Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wet café chairs, apps and art filters

click photo to enlarge
I don't watch many of the TV programmes that people who know me expect me to see. The reason is that I'm prepared to devote only a very limited time to television. So, by the time I've watched, over the course of week, a couple of films, a couple of old, made-for-TV comedy shows, and one or two other programmes, I'm done. With that amount of viewing I've used up the time I'm willing to give to television, and good or bad, I won't watch more. To do so would deprive me of the time I want to give to my other interests and pursuits.

For the same reason I'm currently unwilling to join the majority of the population of Britain in owning a smartphone. It's not that I'm a Luddite, or that I don't think they have some uses above those offered by a traditional mobile phone: they do (though fewer than many would have us believe). The fact is I spend quite a chunk of my week at a computer screen and extending this further via the tiny display of a smart phone would - you've got it - "deprive me of the time I want to give to my other interests and pursuits". However, I'm enough of a realist to accept that the way mobile communications are going the day may come when I will need (rather than want) one.

There is one thing about smart phones that I do rather like, and that is the greater capabilities of the built-in cameras. They are not yet as good as even a basic compact camera, but for some purposes they are good enough. Moreover, currently appearing on the market is the Nokia Pureview 808 with a 41 megapixel camera outputting 2/3, 5 and 8 megapixel images, incorporating a useful zoom facility, offering the opportunity to achieve bokeh, and the capacity to record HD 1080p video. These are the sort of specifications that enthusiast photographers will find appealing. The images that I've seen look very good indeed.

Of course, there is a downside to smartphone cameras and that lies in the "apps", especially the "Instagram" variety that offer "effects" that people find irresistible. I came across this article on PetaPixel recently - "Iconic Photos "re-taken with Instagram" - and concluded that such effects, by and large, represent a pretty good method of ruining a shot whilst at the same instantly consigning it to a big subset of other smartphone shots. All of which brings me to my wet café chairs. After converting from colour to black and white I applied digital versions of traditional processing effects - increasing contrast, burning and dodging. In other words it was hand-crafted, insofar as that is possible with a computer! So why do I think it looks like a commercial pin-hole or Holga effect? It seems that digital camera "art filters" and smartphone "apps" that include both these options are starting to impinge on our consciousness and affect how we see photographs.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 99mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On