Photography Slump

This pandemic is killing my desire to create, especially with my photography. There is still a desire and capability but the people and subjects I want to work with just aren’t available at the moment. Portraits require people and people right now are hesitant out of caution. Landscape photography requires access and access is scarce thanks to shut-downs.

No, I won’t be finding inspiration in the same old formulaic suggestions that people like to write about “what to do when in a creative slump.”

Examples:

Look for inspiration in art! Go on a photowalk! Shoot a day in the life or still life! Read your manual, clean your gear, photograph loved one and pets! Enough We’ve been reading that since the early age of the internet.

I especially miss the social aspect of meeting up with other photographers to talk, share, learn and grow from. There is nothing like having a beer with friends while talking shop and then headed out to capture images together.

In the meantime, I suppose capturing images of flowers from twenty different angles will have to suffice.

DAM It

The photo organization goals (Digital Asset Management) just took a setback as I rediscovered zipped files from Google Photos’ Takeout service. When I closed my Google accounts I had the option of retrieving all of my photos from the past 10 years that have been backed up there.

Well, thanks for nothing, Google because this treasure trove of photos is bundled in 2 GB files and there are over 150 to sort through and organize.

iPhone 12 Pro

This is the first year I purchased the newest iPhone on launch day since I converted to iPhone over Android six years ago. It was a thrill to open that box and see the premium stainless steel, glass back, the ceramic shield screen and that third camera lens I have been drilling over for the past year ( I skipped the previous first release.) As first impressions go, this was love at first sight.

No, I have not raced out to test the latest HDR video, nor the Dolby Vision but it is clear to anyone that has one in their hand that this is the most premium iPhone ever and it is built to be used. My only cause for frowning is that the edges pick up and enhance my fingerprints. Well that is easily solved with the slim Otterbox shell I encased it with. I don’t want a case on it because it hides the design but concurrently, I want this device to last for more than a few years. It is going to get protected. And yes, for the first time in forever, I am content.. This is what I have waited years for, a device that is gorgeous, and future-proof.

I won’t go into all the technical details and design specifications, I’ll leave that for others to write about, but they are impressive. The processing chip and memory are faster, more than most laptops, including the Mac I am using to type this.

The three camera system in the iPhone 12 Pro deserve their own article here, and I am positive that will happen once I make the time to do a proper photo shoot with them. The 12 Pro has the ultra-wide lens, wide and telephotos lenses for various uses and sometimes, you can shoot with all three. Add on the Lidar scanner to offer true depth for my photographic subjects and compares with your basic DSLR camera and lenses. Truth be told, these cameras make up the number one reason why I have upgraded.

The second reason is the high speed 5G capability and those data speeds. My carrier lit up their network here a few weeks ago in anticipation for this release and I couldn’t be more pleased. Downloads are fast, streaming is uninterrupted and thanks to unlimited tethering to the hotspot, I am second-guessing the need for home internet service. The home service speed is maxed out at 50MBs whereas the iPhone 12’s 5G capabilities here are double, sometimes triple. If I lived in a larger city, make that 10 times the speed.

I can’t wait to discover more of this iPhone as the weeks go by, especially that camera system. More later on that, of course.

Polaroid vs Instax

With the desire to embrace analog photography, I have also explored instant film too. I grabbed my old Polaroid 600 and expired film for some less than pleasing results such as low contrast and faded colors. This is understood and acceptable even the film expired 13 years ago. Thanks to the Impossible Project a few years back they have recreated the film. After purchasing a new 600 film pack I received similar results.

Since then, the Impossible Project had purchased the rights to the then defunct Polaroid brand and made it their own. Recently they introduced the I-type series cameras and film. With anticipation I purchased the One Step Plus w/ Bluetooth for some added features including double exposure, timer and more all connected to my phone. Neat, yeah?

Well no. I received similar results with the contrast and color to my disappointment. After a week of back and forth emails and examples of my photos from both the 600 and I-type films to Polaroid support they were kind enough to explain indirectly that I may be to blame or even that the film I purchased (from Target, Amazon) is the issue. Not exactly supportive here.

Today, I exchanged the camera, inserted the new film I purchased through Polaroid directly and… same results. Low contrast, dull colors.

Compare all of this to the Fuji Instax instant cameras and film. To the point, much better results. The colors are vivid, the contrast is perfect. I still need to work on the lighting and flash use but these issues are trial by error and correction.

I’ve sent off a refund request through Polaroid and will wait for a response. If past support is an indicator then I will use up the film with throwaway shots and shelve the camera or sell it in favor of a sexier Instax camera upgrade instead.

Creative edit of the Polaroid film protector

Minimalist Photography

For awhile now, I have been playing with the idea of minimalist images. This means sticking with the black and white, monochrome images but using less to compose an image with. An old friend named Brandon helped create a unique emulation of the old Kodak T-Max film as a preset in Lightroom. The idea being I would recreate the film look in my images.

This image was made in White Sands, New Mexico in February 2019.

Post-Processing The Past

A year ago, it feels like eternity now, I visited California again; this time through Route 66. I took this photograph in Joshua Tree. I never really got around to processing those images except for a few. Like most of my images they’re stuck in digital storage. I’ve been taking advantage of the pandemic to organize these images and eventually post-process and print them. It’s a small way to distract myself and a big step in organizing the archives. I need more opportunities for landscape photography capture and apply what I’ve been reading up on.

iPhoneography

I just got back from a quick road trip and took almost all my camera gear in one backpack. It was fun but exhausting.

The simplicity of the iPhone camera brings back the same happiness and exploration that made me love photography. I rediscovered the joy of every day life and documented it. Even the mundane. The camera’s limitations force me to focus fully on the subject I am shooting. That child-like wonder wakes up and the mind opens to the possibilities.
I get to discover new surroundings and re-discover the familiar. How did I miss that before? Snap.

The phone can fit into tighter spaces better than a DSLR because of its size. No worries here about apertures, ISO or shutter speeds. Shooting from the hip is possible as opposed to holding up a camera to your face all the time. Brilliant.

Adding some unique character to the photos through a wide variety of apps helps as well. It is fun to play with settings and adjust color, light, shadows and more all without losing the original image. These adjustments can alter the mood or expression as needed. It can be crisp and digitally perfect or go old-school analog photography. Mobile photography has massive creative potential compared to traditional photography.

While we are experiencing a world-wide contagion and the weather is pleasant, it is good for me to get out, remind myself to look for new perspectives and remember the creativity and joy of mobile photography.