Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"
Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"

You've Seen His Photos, But You've Never Heard of Him

Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"
Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"

Evan Amos is a photographer who gives away his work. He takes photos of food, games, and all kinds of other stuff, then posts the high-quality photos on Wikipedia as "public domain" (meaning, he gives up his copyright), thus allowing anyone, anywhere, to use the photos as they wish. And boy, do those photos get around.

If you look up duct tape, you'll see his photo there. If you stumble across the good old Nintendo Entertainment System, those are his photos too. Hell, he even shot the primary photo for the Bananagrams page. His work is everywhere, and it's great. Now Evan needs your help, so he can dramatically expand his free-photography work. He's running a Kickstarter campaign to photograph vintage video game systems, then give away those photos as well. I donated to help him out -- and I think you should too. He doesn't stand to profit from this campaign, but we as users of the web do.

I've used Evan's work on the mental_floss blog many times, though I never knew who he was until his Kickstarter campaign appeared. His McNuggets photo illustrates the first item on our 30 Things Turning 30 This Year list. His Nintendo photos show up in Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? And his photo of Sno Balls is featured in Kara Kovalchik's Beyond the Twinkie: 5 Other Hostess Products We're Losing. It's fair to say that if you read the web for long enough, you will encounter his work, though you may not know it -- and that's actually kind of great, because he intentionally gives it away for public domain use.

In a recent article about his work, Evan wrote:

There is a huge need for this. There is no one else trying to provide this service at this level, at this quality, at this reach (Wikipedia) and in a format (public domain) that will ensure that these photos will last for decades from now. The work that I've already created and its impact thus far is a testament to the importance of the project. These are the reasons why I do this work, and why I do it for free.

I can't say it any better than that. The man is doing amazing work, and I'm putting a few bucks towards expanding the catalogue. I hope you'll do the same.

Just in case it isn't clear: I don't have any relationship with Evan, I don't stand to gain from his Kickstarter campaign (except that his new images may be useful in future articles), and he didn't ask me to write this. But when I saw his project, I felt the need to toot his horn for him. He's at a critical point where funding within this coming week will make or break the project. Please take a look and chip in a few bucks.

Ruined a Photo By Blinking? Facebook Can Fix It With AI

Next time you blink in an otherwise flawless photo, don't be so quick to hit the "delete" button on your phone. As The Verge reports, Facebook is testing a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to make closed eyes look naturally open.

Facebook engineers Brian Dolhansky and Cristian Canton Ferrer described the technology behind the AI in a paper published June 18. They used a type of machine learning called generative adversarial network or GAN. It works by looking at a database of pictures and using that information to generate new imagery where there wasn't any before.

This type of AI has been used to design clothing and video game levels in the past. To get it to work with faces, Facebook engineers showed the system photos taken of people when their eyes were open. After "learning" the subject's eye shape, size, and color, the AI used that data to superimpose a new set of eyes over the blinking lids. The feature still has some trouble working with glasses, long bangs, and pictures taken at an angle, but when it does what it's supposed to, it's hard to tell the photo was ever retouched.

Faces with blinking and open eyes.

Facebook isn't the first company to use AI to salvage photographs with closed eyes. In 2017, Adobe added an "Open Closed Eyes" feature to Photoshop Elements that also uses AI to generate a pair of eyes that match those of the blinking subject. For it to work, users first have to show the system several photos of the subject with their eyes open.

Facebook, which already holds a database of pictures of many of its users, seems like a perfect fit for this type of technology. The social media site is still testing it out, but based on the success of early experiments, they may consider making it available to users in the not-too-distant future. And because Facebook owns Instagram, it's possible that the eye-opening feature will eventually be applied to Instagram posts and Stories as well.

[h/t The Verge]

Remember Every Moment of Your Next Vacation With this Tiny, 360-Degree Camera

Kiss those blurry, shaky, amateurish vacation videos goodbye: As spotted by Travel+Leisure, a new 360-degree camera called Rylo captures every angle of the action around you with little effort, and the high-definition footage can be edited directly on your phone.

The camera is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and has two wide-angle lenses that can be used to consolidate your footage into a 360-degree spherical video for when a single shot just won't cut it. Just press the record button, and the device does the rest of the work.

Alternatively, you can select just one angle or section of the footage and create a more traditional video—simply change the camera’s perspective by tapping on specific points of interest in the video. The choice is all yours with the accompanying mobile editing app, built for both Apple and Android phones.

Shaky hand? Fret not—the camera comes equipped with a stabilization feature, so even if you’re mountain biking down a treacherous path, your video won’t look like the sequel to Cloverfield. The aluminum camera is built to withstand the elements, but for an extra level of protection, Rylo makes a water-resistant Adventure Case.

Other nifty features include time-lapse and something called FrontBack, which lets you add a bubble on top of another video in order to show your reaction as the action unfolds in the background. If you’re skydiving and shooting the scenery around you, for instance, you can also show your face in the corner, should you want to capture those embarrassing reactions for posterity.

The camera is available on Amazon for $499. Check out the company's video below to see it in action.

[h/t Travel+Leisure]


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