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Everything is Orange

An article about my work with Flickr photographs — in which I noticed that blended digital photos make orange — appeared on The Atlantic website today.

If you’re interested in reading my paper on the subject, “Emergent Orange”, you’ll find it in the publications section of this website.

For the record, I am a bit more than “slightly” bald, however I do indeed imagine myself as a little bird.


UPDATE Aug-21-2014: A few folks have asked for sample code. Here is a Python/PIL script, amalgamTest, that will average together a folder full of images, creating test images like frames in the movie above – I usually work with a folder of about 10,000 uncorrelated images, although the effect can be observed by combining as few as 25 of them. I usually work with the little 100×100 thumbnail images that Flickr provides. I’ve also include two other scripts in that archive. “getRandomPhotos” is a script you can use to retrieve lots of random Flickr thumbnails, and “getHighestFlickrID” searches for the highest flickr ID number, a number which you can plug into the getRandomPhotos script.

Finally, the Atlantic article omits an important step, which is described in my paper: To see the orange, you have to ‘normalize’ the average, which cranks up the contrast and the saturation. Otherwise, you tend to get a dirt-brown color — the hue is the same, but the saturation is low. My script does this normalization step by default, although it can be turned off via the -n option.

UPDATE Aug-22-2014: Here’s another article on the topic. This one on the Fast Company design website.

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