The goal of digital photography was once to approximate what our eyes see. “All digital cameras, including ones on smartphones, have always had some sort of processing to modify contrast and colour balance,” says Neel Joshi, who works on computer vision at Microsoft Research.
Computational photography goes beyond this, automatically making skin smoother, colours richer and pictures less grainy. It can even turn night into day. These photos may look better, but they raise concerns about authenticity and trust in an era of fakeable information. “The photos of the future will not be recorded, they’ll be computed,” says Ramesh Raskar at the MIT Media Lab.