The Invisible Flash That Takes Clear Pictures At Night

The Invisible Flash That Takes Clear Pictures At Night

I like to take photos at night without a flash. With an iPhone. After too many Caipirinhas. The quality isn’t good, but to me they beat the flash look. Soon they may be perfect thanks to this new dark flash.

Dilip Krishnan and Rob Fergus at New York University have solved the whole oh-god-look-at-everyone-looking-awful-and-red-eyed usual flash photo situation using a new dark flash technique. First, they modified the flashbulb to emit light in a wider spectrum and filter out visible light. Then, they removed the UV and IR filters normally present in camera sensors. This apparently results in making everyone in photos look like a Yugoslavian mafia goon’s mug shot:

Or maybe a normal infrared image. Them, an algorithm adds colour information: The two scientist make the camera take another photo immediately after the first one, this time without the dark flash. That photo results in the usual grainy picture, but the resulting colour information gets combined with the first image to get the image you see at the beginning of the article.

In other words: Magic!

I don’t know if manufacturers will ever release a camera for going out at night, but if they can somehow embed this in mobile phones, I would happily buy it. [New Scientist]