Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Orange & White Dinosaur Tails

If you haven't seen it, Ed Yang has a nice post (thanks Tim) on some recent results in the area of color palaeontology. Specifically the analysis of melanosomes in dinosaur fossils, which allows some speculation about the color of dinosaurs. The post concludes with the quote:

Mike Benton, a co-author on the new study, says, "In Sinosauropteryx at least, essentially the most primitive dinosaur with feathers, the possession of an orange and white striped tail says 'display' of some kind, but whether for warning or pre-mating contests, we couldn't say."

For more details about phaeomelanin and eumelanin see also this nice primer on color mutations in rats.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Historical Color Translations on the ISCC Web Site

The ISCC has posted two historical color translations on it's web site. The translations include Aus dem Gebiet der Farbreizmetrik or On Color Stimulus Metrics by Robert Luther and Philipp Otto Runge’s Farben­Kugel or Color Sphere.

So now if you've ever asked yourself what is the Luther Condition, you can refer to Rolf Kuehni's translations of the original text.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Visualizing Crayon Colors

From the inbox (thanks David) comes a link to a nice visualization of crayon colors.

Given data from a little over a century it looks as though number of crayon colors doubles every 28 years.

Photonics West

We are science professionals, not professional bloggers, so we cheat a little by using the auto-pilot feature, where we write posts that are scheduled in the future. This time it back-fired, because Bahaa Saleh did not show up at EI; however, he just received his award at the Fellows Luncheon in San Francisco at Photonics West.

By the way, if you are attending, do not miss the Welcome Reception tonight at 7:00 pm in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel at 333 O'Farrell Street. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser (the first laser was fired up on 16 May 1960 by Ted Maiman), SPIE is featuring the "Cirque du Lasaire," a night of laser infused magic, conversation, acrobatics, and laser displays. For more information see

Ultraviolet Protection Factor of Cellulosic Fabrics

It takes more than sunscreen to keep the sun's UV rays from harming your skin. The type of clothing you wear can offer protection, too—or not. It is not just the type of fiber and the weave of the fabric that matters, but also the color. Ascención Riva of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and colleagues Inés M. Algaba, Montserrat Pepió have addressed the color issue, studying the effects of different optical brighteners and dyes on the UV protection provided by lightweight woven cottons.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

EI papers available online

Our EI papers are now available online from the SPIE Digital Library:

Font rendering on a GPU-based raster image processor:

Color naming: color scientists do it between Munsell Sheets of Color:

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest"

"Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest"

"It is true that other AI programs run forever; for example, if one considers the Google page rank algorithm that sorts web pages to be AI, then it could be considered an example of an AI program that lives forever."

"And then tile on top the data and the Twitterfeed numbers (both on different scales) and you have an overall picture of growth of the real time web vs. Google and Amazon."

Electronic Imaging 2010 IS&T Awards

Wednesday 20 January 2010, IS&T's Immediate Past President Dr. Eric G. Hanson has bestowed awards to two member with a long list of contributions to imaging science, IS&T, and EI.

The IS&T Fellowship is awarded to a Regular Member for outstanding achievement in imaging science or engineering.

Dr. Raja BalaRaja Bala for his prolific contributions in the areas of digital color reproduction, color transforms, and printer system modeling.

Raja Bala has been with Xerox Corporation since 1993, where he is currently a principal scientist conducting research and development in digital color imaging.

Prior to this he received his MS (1988) and PhD (1992) from Purdue University, and BS from the University of Texas at Arlington (1987), all in electrical engineering. Dr. Bala's research interests include color management, device characterization, optimal representations and transformations of color, image-adaptive rendering, security printing, and image personalization. His research and inventions have been incorporated into several leading Xerox color products.

Dr. Bala served as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Electrical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (2003-2005). He has also been an active member of IS&T, notably within the leadership of the IS&T/SID Color Imaging Conference, where he has served as short course, program, and general chair. He has taught many highly-rated courses on system color imaging at IS&T conferences, and has served as associate editor for the Journal of Imaging Science & Technology. He is currently a vice president on the IS&T Board of Directors.

