In a previous video I did on the Connectix
Quickcam, the first ever webcam for personal computers, I showed a technique for capturing
color stills from an otherwise black and white camera. A lot of people were totally blown away by
this sorcery and wanted more information about it. So, I had promised a more in-depth explanation
of this process in a later video, and well, here we are. And, this process is actually not new. In fact, it was first proposed by James Clerk
Maxwell as early as 1855. However, it didn’t see a lot of practical
use until the early 1900s. Russian Chemist Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky helped
to popularize the idea around 1906. He used a regular black and white camera of
the era, and placed a color filter in front of the lens. In this case, a red color filter will block
all light that is not red. If you were to look through the color filter
the parrot would look sort of like this. Of course, some colors like white, purple,
and brown also contain red light. But colors like blue and green would appear
as black. Of course, the film in the camera is still
black and white so it would actually record the image like this. So, if you consider doing this 3 times with
all 3 primary colors, the parrot would look more like this. And of course, on the black and white film
it would look like this. So even though the film itself is not in color,
you still have the 3 representations necessary to reconstruct the color image. But how did Sergey display the photos? Well, he created a special slide projector
that projected three slides at the same time, each one using a different color of light. And so he could place the 3 black and white
photos in the projector, and the red, green, and blue light would reconstruct the color
image on the projector screen. And using this method, he actually took some
pretty amazing photographs. It’s hard to believe that these photos are
over 110 years old. And, of course, this concept is not exactly
considered outdated either, because most of your really high end professional cameras
still use the same concept. They have some cleverly shaped prisms, so
that when the light comes through the lens, it is broken into red, green, and blue light
like this. And then there are 3 separate image sensors
to pick up the light, and each of these sensors is in fact a black and white, or monochrome
sensor. So, I wanted to experiment with this concept
a little more, but I wanted a camera with at least a little bit better quality. So, I picked up this old black and white security
camera, which outputs a composite video signal. So I can use my laptop with a video capture
device to grab the images. This camera requires 24 Volts Ac, so I’ll
need to wire up this A/C adapter to power it. The camera has essentially 3 settings, you
have aperture control here, then zoom here in the middle, and focus here at the tip. So, this is what the camera sees. And I’ll need something to take a picture
of. I’ll use this little Pacman figure. Actually, I’ll give him the company of Ms.
Pacman as well. And just for a little extra color, I’ll
add in Mr. Meeseeks. So, I’ll just hold the color filters one
at a time in front of the camera. When I use the red color filter you can immediately
see that Mr. Meeseeks turned dark because he’s mostly blue. OK, so how do we take these 3 grayscale images
and turn them into a single color photo? Well, there are many programs out there which
can do it. I’ll demonstrate this using Gimp. So here are the 3 individual grayscale photos
and I’ll just drag them into Gimp. And there we go. So, let me re-arrange these a bit. So yeah, here’s the red, then the green,
and the blue. And you should be able to tell some difference
in brightness, for example, on PacMan here, that he appears darker in the blue image. Anyway, so how you combine these is you go
to colors, then components, then compose. Then this little dialog pops up. Obviously we want to use the RGB method. Then I just need to select the correct photo
to use for each channel here. And then, viola! There’s my color photo. It probably wouldn’t hurt to increase the
saturation some. I think the color filters I have are not 100%
pure, so they allow some light to come in from other colors, which means the separation
isn’t perfect, but I would imagine increasing the saturation like this should more or less
compensate. Well, let’s try another one. This is some fake decorative flowers. They look pretty plain here in black and white. But, I was able to get this photo using the
filters. And, how about these little mini arcades. I need to tighten up the focus. Ok, let’s see what we can get from this. There we go! Now, let’s try this unsolved Rubik’s cube. In fact, I’ll mix it up a little more. In fact, I’ll also add in the Rubiks Snake. I’m going to straighten that up just a bit. And there we go! This came out beautiful! OK, so I wanted to try this on a human subject. My daughter’s friend Jordyn volunteered
to be my guinea pig, or glamour model, however you want to look at it. The trick is, she’ll have to stay extremely
still while I take the 3 separate photos. And here are the 3 photos. However, combining them together didn’t
work out that great, as you can see a lot of color fringing down the left and right
of her arms and face. This is because she moved ever so slightly
during the take. Also this is a bit overexposed. So I tried closing the aperture some to darken
the image. This camera doesn’t have very good dynamic
range. Anyway, that resulted in more facial features,
but added some graininess to it. And despite several attempts, we were never
able to get a perfectly clear shot due to Jordyn having moved at least some between
captures. I decided to try this outdoors, which was
actually quite challenging because I needed to carry a laptop with me, along with a portable
power unit so I could plug in the camera to get the 24 volts AC power. We went to the local town center here in Kennedale
and I setup the laptop and camera. I had both of the girls pose for the camera. But one of the biggest problems was getting
the focus right because the sun was washing out the screen on my laptop and I just couldn’t
see any detail. The interesting thing is, the final photos
seem to have very little color to them. And I was quite perplexed by this. And the color they do have seems to be mostly
from sun glare on the different color filters, which I couldn’t see while taking the photos
due to the laptop screen. Interestingly enough, this clock tower probably
came out better than any of them, despite the moving clouds and the wind blowing the
plants and trees. And here’s the final color image from this. However, I was able to determine at least
one of the problems I was having. You see, this camera picks up a good deal
of both ultraviolet and infrared light, along with the visible spectrum. And that’s not a flaw, it was actually designed
to do that because it’s a security camera and that way it would have better light pickup
under low light conditions. So I took my little filters and tested them
with this UV flashlight. As you can see the camera picks up the UV
quite well, but you can see the filter blocks most of it. So that’s good. But what about infrared? I tried this remote control and as you can
see the filter does not block any of it. Of course, the filter probably wasn’t designed
with that in mind since most cameras would probably have some kind of infrared blocking
device already in the camera. It just so happens this one does not. So, I think if I were to figure out some way
to block the infrared light, either inside this camera or outside the lens, I think I
could make these photos look a lot better. You see, the reason that this picture has
so little color is that there is a lot of infrared light outdoors and all of that light
got through all 3 color filters, where as the indoor photos came out better because
I have LED lighting in the house, which doesn’t emit much infrared light in the first place. Anyway, it gives me a lot of respect for Sergei
Gorskii because he was able to take these magnificent photos back in 1906 to 1912 using
this same technique, long before color photography was really a thing. And what’s more amazing is that his subjects
were able to remain so completely still. Of course, not all of them because if you
look at this photo, you’ll notice this one girl was apparently not able to remain completely
still because you can see the color fringing around her. So, I propose a new photography challenge. I mean, why challenge yourself with film or
instamatic, or gameboy cameras when you can challenge yourself with a black and white
security camera. There you go, so once you take some masterpieces
with one of these bad boys, send me the result and let me see what you did. Otherwise, until then, thanks for watching.

