Skip to content

OPLIN 4Cast #618: Beautygate, Bokeh, and Background Blur — the future of photography

Posted in 4cast, and Photo Tools

Owners of the new iPhone XS noticed that their selfies were looking “too good,” like they’d been air-brushed, their skin  make-up-smooth. Users assumed that a software filter was automatically being applied when they used the front-facing camera on their phones, and the phenomenon was quickly dubbed #beautygate. It turns out that it was a bug, not a feature. For each snap, the camera was shooting several frames, and the software was basing the final image on a frame with less fine detail.

At least iPhone users are getting their photos: lately my phone had been deciding it didn’t want to save my pictures at all. It turns out that I was just going too fast; I need to wait patiently for the software to stop processing the picture before putting my phone away.

These unrelated bugs have a common cause: the high dynamic range (HDR) processing of digital images. As Devin Coldewey writes in the first article linked below, there’s a limit to what the microscopic sensors on our phones can take in, and the real battleground in photography is the software. To get that sweet bokeh (background blur and more) without a big lens and delicate aperture controls, we’re going to have to rely on innovations based in the code.

From the Ohio Web Library: