civilized ku # 3537 ~ simple is as simple does, which is not so simple

kitchen stool ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone


I wonder if the latest phone still represents simple or minimal equipment, or if it’s actually another form or format of advanced camera now.

my response: I believe, without a doubt, that Apple ( and other smartphone makers) knows its audience quite well. And, in the case of a device's picture making capabilities, they are aiming to make picture making as simple and, ITh(eir)O, "picture-perfect" as it can be. In essence, they seem to be walking in KODAK's footsteps, re: KODAK's first slogan, You push the button, we do the rest."

In my experience with the iPhone camera module (various editions), I find no evidence that Apple is trying to make an "advanced camera". That is, from the user POV. Of course, the camera module is, behind the scenes, a very advanced device inasmuch as its AI is working overtime-almost completely independent of user input-to get things "right". The only picture making control I am aware of is lens selection, turning HDR on or off and tapping the screen to select focus and adjust and lock the exposure.

ASIDE: of course there are a number of camera apps which can give a picture maker a great deal of control-almost "real" camera like-over the camera module, to include the ability to make RAW files. I have a couple of those apps but I rarely use them because I am committed to, with my use of the iPhone for picture making, picture making simplicity. If I want lots of control, I have 19 "real" cameras I can use.END OF ASIDE

All of that written, just because the picture making is "easy", the story, for me, doesn't end there, as I am certain it does for the majority of smartphone picture makers. That is, for me, just as I do after making pictures with a "real" camera, I process my image files. As near to "perfect" as the out-of-the-iPhone files might be, I always do some fine tuning and, on rare occasions, a lot of "fine" tuning on my files.

In most cases, I perform that tuning either on the phone or the iPad (I like the bigger screen), primarily with Snapseed or some other processing app. In some cases, I download a file from iCloud and do the tuning in Photoshop. And, FYI, all file prep (not tuning) for display on this blog are performed in Photoshop. BTW, the picture editing function in the new 11-series iPhones is now quite robust. Not Snapseed robust but good for a number of image adjustment needs.

IN CONCLUSION: Apple sees its picture making audience as easy-peasy snapshooters and has designed the iPhone camera module to appeal / service that market. Consequently, it is not an "advanced" camera in the sense of user control over the picture making process. That written, have no doubt about it, it is fully capable of producing "advanced" image files / pictures.

As mentioned, if one wants to have more picture making control when using the iPhone (or other smartphone), there are camera apps for that. I am somewhat surprised by the fact that Apple does not have an "advanced" camera app of their own making. Although, why bother when the overwhelming number of iPhone-using picture makers would have no interest in such an app, making the market for it so small that, for the Apple Behemoth, it would not worth the development time, effort and money investment.

civilized ku # 3536 (NIGHT MODE SAMPLE) / ku # 1451-52 ~ tricks of the trade

murkylight ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

murkylight ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

NIGHT MODE sample ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

BEEN USING THE iPHONE 11 PRO MAX for a month or so. No regrets, re: my decision to upgrade, but some of the changes to the picture making capabilities have required a bit of adjusting to, relative to my former iPhone X Max. Not a big deal.

That written, it hasn't been until recently that I have started to test the new NIGHT MODE feature of the iPhone 11 PRO MAX and the first thing I can tell you is that, in the default mode, it tries to turn "night" (aka: dark) into day. It accomplishes that feat quite well. However, when I make a picture in relative darkness, I want it to represent the actual darkness.

The "work-around" I use to achieve that is to manually adjust the exposure and, in processing the picture, reduce the BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST and then the EXPOSURE to achieve a realistic sense of the actual darkness of a scene. The result is an almost completely noise-free picture. However, there is a caveat ....

The NIGHT MODE does its magic by blending together separate files which are created with a 2-3 second "shutter" speed which, FYI, the image stabilzation handles remarkedly well as long as you aren't jumping around. Nevertheless, if the scene includes people, the command, "Hold still", needs to come into play.

Re: the ku pictures in this entry. The pictures were made very late on a very grey, rainy day (not using the NIGHT MODE). The light was muted and soft which created a scene with very low contrast. The iPhone, not unlike a "real" camera, creates an image file with a more dynamic range, aka: contrast, than the scene itself exhibits. Consequently, in processing the files, the contrast and brightness were reduced to achieve a look which came very close to matching the actual scene.

BTW, I would be very interested to know how many of my site visitors-currently 1,400mo unique visitors-are following this blog because of an interest in iPhone / cell phone picture making. A simple click on "LIKE" or a comment with the word "me" would do the trick. I would greatly appreciate the feedback on this topic.

polaroids / panoramics ~ I just wanna have fun

manipulated Polaroids / magazine assignments ~ (embiggenable)

Death In the ER ~ A Day in the Life of an Urban Hospital book (embiggenable) • Widelux 1500 (medium format)

THROUGHOUT MY PICTURE MAKING LIFE I have been somewhat of a contrarian. That is, the statement, "You can't do that.", has always been perceived, by me, as a challenge.

