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Monday, August 07, 2006

Digital Ansel Adams Filter Invented

Soonmin Bae, Sylvain Paris, and Frédo Durand appear to have invented a digital "Ansel Adams Filter"...although actually it's a filter for any sort of look you might desire. Here's the abstract:

Two-Scale Tone Management for Photographic Look

"We introduce a new approach to tone management for photographs. Whereas traditional tone-mapping operators target a neutral and faithful rendition of the input image, we explore pictorial looks by controlling visual qualities such as the tonal balance and the amount of detail. Our method is based on a two-scale non-linear decomposition of an image. We modify the different layers based on their histograms and introduce a technique that controls the spatial variation of detail. We introduce a Poisson correction that prevents potential gradient reversal and preserves detail. In addition to directly controlling the parameters, the user can transfer the look of a model photograph to the picture being edited."

You can download the paper, and there is a portfolio and a video. Mandatory food for thought for B&W photographers using, or thinking of using, digital—and interesting for other photographers, too.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with kudos to Bjorke

Featured Comment by Chris: If you reverse the Ansel Adams filter, does it become a Robert Adams?


Blogger falmanac said...

Paste in Moses holding 10 Commandments.

11:35 AM  
Blogger stanco said...

a Cindy Sherman Filter...

12:54 PM  
Blogger Photo-essayist said...

After looking through the Portfolio, Kurt Vonnegut'ts "Player Piano" came to mind. Time to join the Reeks and Wrecks.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Lightcatcher said...

When does the Cindy Sherman filter come out?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Stefan Wensing said...

only a filter and you would be famous as Ansel Adams ;-)

2:06 PM  
Blogger Dave New said...

Why does the description read like a patent application?

Just my suspicious mind, I guess...

3:24 PM  
Blogger ARConn said...

Wow, shoot me now, before all the Ansel Adams style photo-clones come out.

Wait, there could be some potential to this: ever wonder how Adams would have shot and printed archatecture or nudes?

No, nevermind, shoot me.

4:47 PM  
Blogger plabby said...

Where is the filter, I saw the .pdf, but couldn't find the filter. Is it proprietary or something?

7:50 PM  
Blogger Peterbkk said...

Next....a preset "Ansel Adams" mode on our cameras

7:55 PM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

I think I'll wait until the Walker Evans filter comes out. Maybe there will be a whole FSA filter collection!

9:06 PM  
Blogger megaperls said...

Filters/actions doing Tri-X, Daguerrotypes, Velvia, lith prints, well, black & white overall... what is this obsession of digital trying to emulate the past? There is no future in retro. When we will see something original, forward looking?

10:11 PM  
Blogger dyathink said...

i'm with arcon..just shoot me..

10:32 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"There is no future in retro. When we will see something original, forward looking?"

Hey, Dirk, there's nothing stopping you. Invent your own signature look for your own pictures.


P.S. I'm serious, not being sarcastic.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

The company I work for, Light Crafts, is working on duplicating this kind of 'Ansel Adams filter' in the next release of our LightZone image editing software. If anyone is interested in downloading an early beta, go to and apply to be a beta tester. Once you fill out the contact form, I'll send you a link and a username/password so you can download and take a look at the software.

If anyone has questions, feel free to email me at

4:52 PM  
Blogger Vikas said...

Never knew I was so close to becoming Ansel Adams :)

11:01 AM  
Blogger Malkemus said...

Many of you seem to miss the most important aspect of photography, if you think there are going to be a flurry of "Ansel Adams" created by the use of this technique.

Let's assume the technique doe give a perfect reproductive quality of Adam's work. Even so, your photos will lack one thing: Ansel Adams. Your eye is not his eye, your moment is not his moment. You can create great photos, but you will never create an Ansel Adams photograph.

Like Salvador Dali said about the medium of paint: as soon as the artist touches brush to canvas, their consciousness is recorded in the paint for all to see. It is the same with photography. How's your consciousness? It had better be great if you wish to make great photos.

2:52 PM  

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