Every image tells a story
India 24 October 2016: Pioneering technology developed at Newcastle University tells us the story behind the picture
Technologies developed in Newcastle University that could transform photojournalism are being demonstrated at a symposium of industry leaders in New York.
Four Corners provides context to digital photographs and is being developed at Open Lab, part of Newcastle University’s world-leading School of Computing Science. The project is a collaboration between Open Lab, the World Press Photo Foundation, in Amsterdam, and the International Centre for Photography, New York.
Four Corners allows the photographer to display the photograph’s context. With it the reader can investigate the before and after frames, the backstory, technical and copyright information and links to even more. All of this is accessed by rolling over or swiping through the four corners of the picture.
Telling the story behind the image
The project, which has been described as the biggest step forward for photography since the caption, was initially presented at the World Press Photo Award Ceremony in Amsterdam in August. And last week, the technology was demonstrated at the International Centre of Photography in New York.
The technology allows publishers to include far more contextual information alongside their images and provide the reader with a much deeper and more engaged experience.
Jonathan Worth, a researcher at Open Lab, described Four Corners as “a great authoring tool.”
“It enables photographers to include much more contextual information with their pictures which readers can use to explore the story,” he explains.
“Part of our next steps are to enable the subject of that photograph to get involved and add their voice to the story too.”
Biggest step forward for photography since the caption
Tom Bartindale, also a researcher at Open Lab, added: “Giving journalists the chance to contextualise their images gives readers a richer understanding of the story. We want users to be able to contribute their own content and know where the information is coming from.”
“Four Corners is a major advance in visual journalism, giving photographers and editors a new way of easily providing context to important images," says Lars Boering, Managing Director of World Press Photo Foundation.
The next step, Four Corners Plus, allows readers and subjects to add their own perspectives, as well as audio and video footage. The reader can then filter the new material and – crucially – they are able to see how the photograph they are looking at has been altered from the photographer’s original.
This ability to verify authenticity and provenance of photographs has never been possible but by using distributed ledger technologies (such as those that BitCoin is built on) researchers at Open Lab have, for the first time in the history of photography, found a way.
"In a low-trust world it's more important than ever to know the source and provenance of information,” said Jeff Brazil, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. “This is a simple, elegant solution.”
Four Corners is available as a free and open source download now and Four Corners Plus is planned for release in early 2017.