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Looking to photograph a solar eclipse with your smartphone? Try these features and think about creative angles

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Looking to photograph a solar eclipse with your smartphone? Try these features and think about creative angles

You don't need a nice professional camera to snap photos of this year's eclipse.
George Frey via Getty Images News

Douglas Goodwin, Scripps College

As the Moon casts its shadow across the Earth during the upcoming solar eclipse, cameras of all kinds will turn skyward. While professional photographers with specialized equipment will aim to capture the perfect shot, others will reach for their smartphones to immortalize this moment.

While smartphone cameras can't take a great picture of a solar eclipse itself, you can still create a memorable record of the moment with your smartphone.

Your smartphone camera has capabilities that lots of specialized equipment can't match. It's lightweight, has built-in orientation detection and can shoot well in darkness and light. Plus, thanks to its computational photography features, it focuses the image for you and provides image stabilization.

Be careful: Photographing the eclipse with a smartphone might the camera's sensor and your eyes. If you want to look at the Sun or take a photo, wear eclipse glasses and get a lens filter.

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Don't look directly at the Sun while taking photos during the eclipse.

Smartphones and optical cameras both bring unique strengths to photography. Smartphones excel in convenience, connectivity and computational photography. They are a simple choice for casual shooters and social enthusiasts.

Optical cameras beat smartphones in terms of raw image quality, versatility and creative control. This is thanks to their larger sensors, which capture more light and detail, and their interchangeable lenses. They remain the ultimate tools for serious photographers who prioritize performance over portability.

Despite the advantages of optical cameras, a smartphone's strengths still make it a great way to capture the eclipse.

What is computational photography?

I teach a yearlong course in computational photography that covers the technical aspects of optics and photography. Students make cameras and lenses and write software that duplicates smartphone features.

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Computational photography uses computation together with data like location, time of day, personal preferences and other data to improve images. Most smartphones have these features, but very few cameras do.

Two computational modes you will want to try are HDR and night mode.

HDR and night mode

HDR, or high dynamic range, is a technique that combines multiple exposures of the same scene to capture a wider range of brightness levels, from deep shadows to bright highlights. By merging these exposures, HDR can you create images with more balanced exposure and greater detail.

You can activate your phone camera's HDR mode in settings.

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Night mode is another feature you can use that will improve the photos you take in low light. Using a computational photography technique called stacking, night mode captures multiple images at varying exposure levels and combines them to create a single, well-lit photo with a wide dynamic range.

This process preserves an image's highlights and the details in the , while keeping the shadows dark.

Keep the camera steady while taking night mode photos. You can lean against something solid, such as a wall or a tree. With this computational feature, your low-light images may rival professional-grade optical cameras.

Framing the eclipse

Thinking about how you're composing your eclipse image will help you make it more visually interesting. Composition in photography refers to the arrangement of elements within the frame.

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Elements are things like the subject – a person, place or thing – plus abstractions like patterns and textures – grass, sand, leaves and more. Elements with lines or elements oriented up or down can guide the viewer's eye through the image, and elements can pull focus to or offset the subject.

Empty or negative around the subject can give the photo a compelling composition, like the full moon in a black sky. Adjusting the depth of field, for example by using your phone's portrait mode, can help emphasize the subject.

Using symmetry makes a visually appealing and balanced image, while incorporating complementary colors gives the shot a more dramatic composition.

Think about how a big-budget might the eclipse. It might have 60 seconds of footage showing the Moon covering the Sun. The remaining 89 minutes would probably show how the eclipse changed people's lives. There's a lot more to shoot than just the Sun's corona.

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For example, there's more that might go into an eclipse image than the sky. Animals may react to the eclipse in interesting ways. Birds may settle down or grow quiet, and nocturnal insects may out. People around you might have excited, emotional reactions worth capturing as they witness this rare celestial .

With HDR and night mode active, you can look for dappled light and dark shadows. The light will take on an otherworldly atmosphere as the Moon moves in front of the Sun. The light may take on a peculiar, silvery quality and appear darker than usual. Light falling through gaps between leaves will hundreds of tiny versions of the eclipse on the ground.

Dappled sunlight spread across sandy ground
Crescent projections onto the ground from tree shadows during the August 2017 eclipse.
B137/Wikimedia Commons

Never look directly at the Sun. Wear eclipse glasses if you look up while aiming your camera.

