Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Archive for May, 2012

Cool Photo #4: Lena and 204,500 Other Cool Images

OSA, my primary freelance customer these days, has debuted the Optics ImageBank, a handy-dandy place to look up graphs, photos and computer-rendered images that have appeared in OSA’s peer-reviewed journals in the not-so-distant past (from 2006 onward). The society put out a press release that listed this and other upgrades to Optics InfoBase.

Every time you go to the Optics ImageBank home page, you see a random collection of the 204,500-plus images in the database. One time I did this and caught a glimpse of the famous — if a bit faded with age — portrait of Lena!

Who’s Lena? As I blogged in 2008, she was a comely young Playboy model who since November 1972 has been the pictorial standard against which image-processing algorithms are measured. Yes, it’s sexist, but it’s at least a more memorable image than a plain old test pattern, and she’s not really showing anything X-rated in the cropped portrait that has been making the rounds of the optical industry for nearly 40 years.

In this case, Lena’s picture came out of a 2009 Optics Express article. You can read the full article on tomographic scanning imaging here.

OSA says that the images will be free of charge through 2012 and available on a subscription basis starting in 2013. The images are all copyrighted by OSA and may be used for non-commercial purposes — read the details before downloading or exporting anything.

Just by random clicking around, I found some interesting things to look at:

  • Variously colored images of a mask acquired by a color CCD camera and its RGB components;
  • This neat swirly thing, which is the phase distribution of a diffraction pattern;
  • Decomposition of the Mona Lisa into its Fourier components (I believe I wrote about that for OPN last year); and
  • This all-too-cute depiction of “ghost imaging” of entangled photons.

So, if you are giving an educational talk on optical science and you need some pictures to liven up your PowerPoint presentation, you have a new source.