Tonal Management for Digital Photography and Video

Fredo Durand

As resolution, or number of megapixels, in digital cameras reaches a plateau that matches most casual needs, better tonal and color processing are becoming crucial. Computational tools developed in this research perform tonal managements to prevent under- and over-exposure, improve tonal modeling, and enhance the overall tonal balance in photographs. They would be a crucial step in the imaging pipeline, either on board the camera or in software as a post-process.

This technique springs from a previous project, supported by an Ignition Grant that demonstrated a new approach to reducing extreme contrast in digital photography. It could enhance photography in low-light conditions, as well as capture style from master photographers (e.g. Ansel Adams).

The technology could have a major impact on digital photography — a $3 billion-per-year market with 25% annual growth — and video, as well as medical imaging and video surveillance, where it is crucial to ensure the visibility of all parts of an image. More info can be found at http://graphics.csail.mit.edu/~fredo/photo.html and http://graphics.csail.mit.edu/~fredo/PUBLI/Siggraph2002/