Monday, October 13, 2014

The Left-Handed Spanner: I've Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe

Last week's Exo-Contour post included a photo with a tantalizing secret. No, not the alluring dentist's wife (or perhaps she is the dentist), I'm talking about the sliver of chrome and headlight barely visible to the right of the 356.   The Left-Handed Spanner is a special feature column written by DT contributor Kaibeezy. 

What have we there, we asked. I applied a bit of shoopery to the question and revealed not only a late 60's Beetle convertible, but also the completely invisible VW logo sign on the wall above.

EiC Vince asked me to explain how this was accomplished. I'm no pro, and a pro could do it much better, but enough is as good as a feast, right? I didn't keep my incremental steps from the first time, so I've done it over.

First step, crop down to the area in question so you can zoom and see what you're doing. Next, and this is really what makes the most difference, bump the brightness up up up. Cameras capture more data than you can see, and there's usually way more to work with than you would expect. Already, we pretty much have our answer about what car it is back there, and the color too. I see red, do you?

I know I can tease out more detail. Changing the hue is an old trick that works with the way the cone cells in your retina are more sensitive at different wavelengths. I moved the slider up and down the spectrum to see the shifts in detail and contrast it brings out. The sweet spot felt like 180 degrees on the other side of the spectrum to green/blue

I hit the brightness again hard. You can see this time I have way more "artifacts", which are those little rectangular blips and stuff. I'm pretty sure the first time I must have applied some noise or blur to smooth things before an earlier brightness step. That's not to say one is better result than the other, but they are definitely different. It's as much art as science.

Finally, I ran it through a warm orange filter, almost to red, which is a known wavelength where contrast is enhanced. Same reason you wear amber goggles when skiing and snowboarding to see subtle contrast differences better.

Hm, what's that speck on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel? Zoom... enhance...

Time to drive.


  1. Kaibeezy, I bow down. Even if this is common technology among the Confuser-literate, I appreciate you showing us a practical application. I can hardly wait to give this a try!

  2. Well, admittedly that is some interesting work to peek in the shadows. Too bad you didn;t look more at the Mustang on the left which is more perhaps more interesting/valuable than the Super Beetle convertible ( which would make it early 70's vintage).

  3. tears in rain.


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