Tool, Match Color, Smart Sharpen, Reduce Noise, Perspective Crop, and Spot Healing Brush.
    I mention this because Todor will be speaking at the next Silicon Valley ACM SIGGRAPH event, taking place on Thursday the 17th in Cupertino. For background, here’s a PDF on the kind of thing Todor will be discussing. My fellow product manager Ashley Manning will kick things off with a demo, and Jeff should be on hand as well. (Oh, and there will be schwag.)

    8:16 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    October 01, 2005

    Droppin’ some science

    Psst–hey buddy, seen any good kite-borne photos of Estonian peat bogs lately? You would if you checked out the winners in Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation’s Visualization Challenge [link via PhotoshopNews]. But if your tastes run more towards the secret life of the pea weevil (really!), check out the Visions of Science Photographic Awards. Winners include revealing images that were colored in Photoshop.
    Photoshop wasn’t designed for scientific imaging per se, but we’re learning quite a bit about how it gets used in a broad range of applications. Last year I got to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The team preparing the next shuttle flight requested better measurement tools that could aid in the analysis of the shuttle’s heat-resistant tiles. (They also mentioned a rumor that a copy of Photoshop has even found its way onto the International Space Station–evidently several astronauts are avid photographers–but I’ve never been quite able to confirm that.)
    We’re working to build up info and resources on Photoshop in the sciences, as well as its uses in engineering and other disciplines. If you’re using Photoshop in these fields, and/or if you have ideas on how we should develop the app to suit your needs, please let us know. Post a comment, or drop us a line.
    PS–Apple’s scientific computing pages mention numerous uses of Photoshop, including the Visible Human Project.
    PPS–Good luck to this group of 7th & 8th graders, who want to send film into orbit and then analyze the results in Photoshop.

    12:38 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]
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