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When I visit Brooklyn to help my wife care for her elderly parents, I often visit Coney Island. I take my “real camera” and my iPhone. The Hipstamatic shots I take work well. That AP seems designed for Coney. The beautiful beach and funky boardwalk the crowds and fast food — the rides — all great subjects for me and my non-camera with its creative APs.
I learned a lot about using my iPhone for photography from Dan Burkholder. Dan is a deep well of knowledge and a great resource if you want to learn the skills for great iPhone work.
Here are some samples of my iPhone images:
The creative potential of the phone with these APs is vast. Resolution is adequate for large prints (11 x 14″ at least). Wide angle and macro lenses are available (I have a nice set– $69) so the only camera I need is on my iPhone.I have an iPhone4. The 4s and 5 have better cameras so I’ll upgrade in January when Verizon will let me. I’m not going to give up on real cameras — yet — but I find myself using the the iPhone more often lately, especially at Coney Island. Nice to have a camera, software and computer in my pocket!
The moon was full over Brooklyn last night, more specifically over the Gravesend neighborhood. It cast a lovely, ghostly light as always. Spiritual or macabre depending on your mood.
Gravesend is a unique place, the spot in Brooklyn where immigrants tend to first settle. It was settled in 1643 by Lady Deborah Moody and a merry band of English Quakers – the first of many immigrants to follow. I know this because of the plaque at the historic cemetery nearby (fitting).
Fifty years ago it was an Italian neighborhood. Now it’s Russian, Chinese, Korean, and still has some Italian residents. My in-laws’ neighbor is from Albania – he is a Muslim and a wonderful neighbor – something my Italian in-laws thought was an oxymoron.
Gravesend is a no frills place. There are no fancy expensive shops. Ok – there is a pretty fancy liquor store, run as many of the liquor stores are by Russians. When our 25 year old hip daughter visited last year she was tickled by the proprietor who was quite suave and elegant with a cultured Eastern European accent. Asking me to swipe my credit card he simply gestured and said “pleez.”
The avenues are for shopping. Avenue ‘U’ and ‘X’ and 86th street – ok not an avenue but under the ‘EL’ it functions like one. 86rh has many shops of all sorts – including a very large and well stocked oriental market. (86th street is probably in Bensonhurst officially anyway.)
On Ave ‘X’ there are a few blocks of mostly utilitarian shops Bagels and Beyond, a corner connivence store with a perpetual hot dog special – $1.50. But my favorite is a new coffee shop – Amore & Baci – very pretty and unlike it’s surroundings.
The Rite Aid drug store just announced that it was renovated and new – we did some shopping there today – Tucks and nasal spray. The store seemed a little cleaner but we couldn’t see any renovations.
Cuccio’s was another story. Completely renovated, it’s an old Italian bread store and pastry shop. Until recently it was pretty dirty and run down but over the holidays it was redone. And the result is much nicer. But the display cases weren’t full and they didn’t have any sfgyadelles – tomorrow the baker said . We think might always be tomorrow for sfgyadelles at Cuccios. The biscuits I just had with espresso where great though so we’ll give them another go.
I’ll continue this post when I’m back at my computer and can post photos more easily. The one of the moon is a photo of the screen on my camera taken with my iPhone. It’s still a picture of the moon thou, eh?
I was recently exploring the Sunset Park Waterfront neighborhood of Brooklyn with my iPhone. I was waiting for my father-in-law who was at Lutheran Hospital for a cat scan and so had an hour to use (I try not to kill hours). The Sunset Park waterfront is being revitalized. Naturally, its very cool and mysterious — as is. There are abandoned buildings and urban blight, etc, making it run down and interesting. The Brooklyn waterfront is going through a period of rebirth. Brooklyn Bridge Park is an example of this as is Dumbo. There’s a ferry to Manhattan from a pier that was deserted when I visited last week. Kiss and Sail — a nice idea! (I don’t know if this ferry is operational now. I can’t find information about it and the large pier was deserted when I was there, unless you count me and sea gulls.) The Brooklyn Army Terminal is here as is Bush terminal. A good place for walking around with a camera, tho.
I look forward to these developments. But exploring living history is more interesting. And now there are less crowds than there will be.
Two things happened in my photography life recently – I decided to use my iPhone as a camera and do so a little more seriously than before. Then I picked up a copy of Peterson’s Photographic Digital Photography Guide, a magazine. The issue I picked up is volume 13: “Create great images with your iPhone.” It’s a special issue devoted entirely to iPhone for photographers.
What I’ve learned so far is that the power of a smart phone is vast. And the image quality possible from these smart phones is excellent. Beautiful images can easily be created using the camera and available photo apps. The apps I’ve downloaded cost between $1.99 and $2.99. If you are interested in the technical specs for the iPhone 4 camera (not the new 4s — that’s even better) try this blog.
I’ve always tried to use cameras with a lot of build-in capabilities. Point and Shoot (P&S) cameras with fixed lenses and lots of capabilities have been my chosen companions more often than a camera system with interchangeable lenses. I like to travel light and be able to take photos wherever and whenever I am so moved. I do own a Panasonic Micro four thirds camera and three lenses but use it much less often than my super P&S Panasonic LX5 with its excellent Leica lens.
