Sunday, June 10, 2012

How photo mosaics resemble human vision

Let's Go Log Rolling

I've been referring to my experiments with Autostitch and the iPhone as panoramas, but I'm not really using the software panoramically. I guess a better name is photo mosaics. I've mentioned some of the things I like about the Autostitch/iPhone combination, like the ability to make superwide, high-res images with just a cell phone camera. Also, it can increase dynamic range without the unnatural look of so much HDR. By planning your layout, you can usually frame your individual images so that you expose properly for both shadows and highlights.

But what most fascinates me is how a photo mosaic resembles the process of human vision. We don't see the way cameras usually do -- taking in everything at a single glance, from a single point of view. (This artificiality is probably one of the things that most intrigues us about photos, but it can be limiting.) Since the eye's area of really sharp vision is so small, our eyes constantly scan our surroundings, and our brain stitches together together what we see out of a lot of separate images without our even realizing it. Using Autostitch you go through a similar process, taking  numerous separate "glances" and then combining them into a whole -- either seamlessly, or letting the seams show, as I did in this 20-image mosaic photographed at Wingra Boats.

Just a Cubist painter at heart, I guess.

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