While your smartphone may not capture the intricate details of the eclipse itself, it can help you document the impact of the eclipse on your world. So, as you prepare to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, don't forget to look beyond the Sun and the Moon. Observe the shadows, the colors and the emotions that surround you. Let your curiosity guide you and allow yourself to be present in the moment.

The greatest photographs are those that evoke a sense of wonder, awe and connection regardless of the technology used.The Conversation

Douglas Goodwin, Visiting Assistant Professor in Media Studies, Scripps College

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Grizzly bear conservation is as much about human relationships as it is the animals

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theconversation.com – Alexander L. Metcalf, Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, University of Montana – 2024-04-16 07:32:53
If the government takes grizzly bears off the Endangered Species List, some states will likely introduce a hunting season.
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Alexander L. Metcalf, University of Montana

Montanans know spring has officially arrived when grizzly bears emerge from their dens. But unlike the bears, the contentious debate over their future never hibernates. New research from my lab reveals how people's social identities and the dynamics between social groups may play a larger role in these debates than even the animals themselves.

Social scientists like me work to understand the human dimensions behind wildlife conservation and management. There's a cliché among wildlife biologists that wildlife management is really people management, and they're right. My research seeks to understand the psychological and social factors that underlie pressing environmental challenges. It is from this perspective that my team sought to understand how Montanans think about grizzly bears.

To list or delist, that is the question

In 1975, the grizzly bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act decades of extermination efforts and habitat loss that severely constrained their range. At that time, there were 700-800 grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, down from a historic 50,000. , there are about 2,000 grizzly bears in this area, and sometime in 2024 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to maintain their protected status or begin the delisting .

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Listed species are managed by the federal government until they have recovered and management responsibility can return to the states. While listed, federal law prevents hunting of the animal and destruction of grizzly bear habitat. If the animal is delisted, some states intend to implement a grizzly bear hunting season.

People on both sides of the delisting debate often use logic to try to convince others that their position is right. Proponents of delisting say that hunting grizzly bears can reduce conflict between grizzly bears and humans. Opponents of delisting counter that agencies cannot be trusted to responsibly manage grizzly bears.

But debates over wildlife might be more complex than these arguments imply.

Identity over facts

Humans have survived because of our evolved ability to cooperate. As a result, human brains are hardwired to favor people who are part of their social groups, even when those groups are randomly assigned and the group members are anonymous.

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Humans perceive reality through the lens of their social identities. People are more likely to see a foul committed by a rival team than one committed by the team they're rooting for. When randomly assigned to be part of a group, people will even overlook subconscious racial biases to favor their fellow group members.

Your social identities influence how you interpret your own reality.

can leverage social identities to inspire cooperation and collective action. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people with strong national identities were more likely to physically distance and support public health policies.

But the forces of social identity have a dark side, too. For example, when people think that another “out-group” is threatening their group, they tend to assume members of the other group hold more extreme positions than they really do. Polarization between groups can worsen when people convince themselves that their group's positions are inherently right and the other group's are wrong. In extreme instances, group members can use these beliefs to justify immoral treatment of out-group members.

Empathy reserved for in-group members

These group dynamics help explain people's attitudes toward grizzly bears in Montana. Although property damage from grizzly bears is extremely rare, affecting far less than 1% of Montanans each year, grizzly bears have been known to break into garages to access food, prey on free-range livestock and sometimes even maul or kill people.

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People who hunt tend to have more negative experiences with grizzly bears than nonhunters – usually because hunters are more often living near and moving through grizzly bear habitat.

Two mean wearing jackets and holding shotguns as they walk across a grassy field with a dog.
When hunters hear grizzly bear conflict stories from other hunters, they might favor grizzlies less, even if they've never had a negative experience with one themselves.
Karl Weatherly/DigitalVision via Getty Images

In a large survey of Montana , my team found that one of the most important factors associated with negative attitudes toward grizzly bears was whether someone had heard stories of grizzly bears causing other people property damage. We called this “vicarious property damage.” These negative feelings toward grizzly bears are highly correlated with the belief that there are too many grizzly bears in Montana already.

But we also found an interesting wrinkle in the data. Although hunters extended empathy to other hunters whose properties had been damaged by grizzly bears, nonhunters didn't show the same courtesy. Because property damage from grizzly bears was far more likely to affect hunters, only other hunters were able to put themselves in their shoes. They felt as though other hunters' experiences may as well have happened to them, and their attitudes toward grizzly bears were more negative as a result.

