How digital cameras work

Some of my PhD work involves the use of cameras, and pre-empting a talk I will inevitably have to give at some point, I should learn how they work.

The first thing you need to know is that cameras detect electromagnetic radiation. For us humans, we can only detect this radiation between the wavelength of 390-700 nm. Because of this, most digital cameras are set to capture this specific band of radiation. Cameras can be built to detect wavelengths of almost any size, from X-ray’s which are very small to radio telescopes which are extremely large. Here is an excellent graphical representation of this.
vislight

Source – https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-wavelength-of-the-visible-spectrum
The word camera, according to Wikipedia, ‘comes from camera obscura, which means “dark chamber” and is the Latin name of the original device for projecting an image of external reality onto a flat surface.’ I prefer to think of cameras as electromagnetic (EM) radiation detectors.

Cameras detect the EM radiation that is not absorbed and therefore, reflected from whatever they are pointed at. The sensor is mostly a trap for the EM radiation. Then EM is trapped, and the camera’s computer converts the signals it has in its ‘trap’ into colour In the form of digital values.

In most cameras that you will encounter, a Bayer filter is used. This filter filters light into three colours: red, green and blue (RGB). The filter is positioned in front of the ‘trap’ and using this filter, and you can quantify how much R, G or B is landing on your ‘trap’. The other two primary colours are estimated using good old maths. Here is a good image showing this.
Image result for bayer filter

Source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_filter

 

After the relevant processing steps, a giant array of pixels is created. Pixels are the smallest elements in the image. The atoms of the image world. An image can be thought of as a three-dimensional array with width, height and depth. Where depth, in this case, is a different colour channel. So, you will have three two-dimensional arrays stacked on top of each other in an RGB image. With a value in each channel. For example, see the picture below.

rgb array
rgb array

In this case the cell in position (o,o,o) – [255,255,255] would be rendered as white, black would be [0,0,0]

My experience of blogging over the last three months on WordPress – The good and the ethically questionable.

This is going to be a review of my experience of blogging and the word press platform, and how I have gone from 0-750+ followers in three months. I will pre-warn you that not everything I talk about is going to be in the realm of good ethical behaviour.

Things I have learned:

  • Tags are important

    • Ethically correct: Use all the tags you can and make them as relevant to your post as possible. This will get you views from the type of people you’re interested in.

    • Ethically dubious: Some tags have more viewers than others, for example, I am PhD student, and I include the tag PhD in my posts; however, this only has around twenty posts in it per day, so if I were feeling roguish and all I cared about were views, I would drop this for a tag with more traffic as views are views right? No – more on this later.

  • Featured images are important

    • Only because it makes your post stand out more; in the early days I experimented by posting with and without a featured image, and sure enough, the featured image posts got slightly more views.

  • Good posts don’t necessarily get the most views.

    • You have all the seen the amazing poets and writers here on WordPress that have fewer than ten followers; and then there are the typical bloggers with their 10 best things you need for x, with a generic list of things, 8/10 you already have. They provide very little and have tons of likes and follows. Hopefully, you already knew the world wasn’t fair or just.

  • I get more views on the days when I post, so more post equals more views.

  • I am blogging from the UK, but the vast majority of my readers are from America, USA! USA! USA!

  • The most important thing – in my experience – for views? Interaction with the community.

I will come back to the last point in much more gory detail in a minute, but first some ‘proof’ of how my blog has grown.

After my last post where is talked about upgrading, I did just that, and now I am on the personal plan. My favourite thing about this is not having any ads on my site. Immediately after upgrading, I had my best day for likes (at the time) ‘BOOM!’.

Site stats - BOOM!

Now, this was not because I upgraded, but because I had got better at creating eye-catching posts and more followers, so I should expect to see many of these types of messages as the blog grows.

Below are a few other milestones that WordPress thought I should be aware of.

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Does having more followers equal more views? Yes and no. Yes, I get slightly more views now I have over 600 followers than when I had 100. However, I do not get anywhere 6x more viewers I get perhaps ten more views.

Why the discrepancy? Well, that is because people (mostly) follow you because they think you will follow them back and increase their followers. Therefore, you can end up with a ton of followers, but no one cares about your posts. I do not know how many people you can follow per hour, but I would bet my entire net worth on the fact that you would gain a huge amount of followers if you followed every blogger you could, just from the ‘follow for follow effect’. I do not do this as I signed up to WordPress with an email address I care about – maybe a rookie error – and don’t want my inbox full of spam. How am I so sure this will work?

This is where we get into the dark arts and the ethical black hole that is marketing. I did a little experiment with likes. I liked as many posts as I possibly could – it turns out you can like 120 posts per hour—and found that from 120 likes I would get roughly five follows and 20 views. This may be a revelation to some of you and to others it may be a secret you wish I had not said.

Looking into this ‘like’ dilemma more, you might wonder if you should do this or not. My question is, why does WordPress set the limit at 120/hour? I highly doubt they think anyone could read 120 posts an hour, so there must be another reason. Have they not thought about the issue and set an arbitrary limit? Highly unlikely. I think the fact you’re allowed to like this many posts per hour is to keep people on the site, I mean who doesn’t get encouraged when someone ‘likes’ your content? The more encouragement you get, the more you write, the more views you get, the more ads WordPress can serve. I may be a bit cynical on this, but it does seem to encourage liking random posts to boost your stats. The limit of 120 must be to stop bots driving tons of views. This is the reason I say that engagement is important is largely from my results with the above experiment. I would be interested to know if anyone has tried to see how many follows you can do before you get capped by the WordPress speed limit? Scrap that, I tried it, and found that you can like 60 before getting an error. Why do they allow 60 follows an hour? Well, they do need a limit, to discourage bots, and it needs to be high enough that you never run into a barrier and can’t follow someone you want to under legitimate use. Again, I imagine this number has been arrived at by a lot of data analysis, rather than someone saying ‘errr what shall we set the follow limit at Jeff?’, ‘just make it half the number of likes’.

