What We Learned This Week: An AI Photo Contest and Emotional Cameras

By David Schonauer   Thursday July 26, 2018

How do feel when you take a picture?

Your camera may soon be able to let you and everyone else know.

This week we learned that Nikon is developing sensors for cameras and lenses that can detect biological information as well as your mood when shooting a photo. The sensors would detect heart rate, blood flow, blood pressure, perspiration, body temperature, and the pressure with which you grip your gear.

“Using the detect biometric data, the camera then uses algorithms to interpret what the photographer’s emotions are — it can label photos with things like ‘normal,’ ‘joy,’ ‘love,’ ‘shame,’ ‘impatience,’ ‘pain,’ ‘surprised,’ ‘confused,’ ‘indifferent,’ ‘sadness,’ ‘anger,’ and ‘despair,’” noted PetaPixel.

You may well be asking, “Why should my camera gear be doing this?” It’s all about transparency, which the modern digital world can’t get enough of. It’s no longer enough for a photographer to express themselves or convey ideas through their imagery. You'll be expected to attach an emoji to your pictures.

“Nikon says that oftentimes photographers feel strong emotions when capturing photos, but these feelings are sometimes unable to be conveyed through the photos themselves. And since viewers may be able to appreciate photos more if they knew the photographer’s state of mind at the time of exposure, biometric sensors could add a layer of depth of photography,” adds PP.

Meanwhile, this week we also learned of a new photo contest that will, at least in part, be judged by artificial intelligence. Entries for Huawei’s “Spark the Renaissance” photography competition will initially be rated by AI, and then by Leica photographer Alex Lambrechts. The contest spotlights the technology in the Huawei P20 Pro smartphone, which includes AI-assisted composition. That artificial intelligence will assess aesthetic qualities of images submitted to the contest, noted DIY Photography.

One wonders if the artificial intelligence judging the contest will prefer images made with the compositional assistance of artificial intelligence. Would that be fair?

Perhaps one day cameras with artificial intelligence will be able to feel emotions when they take pictures for us. We will certainly want to know what those emotions were, in order to assess the meaning of the photos.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:

1. Blake Little's Portraits of LGBT Gun Owners

Gun clubs for gay, lesbian and transgender Americans have sprung up in the wake of the aftermath of the massacre at Orlando's Pulse nightclub and other violence directed at the community. Recently, we noted, L.A.-based photographer Blake Little has been meeting and photographing members of the Pink Pistols, an LGBT gun club. "Since most LGBT people are traditionally liberal and stereotypically non-violent, I wanted to meet and find out more about gay people who had taken up arms," he told us.

2. A Love Letter to the Horses of Iceland

While traveling to Iceland, South Carolina-based photographer Drew Doggett lived on a farm with hundreds of horses. "In the early morning or before the sun went down, I would spend time with them in the field, getting to know their individual characteristics,” he told Feature Shoot, which spotlighted his series “In the Realm of Legends,” an ode to Icelandic horses. “These are not completely wild horses,” Doggett explained. “But their wildness will never leave them.” They are, he noted, a part of the terrain.

3. Capturing the Atlantic City Donald Trump Left Behind

In the 1970s, Atlantic City turned to the promise of casino gambling to restore its lost glamour. "Vast sums of money poured in, jobs were created, and organized crime was kept at bay. Until a new kind of predator arrived in the name of Donald Trump," says photographer Brian Rose, who has spent the past year and a half documenting the denuded urban landscape of Atlantic City left by Trump when his casinos failed. As we noted  on Tuesday, Rose is currently crowdfunding  a book featuring his work from AC.

4.  John Chiara's Uncanny New York

The titanic architecture of New York City has been photographed again and again — but, noted The New York Times, photographer John Chiara  has been able to capture it in an entirely new way. He built a custom 50 by 40-inch camera that rests in the bed of a pickup truck, which Chiara drives around the city. The camera shoots directly onto color paper, making negative, inverted images on Fujiflex Crystal Archive paper. Chiara filters the light to control its temperature and alter the color spectrum.

5. The Night Springsteen Became the Future of Rock

In May 9, 1974, Bruce Springsteen performed a show at the Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA, that helped launch his career: In the audience was Rolling Stone music critic Jon Landau, who later pronounced Springsteen to be the future of rock and roll. Also present was photographer Barry Schneier, whose photographs of the concert are the only visual record of that night. Unseen for decades, the images are now collected in a book being funded at Kickstarter, Bruce Springsteen. Rock and Roll Future
At top: From Drew Doggett


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