This Algorithm Can Remove the Water from Underwater Photos, and the Results are Incredible

An engineer has developed a computer program that can, in her words, “remove the water” from an underwater photograph. The result is a “physically accurate” image with all of the vibrance, saturation and color of a regular landscape photo.

The technology, called Sea-thru, was developed by oceanographer and engineer Derya Akkaynak while she was a post-doctoral fellow under Tali Treibitz at the University of Haifa, and it has the potential to revolutionize underwater photography. While “remove the water” isn’t the most scientific explanation for how the technology works, as you can see in the Scientific American feature above, that’s more or less what it does.

By automatically removing the color cast and backscatter caused by the way light moves through a body of water, she’s able to capture underwater landscapes as they would look to the human eye on dry land—in other words: if all the water were gone.

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