Someone much wiser once said something like ‘the best camera you have is the one you have on you’ … and as my iPhone 5 is nearly always always in my pocket, it has become my go-to image creator. The quality of the images you can capture are quite amazing for something that also does a pretty good job of acting like a phone … and a computer. And with the outstanding Photoshop Express app, the level of post-production and editing you can do all in the palm of your hand rivals what many amateur photographers do on their desktops.
On my latest overseas trip to the USA my iPhone well and truly got a workout on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Reno. Around NYC I often carried my Canon EOS 1D MkIV, but with the ability to edit on the fly, then directly upload to Instagram and Facebook, I found that I have enjoyed the shots I took with my Apple phone much more. And sometimes having the limitations of a non-optical zoom, 8-megapixel mini-lens makes you think just a little bit more creatively to make the most of those limitations. So take a look at some of my shots, and if you like what you see, follow me on Instagram for more of my iPhoneography.
Click on the photos below to see larger versions…
This photo was taken with a Russian Horizon Perfeckt 35mm panoramic camera, with the film cross-processed.
Japan has got to be one of the best places to travel with a camera – the hyper-industrialised cities, bright lights of the shopping districts, old temples and shrines, not to mention the epic snowscapes. Japan is full of epic visual scenes. And so it was a dream to finally be able to visit Japan this year … for snowboarding, and photography.
Along with what Apple likes to tell us is the “World’s most popular camera” in my pocket at all times, I travelled to Japan with my new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, a pocket Canon Powershot AS3300 IS and a funny Russian panoramic 35mm film camera, a Horizon Perfekt. Have you had a look at the quick little blog posts of my iPhone photos from Tokyo and Kyoto? Well, here is a selection of my non-iPhone snaps.
I bought the old fashion, fully mechanical Horizon Perfekt from Lomography, and this trip in February was my first real chance to use it (besides one test role). The Perfekt uses a swing lens that moves left-to-right to project a 120-degree-wide image across almost two normal frames of 35mm film. As with any film, and particularly as I wanted to cross-process Fuji slide film, using the Perfekt was a little bit hit or miss – but that’s the fun of film! I took along a digital light meter to try and take some of the exposure setting guesswork out of it, and some of the results came out great.
As it’s taken me so long to post these extra non-iPhone photos, I think in future I’ll travel on non-photographic trips with just the little phone, and maybe a film camera for fun. I hope you enjoy these photos, as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Click on the photos to view them in a pop-up gallery…
Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto
Wooden prayer wall at Fushimi Inari Temple, Kyoto.
Kyoto view from Kiyomizudera Temple.
Lanterns at a Kyoto temple.
A traditional restaurant facade in Kyoto.
The famous Zen rock garden at Ryonanji Temple, Kyoto.
The external corridor at Sanjusangendo Temple, Kyoto.
A couple of locals enjoy the Kyoto sunset dominated by Hokanji pagoda near the Gion district. (Yasaka no To Pagoda)
Flying into Sapporo.
Niseko trees during a blizzard.
Niseko trees during a blizzard.
Niseko forest at dusk.
Niseko forest during a blizzard.
Snowy Niseko streets
Snowfalling in Niseko.
A Niseko blizzard.
Downtown Tokyo from the Metropolitan Government Building.
Akihabara street scape.
Akihabara street scape.
Inside a Manga shop in Akihabara.
Looking up in downtown Tokyo.
The guard towers along the moat at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
A security guard (or cop) cycling round the Tokyo Imperial Palace gardens. They love their old school Euro-style uniforms in Japan.
A well-dressed local on his lunch break in the ruins of the tower at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Tokyo skyline from out front of the Train station.
Shibuya Crossing (from inside Starbucks).
Shinjuku back streets.
Lanterns in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
All asleep on the Tokyo subway.
End of the film… You’ve gotta love that authentic light burn. No Photoshop after-effect here.
After the end of winter I flew up to the Gold Coast for a mighty Metallica concert up in Brisbane, and decided to stay here for a while at Casa El Rad with some work lined up from early November. It’s a good thing the the Bligh State Government changed the State slogan to “Queensland: Where Australia Shines” from “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next”, because we know that isn’t true. There are some amazing sub-tropical downpours up here, and long-range forecasts for more cyclones up north, which will be great for waves down here on the border. And at least after the storm comes the sun, and with it, rainbows over the waves.
I’ve taken my camera down to Coolangatta a couple of times, and last night snapped a few sunset shots after a fun surf session. There were dolphins out in the water bobbing lazily between paddling boarders, and not far off shore some huge whales splashed around. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished checking out the sunset it was too dark for the couple of shots I took of the whales to come out properly. But I hope you enjoy the Coolangatta photos below.
Over on Snowboarder Magazine’s website there are some shots of mine of Jeremy Burns from Falls Creek. It’s a nice little online profile, and I was glad that these shots from 2009 finally managed to see the light of day (see some of them below too). I’ve shot a couple times with Jez this last season, and there are sure to be some bangers of him in the mags next year. And we also have a fun little project in mind for overseas this coming winter. So stay tuned to Radman and Radical!
Changing topics, and getting back to one of my favourite issues, recently Coastalwatch ran an interview with a well-known surf and fashion photographer. Jason Reposar started out in graphic design, didn’t like a surf photo he had to turn into an ad, so picked up a camera and some film and shot his own ad…and the rest, as they say, is history. Coastalwatch’s article is a shortened version of a longer interview in a new online magazine called 18 Seconds, and omits some of his colourful past…and even more colourful quotes. For example, when asked about his favourite (photographic) subjects he replies: “Pussy, music and surf. If I wasn’t a photographer I’d still be interested in those three things.” I hear ya, Jason!
