Even though we’ve gone from the intimate detail of the film photo to the grainy disappointment of the digital photo to the intimate detail of the multi-megapixel (gigapixel, even) photo, the photograph itself hasn’t changed. It captures just a single moment in time, and remains the same forever.
Now, Martin Fuchs at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics wants to change that. Instead of having you look at an unchanging photo, he wants you to see it evolve over the day. Despite that, as you look at it, you’ll see shadows move, lights come on, and other such goodness that you’re only used to in movies.
The setup comprises a lens array and focuses light on a transparent photo film. You see the image on a diffuser. The photograph on the film is really a composite of hundreds of photographs taken all through the day.
When the light from the lens array falls on a hexagon, you’ll see only one source image at a given time. As the sun moves behind the photo, a different photo is illuminated, so it looks like the photo is changing with time.
It’s a great idea for billboards, but we doubt we’ll be taking any such photos for our personal collections. Firstly, there’s the matter of being patient enough to wait while your camera spends all day taking pictures. Secondly, the procedure doesn’t seem like one that your local photo shop can accomplish. And finally, the fact that the sun needs to be behind the photo restricts our choices of placement. Designer window? Yes, that seems to be an option with this innovation. Photo frame on the coffee table, probably not. Still, ‘twould be a great idea to break away from just any other photo.