This life in pictures.

In Which I Accidentally Show Envy for the iPhone

I don’t know what most photographers are prone to do, but I seldom walk through every moment of my day with a DSLR hanging from my shoulder. Would I love to have by my side a 50mm equivalent prime lens mounted on my E-600? Well, sure, but I don’t own that lens and the ones I do have are a bit bulky for the task.

In times past, I would have a crappy point and shoot in my pocket most of the time, and that would handle things pretty well, even if the shooting features were on the limited side. Once I got a camera-phone with an 8MP sensor, I knew the point and shoot days were over forever.

I had a ton of success doing a 365 project a year or so ago using a non-smart 2MP camera-phone, but I had to rely heavily on photoshop to help those images out, and at the end of the process, I was only left with a small image not fit for much other than web consumption. Evidence of this golden age can be found on my Flickr page in this general area. Sure, the project didn’t see a full 365 days, but I learned an awful lot about editing that summer… more than I would have shooting with a good camera, anyway.

When the time came to upgrade the phones at the end of last year, we jumped on a pair of refurbished Motorola DroidX’s that, while being a generation or so outdated, featured a huge screen, 8MP camera and access to the full array of Android apps. Would I rather have been an initiate in the Cult of the iPhone? Well, sure, but beggars really can’t be choosers and all that.

The biggest thing that excited me about this jump was finally being able to carry only one device that would cover all of the technological needs I might face in a given day. The image quality was near the same as my point and shoot, so that got shelved.

The Second surge of excitement came when I realized how easily I could shoot, edit, then upload without ever having to move the image to the computer. There are dozens of great camera and editing apps available in the Android appstore (some of which I will review as time goes on). Sure, my rate of posting to Flickr may have gone down, but I was still posting to Facebook almost daily.

Then, one summer afternoon, I ran across an iPhone Cultist who was extolling the virtues of his wondrous device and all of the photographic glory it could unleash. I absolutely hated admitting that I had an inferior product, but he could do more with a single free app than I could do with six. I have since culled together a set of apps that give me an acceptable level of creative control, but I’ve always felt on the outside looking in when it came to Instagram. As an Android user, I am without access.

While I am still waiting for the gates to open, I have found an Android alternative in the guise of Molo.me (yes, I cheated that to my own page). It’s not quite as cool and doesn’t have all of the features that Instagram boasts, but it does have built in filters and a worldwide community. The  interface is a bit on the clunky side, and you have to finagle the filter system in order to stack effects and there’s no way to fine tune, well, anything. You can import straight from your phone’s gallery, however, which means you can edit away in any other app(s) and then import.

The social aspect is what makes the whole process worthwhile. Sure, while there are plenty of Southeast Asian high school girls uploading snap after snap of nonsense, there are some true photographers sharing quality work. The thing you really need to be aware of, however, are the re-bloggers. These social parasites have infected every corner of the internet, and Molome is not immune. It doesn’t take too long to separate the wheat from the chaff, though.

So, now we get to the reason why I sat down to write in the first place… today’s photo:

The reason I got on the Molome and camera-phone tangent in the first place is that I shot this specifically for upload to Molome. My (nearly) 4 year old daughter has a healthy obsession a big bucket of plastic animals she got for Christmas. She’s been carrying these two giraffe figures around all week, but today they ended up like this on the kitchen table. I liked how the strong shadows were being cast and how the angle of the giraffes’ necks were playing against the grain of the countertop.

I edited this photo entirely in the Molome app. The first step is cropping to a square format. Like Instagram, Molome is for squares. On my first pass, I applied the “Auto-level” filter. Pushing the “next” button saves a copy to the Molome folder on the phone, which allows you to back out of the upload before committing to sharing. I loaded the new version and repeated the process, first adding the “vignette” filter, then “Slide Film”. As I’ve said before, I add vignette to almost everything (post soon, promise!) and I liked how contrasty the  B&W effect made the overall photo. Plus, I like adding some sort of quirky border to this sort of thing, so two birds and a stone. On the third and final pass, I entered a title and hit the share button.

There you have it, sort of a review, sort of a tutorial, sort of a nearly thousand word diatribe on living with an inferior camera-phone. I do pledge to do more shooting with a real camera this week so we can just avoid the whole mess in the future. Thanks for sticking around if you’re still here.

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Digital Gridlock and the Lost Art of Printing Snapshots « jedwardferguson

  2. Pingback: And Then There Was Aviary « jedwardferguson

  3. Pingback: Instagram for Android?!? I’d Rather Not « jedwardferguson

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