Reposar has some interesting things to say about the state of surf photography, the switch from film to digital, and the influx of new photographers under-cutting the pros and deflating the industry:
”With digital cameras and the explosion of surf photography, it’s become harder and harder to make a living from just surf photography. You’ve got all these kids now whose parents bought them a camera and they’re swapping their shots for clothes and empty promises. The magazines and clothing companies are taking full advantage of this. It’s really killed a lot of careers because some of the older guys who have been doing this for years and have families, are suddenly taking huge cuts in salary. They’re having to work harder for a lot less money…
I think that some of these new guys are killing off careers and sending really talented surf photographers to other areas of photography to make a living. Most importantly, they’re killing any chance of a career they might have by underselling images and poaching other photographers…
Why would a company pay $3,500 for a great photo when they can get a good one for a few t-shirts and a pair of boardies?….It’s the companies that I would hold responsible for controlling the pay rates. You can’t really blame an uneducated 18-year-old with a 600mm for trading shots for product. Maybe after they’re brought up to speed on this game you could, but what kid wouldn’t be stoked to get a shot in print?”
So in a lot of ways it sounds like a similar situation to snow photography: when you are willing to take photos for the pure love of it, it makes it tough on the guys who are also trying to make a living out of it. Now I just wish snowboard companies were willing to pay $3500 for a photo for one of their ads! I’ve discussed the issue of what a photo is worth, about a surf photo of mine being published in a newspaper for free, and about how to try and protect your digital images from being used and abused by companies that should know better. If you are interested, take a look at the blog entries here, here and here.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Reposar has some ideas about how to make it better for the pro photogs…and it’s quite similar to an idea a great Aussie snow photographer had a couple of years ago..a shame we couldn’t get it to take hold:
“It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it’s all fuelled by corporate greed. This is no surprise to me and I don’t think it should be any different. What should change is us… the photographers. We need to unify and create a union to provide security for ourselves. Make some guidelines for pricing, maybe some health insurance for the dangerous situations we have to put ourselves in. We should have some security for our families and most of all have some consequences which companies take up the arse when they get caught breaking the rules of the union.”
Just a quick entry this time – some film that I took a while ago and only remembered to get processed and scanned recently.
I took a little Minolta instamatic loaded with some Kodak ektachrome 100VS, and then got the film cross-processed at Prism Imaging in North Melbourne. What that means is, as this was slide (or transparency) film, it was processed using the normal C41 chemicals that the regular “negative” print film would be processed in. Naturally, the end result is a little bit of a gamble, and i’ve found that the type of slide film you use has a huge impact on the shots – some come out very pink tinged, others greenish or blue, and here, super contrasted, yet mostly naturalistic colours.
It’s interesting to compare the hit-or-miss nature of film, versus the digital shots I laboriously post-processed with Lightroom in my previous entry. You will see many of the shots are very similar in composition, as I was just walking around for an hour or so snapping away with both cameras I was carrying, and I sort of wanted to compare the end results.
And if you want to see more film and cross-processed shots I’ve taken, click here.
The last few times I’ve travelled overseas I’ve taken along one or two small(ish) Minolta instamatic film cameras. Maybe I’ve been inspired by Terry Richardson, or maybe I just want to have that little bit of doubt every time I take the camera out and the little flutter I get from gambling with the expected outcome.
Film is certainly a gamble. It used to be pretty bloody hard to get decent snowboard shots when you were working with slide film and not given the lattitide for exposure correction that regular negative film has (ie, in the processing of “regular” film into photos the lab can correct most minor mistakes you made in over or under-exposing your shots). Digital has made things even easier, with mistakes being able to be corrected in Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. (You may have noticed that ever since Himbrechts put me onto Lightroom I’ve used the preset colour/saturation/etc settings on many of my photos, just to make them a bit more interesting). But not only that, digital allows for the snowboard style police to instantly check a frame and make sure arms, body, head and grab are all the way they should be…and if not, it’s a hike up the hill for the rider and another attemt to “get the shot”.
So it’s nice to play around with film when the end result isn’t so important, like with my travel shots. And I’ve always liked to add an extra level of “gambling” on the outcome by putting in rolls of slide film and then getting it cross-processed in the chemicals normally used for regular negative film. Here you can see the outcome of only 2 rolls I shot on my travels. I thought I had snapped off more frames than a mere 72 in 9 weeks, but I guess digital is really taking over my life if the amount of shots taken on my little Sony Cybershot are anything to go by. You’ll probably recognise a fair bit of the same subject material from my previous posts – I often wanted to be able to compare the film to the digi shot.
If you are interested, the film I used here was Kodak Ektachrome 100VS, cross-processed and scanned lo-res at Vanbar Imaging in Carlton. And I’m not sure if the gamble paid off. I’m not so happy with all the end results – maybe I expected more? I dunno. Maybe next time I’ll take alond a Canon EOS5 film SLR with a cheap zoom lens and use that as my “Go-To” cross-process beast: it’s fairly compact (certainly much more so than my 2 EOS 1 bodies), it seemed to handle tricky exposures well, and I got a heap of published snowboard shots back in the day with it, so it has good memories.