New Technology: The Lytro Camera

In our business, we work extensively with images. Having evolved out of the print and 2D television gestalt, our culture tends, for the most part, to think of images in terms of a single plane of focus. And so an Art Director worth his or her salt has historically paid enormous attention to the detail of how a photograph is framed and shot. You see, after the photographer had gone home for the day, if what you wanted in focus wasn”t… well you were hosed. And, while Photoshop gave us the ability to tinker greatly, it has never allowed us to bring into focus anything that wasn’t originally in focus. That was then. And then was before the notion of the interactive photograph. Then was before the Lytro.

Open your head for a moment and let’s rethink the concept of an image. Think of it for a moment as a cube of space.

In this cube of space light is bouncing in all different directions and at different wavelengths. Analog cameras, catch the the rays that from cube of space into the camera and used a light-reactive medium (film) to create a two-dimensional image. Digital cameras have emulated this approach, replacing film with sensors that measured that light coming directly from the cube of space and, yes, creating a two-dimensional image of them. But neither of these technologies capture the intensity AND direction of the light coming into them. That’s the province of this new technology.

Lytro uses a light field sensor and an array of micro-lenses to measure the light coming into the camera, it’s intensity and direction, and then uses sophisticated software to interpret the entire field of light in the cube that represents the space being photographed. OK… WHAT THE HECK DOES ALL THAT MEAN??? It means that when you engage with a Lytro “living picture” (which you must do online, by the way) you can focusĀ  whichever part of the image you want to look at.

Check out the images in Lytro’s picture gallery. When you look at the shots, mouse around and click on different parts of the image. Cool stuff.

It’s new tech, alright. And it might change the way we think about the images we use online.