For nonhunters, hearing stories about grizzly bears causing damage to hunters' property did not affect their attitudes toward the animals.

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Identity-informed conservation

Recognizing that social identities can play a major role in wildlife conservation debates helps untangle and perhaps prevent some of the conflict. For those wishing to build consensus, there are many psychology-informed strategies for improving relationships between groups.

For example, conversations between members of different groups can help people realize they have shared values. Hearing about a member of your group helping a member of another group can inspire people to extend empathy to out-group members.

Conservation groups and wildlife managers should take care when developing interventions based on social identity to prevent them from backfiring when applied to wildlife conservation issues. Bringing up social identities can sometimes cause unintended division. For example, partisan can unnecessarily divide people on environmental issues.

Wildlife professionals can reach their audience more effectively by matching their message and messengers to the social identities of their audience. Some conservation groups have seen uniting community members who might otherwise be divided around a shared identity associated with their love of a particular place. The conservation group Swan Valley Connections has used this strategy in Montana's Swan Valley to reduce conflict between grizzly bears and local residents.

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Group dynamics can foster cooperation or create division, and the debate over grizzly bear management in Montana is no exception. Who people are and who they care about drives their reactions to this large carnivore. Grizzly bear conservation efforts that unite people around shared identities are far more likely to succeed than those that remind them of their divisions.The Conversation

Alexander L. Metcalf, Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, University of Montana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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In the age of cancel culture, shaming can be healthy for online communities – a political scientist explains when and how

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theconversation.com – Jennifer Forestal, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola Chicago – 2024-04-16 07:32:06
Public shaming can uphold online community norms.
bo feng/iStock via Getty Images

Jennifer Forestal, Loyola University Chicago

“Cancel culture” has a bad reputation. There is growing anxiety over this practice of publicly shaming people online for violating social norms ranging from inappropriate jokes to controversial business practices.

Online shaming can be a wildly disproportionate response that violates the privacy of the shamed while offering them no good way to defend themselves. These consequences lead some critics to claim that online shaming creates a “hate storm” that destroys lives and reputations, leaves targets with “permanent digital baggage” and threatens the fundamental right to publicly express yourself in a democracy. As a result, some scholars have declared that online shaming is a “moral wrong and social ill.”

But is online public shaming necessarily negative? I'm a political scientist who studies the relationship between digital technologies and democracy. In my research, I show how public shaming can be a valuable tool for democratic accountability. However, it is more likely to these positive effects within a clearly defined community whose members have many overlapping connections.

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When shaming helps

Public shaming is a “horizontal” form of social sanctioning, in which people hold one another responsible for violating social norms, rather than appealing to higher authorities to do so. This makes it especially useful in democratic societies, as well as in cases where the shamers face power imbalances or lack access to formal authorities that could hold the shamed accountable.

For example, public shaming can be an effective strategy for challenging corporate power and behavior or maintaining journalistic norms in the face of plagiarism. By harnessing social pressure, public shaming can both motivate people to change their behavior and deter future violations by others.

Public shaming has a long history.

But public shaming generally needs to occur in a specific social context to have these positive effects. First, everyone involved must recognize shared social norms and the shamer's authority to sanction violations of them. Second, the shamed must care about their reputation. And third, the shaming must be accompanied by the possibility of reintegration, allowing the shamed to and be welcomed back into the fold.

This means that public shaming is more likely to deliver accountability in clearly defined communities where members have many overlapping connections, such as schools where all the parents know one another.

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In communal spaces where people frequently into each other, like workplaces, it is more likely that they understand shared social norms and the obligations to follow them. In these environments, it is more likely that people care about what others think of them, and that they know how to apologize when needed so that they can be reintegrated in the community.

Communities that connect

Most online shamings, however, do not take place in this kind of positive social context. On the social platform X, previously known as Twitter, which many high-profile public shamings, users generally lack many shared connections with one another. There is no singular “X community” with universally shared norms, so it is difficult for users to collectively sanction norm violations on the platform.

Moreover, reintegration for targets of shamings on X is nearly impossible, since it is not clear to what community they should apologize, or how they should do so. It should not be surprising, then, that most highly publicized X shamings – like those of PR executive Justine Sacco, who was shamed for a racist tweet in 2013, and Amy Cooper, the “Central Park Karen” – tend to degenerate into campaigns of harassment and stigmatization.

