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Conference Brings Together Computational Photography Experts

Presenters included Marc Walton, Allen Taflove, and Hooman Mohseni

From capturing new information about disease to revealing hidden secrets within famous paintings, computational photography goes beyond what is possible with traditional cameras and image processing tools.

Oliver CossairtResearchers and practitioners within this emerging field gathered at Northwestern University this weekend for the sixth annual IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography. Taking place May 13 to 15 on the Evanston campus, the conference garnered 200 attendees from across the United States and around the world.

“The IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography is the only venue where researchers from computer vision, computer graphics, image processing, and optics, come together to share cutting edge developments in digital imaging technologies,” said Northwestern Engineering’s Oliver Cossairt, who served as the conference’s program and poster co-chair. “The ICCP conference brings together a unique blend of experience and expertise that creates fertile ground for transformational developments in imaging and bridges diverse applications from art conservation to x-ray imaging.”

Organized to foster an interdisciplinary community of researchers working in computational photography, the conference featured five keynote speeches, panel discussions, project demonstrations, and a poster session.

Marc Walton shows how the colors have faded in Van Gogh's Bedroom.In one of the conference’s keynote talks, Marc Walton discussed “Recent Directions in Imaging Works of Art.” An art historian and conservationist, Walton is the senior scientist for Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS). He uses various types of imaging, including x-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet, to learn more about how artists produced their art.

“Imaging allows us to get into the mind of the artist and understand what went into the making of an entire work of art,” Walton said.

In some cases, imaging can even help verify who created a particular piece of art. Walton shared the 15th century painting Meditation on the Passion, which was initially attributed to Italian painter Andrea Mantegna. With optical coherence tomography techniques, researchers found the real artist’s signature hidden beneath layers of paint: Vittore Carpaccio.

“There is a real future of getting at some of these qualities hidden in the painting,” Walton said.

Other Northwestern Engineering presenters included Allen Taflove and Hooman Mohseni, both professors of electrical engineering and computer science. Taflove discussed how advances in computational microscopy is used in early-stage cancer screening. Mohseni talked about 2-D and 3-D infrared imaging.