This picture is the result of my first quick-‘n-dirty attempt at using an iPhone camera. I never dreamed I’d become hooked so quickly. The trained, experienced professional photographer in me puts so much store by decent optics that he was ready to dismiss the iPhone as simply a rather pricey toy. Fortunately the artist within me, who is these days an altogether more adventurous and liberal kind of a bloke, was captivated by the idea that he could hold a tiny computer in the palm of his hand while making a rather different sort of image with it.
There are two keys to enjoying this kind of creative freedom and fun. One is to lower your expectations of what is achievable. Realistically there are many better quality phone cameras on the market. The other is found in the range and diversity of the “Apps”. These are miniscule chunks of software.
In mere moments I had downloaded an app called Photogene. It cost me the same as a litre of petrol. Photogene immediately offered me a skinny digital darkroom, one which sat happily right there in the palm of my hand. I applied exactly the same kinds of tools that I use with the full-fat Photoshop in my “normal” photo-blogging workflow. In seconds I had removed the colour, replaced it with a monochrome tint, changed exposure, contrast and brightness settings, cropped it to size (there’s no zoom lens on an iPhone), added a border just for fun, and saved the end product. The picture you see here was sent from the iPhone by e-mail: no live laptops were harmed during the making of this post.
Back in the early sixties, I waited impatiently, as small, lonely boys often did, for the travelling library service to reach the hamlet where I lived. An avid reader of science fiction and an only child, I inhabited a fantasy world where my heroes used hand-held communicators to survey far-flung planets whilst radioing detailed reports back to base. Yesterday lunchtime, in a busy school staff room, I was doing pretty much the same thing, except that it was really happening this time.
So here is the end of “Light and Shade” as you have known it, and also the germ of the start of something which is as yet still nebulous but forming slowly. I am taking time out to investigate how to upload my iPhone pictures directly to a brand new blog. It will be hosted in a space specifically tailored to meeting the new creative challenge I have set myself. Firstly I will need to buy an iPhone and a enter into a contract with an Internet Service provider whose coverage reaches my home. Then I’ll buy the apps I’ve already earmarked on my iTunes wish list. If nothing else that will be the cue for Apple to bring out an even better model of iPhone, making my purchase obsolete at a stroke and focussing me onto the fine print of being locked into a two-year contract. But hey, that’s modern consumerism for you. I’ll get my pounds of pleasure from the project whatever happens, because I’m a photographer after all said and done.
I am grateful to the five iPhonography mentors credited below for their helpful advice and supportive comments. I hope to be joining their ranks soon. Also thank you Sarah for lending me your new iPhone 3GS yesterday.
I’ll see you all on the other side.