(Note: Answers.com defines a Point and Shoot camera:
“Of, relating to, or being a camera that adjusts settings such as focus and exposure automatically. Read more.” But this definition doesn’t really cover cameras like my LX5 that have fixed lenses but full manual controls. It is the most used term for such cameras tho. A micro four thirds camera uses interchangeable lenses like an SLR, but has no internal mirror using an electronic viewfinder instead of through the lens viewing. This design makes the cameras smaller — in some cases much smaller than an SLR but with excellent image quality that rivals that of most SLRs — Single Lens Reflex — if you need a definition please Google it.)
The iPhone smart phone is a powerful palm sized computer that has a photography system built into it. The system can be augmented with applications (apps) from third party vendors at a very low cost each. Using this system it is possible to create beautiful images of very high quality. The phone can create image files as large as 18 mega pixels (18 million pixels). Enlargements as large as 16 by 20 inches or larger are possible. Instead of trying to load a large, powerful program like Photoshop into a small computer, developers have created apps that do one or a few things — such as crop a photo — so a number of apps are needed for building your iPhone photography system.
But before I thought about the photography tools available inside an iPhone, I took some photos and posted them to my Facebook wall and used one or two here in my Photography Blog. They looked good but not great. Then I came across Peterson’s Photographic and the excellent series of articles by Dan Burkholder. Dan is a master printer and photographer and he runs workshops, including a series in iPhone photography. From his website ):
“The images on this page were captured and processed on an Apple iPhone through an assortment of inexpensive imaging apps. The iPhone is more than just a tiny camera on a cell phone. For the first time we have both camera and darkroom in the palm of our hands. Dan’s iPhone workshops will cover the steps used to capture and process images like these and then print them on fine art digital paper and canvas.”
Dan not only captures high quality images using his phone, he also processes them using sophisticated techniques right in the phone itself, using it as a digital darkroom. His images tend to be over processed for my taste – I like simpler – “straight” photography. But there is no doubt that his images are beautiful and are evidence of lots of processing and artistry.
Right away I was able to use an app recommended by Dan – PerfectlyClr. I also looked for and found another one on my own – Crop. You see, I was in Brooklyn helping my wife help her nonagenarian parents and wanted to take some photos in their neighborhood at twilight because the sky was particularly beautiful. I did and I posted one to Facebook getting some applause. But a little later I came across the magazine, downloaded the PerfectlyClr app – processed the image with a single click – and presto – it was an improved image — and as Dan promised all within the phone. In addition to a one click mode, PerfectlyClr has “Pro” controls giving the photographer control over things like contrast, color vibrancy, sharpness and noise. A mini Photoshop?! I haven’t achieve anything like great results yet but good results show promise of getting better still.
In addition to PerfectlyClr I purchased and downloaded an app which may prove to be even more useful. Its called ProCamera and it replaces the camera app that comes with the phone. ProCamera gives the photographer much more control over focus and exposure and has other helpful features including a level. Using various apps one can also do HDR (high dynamic range) photography, can stitch multiple images together (that’s how large files are created) and use creative processing techniques such as adding texture and other artistic, painterly effects — all within the iPhone.
So my next steps will be to do more photography with the iPhone and see how much post processing I’m comfortable doing with it. It might be easier to simply download the images to my computer and use Lightroom or Photoshop (powerful computer photo editing software) on my wide screen monitor. But sometimes all I have is my palm computer, a gateway to the Internet and with the camera system — the real world.
Hey I wanted to share a really cool photo I took yesterday. We went cycling on the Nashua River Rail Trail about 10 days after the storm that hit New England in October. For a while I had a camera around my neck. I usually like to be stationary when I make photos but thought — why not try my skill at shooting on the fly? So I set my camera for a fast shutter speed and started shooting as I rode. One result is above. I like it! — You?
Much of the trail was as above but crews had done much work to clean things up — yet the trail was still closed. Obviously a little yellow tape will not stop the dedicated cyclist — all of it was down and quite a few riders were there. Riding on a trail like this was like being on an obstacle course — a little extra mindfulness and you are home free.
The photo above was made with my iPhone — I had more trouble controlling it than my Panasonic LX5 — maybe because I take far more photos with the LX5? Dunno — but I do know that the iPhone one captures the motion and chaos — so in some ways it superior. But I like my self portrait on the fly best!
Joel is a visionary photographer, and in more ways than one. Here is another page from an old publication — this time Aperture magazine and this time an ad. Its an ad for Photoshop and its in Aperture number one hundred forty-four, Summer 1996. The ad makes a simple but at the time revolutionary claim: “Adobe Photoshop did a much better job than my darkroom in expressing everything that naturally occurred in the original negative. Especially in bringing out the subtle colors and details of the photograph.”
In 1996 almost no one was using digital imaging for straight photography. When I joined the local photography club in 2004 and told the members I would be using digital technology — they thought I was very strange. Of course at that time they were being backward. For Joel to be so clear in his support of digital darkroom technology simply demonstrates that he is one of the true leaders in the world of photography. I’m so glad that he is continuing to push his personal visionary envelope!