That attitude began-some might say, at birth-when, picture making wise, I first began my picture making journey in Japan, 1966. Looking back, I realize what good fortune it was to have spent my early picture making years being exposed (pun?) to a very "foreign" photo culture. Specifically, the Japanese had embraced the 35mm camera format long before the rest of the world, as I found out upon my return, 2 years later, to the good ol' USofA.

My don't-tell-me-I-can't-do-that attitude exhibited itself throughout my professional picture making life .... making manipulated Polaroid pictures for magazine restaurant reviews (monthly, for 5 years), making pictures for a record album cover with a Pentax 110 SLR, making pictures for a coffee table book-A Day in the Life of an Urban Hospital-with a rotating lens panoramic camera, making a 5-picture series for an exhibit in the showcase KODAK Gallery (Rockefeller Center in NYC) with 35mm color negative film-pictures which were printed at 4x6 feet, and, when I first moved to digital in my pro life, I was an very early user of the µ4/3 mirrorless format .... to name just a few "contrarian" picture making endeavors.

With that history, I would suggest that my embrace of iPhone picture making should come as no surprise.

However, truth be told, while the word contrarian could be used to describe many of my picture making activities, the primary motive driving that picture making would be described, more accurately, by the word fun. As in, I just wanted to have fun making pictures. And, I did and I still do.

To wit, where's the fun to be had by playing it safe, following convention, never taking a chance / going out on a limb, or, always playing by the rules?

To paraphrase a lyric from Ricky Nelson's song Garden Party-written after he was booed when, at a concert in Madison Square Garden, he went off script-aka: playing his oldies-and performed a Rolling Stone song....

Nelson - If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck.

Me - If you gotta play at making pictures, I wish you a lotta luck
But if "safe" pictures were all I made, I rather drive a truck.

civilized ku # 3535 ~ the object is not important

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

An interesting idea, written 102 years ago, about Art (think about it)....

Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects "unfamiliar," to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object: the object is not important. ~ Viktor Shklovsky: 'Art as Technique'

A FEW QUESTIONS HAVE ENERGED FROM MY last entry's declaration of my intent to open a photo gallery dedicated to cell phone device picture making. Although, not in answer to a question, it should be noted that this endevour will require a few months of work to get up and running....

.... finding the right space and negotiating a favorable lease
.... renovations to the space (gallery lights, white paint, signage, etc.)
.... partnering with sources to get the word out
.... build website with picture file submission upload capabilities / online galleries
.... gallery name / logo (this is a tough one)

.... this list does not address the task, perhaps the most important one, of developing a MISSION STATEMENT. That is, the why and the how, re: the manner in which this thing exists and works. It is my desire / intent to create an entity which is unique in the gallery world. I do have some interesting preliminary ideas on that score but, of course, I can't tell you about them at this time because, as the saying goes, I'd have to kill you... don't want to let the cat out of the bag and all that.

ku # 1445-50 ~ in the garden of ideas

in the wife’s garden ~ all pictures (embiggenable) • iPhone

I am in constant competition with my wife, re: who gets to dead or dying stuff first. Me, to picture it or her, to dispose of it. In the case of the pictures in this entry, I won the competition.

Writing of the wife, she's going to be somewhat perturbed about the kick in the ass I got, re: the A Weird Little Collecting Idea, in which Mike Johnston wrote about the idea of collecting iPhone pictures.....

Over the past few years, I have been entertaining the idea of opening a photo gallery. As it happens, there are several ideal store fronts on Main Street (high traffic) in my little home village. Every time I mention it, the wife immediately lists all of the downside(s) of doing so (expense is not one of them). And, to give credit where credit is due, she has some very valid points. Nevertheless, the idea persists.

One of the primary obstacles, in my mind, in opening such a gallery is based around the idea of opening just another gallery. That is, not having a unique "hook" with which to separate the gallery from the local crowd (of galleries). The only hook I have thought of to date is opening a Adirondack pictures only gallery. As hard as it might be to believe, in all of the Adirondacks there is not a single gallery devoted to photography thereof. That written, I have not been convinced that is enough of a hook.

Enter, thanks to M.J, the idea of an iPhone (or similar device) photography gallery. I am certain there is no other gallery like it in my region. And, with my recent-18 months and counting-picture making involvement with the iPhone, it seems like a logical extension thereof.

Given that I have thought on the idea of a opening gallery for quite a while, I have a rather good list of things that need to been done to facilitate such an undertaking. One of the first tasks is to start getting the word out and requesting submissions of work-no theme, just iPhone / cell phone pictures of any and all subjects-for the first couple of exhibitions. So....

... anyone out there within the sound of this blog interested?

PS. This is our little secret. Please don't tell my wife.

civilized ku # 3531-34 ~ good eats

Hugo and his aunt Lily

Parkway Diner / Burlington, VT. ~ all pictures (embiggenable) • iPhone

Given the choice between a 4-star restaurant or an "original" / authentic bygone era diner, I'm chowin' down in the diner at the counter on a revolving stool or in a vinyl seat booth. Everything about the diner experience pricks my eye and gastronomic sensibilities.

