Monday, 30 November 2009

Centrefold Venus of the Month 6: November Lenna Sjööblom November

Lenna's Centrefold

We are a day late with November's centrefold of the month but wanted to get it on the site, anyway.

Lena Söderberg, to give her her real name, was born on March 31st 1951 in Sweden and she appeared as Playmate of the Month in November 1972.

What a lovely girl!

However, this is not her real claim to fame. In the summer of 1973 a certain Dr William K Pratt, at the University of Southern California Signal and Image Processing Institute, needed a good picture for a book he was writing on image processing. It needed to have a glossy finish and feature a human face.

The Lena
Very quickly this image, which beame known as the Lena (ironically, accidentally correcting her first name), or smaller sections of it, became the standard test image for the industry until its origins were forgotten. However, with the approaching 50th anniversary conference of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology looming in Boston in 1997, Jeff Seideman, chairman of the Boston chapter of the Society wanted to track down the person featured in what he called the most important picture in the history of imaging and electronic communications.
Eventually after a long search he got her address in Sweden and Lena agreed to attend the anniversary event in May 1997. "They must be so tired of me ... looking at the same picture for all these years!" said Lena before she attended the conference. She had never even seen the internet at the time and had been completely unaware of the fact that she had been christened the "First Lady of the Internet".

Lena checks herself out

Not everyone was happy with the widespread use of the Lena image with some women involved in the industry objecting to the source of the picture. Interestingly, since the source of the image became well known scientists were going back to Playboy to get more information on the type of camera, film and exposure (!) used to help in the use of the image in their research.

Being the most scanned woman in history was not the only claim to fame of this particular centrefold either.
Woody checks out Lena in Sleeper (1973)
In the 1973 Woody Allen film Sleeper Allen's character awakes, after being frozen in suspended animation, in the year 2173. A scientist researching images from the past passes Allen a number of photographs, such as General de Gaulle and Stalin to identify. The last picture he is given is Lena's centrefold which Allen's character then keeps "for further research".

Agent Triple P thinks that Lena is one of the loveliest Playmates of the Seventies and her natural Scandinavian beauty gives her a timeless quality.

Lena's centrefold, even outside her use as a scanning image, has probably be seen by more people than any other as this particular issue of Playboy was their best selling ever issue at 7,161,561 copies!

Agent DVD will no doubt appreciate her tan lines!

Gorgeous eyes!

Lena has a particularly fine posterior, as her centrefold photograph by Dwight Hooker sensibly showcases.

A Swede in a sauna; naturally

Another fine study provides an appropriate end

She was 5'6" tall and 34-26-36 at the time the pictures were taken. She was also married and was a young mother.

Originally Playboy were annoyed about the unauthorised use of the image; writing a stiff letter to Optical Engineering magazine in 1991. By the time of the conference in 1997 they had obviously realised that the publicity was worth it and have made an allowance for this image, calling it a "phenomenon". Lena with Jeff Seideman

Someone in the lab had a copy of the November 1973 Playboy and so they tore off the top third and attached it to the scanner drum. The scanner they were using had a resolution of 100 lines per inch and they needed a 512 × 512 image, so they only scanned the top 5.12 inches of the picture which resulted in the cropped image seen below.

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