Color Photos from a Black and White Camera
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81 thoughts on “Color Photos from a Black and White Camera

  • August 23, 2019 at 2:52 am
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    James Clerk Maxwell's first attempt at a color photo had messed-up colors for the same reason you had problems. His emulsion was sensitive to invisible wavelengths that his filters were letting through.

    The Cassini space probe used color filter wheels with a B/W CCD to take color separations. I remember using that GIMP technique to combine them back into color photos after getting them off the Cassini raw-images website. Many of the moons of Saturn don't actually have a lot of color, so the results were sometimes not spectacular–but Titan does.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 3:07 am
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    This video appeared again and I thought "hey i saw this" then i saw the year lmao

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  • August 23, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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    Humm….
    This is something I was taught in 5-6th grade Science class!
    It's bizarre to see it's now part of the College curriculum!

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  • August 23, 2019 at 8:24 pm
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    On a human. Try laying down! Not the shooter.

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  • August 23, 2019 at 9:44 pm
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    wow jordan is sexy

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  • August 25, 2019 at 9:16 pm
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    You need to deinterlace your video before uploading. It's so annoying to see all the interlaced lines in the movement of things in the video.

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  • August 25, 2019 at 9:20 pm
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    So get an infrared filter??

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  • August 26, 2019 at 2:32 am
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    Dang, higher quality than most android phones nowadays.

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  • August 26, 2019 at 1:19 pm
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    This is fabulous. I learned so much!

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  • August 26, 2019 at 4:10 pm
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    what if you did the same concept that he did? take 3 of those black and white cameras and mount them in a way that the pictures all line up, and add one of the rgb filters to each.. then you dont have to worry about things/people moving because youre only taking "one" picture.. (3 pix, but all at once time)..

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  • August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm
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    Try this with that Gameboy Camera you did a video on.

    Nevermind. Saw it in a comment below.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm
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    Almost HD…
    IN THE 1800's?!?!?!?!?!?!??!??

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  • August 27, 2019 at 7:01 pm
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    But what I use cyan, yellow, and magenta.

