Lately, I rarely *purposely* head out to take photographs. Instead, they are mostly products of the rhythm of my life as I go about my day. I am working on two projects but besides these, all other photographs are taken as something catches my eye. Diagonal lines, that is my position to the subject, play a greater part in the photographs. My eyes and heart are always on the look out, now. The radar is on and I am on alert. I now push the story-telling aspect of photography thus, I try to trigger questions rather than simply tell. This is slow to come but it is coming. I think about it constantly.
I have learned that it is incredibly important to photograph, first, for myself. Doing this allows me to follow my instincts, play, explore, and create images that are personal. I want to share my work with others, mind you, and clearly do so via this blog, my website, and Instagram. Since I bought my iPhone I take it out to shoot, often, and have worked particularly hard and long, after, when I post-process the picture.
I still use the Olympus OMD-EM5. I love it because I can choose the lens I want to use (although I typically head out with only one lens so that I am not encumbered and I can just go with the flow based on the one option I give myself), manipulate the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed; the images are of a higher quality and the higher control and resolution add a whole layer of beauty and precision. Nevertheless, I find myself predominantly utilizing the iPhone.
The truth of the matter is that even though I LOVE my “real” camera I simply adore the hands-on-ness of the iPhone and the post-processing applications (apps) I use to create the final images. It provides a direct way of looking at and capturing the subject and light, moving the image into a creative idea through the apps, and then sharing it with others through social media. I no longer think that taking a photograph with a small mobile device (that happens to be a telephone among other things) is not photography. It is, as I’ve said, simply another camera.
Those of you who have followed my blog know that I was a sculptor, once upon a time. The work I created was very hands-on. Tactility was critical to me. When I drew, I used my fingers. It turns out this is the same with photography. I fell in love with the act of photography a few years ago but am discovering my voice now that I clasp a “smart” phone in my hands. It is my primary capture tool through which I have the opportunity to finger-paint a body of work. Snapping the subject is the starting point. I am interested in what I can do, creatively, afterward. I have become quite manipulative with my “darkroom” apps on the computer – more so than with Adobe products such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Images are slowly developing into works that are abundant in content and expression. Imagine: a camera and a darkroom all in one. I have fully embraced this process and have gone from taking a photograph to making one. The potential is great and it is all done with my fingers.
I still attempt to do things precisely when I compose “in-camera.” Before I shoot I make sure to get the exposure set properly and place the focus point, manually, as well. To do this, I tap the screen of the iPhone (a lot) to indicate where to focus and adjust the exposure. It is more difficult to keep the iPhone camera still so I use a tripod more often and also accept blur as a happy accident, occasionally. Though I get the camera set correctly as best as I can when I take a shot, I enjoy using many of the post-processing apps available to me and with which I go wild; they help shape and push my work further. However, it is important that the end result look like a photograph and NOT a drawing or painting.
I tend to use two to five apps as I edit. My goal is to find a balance between adding layers of complexity to the the original subject and keeping the vision uncomplicated and coherent. The end result has to be fairly simple and (I can only hope) strong – so that someone looking at a photograph of mine responds to it, emotionally. I am experimenting with both colour and black and white and pushing light and shadow to the extreme for high contrast. Colours are processed so that they are washed out (“bleached”), pushed further (typically by warming saturation, adding “filters,” etc.), or have all of the saturation removed so that the picture becomes black and white. Manipulating the photographs in my Century Village, Florida series encourages a timeless feeling that conjures up memories for the viewer and each photograph is tailored to help convey the story.
The principal apps I use are: Camera+; ProCamera; Pure; Filterstorm Neue; Afterlight; Picfx; Photo fx; Mextures; and Bleach Bypass and/or SkipBleach.
I am drawn to the immediacy of using my iPhone as a camera and I can edit on the go. That is, when I have a moment, at any time of the day, I take my phone out and use my fingers to manipulate and “paint” the photograph. I spend hours on my work and stop the editing process when my inner voice says, “that’s it!”