How Renaissance Art Methods Can Save Smartphone Photography


Smartphone makers can learn one or two things from Renaissance master painters. HDR and computational photography are great, but manufacturers also need to focus on what has been proven over the centuries to create great images.

Smartphone cameras use technology that has made great strides in the last few years, but the focus is on getting as much detail as possible that can produce shots that look unnatural.

The key to this is for manufacturers to take a step back, refocus, and work towards better handling of light and shadow transitions. This is the basis of what has been proven to produce excellent images over the last few hundred years. Fortunately, some have already done this.

In his latest video, writers and researchers David Immel We noted some similarities shared between the development of painting styles and the capabilities of smartphone cameras.

Imel explains that in paintings, the use of contrast between light and dark to define 3D objects is called “chiaroscuro”. Most notably, the legendary Italian painters Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio used this method in their work. Compared to two-dimensional works of art, chiaroscuro gives a sense of depth and brings the painting to life.

“Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio via Wikimedia Commons

This ability to control the properties of light has since played an important role in the world of art, including photography. This is even more common in black-and-white photography, where light-dark changes add dimension to the image, Imel explains.

Even with HDR technology, which can capture more detail from highlights to shadows, smartphones couldn’t reproduce the same effect achieved by larger sensors in terms of lighting and color. Large format cameras, in particular, can capture even the slightest changes in tone and color that smartphones struggle to do at a more basic level.

Smartphone HDR technology

Instead, Imel says the techniques used by many companies on smartphones, such as HDR and calculated photos, create more unnatural photos because the finer tones between highlights and shadows are lost. increase. Instead, the user will have a clearly sharpened or smoothed flat image, which is a common feature in computational imaging.

Fortunately for photographers, the trend of designing the thinnest smartphones is slowly starting to rebound and is being replaced by bulkier phones with larger camera bumps with larger sensors. As the size of the sensor increases, smartphone images can hold more information that can be displayed in a more natural way.

Iphone13 sample image
Photo taken with iPhone 13.Apple

Imel also points out that the recently announced iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are notable for their larger sensors and new photographic styles. This feature allows users to change image capture settings and apply adjustments in an intelligent way rather than a simple filter. In this way, users can capture photos that look more natural, similar to what chiaroscuro represents.

Focusing on making great photos is paramount to smartphone makers, and it requires efforts to focus on how chiaroscuro does it for painting, just as it did for painting. Probably.

Many of Imel’s videos can be found on his YouTube channel.


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