Worlds Colliding: Convert a Digital Photo into an Excel Spreadsheet

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Spreadsheets and graphs on a desk
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In an unlikely mash-up, Matt Parker of Think Maths offers a free tool that converts a digital photo of your choice into an Excel spreadsheet. According to the website, "digital photographs are actually just spreadsheets. When you take a photo, your camera measures the amount of red, green, and blue light hitting each pixel, ranks them on a scale of 0 to 255, and then records those values as a spreadsheet." Parker's website is able to extract said values from a digital photo, record the numeric values in worksheet cells, and then use Excel's Conditional Formatting feature to recreate the photograph.

 If you have Excel 2007 or later, you can try the technique yourself:

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Quite interesting. This explains how digitally touching-up a photo really works. Just another specialized backend database with a specialized GUI viewer on the front end.

Thanks for sharing the tip.

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Thanks for your feedback! It was a fun article to write.

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Hey David,

I just found this article and it prompted me to play around with this idea a little bit. I'm sure an actual computer programmer could do this much more gracefully, but I put together a Matlab script/Excel macro that can convert any image file directly into an Excel image (with true color values in each cell, not the three-cell composites). Let me know if you're interested - it's a fun little distraction!

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