Dr. Bala's awards include the Xerox Excellence in Science & Technology Award (1994) and the R&D Magazine 100 Team Award for Specialty Imaging Technology (2007). He has authored two book chapters and more than 50 conference and journal publications. Dr. Bala has presented several invited talks and articles, and holds more than 50 US patents in the area of digital color imaging.

The IS&T Service Award is given in recognition of service to a Chapter, or to the Society.

Dr. Michael KrissMichael Kriss for his efforts on behalf of the Electronic Imaging Symposium, Color Imaging Conference, IS&T Board, and IS&T/Wiley series.

Michael A. Kriss received his PhD (1969) in physics from UCLA before joining Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories to work in the color photography division with a focus on image quality, image structure, image modeling, and simulation. In 1977, he published a chapter on image structure in Theory of the Photographic Process, 4th Edition, edited by Howard James. Dr. Kriss joined the physics division in 1980, where he focused on developing image processing algorithms for scanned film images and digital camera images. He became laboratory head of the Image Processing Laboratory in 1982, which laid the foundations for Kodak's entrance into the “digital age.”

From 1985 to 1988, Dr. Kriss worked with a team of managers to establish a Kodak research facility near Tokyo, Japan. Upon returning to the Research Laboratories, he headed a technical outreach program to universities around the country and managed the Algorithm Development Laboratory until his retirement in late 1992. In 1993, Dr. Kriss joined the University of Rochester. He served as the executive director of the Center of Electronic Imaging Systems and adjunct professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering where he managed outreach programs with industry and through a NSF Grant created a program on introductory digital imaging and a graduate course in digital imaging technology. During this period, Dr. Kriss wrote chapters on digital photography in the Encyclopedia of Applied Physics, Encyclopedia of Optics, and the IS&T Handbook of Photographic Science and Engineering.

Dr. Kriss returned to the West Coast in 1999 as the manager of the color imaging group at Sharp Laboratories of America until his retirement in 2004.

Dr. Kriss is a Fellow of IS&T and the 1999 recipient of the Davies Medal of the Royal Photographic Society. Dr. Kriss still teaches courses on digital imaging technology as an adjunct professor at Portland State University in Oregon and works with John Wiley & Sons as editor-in-chief for an IS&T series of texts on imaging science and technology.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Colorless eReaders

From the Kindle Review comes a post entitled "What exacty would color add to eReaders?"

The second sentence is:

"Color doesn’t add very much to reading."
(bold is in the original post).

Now come on, doesn't bad color take away from reading?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Dark Side of Color

Last November I wrote shortly about the session called The Dark Side of Color at EI. The session is now starting. Here are our slides:

At the moment the server is having some hesitations after slide 11. If the problem still persists, click here.

Electronic Imaging 2010 New SPIE Fellow

SPIE Fellow badgeWe just recognized a newly promoted SPIE Fellow for 2010 who has made great contributions to the Electronic Imaging community and to SPIE. The 2010 Fellows Committee, chaired by Roxann Engelstad has selected 62 new Fellows of the Society, which were approved by the SPIE Board of Directors. Fellows are members of distinction who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in the fields of optics, photonics, and imaging. The annual recognition of Fellows provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge outstanding members for their service to the general optics community.

Prof. Bahaa SalehProf. Bahaa Saleh of The College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida.

Prof. Saleh’s fellow promotion is for specific research and achievements in optics and photonics, and more specifically in coherence and photon statistics, nonlinear and quantum optics, optical detection, image science, and vision.

This Fellow joins a prestigious list of more than 800 SPIE members so honored for their contribution to the discipline since the Society’s inception in 1955. Please join us in congratulating Prof. Saleh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Photographic Benefit for Hatian Earthquake Survivors

Photographers for Hati has published a photographic benefit for Hatian earthquake survivors. All proceeds of this magazine will go to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti relief.

You can read more details in this interview with Lane Hartwell, which includes the following quote from Lane:

"I thought about how I could use photography to raise money immediately."

The resulting humanitarian pages are impressive and inspiring.

