Photography Is Changing. It Will Never Be The Same Again

For over 150 years photography has been about making choices on perspective, crop, focus and exposure before the shutter was released. Current developments show that this will change in the near future. The manner in which pictures will be captured will change. The photographer will have to worry about the moment and the perspective. Crop, exposure, and even focus can be set and decided upon at a later moment.

For some people, this may sound as science fiction, but it isn’t any more. The increasing number of pixels captured questions why we still carry a bag full of lenses around. If we could crop the captured picture and still would retain enough pixels for the picture one wide-angle lens would be sufficient.

In addition to this we can observe that the increasing dynamic range of the sensors provides us with more and more freedom for adjusting contrast and exposure during post-processing. It is this same freedom that will at one point in time eliminate the need to decide on exposure at the moment of taking the picture.

Recent developments at Lytro prove that even the focus plane does not have to be set at the moment of exposure. By the manner in which they capture the light of an image and the manner that they process the data they make it possible for the photographer to decide upon the focus plane after the picture is taken. Having seen their demo pictures, I am pretty sure that it is for them only a matter of time before they can use the same technology to manipulate depth-of-field. It is quite mind-boggling to see that this is possible.

With these current developments in mind, it is also not too difficult to see that the captured image will be replaced by short, very high definition video. Once that step has been made it becomes possible to decide upon the shutter-speed as an afterthought. It will just become a straightforward calculation that can be executed by a piece of software.

The moment that photography is replaced by above-mentioned image processing principles the photographer has a far simpler job at the moment of taking the picture. He or she has only to "focus" on perspective and the time-slot from which to choose the picture. All other aspects can be played with at a later stage. It is clear, photography is changing. It will never be the same again.

Late addition:

  See also: Canon’s Camera of the Future at Gizmodo

Photo: Example of a picture that can be (re-)focused during post-processing (by Lytro). Just click on the girl that you want to be in focus to see the effect.