When taking a photo that requires rim lighting, the technique used to irradiate an object or individual, the light source needs to be positioned behind or next to the subject. The practice that is also known as backlighting requires the photographer to assemble the lights in the exact position based on the effect they desire. When the individual or object being photographed moves the lights also have to move and it is a tedious process that takes a ton of time to achieve those important effects.
How did researchers at MIT and Cornell fix the problem?
They created drones outfitted with flash units and halogen lights. Known as the Parrot AR.Drone, the device hovers around the subject with precision and is equipped with a wireless flash unit hooked up to a camera-mounted interface. While the halogen light offers a never-ending source during the session, the drone also has a laser rangefinder that helps measure the distance from the subject to the camera.
Instead of the drone flying around via remote control, which one might think, it is actually a lot more complicated then that. The prototype created by the researchers actually responds to the subjects movement and moves accordingly. The photographer is responsible for programming the device as to how they would like the rim light to fall upon the subject. After programming the drone automatically responds and moves to the position.
Along with where the subject is located, the drone also focuses on the photographer and their position. As the process unfolds the camera takes around 20 images that are transferred straight to the computer that is running the algorithm for the drone.
The computer is what actually speaks to the drone. After the 20 photos make it into the computer, it examines the images’ rim width and then repositions the drone accordingly.
The information in this post came from CNET.