Binocular Rivalry May Mark Bipolar Disorder

Neuroscientists at Monash University in Melbourne and the University of Queensland in Brisbane have reported that the visual phenomenon known as binocular rivalry may eventually provide a diagnostic test for manic–depressive or bipolar disorder. [Source: ABC Australia]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Additive Color Mixing with 55,000 Pegs

From Joey Syta comes a unique Lite-Brite rendition of The Lady and the Unicorn entitled My Only Desire.

It's a nice use of additive color mixing and from the description of the piece:

"The pegs span four decades and multiple countries of origin which yield a much wider range of colors than the eight basic shades (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and white)."

A great use of spatial color.

Which then contrasts nicely with an article in today's NYT about color palettes and the designer Hella Jongerius. The article includes the quote by Rolf Fehlbaum:

“Color is the least comprehensible aspect of design”

The article also notes that:

"Another problem, she says, is the influence of color forecasters, who tend to predict future trends (as their clients ask them to) rather than making considered decisions about individual colors, and how they will work together across a company’s products."

Which is to say spatial color is not just about the additive mixing of colors for the reproduction of a tapestry but multiple colors together is relevant for design.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Darker Sides of Light & Color

The Darker Side of Light exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC will have it's final day on Monday the 18th.

The Dark Side of Color track of the Color Imaging XV: Displaying, Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications conference in San Jose will take place on Wednesday the 20th.

Next week will be a busy week for dark sides.

Where in the world are our readers?

reader map

15 December to 14 January

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Feeding big iron

Back in the mid-eighties, things were looking good for big iron printers. Tibor Fisli was getting very nice uniform dots with his quad-spot laser diodes and Gary Starkweather was succeeding with his 4000 dpi follower to the Platemaker, while Nick Sheridon was cranking up the printer speed to 300 ppm. The challenge for us in the Computer Science Lab was to be able to drive this big iron at speed.

The graphic designers who were producing their material digitally on scanners from Crosfield, Hell, and Scitex were suffering from hardware that was much slower than they could lay out a spread. Therefore, the next big investment of a successful pre-press house was the acquisition of a vector processor, which allowed feats like rotating an image. Parallel computing is key in the graphic arts and printing.

This told us that the way of the Dorado with its ECL logic was not the right way. The follower would be a multi-processor system with CMOS logic. Thus the Dragon was designed, and considerable effort went into simulations to balance the system architecture.

The simulations showed that scalability works only up to 8 processors. Adding more processors did not increase linearly Dragon's performance, but it was still a very powerful machine at the time.

Then came what Nathan likes to call a tenuki. Smart politicians realized that instead of out-braining the evil empire we can just out-spend it and destroy it that way. This marked the end of research and the beginning of out-sourcing. What counts is price, not performance, so everything just became done incrementally where ever the wages were lowest.

Until now. CMOS has hit the wall and is not getting faster, so we are back to multiprocessing, or in today's lingo, multi-cores. In the meantime, big iron has slowly kept growing:

Scitex and Indigo printers

These are real beasts and manufacture new material that can be designed on today's powerful workstations, like posters 5 meters high and half a kilometer long, or custom photo albums where each album has completely different pictures, or variable data print jobs where each piece is customized for the specific reader:

commercial and industrial printing

When you use an industrial printer to print a building-wrap, or a commercial printer to print a million different magazines, you cannot trade complexity for time. The halftoned separations are so big you do not have time to wait for the bits to be served from a slow disk. You need to print in real-time.

How can you feed big iron?

Today's general purpose processors are not really well suited for rendering pixels. In fact, they are really a RISC in a CISC and a lot of the chip surface is used to predict branches, cache loops, interpret complex instructions, etc. This is all stuff that is not really needed when you stream a gazillion pixels through the system and apply the same rendering operations to them.

CPU core

What you want is not a fancy core with most of the silicon just sitting there while you try to feed your big iron. It is better to have a simple basic processor, but to have a lot of them, like the vector processors of yore.


Well, an important computer application are games, and gamers have similar rendering requirements as yours, but they are many more, so GPUs are inexpensive consumer products.

Until a short time ago, the GPUs were very specialized, but their architecture has changed considerably in the last few years and they have become programmable. The latest crop, combined with OpenCL, are actually simple general purpose processors that can be programmed to render all the pixels required to feed the big iron.

