Context Photography

As creative tools, digital cameras could transcend the constraints of analogue devices and give birth to new aesthetic practices in the act of taking a picture.

Context Photography, a project from Sweden’s Viktoria Institute, looks at how factors like pollution, temperature and sound could be used as parameters in a digital camera and “visualised” in a picture.


The prototype uses sensor input to affect the image in real time with graphical effects. It is implemented on a Tablet PC, with the screen acting as a viewfinder, and all processing is performed by a C++ software program. A webcam serves as a lens, and a small mouse taped on top of it is used as a trigger. A condensator microphone connected through a small pre-amplifier, measures the sound level. Movement is retrieved as a vector field from the differentiation of subsequent images captured by the webcam.

The user points with the webcam, sees the image and its real-time effects on the viewfinder, takes a picture by leftclicking on the mouse, and changes effect combinations by right-clicking. When a picture is taken, an audio feedback is heard; the image freezes a couple of seconds on the screen, and is saved as a JPEG file.