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New technology can remove water from underwater photos! - video

Will we all soon have access to software and technology that will allow us, thanks to a clever algorithm, to simply remove water from photos taken while diving? Everything points to it, and the possibilities of the new software presented so far are very promising! Software developed by oceanographer and MIT engineer Derya Akkaynak, in
Published: November 14, 2019 - 12:10
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:50
New technology can remove water from underwater photos! – video

Will we all soon have access to software and technology that will allow us, thanks to a clever algorithm, to simply remove water from photos taken while diving? Everything points to it, and the possibilities of the new software presented so far are very promising!

Software developed by oceanographer and MIT engineer Derya Akkaynak, in collaboration with Tali Trebitz of the University of Haifa, makes images taken underwater and processed with the saturation, intensity and colour palette characteristic of photographs taken on the surface.

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The technology used in the software has been named ‘Sea-thru’ and is on its way to revolutionise underwater photography. Although ‘water removal’ is not the most scientific of terms to describe the final result, this is exactly how the new tool, which was unveiled in Scientific American, works.

By automatically removing discolouration and backscatter caused by the movement of light in a body of water, the software is able to show frames from under the water as they would appear to the human eye on dry land.

The-Sea-thru-method-removes-water-from-underwater-images-Best-viewed-online-for-color

Akkaynak and Trebitz created Sea-thru by taking more than 1,100 photos in two optically different bodies of water, each with a special colour chart. The images were then used to test a model that compensated for the way light is scattered and absorbed by water.

“Whenever I see a reef with large 3D structures, I place my colour chart at the base of the reef and swim out about 15m. I then start swimming towards the reef and the colour chart, photographing it from slightly different angles until I reach the reef. After that, all you need is a lot of photos of the scene in natural light, no colour chart is required,” – Akkaynak explains.

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This sample image, published alongside a research article explaining the technique in detail, shows just how remarkable Sea-thru technology is. It should also be noted that this is not a Photoshop-like tool where you can add contrast and artificially enhance colours that are fastest to fade underwater. This is a ‘physically accurate correction’ and the results of the tests really done speak for themselves.

While the technology has been developed with scientific applications in mind, it doesn’t take too much to imagine what professional photographers will be able to create with it and how much the new tool could affect underwater photography as a whole. Could we be witnessing a revolutionary breakthrough?

Full publication of the paper ‘Sea-thru: A Method For Removing Water From Underwater Images” in English.

Source: scientificamerican.com, petapixel.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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