Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shadow Detail

Vandalized Telephone - NYC 1970
If you've been a regular here, you may have noticed some significant changes, the most obvious being that I haven't written much in this space for a while.  You may also have noticed that I've stepped back, retired, from the business of photography to pursue another endeavor.

"What, he's not a photographer any more," you may ask?  Well, it's not so neat a transition.  Of course I'm still a photographer.  I'll always be a photographer.  But I've returned to my roots, maybe regressed if you like that term better.  I've gone back some 48 years in time, to being an amateur, to pursuing photography for the love of it, rather than for monetary reward.

I have to admit, I'm not the twelve year-old wandering the streets of New York City with a Pentax H3v and a single 55mm lens (it was a Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f1.4 on that Pentax).  Now I'm a well-heeled dabbler with an enhanced tool set:  a couple of Canon EOS 5D II cameras, eleven lenses from 15mm to 600mm, a Leica D-Lux 3, and an iPhone with built-in camera.  And that's not to mention the four Canon EOS 1N bodies, a couple of Nikon SLRs and lenses, and various other film-based machines in mothballs.  I know what you're thinking:  "WTF, he's morphed into my dentist?"

New York Public Library - NYC 1970
But, nope, I'm not a dentist and I'm definitely not the skinny twelve year-old chasing black and white visions of shabby derelicts and broken telephone booths any more.

I believe (and you may, or may not, agree) I come at this a bit better endowed, both in terms of hardware and vision, but I couldn't, despite the enhancements, be more curious about the world around me than I was all those years ago.  I'm still looking, still seeing things others miss, but my eye is much better honed, my vision more precise.  While I've relaxed a bit, I'm also not less serious about it.  How can you tell?  I can sum it up in three words... Daily Photo Game.

Reflection In Window - Chicago 2013
I've written about this before, I'm playing a visual game with nine other photographers, all still working professionals, in which we each post a photograph to our web site based upon the photograph which was posted by our predecessor(s) the day before.  It's an interesting twist on assignment photography because your image is self-assigned from a visual brief created the day before, by another photographer, with another photograph.  Another key element being your interpretation of that preceding image, and that you only have 24 hours to execute.  To see for yourself visit our site.

So, yes, I'm still making serious pictures, but the real purpose in writing today is to come clean and say that despite earlier grousing about the fact that my iPhone's camera is sub-standard, I've stopped all that and have actually come to like it quite a bit.  Sure, I'm still ticked-off over the fact that there's no viewfinder and it's difficult to see the screen in broad daylight.  But with the release of Apple's IOS 7 operating system there are now a few new camera features that I really, really like.

First is the ability to make square pictures, like a Hasselblad does.  I've always liked the square format.  I can also make panoramic images, like with a Fuji 617, another favorite camera from the pre-digital (film) age.  I've taken to calling images made with this phone/camera Phonography.

I'm told there are more than a few apps for manipulating the images right on the phone.  Sorry, not going there, that screen is just too damned small.  I'll continue to utilize my regular workflow:  Apple Aperture, then Adobe Photoshop.

There's still a couple of limitations that bug me, like the inability of the camera to shoot in extreme cold, a non-starter in a Chicago winter.  Well, that's what my Canons are for.  Another is that sometimes, without warning, the images become very noisy... what we used to call grainy when film was the only game in town.  Also the fact that there aren't any user-controlled settings, something that really bugs me.  I'll get over it.

In Sarah's Kitchen - Columbus, Ohio 2012


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