MIT researchers create algorithm that instantly turns your selfies into fine art

mit algorithm turns selfies into fine art signature style
Using a newly developed algorithm, you can transform your selfies into pro portraits. This image shows the original inputs on the left column, and the stylized outputs to their right, based on pro style examples in the inset. (Credit: MIT)

It usually takes a long time for pro photographers to develop distinctive styles and techniques, but a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are looking to reduce that time to mere seconds for smartphone shooters by applying acclaimed professional styles to their selfies. 

MIT researchers, along with colleagues from Adobe and the University of Virginia, have created an algorithm that can instantly stylize your self-portraits to mimic the styles of pro shooters. According to MIT grad student YiChang Shih, one of the project’s lead researchers, this “style transfer” software uses examples from several photo pros (including Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and Martin Schoeller) to make an appropriate “style match” to your captured image. Shih said that Instagram, along with other filter-applying apps, aren’t well-suited to complement a person’s facial features. 

In the short video below, you can see the step-by-step process of the algorithm.

Basically, the algorithm takes your captured image and matches it against the style of the example to create a completely new image. You’ll be able to use the same captured image and apply as many differently example styles to it as you want. With each variation of the capture image, you’ll create some powerful self-portraits that look high-quality and very professional.

Shih was the lead author of the “Style Transfers For Headshot Portrait” paper, which carefully details the specifics of the project. The abstract of the paper states: “Headshot portraits are a popular subject in photography but to achieve a compelling visual style requires advanced skills that a casual photographer will not have. Further, algorithms that automate or assist the stylization of generic photographs do not perform well on headshots due to the feature-specific, local retouching that a professional photographer typically applies to generate such portraits.”

There is no discussion as of yet regarding how the creative parties are looking to get this app into public hands, but there’s already huge potential with this idea. According to Shih, who studies electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, “style transfer” is a thriving area of graphics research. Shih and his colleagues will present their findings at the 41st-annual Siggraph conference and exhibition that will take place this August. 

(Via TechCrunch)

Product Review

With outstanding image quality, the ‘basic’ Sony A7 III excels in every way

Replacing the four-year-old A7 II as the new entry-level model in Sony's full-frame line, the A7 III is an impressively capable camera that gives more expensive models a run for their money.
Product Review

Fewer pixels, better camera? The Nikon Z6 shows the beauty of restraint

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.

Alpha Female: Sony awards five women grants to support artisan diversity

Women can face several challenges in launching a photography career -- Sony's latest initiative aims to help propel women in the industry forward. Sony recently announced the winners of the Alpha Female program.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Social Media

Addicted to Instagram? Its new ‘activity dashboard’ is here to help

Ever get that nagging feeling you're spending too much time on Instagram? Well, a new "activity dashboard" has a bunch of features designed to help you better control how you use the addictive photo-sharing app.

Photography news: Best spot for fall photos, new firmware from Fuji and Nikon

Where's the best spot to take fall photos? Michigan, according to social media and a Nikon contest. The results and more in this week's photography news, including significant firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-T3, X-H1, and GFX 50S.

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.