The iPhone As A Camera
This morning, bright and early, I drove north to an audio production job in the Blue Ridge Mountains and was greeted not with a sunny cool morning on a mountain side but a landscape covered in a thick wet fog. On the way down to the stage I could not help but want to snap a couple of photos of the beautiful landscape in front of me but I didn’t have enough time to get out my 5D or Hasselblad so I quickly reached into my pocket while walking down the slippery grass hillside and pulled out my iphone for a couple of snapshots. The Second photo above, the reddish one, was the first shot that I framed using that big tree on the hill as a nice weight to hold the image together. Then, as I was walking down the hill, I noticed a couple of flowers just begging to be photographed so I kneeled down and sort of awkwardly stuck my phone down into the wet grass and did my best to tap the screen just below the flowers and snap before jogging on down the hill. These types of moments are what having a small simple method for shooting quick snapshots comes in pretty handy. Just moments that would otherwise go by forgotten.
One of the bigger reasons for upgrading to the new iPhone was to take advantage of its new camera which is more than capable of snapping off a nice photo here or there when using my other cameras is not as much of an option or when the image is just some simple random detail of everyday life that I may not have shot otherwise.
While I usually am not one of those photographers totally in love with this new “the best camera you have is the one you have with you” movement of cellphone photographers looking to make artistic statements with this approach, I find there is no good reason to be against it or anything of the sort. I suppose I am just aware that these images are not too useful to me outside of their snapshot appeal.
I “won” some sort of little contest a few months back when I entered a few photos in a iphone photography contest just for kicks and the runner up prize I got was a little book full of iPhone photos from one photographer and the whole statement was look how great these are and they were just taken with a cell phone! It was pretty uninspiring to flip through and it started me thinking about this approach and how it had been picking up so much traction lately.
Which brings me to the iPhone side of this breed of photography and the dozens of apps dedicated to post processing your otherwise pretty boring cell phone photo into something that is at least masquerading as a fancy photo, often ironically modeled after now iconic film style photographs. I think its pretty fascinating how far people have taken it after seeing many cell phone photographers run their images through two, three, or even up to something like five different apps to manipulate the poor image to a compressed nightmare of a jpg image and it seemed like people took it too far. I just couldn’t figure out the attraction in wrestling with a silly little photo like that. With this new iPhone I see a little glimpse into the future of casual on the go photos in that it is actually a fairly capable little camera capable of taking nice, sharp, decently sized images and more importantly its lower light images have less noise in them than a number of really fancy digital cameras I have used in the last few years.
So I usually am not one to over manipulate photos like this but in the case of these newer iphone snapshots I find it its pretty fun to mess around with them in these ways. I don’t mean to make it sound like I am against any of these things, I simply had trouble finding the worth in images like this and thats exactly where I was leading myself astray. Why do I need to find a deep worth in every photo I am responsible for taking. Part of why we all take photos is because its fun to do and these new casual tools can be seen as an entertaining way to capture moments in our lives like any other camera.
I do my best these days not to let myself get hung up so much on film vs. digital, or lomo toy cameras versus “real” film cameras such as a Leica or hasselblad, and in this case high end fully capable DSLR’s to cell phones. To each his or her own I figure, as long as we love what we are doing and have a respect for ourselves and each other in the process. (but please, don’t stop shooting film guys… we need to keep those photo plants in business! ;) )
In the read more link below I have included the original, direct-from-iPhone images before tossing them round the post apps on my phone, just so those interested can see a before and after of the images above.
Because I had a couple of slow moments at the job later in the day I did mess about in two different apps with these which is very rare for me to bother spending the time to do that. I used tilt shift-generator and camera+. I love tilt shift gen but camera+ is kind of too clunky for me to bother using too often. It takes the hipstamatic approach to being too flashy I feel and in turn loses some basic control functionality in place of attempts at being different although the one finger to focus and second finger to set where the light exposes is a killer feature that apple needs to put in their own camera app.
Anyways, feel free to comment with your thoughts on the whole iPhonography charade below.
UPDATE: I would defiantly read through the comments on this one if your interested in the topic and feel free to toss in your own opinion if you have one. This is the internet after all, surely you have an opinion and want to get it out into the world ;)