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.

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.

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.

civlized ku # 3521-25 ~ remains

all pictures ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Here in the higher elevations in the northern Adirondacks, the leaf peeper tourists have come and gone. At this point, there are more leaves on the ground than there are on the trees. A welcome quiet has settled over the place inasmuch as the sound of a zillion crickets-chirping-like shutter clicks has disappeared.

That written, there is more than enough fallen leaves visual energy around to prick my eye and sensibilities. That and small pockets of remaining color which stand out all the more against the faded landscape. So ....

.... I'm headed out the door to see what I can see.

ku # 1440 / civilized ku # 3505-11 ~ this and that / iPhone 11 Pro Max

Jean Arthur mural

stovepipe hat guy with mural

mall wall shrubbery

mason jar and maple tree

mason jar and maple tree

all photos ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone 11 Pro Max

Yesterday I was out and about running errands and visiting my cardiologist to confirm what my Apple Watch was telling me - that my resting heart beat is 120bpm without an irregular rhythm. Score 1 for the Apple Watch acquisition. And, re: the iPhone 11 Pro Max, camera wise, acquisition ... as is obvious in this entry, I made a number of pictures over past 24 hours. All made with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Surprise #1, I might actually use the new wide angle lens more than I thought I might-see the Jean Arthur pictures. Surprise-ish #2, the "normal" lens can be used with the Portrait Setting-see the picture with the prescription bottle. As I suspected, I do like this new tool. No surprise / to-be-expected ... various tools and features have been rearranged / reconfigured, a minor annoyance but not a big deal. FYI, I still have not experienced the Nite Mode feature.

To be certain, there are 2 changes that, for me, fall into the what were they thinking? category ... #1, why the hell would they locate the lens selection buttons in the camera-view screen's live field of view? Stupid idea, but not something I can't adjust to.

#2, there is a new feature, Photos Capture Outside the Frame. The intent is to "Capture the area outside the frame of the photo to improve composition. If the area around the frame is not used to make corrections, it will be deleted after 30 days." What this feature does is to turn the area on the screen-where all the various camera and adjustment selections are-around the camera-view frame transparent. That allows the stuff outside of the camera-view crop to be dimmed but visible. Visible enough to be somewhat distracting.

Even though I have that feature turned off in the camera preferences, that area is still transparent. I was hoping that turning it off would return the surrounding area to black but, alas, it does not. Which leads me to ask, "What the hell were they thinking?"

This feature's screen transparency idiosyncracy and the lens selection buttons' placement within the camera-view frame cause me to wonder if they-the designers / developers at Apple-ever consult with actual picture makers. I assume they do-which may make an ass of u and me-but what picture making idiot would ask for what amount to distractions surrounding or in the camera screen's field of view?

That written, I have already "trained" my eye to not see / ignore those distractions.

So, my initial opinion, to date, is that I have no regrets or significant disappointments with my acquisition of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. On the picture making front, it continues to evolve into a very good picture making device.

ku # 1435-38 / civilized ku # 3499 ~ my tacks ain't so sharp

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

Hard to ignore the extended conversation, re: sharpness, over on T.O.P. So, here's my 2-cents plus change....

In the long-gone, for me, days of analog picture making, I expended considerable time and effort making (and printing) my personal/ so called fine art pictures with an 8x10 view camera + color negative film. I did so for a couple reasons, not the least of which was that it was very in vogue amongst the New Color Photography cadre. That aside, the primary reason I did so was because I really appreciated, what I would label, the smooth, "liquid" and essentially grain-less color and tonal quality which came from using large format color negative film. And, yes, the resultant prints looked very sharp.

However, sharpness wise, the level of sharpness was considerably less than what is possible, even "normal", with digital capture and printing. Back in the day, if I were to want the sine non qua of sharpness, I would have had to use, and occasionally did, 120 (medium format) Kodachrome roll film. Now that was a truly sharp film.

Fast forward backwards (is that possible?) to my early testing of the waters, digital domain wise. I was surprised at the level of sharpness that seemed to be inherent with the digital process, even with a modest 4-6mp sensor. Certainly, sharpness at level beyond what was the norm, color negative wise. However, what I also noticed, digital v. analog, was that the smooth, liquid look/quality that I treasured was not so much in evidence.

Consequently, I set to work in Photoshop in pursuit of emulating a smooth liquid color and tonal look. Long story short-after quite a bit of experimentation with Gaussian Blur, I found that, amongst a few other adjustments (to include subtle contrast reduction), a sukoshi, aka "skosh", of Gaussian Blur moved things in the desired direction.

To this day, even with my iPhone files, I follow the same Gaussian Blur processing routine. In doing so, I find that my prints have a very similar look to those C prints I made from color negative film back in the day. Unforunately, that is a look that is almost impossible to replicate with online viewing. Blame down-sampling and who-the-hell-knows what monitor calibration (or lack thereof) is being used to view the work online.

Re: the pictures in this entry. If anyone thinks they should be sharper, they just ain't paying attention to what I am "saying" with these pictures.