2.3Gigapixels? WTF??

I found this on Gizmodo.com this evening.

Yes; it’s another video, but it is photography related so suck it.

I’m simply gob-smacked.

The Gizmodo site says, “Of course, Gizmodo reader Gerald Donovan didn’t send the photo itself, as it would have broken the entire internet. He created a video zooming in and out of his image in Photoshop. It’s like magic. Or an episode of CSI. I just can’t believe the level of detail in this photo. It’s stunning to see such a titanic structure in this way.”

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Ohhh iPhone…How I Love Thee

Anyone who has read my various postings already knows I’m not right in the head. I’m “special” as my colleagues across the pond might say. I have a variety of hang-ups about photography, my abilities as related to photography, and in particular of the creative process that can be explored via software.

So why is it I love my iPhone and its camera?

Let’s be honest: as a camera it is mediocre at best. Granted, the 3GS model does bring larger sized images than did the 3G model, but I’m not certain there was any appreciable increase in the quality of the images. I could list all the flaws in the camera built in to this device, but what would be the point? Describing it as “mediocre” probably sums it up well enough.

Yet I find it completely irrelevant. I love using it. I love snapping pictures anytime and anywhere. This does not come as a surprise as I have often noted how much more I love being actually behind the camera as opposed to in front of the computer monitor, labouring with the process of editing, etc. And so I snap, and snap and snap every single day. Some I simply share via e-mail with family and/or friends, while other images are simply for my enjoyment.

But I have also found a strong and pleasant feeling that comes with playing around with my images via the numerous photo editing apps I have downloaded and installed on my iPhone. At this moment in time I have five different apps, each of which is solely dedicated to editing the images I take with my iPhone. I actually have a few other image-related apps, but they aren’t related to actually editing images.

Anyway….

I enjoy messing around with these apps in ways I have yet to be excited by the likes of Photoshop Elements. And I find this weird. Elements is such a powerful piece of software with the capabilities and abilities to do so many things, yet I have not embraced them. No doubt this is due, in no small part, to my lack of creativity. When I see my images I do not ‘see’ what I might do with them other than to correct exposure, add some contrast, etc.

Yet, I look quite forward to massaging my iPhone images through any of the various apps I have installed, preferring Photogene and Best Camera the most thus far. Why? Maybe it’s because I can do this…

I have been pondering this question for the past few weeks after I noticed how much I enjoyed working with my images on my phone. About the only reason I can offer is that these apps are really pretty basic and don’t actually require me to be creative, but instead to simply be satisfied with the results.

Most of the apps installed offer preset effects which are applied to your image. Best Camera ups the ante by allowing the user to layer more than one effect, which I’ve made use of one more than one occasion. Perhaps it is this simplicity, this “Don’t worry your head about it Forkie….we’ll suss it all for ya,” that I like, prefer and need?

Whatever is the reasoning, the opening splash screen for the Best Camera app states “The Best Camera Is the One That’s With You,” and they are spot on. I may love my 40D and Rebel XTi (400D), and I may lust for the Canon 7D, but I’ll be damned if my iPhone really isn’t the best camera sometimes…because it’s always with me in ways the others cannot.

Why Is She Putting Her Finger Up Her Nose RIGHT NOW?!?

There is some saying out there in the photography world about never work with kids or animals as both are unpredictable. I don’t think that is precisely true. It is their unpredictable nature that is predictable, right? Huh? No. That makes no sense. Let’s try this again…

Photography and kids do not mix.

There. Short. On-point.

But add a rank amateur to the mix of photography and children and you have a recipe for something akin to a disaster. Or, at the very least, a lot of pictures being taken with only a few worth keeping. But I’ll take a few keepers…

A few weeks back our friend and neighbor Sandi asked if I would consider shooting her family’s Christmas pictures. They like to have a few family portraits in celebration of the holiday season and send out one of those family picture Christmas card things. Very suburban of them. I wasn’t certain I wished to get involved and not because I’m either difficult or uncooperative, but because I really have no fucking clue what I’m doing. Just look at my photostream for the evidence.

And this “no fucking clue what I’m doing” thing is particularly true of family portraiture as I haven’t ever done any. And I’ve barely used my quaint (i.e. inexpensive and incredibly basic) light kit so I haven’t yet quite got a real feel for it. So….no experience with family portraits. No experience working with kids. No experience working with posing. And no appreciable work with my light kit.

A recipe for failure if I’ve ever heard of one.

Yet….

As I elected to do this favour and opted to look at it as a learning experience, what precisely did I take away from it?

First, kids are difficult. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Don’t get me wrong…Kendal and Elise are lovely children, but there is something about dressing them in Sunday finery, setting up overly bright lights and placing a camera in front of them that makes them…no….FORCES them to stick fingers up their noses. Or to not smile. Or to look over at the interesting thing happening somewhere else. Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ! Smile and look at the camera!

(sigh)

Second, difficult kids mean you don’t pay enough attention to the parents. While trying to help focus the girls on my needs for the picture-taking extravaganza, I inadvertently stop noticing to what the adults are doing. Suddenly Sandi is slouching. Or Bruce has lifted his chin and now his glasses reflect the overly-bright soft boxes. Or that lovely smile previously upon Sandi’s countenance is now a grimace as she struggles with a child.

You can begin to see how we managed to burn through 146 images in less than 25-minutes.

Third, while smallish soft boxes are better than nothing, larger soft boxes would have been ideal. Looking over the images (including the keepers) I distinctly felt that larger boxes would have cast light over a larger area, thus reducing the difference in light fall between the adults and girls (the height difference). And a third would have been handy…something higher up and above me (centered upon the subjects). During moments like this it frustrates me to think that I could use more and better lighting, but dollars being limited I have to be thankful for what I have. But what I have clearly shows its limitations. However, between the limitations of the checking account and the lights, I’ll have to defer to the checking account as it, like the Ring, rules them all.

Fourth, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR COMPOSITION AND FRAMING! For example…

This should, or one would hope, seem rather self-evident, but it is so easy during the heat of battle to forget the simplest of matters. In this instance I genuinely believe I might have noticed how much dead space I was leaving above them had I not been frazzled by the dealings with the kids just moments before. And it’s this sort of image that just leaves me so frustrated. Even though they took at as a keeper, I think it’s awful. They look fine. The composition is for shit.

All that said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Because it was Bruce, Sandi, Elise and Kendal it was fun. They are such a nice couple and family. I always enjoy spending time with any of them. And it was, like I had hoped for, a learning experience. And the single greatest thing I learned was to take my fucking time.

Not wanting to seem slow (in both speed and mental capabilities) I pushed instead of taking my time and letting the pictures come to me. Instead I pushed to move through everything so that we could get in a lot of pictures from which to select. Had I been patient and took some time we very well may have taken fewer pictures and had more keepers.

Live and learn, eh?