I have oversimplified a bit. In fact, the print job comes in the form of a PDF file, and rendering is not the only task of a RIP. There are operations like interpretation that cannot be parallelized at the pixel level und must be executed serially on general purpose cores, where for example each core works on a different page or tile.

To run the big industrial and commercial jobs, we not only need scalability down, but we also need scalability up, because there is a limit on the number of cores in a system and we would like to have multiple systems working on the same job. This is achieved with mapReduce algorithms:

mapReduce flow

In summary, to feed big iron with jobs like 5 by 500 meters size posters or 1 million different book pages you need scalability, and you need to be able to scale up as well as scaling down:


To learn how to achieve this, you may want to attend the Electronic Imaging Symposium in San Jose next week, where in the conference Color Imaging XV: Displaying, Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications in the session on Color Reproduction and Printing, John L. Recker will present all the gory details.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

18th Color Imaging Conference - Call for Papers

The IS&T and SID have released the call for papers for the 18th Color Imaging Conference.

This year the conference will be held from November 8 to 12, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas.

Conference General Co-Chairs Francisco Imai and Erno Langendijk write:

"The conference committee is constantly seeking to bring new topics to CIC and this year we would like to promote the special topics of color in computer graphics and color in medical imaging. Color in computer graphics presents challenging issues involving material appearance, video, capture, 3D, and perception. Color in medical imaging involves questions related to color appearance in dentistry, color formulation in prosthetic materials, and data visualization problems. Besides the color research areas covered by CIC, such as color perception, theory, capture, display, printing, and workflow, CIC encourages submissions in these two new fields."

Abstracts are due April 12, 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From Coffee Bean to Carbon Atom

Coffee beans are bigger than carbon atoms.

The rod photoreceptors of the eye are somewhere between - but where?

From the University of Utah comes a slick visualization of scale ranging from coffee beans to carbons atoms. And yes it includes a rod photoreceptors part of the way through.

A nice educational demo listing metric units and lots of other labeled examples. Thanks to Tim for the forward.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Light on Migraines

Main points from a Science Daily post:
  • Migraine pain is believed to develop when the meninges (the system of membranes surrounding the brain and central nervous system) becomes irritated.
  • For unknown reasons, nearly 85 percent of migraine patients are also extremely sensitive to light, a condition known as photophobia.
  • Two groups of blind individuals who suffer migraine headaches, were studied. Patients in the first group were totally blind due to eye diseases such as retinal cancer and glaucoma; they were unable to see images or to sense light and therefore could not maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.
  • This suggested to researchers that the mechanism of photophobia must involve the optic nerve, because in totally blind individuals, the optic nerve does not carry light signals to the brain.
  • "We also suspected that a group of recently discovered retinal cells containing melanopsin photoreceptors [which help control biological functions including sleep and wakefulness] is critically involved in this process, because these are the only functioning light receptors left among patients who are legally blind."
  • And even when the light was removed, he notes, these neurons remained activated. "This helps explain why patients say that their headache intensifies within seconds after exposure to light, and improves 20 to 30 minutes after being in the dark."
Related update (Jan 14, 2010): "Migraine and depression may share genetic component."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Colors of Silence

World-renowned authors P. Simon and A. Garfunkel (Ph.D., Columbia) published on "The Sounds of Silence" in September 1965. Now, MIT neuroscientists reveal the colors of silence using an optogenetic technique.

Computer Sees Fake Artwork

A new computational algorithm uses "sparse coding" (PNAS PDF) to build a virtual library of a given painter's works and decomposes them into the simplest possible visual elements. A set of basis functions is constructed from a set of random black and white shapes. The computer then iteratively modifies them until some subset of the basis functions can be combined in some proportion to recreate the piece. The basis functions are refined further to ensure that the smallest possible number can generate any selected piece of artwork. [Source: BBC]

Monday, January 4, 2010

New salary politics

On page 28 of its January 3, 2010 issue, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (compare to the Wall Street Journal) has an interesting article on salary politics written by Gabriela Weiss. Here in the USA, the typical salary policy of corporations is to peg the total salaries to about 10% of the corporation's revenue, and to distribute this sum exponentially among the employees in order of responsibility.