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SNAP SHOTS by Harry Flashman


An Autographer for anyone?

I have to admit that when digital cameras first came out, I pooh poohed the notion. They would never be as good as ‘proper’ film cameras. Another geek idea of little value to the real world. I was wrong.
And when I think of technology and its effects upon us, I will let you into another secret skeleton in the family cupboard - I only bought my first fax machine because I was embarrassed by people asking me for my fax number. I could see no way I could use it! Wrong again. Mind you, I’m not as bad as David Ogilvy (Ogilvy and Mather Advertising Agency) who turned down the Xerox contract as he couldn’t see that the company had any future, just copying things!
So after that lead-in, here is the Autographer, another development of technology, and another which I think has a very limited usefulness. The Autographer is a camera you wear which automatically decides when to take photos as you go about your daily chores.
The Autographer uses its six on-board sensors (GPS, color, accelerometer, motion detector, magnetometer and thermometer) - to gather data. The data from its six sensors is then read by software developed by Microsoft (yes, the press ‘Start to Stop’ people) that chooses the best moment to capture an image without any intervention from you. Quite frankly, when I read that it takes high-resolution pictures, which can be 2,000 in a day, and then it can combine them all to create a visual record of an event like a party, a music festival or a typical day in the life of the owner. With that description, I wonder whether or not all that software is redundant. 2000 photos, in let us say a 10 hour day, works out that your wearable Autographer is taking a photo every 18 seconds during your day. (I hope it can be turned off when you go to the loo!)
The sensor is not so large in these days of 20 plus megapixels, being only five megapixels but the lens has a field of vision of 136 degrees. “We’ve spent a lot of time developing our wide-angle eye-view lens which is at the heart of the Autographer’s story-telling ability. It gives a unique first-person perspective that allows the wearer to “tell their story uninhibited as they see it,” or so says the manufacturer.
However, here comes the technology of today - it can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth or computer via USB cable, OLED display, 8GB of on-board storage and there is also a shutter button on the side of the Autographer to allow you to manually over-ride and decide when you want the shot to be taken.
As opposed to cameras you hold, this photographic “device” can be worn around your neck, like the medallions or pendants, clipped to clothing or placed in a particular vantage point, is the first consumer device from British company OMG (Oxford Metrics Group and not Oh My God), whose stop-motion technology is used in fields ranging from computer game development to surveying roads.
OMG said it originally developed a version of the Autographer as a memory aid for people with dementia, but said it decided to launch it to the broader market after finding users and their families were also using the devices to record and remember special occasions.
OMG chief executive Nick Bolton said the camera occupied a space between stills photography and video. “It can capture really meaningful single images, but there’s actually something about watching the day back in sequence,” Bolton said. “It tells a story about the day you've just experienced.”
The blurb claims “Autographer doesn’t just effortlessly capture images, it captures stories. This offers limitless possibilities for ‘creatives’ and professionals too. As the device is hands-free and wearable, it’s more versatile than a traditional camera in many circumstances; it’s only limited by the imagination of the wearer.”
That means the company thinks it should appeal to anyone interested in recording an event without having to operate a camera, or as an additional tool for documentary photographers.
It will go on sale in November from the company’s website for 399.
You can read more:

Kirlian cameras and Electrography

I was at a meeting recently where the subject of Kirlian photography was mentioned. This I found interesting as Kirlian photography was a fad a few years ago but had since died (I thought).

Kirlian photography is not new, despite all claims to the contrary. It should be more correctly referred to as the ‘Kirlian effect’, which was demonstrated at the end of the 19th century and was then known as ‘electrography’.

However, it did not get the publicity it needed to catch on until Russian electrical technician Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian and his wife Valentina Kirliana published a paper in 1950 in the Russian Journal of Scientific and Applied Photography in which they described the process, now known as Kirlian Photography.

‘New Age’ followers seized upon this as being able to photograph the ‘aura’ of a person, and, at long last, show to the unbelievers that all the ‘bio-energies’ had a basis in ‘science’. Kirlian photography has been linked to telepathy, orgone energy, N-rays, acupuncture, ancient eastern religions, and other paranormal phenomena.

I am not going to get embroiled in semantics as to whether the Kirlian effect and the aura can be used for medical diagnosis (as is claimed), or whether Reiki practitioners have sparks coming out of their fingers when they are ‘healing’. However, I can reveal what is being recorded on film, and what you need to have your own ‘Kirlian’ camera.

First off, the Kirlian effect is ‘real’, although what is being recorded is not paranormal, but is a phenomenon called ‘Corona Discharge’. Corona discharge is seen in lightning and also the sparks that come off your fingers after you walk on nylon carpets. This used to be done as a party trick by Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who used to introduce new discoveries with his body glowing and sparks flying from his fingertips. Tesla, by the way, was a brilliant inventor, and it was he who introduced the concept of alternating current, used today, rather than Edison’s direct current.

The corona discharge that is recorded by the Kirlian photographers requires the object being subjected to an electric current and the size and color depends upon moisture that is present on the skin, and this is why inanimate objects do not give off a discharge as do animate ones.

Terence M. Hines, a psychology professor says, “Living things (like the commonly photographed fingers) are moist. When the electricity enters the living object, it produces an area of gas ionization around the photographed object, assuming moisture is present on the object. This moisture is transferred from the subject to the emulsion surface of the photographic film and causes an alternation of the electric charge pattern on the film. If a photograph is taken in a vacuum, where no ionized gas is present, no Kirlian image appears. If the Kirlian image were due to some paranormal fundamental living energy field, it should not disappear in a simple vacuum,” he said.

One team that spent some time examining the Kirlian effect has found a list of 25 factors that can effect a Kirlian photograph, including thickness of the skin, recent physical activity, and yes, mental stress. All of these affect the amount of moisture on the skin. Other factors include voltage level, voltage pulse rate, atmospheric gasses, the internal force and angle of the object held against the film, and barometric pressure. In effect, a single person can come up with different ‘auras’ simply by changing finger pressure and the amount of moisture found in the skin. That’s the ‘science’. As for the psychic energy claims, you can make up your own mind!

To make your own Kirlian photographs you will need a high frequency generator, as well as a camera. You need an HV/HF generator, a Polaroid SX 70 camera instant Polaroid film (3.25" x 4.25", type 669 or equivalent), instruction manual (click to view pdf file-81KB), interpretation guide (click to view pdf file-540KB), 11x17inch Laminated Poster, and “Life’s Hidden Forces”. Specifications - Shipping Weight: 7lbs, dimensions: 15in x 11 x 6, (Power: 110/120V or 230/240V, please specify). And all that, which will allow you to make money at ‘alternative’ fairs will only set you back USD 745.
Goodbye Kirlian photography!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

An Autographer for anyone?

Kirlian cameras and Electrography