When was the last time you looked back at an image and noticed something about the lighting that you wished you could tweak or alter slightly? I’m sure most of us have been in this position at one time or another. Up until now, it’s simply not been possible to even imagine being able to do this. Welcome to the strange new world of “computational lighting design”
Just like Lytro’s Light Field Camera technology allows you to change your focal point after the shot has been taken, we’re moving into an era where software is giving us the ability to actually go back and play around with the lighting when we’re looking at the images on the computer.
Our own Fstoppers staff writer and architectural photographer Mike Kelley was directly involved in supporting the Cornell team that developed this software (a number of his images appear in the video linked in this article).
Mike and the Cornell team worked together to design the software that delivers “computational lighting design”. The software takes over a hundred different frames where the lighting angles are changed slightly each time, using selective amounts of “edge lighting”, “fill lighting” and “diffuse color lighting”, seen in more detail in the image below.
Importing all of these frames into Photoshop as layers allows a user to combine or mix layers and then focus the type, quality, directionality and power of light in particular areas of the shot. This allows them to play around until they have got the desired lighting set up for the scene. Some examples of scenes lit differently by the software can be seen below.
I’m all about doing my best to understand light and get it right before the shot is taken to save time in post, but this sort of technology is interesting if only because it seems such an impossibility to imagine we would be able to do this, even as recently as a few years ago. According to the report, even professional photographers reported it saving time (although it doesn't point out in what particular area this time saving was made).
You can read more in the Cornell Chronicle . The video below explains how the software works in more detail.
Is this the future of lighting on set? Will we be doing more work in post than we do today to light our set after the job has been shot? How would you guys think about applying this to the work you currently shoot? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.