Dogs and Lunches, etc
If It Has a Ringtone, It's Not a Camera. Panasonic Lumix's advertising slogan didn't last long -- not, I think, because there would soon enough be a Lumix-branded mobile phone, but because it's a slogan that can easily be interpreted either way: that a celphone is less than a camera, or (oops) that a camera is potentially rather less than a cameraphone.
It's also less than a "camera-puter," which is an aspect that is neither camera nor phone.
In the simplest sense, the camputer is a portal for images direct from your hand to the internet. But what about pictures before they ever leave the phone? If they ever leave the phone?
The utilitarian camera-as-scratchpad notion that's been spreading since the advent of home video (even, for a few, on Super 8) is now something that almost everyone takes for granted. End a meeting with a whiteboard full of scribbles that might be useful later? No time to copy them in a notepad? Use the camera phone. Want to keep a snap of the good-for-once haircut? Want to remember that the car is parked on Level 4 Blue zone? Easy and the photos just as easily cast off when they're done.
Camphone as agent of political change? The jury's out on its genuine effectiveness, but certainly it's had a huge and unpredictable effect on the relations of people, governments, politicians, and the media between them.
Beyond these "useful" applications, though, and beyond the camphone's replacement of point and shoots for a quick facebook-upload fix -- are there new ideas that might be useful creatively? The rapid spread of programs like Hipstamatic and Vignette (or even CamScanner) provide a hint to one other direction, closer to usual photographic practice -- the collapse/reversal of the traditional photo workflow. Sure, you could already take a digital photo and then push it through Photoshop to alter the character of the color and contrast, emulating the look of a particular film stock. The patterns were still the same: capture, process, and (potentially) presentation.
The advent of processing tricks in the camera application collapse the first two steps into one. Just set the camera on "Velvia" and go find some fall foliage. Heck, put the processing and border-generating on "shuffle."
Or even shoot with a different camera and import the images into your phone, rather than spend $500 on Photoshop: which is just what is happening here -- cited by Leica, no less. Established commercial photographer Laura Rossignol shooting on a D-Lux 5 (aka Lumix LX5), and then (after doing selects in Lightroom) "I like to take the post processing one step further and I will email a finished version to myself so I can open it in the Picture Show iPhone app. It allows you to add interesting effects and frames."
(Addendum: Adobe's John Nack made a similar post to this one, wondering: why would you edit on a mobile device?, just a few days ago....)
I used to think that the transparency or negative was the canonical object. As Ansel Adams wrote about it, the negative was like a musical score, to be interpreted by a darkroom performance for each new print. Throw that idea away. Immediate darkroom-ish styling on the fly: whether you think they're insanely great or sentimentally godawful, they're as fundamental a part of the New Beast's nature as is the thickness of oil paint or a trumpet's high notes. Get used to it, this is still just an early wave.
What I Ate: 28 Jan 2011
The flash diet doesn't require using flash, and it isn't really a diet per se, but an alternative to keeping a food diary -- photograph everything you eat. A side benefit is that it gives you an excuse to make at least a few photographs every day.
For entertainment value I've given myself a little rubric:
• Celphone only: twee "FX" apps okay
• "One bullet": c'mon, it's time to eat
• Context: ingredients, locations, companions
Here is a great thing about celphone cameras: they're not Hasselblads. They're more like a real "pencil of nature," in that a pencil has incredible range -- you can use the same pencil to jot down the grocery list or to draw a masterwork. The Hasselblad is more like oil paints -- wonderful for what it does, but too grand and technically involved for casual muddling.
Another, more-recent Paul Graham lament about the lack of respect afforded "straight" photography. and a discussion(?) of the same essay/address, which oddly attributes a review of Jeff Wall photos to.. Jeff Wall? Misreading aside it has an interest list of conflicting viewpoints, like these:
Now, this all got rolling back in February. How dare I blog about something so.... ancient?
I'm increasingly thinking that this is exactly what I should do -- like Garry Winogrand's delayed-processing piles of film canisters, which he left in storage deliberately so that he wouldn't mistake his immediate feelings about the experience of shooting for the experience of seeing the picture. So to, perhaps, it's better to give others the opportunity to shout each other down, mistaking contention for criticism. YMMV.
(And yes, I realize that pointing out a fight is not participating either -- I'll collect some opinions later, though frankly Graham seems to be just pointing himself. There is a problem. That recognition is easy. Solutions and sense about it is harder.)
Key Largo, 2010
In the mean time, you might like this.
Alexandria, Birthplace of America
When I purchased a new phone, I copied the pictures that had been accumulating in my old phone* into my computer. I've really just this week gotten to looking at them at any length.
Many were purely utilitarian images-as-notes: where did I park the car, various serial numbers, dinner plates, labels on grocery items. A few were shot out the driver's side window.
The new phone seems to be filling with pictures of the dog, which feels a bit strange considering how slowly phone cameras operate.
* a Nokia E71, if you must know.
Speaking of painting and computers, I've been working off and on on "JokerPaint," a little let's-beat-images-senseless sort of toy made using Processing and with a lot of the heavy pixel lifting being done via chains of filters that I've made using the GLSL framework in Andrés Colubri's GLGraphics library. I expect that at some point I'll post it to OpenProcessing.
The image above was generated from the photo in this recent post. Unlike most paint-like image processes, JokerPaint's imaging is continuous and real-time -- never static. It's constantly revising and touching-up and I just picked a frame at random for this still picture.
Color study shot for Rift: Planes of Telara
Earlier this week we were privileged to have painter & storyteller James Gurney visit the art department at Trion, both to have him speak with us and also for us to get a chance to show him our game. He's best-know to the public for the Dinotopia books (favorites at our house for many years -- See See & I were also lucky enough to see the Dinotopia show at the Norton Museum in Palm Beach a few months back), and known to a lot of artists for his blog and several art technique books, including the new Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.
We got the chance to look at some advance copies of the book and also hear him talk a little bit about (among many other things!) how the brain processes color and luminance separately -- which of course reminded me of this old post on the Black and White Brain. It's exciting to me to see someone as accomplished as Gurney coming at the same ideas from a different direction and for different purpose.
It's been several years now where I find that some of the biggest sources of information for my work in computer-graphic coloring and shading come not from computer scientists or even other people doing similar work -- instead, they come from painters. Not just realist painters, either. Gradations, highlighting, punctuation, contrast, shape -- increasingly I think of shading as a sort of painting-without-drawing.
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