A few random images from recent walks.
Q. What happens when you put a a new smartphone in the hands of lycanthrope…
A. He tries to break it of course. I have used this example to specifically show the current limitations of technology and AI. The image below was taken by moonlight at 3.00AM on an iPhone 12 flagship. Look at what the AI has done to the areas it can not decipher – mush. Think I’ll call it the ‘mush filter’.
iOS has updated and the iPhone 12 Pro Max now saves to RAW files in Adobe DNG format – woohooo! But, massive file sizes, way bigger than Nikon and it shows why Apple insist on processing the images in camera for HEIF and JPG. The RAW file shows that phone camera lenses really are rubbish. However, I don’t mind either of these as at least it puts the processing in my hands rather than some jumped up dumb algorithm.
…or, why I will never be a great photographer.
I was out walking today when I noticed a commotion in the undergrowth. It was a young deer that was completely entangled in a wire fence. As I approached it started to panic, struggle and scream, I didn’t know a deer could make that kind of a noise, it was a kind of loud high pitched squeal which echoed all around the woods. The poor thing was completely stuck and looked to be beyond help without the application of wire cutters. I thought about putting it out of it’s misery rather than leaving it to a lingering death or for the foxes later that night. I decided to at least try and release it first. I had to almost break its legs to get them free and then force it’s body through the tight hole that was constricting it, all the time it was kicking, terrified and screaming. Eventually, I managed to get it free and with only minor cuts it bounded off into the undergrowth and was gone without so much as a thankyou!
Later, on recollection I realised I had no photographs.
A post for the photo-nerds amongst us.
So, I have just taken delivery of my shiny new iPhone 12 Pro Max and run a few test shots off. Downsizing from a big Nikon FX DSLR to a phone camera is a massive move which will require a change in mindset.
I am now forcing myself to limit expectations over the lack of control that is inherent in a phone camera. No control over depth of field is my biggest niggle, the phone has a naturally shallow DoF but not shallow enough to be useful so, most of the time it is just plain annoying and very unprofessional looking. Despite image stabalisation the shutter speed is often still too slow due to the automatic ISO taking over. The images are heavily processed by the camera and sharp edges are over enhanced to produce a rather too obvious pseudo-sharpening effect. The Portrait mode also produces a pseudo-DoF effect that is a very poor substitute for aperture control, and it shows. I have to bare in mind that these things are to make taking pictures easy for people who just want a point and shoot and are not really interested in the finer points that would concern a professional.
On the plus side, as it effectively brackets three exposures per image and automatically sandwiches them, it has an exceptionally wide exposure latitude. The new HEIF file format can be edited non-destructively in Lightroom on Mac and PC but can not be opened (yet) in Photoshop on the PC – wtf! The compression in areas of the images which the algorithm considers to be of little importance is awful and looks like painting by numbers when enlarged. The JPG compression is not much better. Both formats are no where near professional standards. Given the choice I would rather have the option of a larger file size and a higher quality plus an unadulterated RAW format. The iPhone now has a telephoto lens (not sure why people call it a zoom lens), woohooo! It’s really equivalent to a 65mm FX lens but it does address one of the most annoying issues with phone cameras in general being too wide an angle. Despite the over compression, the images are just about good enough to produce an almost decent print and possibly good enough for projection use.
I think I can get used to most of the foibles as my documentary style does not rely on ‘stylistic interpretation’ or the ability to produce the spectacular. My interest lies in story telling and for that, what you take not how take it is most important.
Watch this space for pictures…
P.S. just read a post by a beta tester, the new version of IOS (10.3) might be able to save in RAW format on the iPhone Pro Max. That might give me a fighting chance against the tyranny of automatic file size reduction and over-ambitious image ‘enhancement’!
Well I’ve done it again, sold all my cameras.
I usually do this when I get a bit disillusioned with my photography. The last time was in 1990s after I had moved back to Lincoln and work from London was drying up, remember there was no internet back then and photography was a wet process.
Communications from Lincoln to London were tricky. It would take a long day to shoot a story, drive to Nottingham and get it processed, then pre-edit it, package it, get it to the train station and organise a bike to pick it up at the other end to take it to the editorial office.
In an effort to attain more work from London I built a website on this new thing called the ‘webbynet’. Trouble was no one in the editorial offices was online yet. However, I now had a lifeline and having built a few websites for other people I landed the job of Website Manager at the University of Lincoln. I sold my cameras and didn’t take a serious picture for 15 years.
5 years ago I left the Uni with enough cash to be independent and pursue my own photographic project (details and pics in this blog). I had an exhibition and published a couple of books. All well and good…
I now face another ‘photostential’ crisis, where do I go from here? Though, this time it’s more of a move in a different photographic direction. Photography for me has never been about producing pretty or spectacular pictures. They have their place but for me a picture has to have some meaning or be more informative than “isn’t that amazing!”
The way people consume photography these days has also changed. If I send an email out to my mail list, 90% of those who look at my blog or website do it on a mobile device so, what’s the point of me shooting a 40MP image if it’s going to be viewed at the size of a credit card? These days an iPhone camera is quite capable of producing the quality needed for a sizeable print or projection. An iPhone is also considerably more convenient. If you pull out a big SLR these days it marks you out as a professional and people start to get suspicious, no one bothers if you pull out a phone. Strange how it used to be the other way around.
I have sold my cameras and am awaiting the release of the new iPhone.