But just because X shamings often turn pathological does not mean all online shamings do. On Threadless, an online community and e-commerce site for artists and designers, users effectively use public shaming to norms around intellectual property. Wikipedians' use of public “reverts” – reversals of edits to entries – has helped enforce the encylopedia's standards even with anonymous contributors. Likewise, Black Twitter has long used the practice of public shaming as an effective mechanism of accountability.

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What sets these cases apart is their community structure. Shamings in these contexts are more productive because they occur within clearly defined groups in which members have more shared connections.

Acknowledging these differences in social context helps clarify why, for example, when a Reddit user was shamed by his subcommunity for posting an inappropriate photo, he accepted the rebuke, apologized and was welcomed back into the community. In contrast, those shamed on X often issue vague apologies before disengaging entirely.

The scale and speed of social can change the dynamics of public shaming when it occurs online.

Crossing online borders

There are still very real consequences of moving public shaming online. Unlike in most offline contexts, online shamings often play out on a massive scale that makes it more difficult for users to understand their connections with one another. Moreover, by creating opportunities to expand and overlap networks, the internet can blur community boundaries in ways that complicate the practice of public shaming and make it more likely to turn pathological.

For example, although the Reddit user was reintegrated into his community, the shaming soon spread to other subreddits, as well as national outlets, which ultimately led him to delete his Reddit account altogether.

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This example suggests that online public shaming is not straightforward. While shaming on X is rarely productive, the practice on other platforms, and in offline spaces characterized by clearly defined communities such as college campuses, can provide important public .

Shaming, like other practices of a healthy democracy, is a tool whose value depends on how it's used.The Conversation

Jennifer Forestal, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Deepfake detection improves when using algorithms that are more aware of demographic diversity

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theconversation.com – Siwei Lyu, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; Director, UB Forensic Lab, at Buffalo – 2024-04-16 07:31:48
Deepfake detection software may unfairly target people from some groups.
JLco – Ana Suanes/iStock via Getty Images

Siwei Lyu, University at Buffalo and Yan Ju, University at Buffalo

Deepfakes – essentially putting words in someone else's mouth in a very believable way – are becoming more sophisticated by the day and increasingly hard to spot. Recent examples of deepfakes include Taylor Swift nude images, an audio recording of President Joe Biden telling New Hampshire not to vote, and a video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling on his troops to lay down their arms.

Although companies have created detectors to spot deepfakes, studies have found that biases in the data used to train these tools can to certain demographic groups being unfairly targeted.

a hand holds a smartphone with text on it in front of a screen with a man in front of a lectern
A deepfake of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2022 purported to show him calling on his troops to lay down their arms.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

My team and I discovered new methods that improve both the fairness and the accuracy of the algorithms used to detect deepfakes.

To do so, we used a large dataset of facial forgeries that lets researchers like us train our deep-learning approaches. We built our work around the -of-the-art Xception detection algorithm, which is a widely used foundation for deepfake detection and can detect deepfakes with an accuracy of 91.5%.

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We created two separate deepfake detection methods intended to encourage fairness.

One was focused on making the algorithm more aware of demographic diversity by labeling datasets by gender and race to minimize errors among underrepresented groups.

The other aimed to improve fairness without relying on demographic labels by focusing instead on features not visible to the human eye.

It turns out the first method worked best. It increased accuracy rates from the 91.5% baseline to 94.17%, which was a bigger increase than our second method as well as several others we tested. Moreover, it increased accuracy while enhancing fairness, which was our main focus.

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We believe fairness and accuracy are crucial if the public is to accept artificial intelligence technology. When large language models like ChatGPT “hallucinate,” they can perpetuate erroneous information. This affects public trust and safety.

Likewise, deepfake images and can undermine the adoption of AI if they cannot be quickly and accurately detected. Improving the fairness of these detection algorithms so that certain demographic groups aren't disproportionately harmed by them is a key aspect to this.

Our research addresses deepfake detection algorithms' fairness, rather than just attempting to balance the data. It offers a new approach to algorithm design that considers demographic fairness as a core aspect.The Conversation

Siwei Lyu, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; Director, UB Media Forensic Lab, University at Buffalo and Yan Ju, Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Science and Engineering, University at Buffalo

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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