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My photography recently
by Bruce Ure at 21:14 17/08/09 (Blogs::Bruce)
I just updated my flickr profile but wanted to share this with a slightly wider (possibly) audience. If you are interested, I'd love to hear whether you agree. Are the latest photos more interesting, or not, and do they lose out by their lo-fi nature, with regard to my previous, SLR-originated, stuff?

Much of it (as Asha just pointed out to me) is not at all interesting full stop, and I'm sure she has a point. But everything is relative.


Did say: oh for more time to take more photos.

Now say: oh for more time to take more photos. AND:

Why is it that I'm having more fun taking photos with my iPhone lately than with all the (relatively) expensive camera gear I have at my disposal?

Basically, I think it's easier to take good photos with an iPhone. By 'good photos' I mean photos that grab the attention, perhaps that say something, that are worth the time spent looking at them. Not necessarily technically good: a lot of my recent stuff (I'm writing this on 2009-08-17) is doubtless technically poor with regards to focus, white balance, blah blah; but good in the sense of worthwhile. Also, my iPhone is my phone, which means that by definition I almost always, unless underwater or in an MRI scanner, have it about me. It's so easy to whip it out. You just can't do that with an SLR.

And the other reason is that it's very forgiving. The built-in badness of the iPhone is akin to the badness of the Holgas, the Lomos, the Box Brownies, the old and toy cameras favoured by the Light Leaks type artists. Indeed there exists at least one iPhone application that emulates the output of these very devices by taking a raw iPhone camera image and applying one or more distortions or noise filters to it. Instantly the appeal of the photo is increased. From an image quality point of view, it does seem true that less really is more.

That makes the iPhone sound like a crap camera, which it's most definitely not, especially the 3GS one, but it is very limiting, and fairly inflexible, and you have to build its whims and inadequacies in to your vision of the final picture, because there's nothing you can do about them. This is a big part of the fun. It also means that there's a 'shrug' factor. There's a low ceiling to the quality of this image, so I may as well not bother to tweak it in Photoshop or whatever. It's about accepting the imperfections, instead of striving for perfection. So, the vast majority of my recent iPhone images are unedited, and in fact the only edits are crops, and rotations. It's sort of become a matter of principle, although that's not to say I won't ever fiddle with them. Just that I don't like to. There's a sort of purity there, which is gone as soon as you tweak. I'm not saying that there isn't a place for tweaking. Just that this isn't it.

I didn't suddenly become a better photographer overnight, yet I feel my latest stuff, taken with my iPhone, is a cut above much of my previous stuff done with stupidly expensive SLRs and lenses. Whether this means I will eBay my expensive kit remains to be seen. I'd first like to be sure it's not just a phase.

Ciao for now.


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My photography recently Bruce Ure - 21:14 17/08/09
Re: My photography recently Simon - 08:52 18/08/09
It's often the case that the poorer the technology, the better the art.

Have you seen the results of the pinhole camera group? for instance?


Re: My photography recently Bruce Ure - 15:05 18/08/09
Is it the better the art, or just the easier it is to call good?

I lurve pinhole stuff. Must have a go some time. Also very tempted to dig out my old film camera, and use up some of my out of date disposables to see what they produce.

Thanks for the comments you made on my flickr stream :-)


Re: My photography recently Steve - 13:09 18/08/09
I've done the same. I carry my 3GS everywhere and since then, I've been taking way more photographs than before. And THAT is what matters. Not the quality of the camera - although that matters for certain applications - but the ability to recognize something that you want to photograph and be able to take the photograph there and then. It should be pretty evident from the other iPhone pictures on FlickR that you can achieve some amazingly creative pictures with just 3 megapixels. It all depends on what you point it at and how you compose the picture. I'm learning that composition matters so much that it just hurts.

I've got CameraBag installed which is akin to Photoshop on the desktop. So the combination of the 3GS low-res camera and CameraBag is at the other end from a D700 or a D3 with Photoshop CS4. And, it has to be said, at the end of the day they both produce exactly the same thing.

Yes, I do see your FlickR stream since I have it RSS'd to Google Reader and I guess seeing your iPhone efforts was what prompted me to ask how you were getting on with the D700. For me, I've done little with the D80 these last two or three months since the studio course finished.