Due to the fact that I am Hugo's (my grandson) personal hockey chauffeur, I get the opportunity to seek out and enjoy the diner experience all over the Northeast and Midwest US of A. And, I am quite happy to report that original / authentic diners are alive and doing well. In fact, there is a revival of sorts going on.

The Parkway Diner (seen here in this entry) in Burlington, Vermont is a revival case in point. I don't know the diner's history other than it was factory built, shipped to Burlington and opened in the 1950s. It was "reopened" in 2013. I have no idea what happened between those 2 dates but I would guess that, like many-but certainly not all-early era diners, it experienced a period of decline and either closed (or not) and was eventually rescued by a new owner.

What many (most?) new owners-many are chefs-have done is to preserve / restore / refurb the atmosphere of the places and create menus that honor the diner tradition of "home cooked" food but with a "twist". In the case of the Parkway Diner, their twist includes fresh local farm-to-table ingredients and, in addition to "standard" diner eats, creative menu items such as the Portobello mushroom hollandaise with spinach and roasted red peppers or the fried pork cutlet on a homemade cheddar biscuit with chipotle hollandaise breakfast sandwich.

Then there is our local diner ....

the Port Henry Diner + Abarth ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

ku # 1442-44 / civilized ku # 3530 / screen grab ~ autumn harvest

still life ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

landscape ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

landscape ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

autumn color / urban ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

tangle ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone


Inasmuch as the autumnal foliage season is falling off the trees, my out-and-about picture making is winding down as well. Consequenty, over the past few days, I have been editing Fall pictures with an eye toward making a photobook.

As can be viewed in the screen grab picture in this entry, I have narrowed (?) my selections down to 54 pictures (2 are not shown). My original intention was to make a single book with all of those pictures. However, after time spent viewing this collectionn on my screen, I am having second thoughts about that approach, along the line of TMI.

The other thought which has occurred to me is that there are actually 3 different picture making themes scattered in the selection, 2 of which already exist amongst my various bodies of work / themes - tangles and autumn color / urban. The 3rd theme is represented by a single picture, the still life picture in this entry. But even that picture could rightly fit in my still life (made) body of work .... however,

.... that picture has given rise to an idea for a new, separate body of work. That is, making still life pictures of natural things as found on the ground and making those pictures at the location, where those things are found, on a sheet of foamcore or matte board which I carry around to those locations. Got to think about it more but it could be a viable idea.

All of that written, I am thinking that what I will do, photobook making wise, is to do some more editing in order to narrow the field more. And, in doing so, look to create 3 categories: tangles (natural environment), autumn color /urban (human environment) and "classic" landscape. Categories that will be presented as "chapters" in the photobook. Inasmuch as the still life is an outlier of sorts, perhaps I will use that picture on the cover.

civilized ku # 3526-29 / ku # 1441 ~ living on the edge

all pictures ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

During yesterday's early afternoon wander around my neighborhood a number of scenes pricked my eye and sensibilities. I returned from my ramble with about 20 pictures with which I am quite pleased, 5 of which are presented in this entry (more to follow).

The picture making ramble felt a bit weird inasmuch as it was my first, in very long time, leave-the-house and go out in pursuit of a specific picture making "task", i.e., making pictures of autumnal leftovers / remains. Embarking on a such a pursuit is somewhat contrary to my "normal" M.O. of just making pictures of what I see as opposed to trying to see a specific thing.

The difference between the 2 picture making M.O.s is, for me, like the difference between deliberation and spontaneity. When I am in the deliberative picture making mode, it sometimes feels like I am "forcing the issue". Whereas, when I am in the spontaniety mode, I make pictures of stuff that "surprises" me when I see it.

That written, I can't really write whether I have more or less picture making success either way. But, I can write that deliberation feels more like I am on assignment (work?) whereas spontaneity feels more like I am making art (play?). That written, I don't why I feel that distinction because, in either case, my creativity, imagination and aesthetic awareness to what I see works just fine.

In any event, that weird feeling aside, the other weird thing about yesterday's picture making was that, in my professional picture making life-a significant slice of that life was story-telling assignments (annual reports, magazine feature stories, et al)-on which I went out on assignments loaded for bear, gear wise. One never knew what picture making challenge one might encounter and, since one had to come back with the goods, one better be prepared for any contingency.

Yesterday however, when I went out on my self-assigned assignment, I was, relatively writing, buck naked, gear wise. It was just me and my little ol' iPhone .... actually, truth be told, on the backseat of my car were 2 µ4/3 camera bodies and 5 lenses. They were on the back seat in an effort for them to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind, but they were there, "just in case."

As it turned out, the µ4/3 stuff stayed out-of-sight / out-of-mind and the iPhone 11 PRO MAX carried the picture making load. For most picture making situations, I used the "normal" (slightly wide angle) lens. In a couple situations I did use the "tele" and the super-wide lenses.

Suffice it to write, once again, the iPhone met and exceeded my picture making needs.