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  • August 28, 2019 at 1:31 am
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    I'm going to try this with my smartphone since it has a monochrome sensor.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 1:38 am
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    I did this in high school in 1968.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 4:59 am
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    ǝɯosǝʍɐ s,ʇɐɥʇ

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 4:42 am
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    you can detect moving objects at each chanel, then adjust them to each other. not 100.00000% of original but will look mutch better.

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  • August 30, 2019 at 7:03 am
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    how is the night video-Please make a video

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  • August 31, 2019 at 2:09 pm
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    Lies. Everybody knows that the world was black and white before 1950. 😀

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  • August 31, 2019 at 8:29 pm
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    Can you do this on a smart phone?

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  • September 1, 2019 at 2:04 am
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    Your daughter,s attention seeking boobs

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  • September 2, 2019 at 5:21 am
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    This remind me the time when i was trying to make picture with only one pixel camera, it was ok in B&W but never did it with color filter: http://chynehome.com/web/appareil-photo-de-1-pixel-avec-un-arduino/

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  • September 2, 2019 at 5:28 pm
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    Hello i am mi6 look at me

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 7:05 pm
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    I enjoy watching your videos. This one reminds of when I used the newtek digiview camera and color wheel on my Amiga at work to capture full color images to use on our message board. https://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=307

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 7:28 pm
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    >Do video about Technicolor
    >Don't even mention Technicolor
    C'mon man.

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  • September 3, 2019 at 1:07 pm
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    Actually this is the same way technicolor films used to be made. 3pcs of BW film, exposed though a prism, summed after development and color wash.

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  • September 3, 2019 at 4:02 pm
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    This is the principle as when taking astrophotos with non-RGB sensors.
    Just to make it a bit harder for you, Red, Green and Blue don't have the same focal point due to its wavelength.

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  • September 4, 2019 at 12:32 am
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    These photos have a nice aesthetic

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  • September 4, 2019 at 9:17 am
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    it's not sergi it's Сергей

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  • September 4, 2019 at 4:42 pm
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    What next, digital photos in the Victorian era?

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:02 am
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    You can also make red-blue 3-D pictures, just move camera few centimetres between pics.

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 11:06 am
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    can we do this with the B&W photos, using RGB filter and composing photo?

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 11:24 am
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    These photos taken with color filters look like photos or movies from the 80s

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  • September 6, 2019 at 2:03 am
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    Actually you should try this on a game boy camera!

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  • September 6, 2019 at 3:06 am
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    Nowadays this is obvious but must have been incredible back in the days.

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  • September 6, 2019 at 5:06 am
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    Looks like Technicolor movie filters

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  • September 6, 2019 at 11:35 pm
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    Absolutely amazing, probably one of the most interesting video I've ever saw.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 1:51 am
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    Did you try stacking the lenses???

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  • September 7, 2019 at 8:22 pm
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    https://youtu.be/fYSme5V6SSs

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  • September 8, 2019 at 10:29 am
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    2:06 hahaha professional camera and showing a camera, that’s older than 10 years 😂👍

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  • September 8, 2019 at 2:57 pm
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    sergey could just use photoshop lol

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  • September 8, 2019 at 6:37 pm
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    Respect for that scientist who Took Those color photos back in 1906 😞

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  • September 8, 2019 at 9:13 pm
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    Now lets make colour fotos with the gb camera 😀

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  • September 8, 2019 at 10:23 pm
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    control your experience outdoors into an experiment to see why !!

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  • September 9, 2019 at 12:02 am
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    I want you why don't you take your camera apart and put all the infrared and all of that stuff inside and make it color so what did it make all three colors when it you take a picture

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  • September 9, 2019 at 10:23 am
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    Sir thanks for the video. I have many b&w photographs. So how can I convert those images into color photos using photoshop RGB channel filters.
    Please help me.

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  • September 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm
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    Thumbs up. You do not need to use 3 exposures. I used 2 ("bipack") – orange glass + blue-green glass. As a result, all the colors are composed, some of which are faint but some of them saturated – depending on the scene selection and the color filters selected for them. The camera had a rotating two-color filter in front of the lens, so when pressing the shutter button, it took one image through the first filter and then the other through the second filter after a fast automatic film advance (as with a film camera). Objects or people could move a little – they were exposed in a fraction of a second. Infrared radiation is a problem, as you say, and must therefore be exposed through an oblique semi-transparent mirror. "Bipack" (2 exposures) is not ideal in color, but creates interestingly colored atmospheric paintings, as they did in the last century – the secret of nice old color images created by additive mixing.

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  • September 10, 2019 at 4:38 am
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    Does it work if we use cmyk filter?

