On April 23, 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released an Apple patent application that reveals an all-new underwater photography image editing tool that may be included in a future version of the ‘Photos application.
Apple’s patent history
In photography, the color of objects in a photographic image is determined by the intrinsic color of the object being photographed and the color of the light or lights that illuminated the object. Lights that illuminate an object are tinted by reflecting off colored elements or passing through a medium that filters out other colors. Photographing things underwater usually results in overall tinted lighting (often bluish or greenish). The amount of light filtered and the colors of the light filtered depend on the depth and content of the water (e.g. cloudy, salty, cool, etc.). As a result, objects which are illuminated by light passing through water appear incorrectly tinted, while water itself appears correctly tinted (eg, tinted the color of water).
One type of photographic editing, called “color balancing” or “white balancing,” attempts to remove some or all of the effects of the specific light color on the object being photographed (for example, to remove a green or blue tint of a person photographed when the person has been illuminated by green or a light, such as underwater light). Various image editing programs apply white balance techniques to remove the effects of tinted light in an image.
Without applying a color balancing technique, the colors of the elements in the water (eg, people’s skin) are tinted by the color of the light filtering through the water. However, when the previous color balancing techniques are applied to an image taken underwater, or taken of an underwater scene above water, the color corrections result in images that do not appear have been taken underwater. The previous color balancing techniques do not preserve the color of the water.
Apple invents a method to balance the colors of underwater photography
Apple’s invention relates to an image organizing and editing application that receives and edits image data of an underwater scene in a digital image to remove unwanted tints from objects in the scene. .
In some embodiments, colors close to the color of the water itself are shielded so that the water appears blue. Removing unwanted tints without removing the tint from the water itself results in images with more realistic coloring of people and objects in the scene, without removing color cues (for example, blue water ) which indicate that the image is a photograph of an underwater scene.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates the color correction of an underwater image by an editing program. Patent FIG. 1 is shown in three steps 101-103. Unfortunately, Apple describes the color editing of an underwater photo in great detail. However, with the images of the patent being in black and white, it is impossible to follow Apple’s description in this report.
However, a key aspect of the FIG patent can be pointed out. 1 which describes the interface of an image editing application represented by commands 122 denoted in the third figure 103 below in the form of a triangle.
The control includes # 124 horizontal arrows and # 126 vertical arrows. At this point, the image editing application has adjusted the colors of the original image # 110. The control can adjust various elements of the photo, including skin tones.
Apple’s patent FIG. 12 noted above conceptually illustrates the software architecture of a portion of an image editing application of certain embodiments. Apple’s patent FIG. 5 conceptually illustrates a process of some embodiments for adjusting the colors of an image.
For photography fans who want to explore the smallest details of Apple’s invention, check out Apple’s patent application here.
Apple credits Garrett Johnson, Russell Webb and Timothy Cherna as the inventors of patent application 20150110396 which was originally filed in the fourth quarter of 2013. Since this is a patent application, the timing of commercialization such a product is unknown at the moment.
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