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Adobe’s New Algorithm Makes Super Difficult Selections a Cinch

Adobe Research has been working on some pretty interesting photo and video editing features, but their latest research might just revolutionize photo editing as we know it. Imagine if Photoshop could automatically cut out complex subjects in seconds, no matter the background… no pen tool required.

Adobe’s selection tools have caught a lot of flack—especially the new Select and Mask environment—but this research intends to silence all the naysayers. Using a two-part process that involves a “deep convolutional encoder-decoder network” and a “small convolutional network,” Adobe can cut out any subject from in front of any background with ease and accuracy.

Keep in mind, this is 100% software-driven; there are no dual camera systems, green screens, or manual selection tricks required to make it work. And it works like gangbusters! In the example below, the original image is on the far left, the second and third images use competing methods, and the far right image is the mask created by Adobe’s software:

The accuracy demonstrated here and in latter examples in the full research paper is impressive to say the very least. Fine hair is cut out of complex and similarly-colored backgrounds with insane accuracy, and Adobe’s system seems to beat every other competing approach hands down.

The research team applied their approach to 1,000 test images after training their neural nets with a data set of 49,300 images, and the algorithm seems to have learned well.

While we have no idea when this research will make its way into a future version of Photoshop or After Effects, the impact of highly-accurate automatic selection and masking tool is not to be underestimated. Read the full paper for yourself at this link, and keep an eye out for some incredible advances from Adobe in the coming months and years.

(via DIYP)

Annoyed Musician Shoots Audience with Phone Instead of Playing His Solo

Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer hates when people at the band’s shows spend the whole time staring through their screen—shooting the performance on a 4-inch box instead of experiencing it for themselves. So last year, during a show in Turin, Italy, he turned the tables.

During the band’s best known song, “Californication”, Klinghoffer decided not to play his guitar solo. Instead, he grabbed his smartphone and spent 30 seconds filming the crowd and shaking his head at them instead.

At first it looks like a simple stunt, maybe not even a statement, but when asked about it later by a fan, Klinghoffer explained that he was, in fact, annoyed and making a point. “When I see people holding machines up and obstructing the view of the people behind them, I get angry,” he told his fan, according to Alternative Nation. “I’ve never heard a musician say, ‘Oh man, I love looking out and seeing a sea of phones.’ I hear the opposite.”

We’ve heard of musician’s calling out fans and even photographers at their shows for using their phones or being disrespectful with their cameras, but this is a novel approach. Instead of stopping the show or shaming an individual, Klinghoffer just showed the crowd what he was seeing.

In a sense he’s saying: your job is to enjoy the show, my job is to play; if you don’t do your job I won’t do mine.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Klinghoffer is being paid to play by those concertgoers, who technically have the right to experience the show however they please… no matter how annoying it is to fellow photographers, fans, or the musicians onstage.

(via Fstoppers)

You Can Browse 437 Complete Issues of ‘Soviet Photo’ Magazine Online

This is really cool. It turns out you can browse through full issues of the old Soviet Photo (AKA “Советское фото”) magazine online at Archive.org. Fans of photography history will love this treasure trove, which contains 437 digitized issues originally published between 1926 and 1991.

Kudos to Redditor geniice, who discovered and shared this cool resource that people really seem to be enjoying. With the exception of some gaps between 1934 and 1957—there’s only one issue, published in 1937, on the archive from between those dates—it looks like almost every month of every year is accounted for.

Dig deep enough, and you’ll find some really interesting (and surprisingly familiar) things in there. From standard street photography:

To architecture, rooftopping, and (unfortunately) train track portraits:

To conflict photography:

Even some pretty amazing photojournalism:

And gear/equipment ads:

There is so much more where the samples above came from. To see it all, head over to Archive.org and browse all 437 issues by clicking here. Whether or not you can read Russian, you’re in for a real treat.

Photographer Shoots Phoenix Wings by Light Painting with Fire

Photographer Derek VanAlthuis took his light painting photography to fiery new heights last week when he captured this photo. In it, his model is flying away on wings created by light painting with actual fire. In fact, that fire is the only light used in the shot.

This image sits at the intersection of two of VanAlthuis’ passions: light painting photography, and the symbolism of the phoenix.

“The symbolism behind a Phoenix has always been inspirational for me. When the Phoenix perceives its death, it ignites itself into a magnificent fire. Then it re-emerges from its own ashes—reborn, ready to continue life once again,” he said in an interview with DIY Photography. “I wanted to see if I could portray this concept in my work.”

His initial attempts were created using light painting blades, but divorcing the idea of the Phoenix from fire just doesn’t seem right. So, inspired by fellow light painter Zach Alan‘s work with fire light painting and levitation, VanAlthuis grabbed a T-shirt, some lighter fluid, a wooden dowel, and safety equipment, and got to work.

He wrapped and stapled a 100% cotton (this is important, blends can melt) T-shirt around a wooden dowel, soaked it in lighter fluid, and set it on fire when he had his model Faith ready and standing on a step stool he would later remove in post.

He used a Canon 5D Mark III and 24-105mm f/4L IS USM set at f/9 to capture the shot, and exposed the whole thing for 3 seconds. Then he took the image into post to remove any shadows of himself, and that pesky stool.

For that part, he also had extra shots of the background and close-ups of Faith’s feet at hand, so he could properly remove anything that was in the way and composite parts back in. Here’s the before and after:

The final shot is quite captivating: a Phoenix, raising herself into the sky on wings made of fire. Kudos to Derek for creating something great. If you’d like to see more of his work, visit his website or give him a follow on Instagram.

(via DIYP)

Image credits: Photographs by Derek VanAlthuis and used with permission.