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  • September 10, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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    Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky was a real genius. Today the most part of his collection of photographs is in the Library of Congress.

    Reply
  • September 10, 2019 at 9:15 pm
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    Hmmm…intresting enough to do try it at home !

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  • September 11, 2019 at 2:35 am
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    Nice intro

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  • September 11, 2019 at 2:35 am
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    How????¿????????????????!!!???¿?!!!??!?!!?

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  • September 11, 2019 at 4:30 am
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    So cool

    Reply
  • September 11, 2019 at 9:17 pm
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    This effect creates a very neat "vintage" appearance to these photographs.

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 6:51 am
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    Wow really interesting.. Liked It… ♥️💚💙

    Reply
  • September 16, 2019 at 7:16 pm
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    This method is used in astrophotography along with a luminance channel for brightness and is known as lrgb imaging. Luminance,Red,Green,Blue. Astro filters have uv/ir cut aswell to cut infrared and uv

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  • September 21, 2019 at 9:43 am
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    You do know these were used in Technicolor… right?

    Reply
  • September 22, 2019 at 9:49 am
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    Check out the industrial artificial vision Multispectrum cameras of Keyence, they take this idea and use 8 different color filters in only 200ms and with only one camera. They differentiate colors beyond human eye.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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    Security cameras are made to capture infrared light to provide black-and-white nighttime pictures. Many security cameras are manufactured with built-in IR projectors.

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  • September 29, 2019 at 11:24 am
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    Gosh, Jordan, what the FUCK. Stop moving. Lmao jk

    Reply
  • September 30, 2019 at 8:00 pm
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    0:35–2:09 Method and examples
    3:45 Colors/Components/Compose
    7:41–8:06 more pics

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  • October 3, 2019 at 3:37 pm
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    this is by far my favorite tech channel. thanks for another great video

    Reply
  • October 6, 2019 at 6:34 pm
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    You should recreate this but with the Gameboy Camera

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  • October 9, 2019 at 2:55 pm
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    If cameras pick up uv, why not just add a uv proof sunglass in front of it.

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  • October 11, 2019 at 12:10 am
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    try this method with the game boy camera!

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  • October 11, 2019 at 9:10 pm
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    would you see what colorblind people see if you colored the photos different colors? like switch the red and green photo?

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  • October 12, 2019 at 12:13 am
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    How do you have these 110 y old photos anyway?

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  • October 12, 2019 at 11:10 am
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    Wait… That's illegal.

    Reply
  • October 15, 2019 at 4:03 pm
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    dude – cool video.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2019 at 8:49 am
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    astrophotographers do this every night….. colour filters and monochrome cameras

    Reply
  • October 22, 2019 at 6:29 pm
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    So simple, so obvious … magnificent

    Reply
  • October 29, 2019 at 12:50 pm
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    TechnoSur Brands
    The 8 Bit Guy
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    La technologie par Technosur
    La tecnologia di TechnoSur
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    Teknologien af TechnoSur
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    Y Dechnoleg gan TechnoSur
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    Tekhnologiyata ot TechnoSur

    ©2007-2019 Technosur

    Reply
  • November 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm
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    Idea, gameboy camera AND the color filters.

    Reply
  • November 3, 2019 at 12:54 am
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    I remember doing this in photography class, however I did it with color film. Got to the point where I had a color negative before I gave up over the amount of effort this required. The lab wasn't exactly set up for color, after all.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2019 at 1:28 am
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    Same principle was applied to these 1940's anfd 50's Hollywood movies. After, Kodachrome was invented!

    Reply
  • November 9, 2019 at 9:53 pm
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    8-bit wife: What are you doing today? 🤷‍♂️
    8-bit guy: Just taking some glamour model photos of our daughter's friend. 🧐
    8-bit wife: Hurumph. 😒

    Reply
  • November 12, 2019 at 11:30 am
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    Looks like the old photos were done with cmy insetad of rgb

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  • November 12, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    You could just use red, green, and blue lamps to light the scene instead of a filter. You'd get the same results.

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  • November 16, 2019 at 5:59 pm
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    And this is a way to save storage space, since black.and white photos take less memory space to store. Well, unless 3 separate photos taken with the filters still take less space than a color photo, considering that each photo taken with the filters is monochrome. That I have to check.

    Reply
  • November 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm
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    What if you did this with the gameboy camera

    Reply
  • November 18, 2019 at 1:10 am
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    5:50 Hey my Grandma found literally the exact same type (Same brand and model) on the side of the highway and gave it to my Da

    Reply

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