Last Winter term, a friend of mine and I decided to write a column in our Engineering Newspaper The Iron Warrior (iwarrior.uwaterloo.ca) which tried to share with the world the complexities behind taking a digital image. The first of these columns went over the requisite thing that makes imaging worthwhile, our ability to see.
Angelo Alaimo and Michael Seliske are two ECE students who have had several co-op placements within the consumer imaging industry. Over our terms, we both learned the fine details and behind the scenes aspects of digital photography, and would like to share some of that insight and passion with you. Over this term’s Iron Warrior issues, we plan to bring you information related to imaging technology and what you learn might surprise you.
A photograph is defined within Webster’s dictionary as “the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface.” It’s a pretty generic definition, but imaging and, as an extension, digital imaging is a complex field that requires many components to work together in order to produce a final image that can be stored and viewed later. At the forefront of this system is the understanding and mimicry of the human visual system.
To begin, stop and think on how one could describe what the colour red is to an alien species. One might start by quantitatively explaining that it’s a small portion of the light spectrum with a wavelength between 635-700 nanometres, but that doesn’t really mean anything to the alien. One’s next thought might be more along the lines of “red is just red” but red is actually the colour that humans perceive when light of those wavelengths enter our eyes, and so it could look very different to someone with a different visual system then ours.