Last week I read an article in the NY Times Lens Blog about photojournalist Ben Lowy using his iPhone and the Hipstamatic app in the field, and was blown away when I saw the images, with the look of an old Polaroid film camera, and knew I had to apply this to my urban industrial photography. As you have seen from my work I love to “embellish” the images I take and create a piece of abstract fine art instead of just a photograph, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary, so to speak.
Despite the cold wet weather we had this weekend here in Astoria, I wanted to get outside and capture some urban grunge with this “new fangled” photo app. So, armed with my iPhone and an umbrella (no DSLR, no lenses, no filters, no other photographic paraphernalia) I walked out into a steady but light rain to experiment. I must confess I really have never taken a “serious” photo with my cell phone before, I mean I have a DSLR why would I, right? Well, the first thing that I liked about taking images with the iPhone was the freedom of just pointing and shooting again and became more exhilarated the more I shot. It took me a bit to stop fumbling and almost dropping the phone as I balanced the umbrella while turning the phone from horizontal to vertical (cursing and wishing it came with a wrist strap!) Luckily I did not have to worry about water getting into my camera or lens. The second thing I liked and the best part was, with this app I was able to change film, lenses and even the flash with just a swish of your finger. What fun! The only thing I didn’t like was that I had to wear my reading glasses to take the photos something I normally do not need to do looking through a view finder.
On Saturday, I walked along Ditmars Boulevard just to 31st Street (a little over a mile) taking images of some old familiar subjects and on Sunday, walked the same distance along Astoria Boulevard including views from the elevated subway; this is where I almost dropped the phone down on the Grand Central Parkway! I guess I spent about two hours each day trying all of the different films and lenses. As Ben Lowy had stated in the blog article there is really no post processing other than downloading. All the artistic embellishments were done right in the camera or phone. I am one of those photographers that cannot take just a few shots and on a bad day will come home with at least 150 images.
I enjoy post processing because that is where I add my little artistic touches to my already abstract scenes and it will take me the better part of a day or days to complete depending on the number of images I have taken. But, with these images my biggest decision was deciding what images were the best out of the bunch. Not having much gear to carry around and knowing that the “camera” was doing most of the work I was able to devote my attention on the composition just like I did way back when with my little point and shoot camera.
Right now, I don’t think the cell phone camera and the Hipstamatic app will replace my DSLR and the wonderful zoom and fixed lenses that I love but, I will be more willing to use my cell phone camera and indulge in iPhone photography than ever before. I hope you enjoy my little “groovy” trip back into photographic time.