Shooting pictures has been a way of life for me almost as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. Well, for the most part. There have been stretches … Long stretches, where the need and desire to create images was short-circuited by whatever else was going on in life. Times when, after reaching a fairly high set of technical and aesthetic standards for my work, the planning and infrastructure (film, cameras, processing, darkroom) became too much of a burden to fit into the go-go, rush-rush, of life at the time.
Even now, with the transition to high-quality DSLRs and Adobe Lightroom-based workflow, hauling all of that Nikon gear around is just too much for most daily situations, but the iPhone is opening up a new set of opportunities for creating images in a fast, fun, and creatively fulfilling way.
The iPhone has become my go-to camera for almost all daily situations and, with the help of a few apps, given me a creative outlet that offers quick image acquisition, fast processing, and almost instant access to an audience via social media apps such as flickr, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.
On a recent day trip out to The Warehouse Café, a local legend of a biker bar in Port Costa, CA., I shot exclusively with the iPhone, using Lisa Bettany’s Camera+ app, and TiltShift Generator from Art and Mobile, to process the results.
Camera+ offers a complete workflow for the iPhone, including everything from image stabilization to compositing FX (My favorite is the fake HDR effect, seen in many of these Port Costa photos.) Camera+ also integrates directly with a variety of social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.
My usual workflow, after processing the image within Camera+, is to upload the photo to my Flickr account and share it with other sites from there … This way all of my social networking sites link back to my main Flickr portfolio. Camera+ allows you to add image tags, captions, descriptions, and select a destination set in your Flickr gallery…The metadata tools are pretty powerful.
TiltShift Generator is another useful app that simulates a parallax-correction, or Tilt-Shift lens (e.g., a PC-Nikkor, or a Lensbaby), and allows you to control color saturation, contrast, blur, and vignetting. It’s best feature is the Tilt-Shift effect, and really the only reason I would jump out of Camera+ to do additional processing.
The one downside of this workflow is that TiltShift Generator loses all of your location, and other, metadata during the round trip, which is not good if you like to geo-tag your photos in Flickr.
Quite often I’ll save out several different images out of Camera+ and re-import them, adding additional effects along the way. The results can be very surrealistic, and take on a painterly quality. Part of the fun for me is twisting the original, photorealistic images into stark, and often dramatic, forms. Some might call it abusing the images, but there is something I find gratifying about the results.
It’s not about necessarily the quality of the images, in normal technical, and aesthetic terms, but using the iPhone to create a form of expression that is both immediate and visually compelling.
As a photographer who can’t always haul a lot of gear around, the iPhone allows you to both travel light and remain creative, and keep yourself in the game.