Comments… As I have stressed, engagement is key to views. Leaving comments on other peoples sites leaves a persistent portal from their website to yours. This too is to be abused by the fiendish marketeer. I have only had one comment marked as spam on my site by WordPress so far, and it was quite suspicious. It was very generic ‘hey I like your content!’ and then I clicked on the profile of the site who commented and I saw that the site had well over seven thousand followers and was much less than one year old. The content was entirely average. Well… don’t hate the player hate the game. Once again please leave a comment if you know the speed limit for comments, I may make a fake profile and test it for myself before this gets released. Comments are my favourite metric for how well a blog is doing as this is the ultimate engagement on the site and it is the only notification I receive. Due to all the dark arts, I have described in this post, I no longer receive any notifications other than comments as the others do not mean anything to me. The reason I started this site was to get feedback to learn, so comments are all I need.

Regarding visitors and views, I have found that I get a 50 % difference. For every two views, I get one visitor; I am guessing this means that half of the people come to my site look at more than one page. I don’t see anything wrong with this statistic so I shall move along.

My feeling toward the dark arts is somewhat conflicted as it is clearly encouraged by WordPress by the fact that from the reader tab you can like, comment, follow and share a post without even reading it. All you will see is the image, the title and the first few sentences. This surely can’t be enough time to form an opinion on the post? Ethically I don’t think you should disingenuously like, comment, follow etc. On the other hand, if you want your blog to grow, you cannot just expect good writing and time to get traffic.

Now I am going to talk about one of my biggest hatreds that I have found about the community, it is actually my only hatred: blogger awards. I recently got ‘nominated’ for a sunshine blogger award. I can understand the people who made these ‘awards’ as they have created something to drive traffic to their site, with only idiots thinking they have achieved something. However, it seems that 90% of the community values these things, I see posts all the time where people are genuinely thanking the people who nominated them. I have even seen people proudly display these awards on their blogs! I guess most people do not see through these thinly veiled devices that drive traffic.

All I have spoken of above are symptoms of problems rooted in the larger society, where people see celebrities make a post about some product and earn loads of money from doing so. This inspires everyone else to do the same and suddenly everyone is trying to sell anything, including their dignity, for a punchers chance at fame and fortune. And me? I’m the worst of all, I tell myself I am better than them by disguising my attempts to get that passive income as a learning opportunity. I’m cognisant of the problem and still buying the ticket for the ride.

You may think that I haven’t enjoyed my time on WordPress, but this is not true, I have had many great engagements with people commenting on my blog and best of all have been the book recommendations. My reading list has increased massively, and I hope this continues. I can’t stress enough how much enjoy reading your comments; thanks for that!

I have not seen any other bloggers address these issues so it would be great to get your opinion (engagement bait). Feel free to ironically link your blog in the comments.

 

P.S

I have just seen this in notification settings. This a button that contains an ethical conundrum! A deal with the Devil I wonder?

no email button

I guess that is how you follow everyone and don’t get spam in your inbox.

 

Your site deserves a boost?

Since I have been posting on this platform, I have been reminded each time I log in that ‘Your site deserves a boost!’ As the goal of my posts are to improve my writing the measure of success from this is my writing improving there is no monetary incentive. I am not convinced that my site ‘deserves a boost’, seeing as 100% of the traffic to this site comes from WordPress’s ‘reader’ I am not sure that a boost would achieve anything. If you’re a fellow blogger and have given your site a boost, please let me know what your experience of this has been! Has your traffic and interaction with readers significantly improved?

Why and at what point did you decide to upgrade?

Besides ‘phd992007674.wordpress.com’ just so happens to be my preferred URL, so the joke is on you WordPress!

One month review of WordPress

I thought I would just share my experience of posting on this platform for the past month. Without any effort on my part, other than writing posts, I have gained 6 followers, 43 views and 22 likes. From looking at the accounts that have followed, I have realised that all but one are liking and following in the hope I will do the same to there blog, and therefore, increase their followership. This does not work.

Without doing anything to promote my blog, all the readership comes from WordPress’s Reader. I would like to see how far this blog can grow organically, so I do not intend on spending money to promote this. However, I may soon upgrade to the next level of WordPress package so I can get a better URL, and more importantly, remove ads. I will upgrade once I have a few more followers, maybe 50?

On finding meaning

A nihilist, an optimist, a rationalist, a humanist. My biggest struggle? Finding meaning in life, which may not be the right word as I know there is no meaning to be had. I guess what I am trying to say is: ‘ what should I do?’. To this question, I do not believe there is an answer. There is, however, an innate desire to find one. Many books have been written on the subject of meaning; none of which answer the question as there isn’t one. Why do people try to better themselves if there is no meaning? Either, they believe in something – a deity usually – or they believe what the most charismatic person they happen to have come across has sold them.

I suspect there may be a biological answer to the question of meaning, hard-coded into our DNA. The better our standing in society, the more likely our genes are to be preserved. I am not convinced by that argument to be honest; In modern times, social standing does not seem to influence gene propagation. Then why do I have ambition? Has TV corrupted me? I don’t think this is the reason either, people have competed against one another since ancient times.

I come back to the same question; if there is no reason, why do I keep trying to find one? Perhaps if I had asked myself these questions earlier, I would have become a physicist, for searching for the origin of the universe seems like it is the ultimate search for meaning. I can see the comfort in partitioning my mind and accepting a deity; but doublethink is beyond me, especially when this question can be asked: ‘where did [deity] come from?’. ‘It was always there’, is not a satisfactory answer.