At psychic fairs and other popular venues, “aura” photographic portraits are all the rage. But are they really what they are claimed to be?
According to belief that has persisted since ancient times, the aura is a radiance from the “energy field” that supposedly emanates from and surrounds all living things. It is perceived not by ordinary vision but by clairvoyance. Although “no evidence has been found to prove its existence” (Guiley 1991), the concept has thrived as pseudoscience. For example, in his 1911 book, The Human Atmosphere, Dr. Walter J. Kilner claimed he could not only see the aura and use it for medical diagnoses, but he also accepted the validity of nonexistent “N-rays” and clairvoyance. The British Medical Journal rightly scoffed.
Today self-professed “medical intuitives” like Caroline Myss (1997) claim to describe the nature of people’s physical diseases by reading their “energy field.” Thus Myss “can make recommendations for treating their condition on both a physical and spiritual level.” She calls this supposedly auric process “energy medicine,” but offers no scientific evidence to substantiate her alleged powers. (New Age magazine stated Myss no longer gives readings, and quoted me as terming the practice “offensive and dangerous” [Koontz 2000, 66, 102].)
ummer is upon us. That means that millions of Americans’ cameras will be preserving precious memories from family vacations, get-togethers, weddings, graduations, and so much more.
However, when the perfect photographic moment comes into view, a great many find themselves frustrated with their ability to capture the moment with a great photograph.
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Here’s five simple tips that will go a long, long ways to helping you be prepared to get that great family vacation photograph.
5 Simple Tips for Great Vacation Photographs
- Practice before you leave home – This is quite likely the most important tip of all. Get your owners manual out and practice some of the lighting and subject situations that you are likely to find yourself with. You’re likely to have family members posing in front of scenes and objects. You’re likely to be photographing in bright sun, cloudy skies, indoors, in places where flash is not allowed, on beaches, on hiking trails; the various situations are near infinite. Set up these situations as best you can at home and practice, practice, practice.
- Memory Cards – Today’s megapixal digital cameras can quickly eat up a memory card. This is particularly true if you plan
A revolutionary breakthrough is underway at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, an innovation that may usher in the next generation of light sensing technology with potential applications in scientific research and cellphone photography.
Thayer professor Eric Fossum — the engineer and physicist who invented the CMOS image sensor used in nearly all cellphone and digital cameras, webcams, medical imaging and other applications — joined with Thayer PhD candidate Jiaju Ma in developing pixels for the new Quanta Image Sensor (QIS).
The professor and student, who have worked on the project for more than three years, are co-inventors of the new pixel and co-authors of a paper on their invention in IEEE Electron Devices Letters. A PDF is available on request.
Their new sensor has the capability to significantly enhance low-light sensitivity. This is particularly important in applications such as “security cameras, astronomy, or life science imaging (like seeing how cells react under a microscope), where there’s only just a few photons,” says Fossum.
“Light consists of photons, little bullets of light that activate our neurons and make us see light,” says Fossum. “The photons go into the semiconductor [the sensor chip] and break the chemical bonds between silicon atoms and, when
Photographers use their cameras as tools of exploration, passports to inner sanctums, instruments for change. Their images are proof that photography matters—now more than ever.
Thirty-four years before the birth of this magazine, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard sourly prophesied a banal fate for the newly popularized art of photography. “With the daguerreotype,” he observed, “everyone will be able to have their portrait taken—formerly it was only the prominent—and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same, so we shall only need one portrait.”
The National Geographic Society did not set out to test Kierkegaard’s thesis, at least not right away. Its mission was exploration, and the gray pages of its official journal did not exactly constitute a visual orgy. Years would go by before National Geographic’s explorers would begin using the camera as a tool to bring back what is now its chief source of fame: photographic stories that can alter perceptions and, at their best, change lives.
By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see