Anybody who has done any kind of image processing is familiar with this picture. I have seen this picture many a times and always wondered what is the story behind these pictures ? As it turns out it is the ‘foo bar‘ of image world. Apparently this image is very good for testing out your different algorithms. This image contains the part where it is good in details while having parts where it is plain, There is a good variance of color in it. This image has been used by many to test out their algorithms. This girl Lena (or Lenna) has been the part of many image related research papers. And recently while I was learning about Thresholding I come about a Sonnet which was written in dedication to her. And after this it was inevitable for me to search for the story behind her. I had always wondered, there is more to this image. So I started with doing an image search for the term “Lena full image” and sadly it didn’t showed me any image that could help me figure out the origin of this image, so doing a plain web search gave me the results, I needed. There are a lot of pages on the internet available on this image. A wikipedia page is also available here. How the image was first used is a story which I am not going to repeat here. I will just share the Sonnet here.

Sonnet for Lena

O dear Lena, your beauty is so vast

It is hard sometimes to describe it fast.

I thought the entire world I would impress

If only your portrait I could compress.

Alas! First when I tried to use VQ

I found that your cheeks belong to only you.

Your silky hair contains a thousand lines

Hard to match with sums of discrete cosines.

And for your lips, sensual and tactual

Thirteen Crays found not the proper fractal.

And while these setbacks are all quite severe

I might have fixed them with hacks here or there

But when filters took sparkle from your eyes

I said, “Heck with it. I’ll just digitize!”

When you search on web for “Lena” you will find out that this image was first used for the testing purpose just because the people who (again, search Google for their names) needed an image for testing were bored with the previous testing images and they were looking for a new one. They stumbled upon the copy of November 1972 edition Playboy Magazine. Miss “Lena Söderberg” was Playboy’s playmate of the month. They found her picture. Deciding upon that it was the best picture, they tore it down to suit their needs and then scanned it. And this is how Lena came into the lives of all the people who has done image processing related work. The original image at a high resolution can be found here (Be warned that the original image contains Nudity). Seeing the publicity of the image Playboy waved off all the copyright over this image, quoting it as a “phenomenon”. And just to help out people like me who may stumble upon this blog, here is a gray-scale version of the same image.


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