Want my honest opinion? I think your iPhone pictures are just as interesting as your D700 pictures - probably a bit more because I can see that you're trying to be a bit more creative and it shows.

Incidentally, let me know if you decide to sell your D700. :-)


Re: My photography recently Bruce Ure - 15:51 18/08/09
Isn't CameraBag just a crap-camera-emulation thing? I use PhotoGene for on-phone editing, and only don't use Picoli (which I think is cheaper) because it won't crop. I also like the look of QuadCamera, which takes 4 shots in succession and outputs them to a single frame... I've yet to use it on anything other than a test subject. Looks promising though.

Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure if I'm trying to be more creative, well maybe, because many of the D700 shots are just snapshots for the family album, but it probably looks like I am as well, because I'm taking far more pictures in situations where normally I'd say, oh bugger, I don't have my camera. I'm normally the same level of creativity with the D700, just not as likely to have it in creative situations. If that makes sense. Oh and also because it's far less forgiving, many many 'creative' shots with the D700 just get binned because they "didn't work". You often (as you know) need to spend ages setting them up properly to make them work well. I don't have the patience. Or the time.

By the way... latest must-have app, for several minutes of hilarity: iSwapFaces. It's very funny.

Game-wise I'm also enjoying Ragdoll Blaster, which is a bit like touchPhysics. And let's not forget Enigmo.


Re: My photography recently Steve - 15:59 18/08/09
I'm currently into the Hidden Expedition games - Everest, Buckingham Palace and Titanic. It's where you have to find objects hidden in pictures and solve puzzles - great fun and well worth the 0.59p considering that the hidden objects you need to find change each time.

But, seriously, why get the D700 if you aren't going to push it to what it was designed for?!


Re: My photography recently Bruce Ure - 16:17 18/08/09
That's a good question. Partly I enjoy technology for its own sake: I didn't buy a 188 mph motorbike to ride it at 188, it was a work of art, complete overkill for around town but an absolute joy to have nonetheless, and to some degree the same is true of cameras. I enjoy just holding the thing, and using it. To some extent, its output is secondary.

The other reason is that I do enjoy making lovely pictures, and trying to squeeze that extra bit of loveliness out of them. Hence thinking, well a full frame sensor (for example) will give me just that extra bit of lusciousness. Most of which is crap. We're talking extreme law of diminishing returns here... the differences are so tiny as to not be worth considering, at my level of skill. There is sooo much in the camera that I will never push to its limits. It will always be a far better camera than I will be photographer.

So I guess largely the reason I own a D700 is that I'm an idiot :-)


Re: My photography recently Steve - 16:24 18/08/09
No, I think you have a camera that has several years of value left in it. On the other hand, you'd be an idiot if you'd gone for the D3X. That's a camera that will lose its value very quickly because the market for those sort of sensors is going to get more crowded in the next year or so.


Re: My photography recently Bruce Ure - 16:36 18/08/09
A bigger idiot perhaps. I don't even need 12MP, let alone 25.

One area the iPhone and all the point-and-shoots pee me off is their startup time and recycle time. Obviously the D700 all but eliminates both of those, but at what cost? Er, about 2,000, and having to heft around a damn great camera and equally damn great lens. Oh hang on, lenses, plural.

Wanna buy a D700? :-)


Re: My photography recently Steve - 16:44 18/08/09
Yup - I do want a D700 not because I'm inclined to be an idiot but because I'm actually investing in doing some serious part time photography and I'm hitting the limits of the D80. It's focus system isn't good enough in low light, the sensor is too noisy and I really want the low noise at higher ISO. And given a choice between the D300s and the D700 - I figure I'll get a lot of long term value out of the D700 whereas with the D300s I'm going to feel the itch to upgrade to full frame in a year or so. I just know it.

BHPhotoVideo in NY sells a D700 body for just $2,699 (including the $300 rebate) which translates to 1629 at today's exchange rate. There are other reputable stores selling it for less - $2180 for example. I'm waiting until the end of next week before making a decision and pulling the trigger though.

I also need a 12-24mm f/2.8 lens to go with it! Hope I get a respectable bonus next month!