Photos from DevDays, or “How I learned to live without a ‘real’ camera”

When I started packing for DevDays, I planned to bring my point-and-shoot camera with me, but as my packing got underway, I realized that the charger for that camera had gone missing. I was really bummed at first. After some swearing and several “it could be there” moments, I gave up. I decided that it would be a worthwhile experiment to pack only the camera I have with me every day: my iPhone.

And seeing as I was putting silly constraints on myself anyway, I would not only take the photos on my phone but also edit and share them from the phone. Time to put device convergence to the test.

The Tools

First and foremost, my iPhone 3Gs. I don’t think a lot of the image processing would be tolerable on older hardware. And, after a bit of informal research, the following apps:

  • Best Camera
  • Photogene
  • ColorSplash
  • TiltShiftGen

They cost about $10 altogether, so no big investment there if you decide you want to play around. For the super cost-conscious folks out there you can get by with just Best Camera and Photogene. ColorSplash and TiltShiftGen have much more niche uses, but they are pretty fun apps and can produce some cool results.

A Few Tips

After shooting, editing and tweeting for a few days, I ran into a few snags that can be overcome with some settings magic.

  • Make sure that Best Camera is set to save a copy of the original image to your photo library (Settings > Auto-Save Original > On)
  • Set the “Working Size” to “Original Size” in Best Camera (Settings > Working Size > Original Size)

The first setting allows you to completely replace your iPhone camera app if you are planning on shooting and editing at the same time. If you are shooting first and editing later, stick with the built-in camera app, it’s a bit snappier. The second setting ensures that your edited photos save at the same resolution as your originals. This is important if you plan to use them for something other than display on your iPhone, or sharing via Twitter.

The Results

Just to give you a better idea of the quality using default settings, I am using the on-phone compressed versions of the images in the gallery below. In general, the uncompressed images are better, but I haven’t synced all of them with my computer just yet. So, that show-and-tell will have to wait.

Conclusions

The limitations of the camera made me think about ways to get closer to my subjects, and I wound up with some pretty interesting photographs. The on-camera editing meant instant gratification whereas some pictures have languished on my compact flash cards for weeks before editing. It was kind of a game to take, edit, and share the photos (via Twitter) as quickly as possible. The prize being getting feedback from people that liked the photos just as quickly.

I was also more engaged with my surroundings. I find the when I have my SLR, I spend a lot of time looking through the lens and framing shots, adjusting settings, and just thinking about photography ‘stuff’. The act of taking a photograph engages a lot of the technical bits of my brain, and I lose some of the sense of being present. That was mitigated in a noticeable way shooting with a one button camera and editing with my thumbs.

The limitations of the iPhone took some of the pressure off and made for some happy accidents (the lights in the picture of the Pike Street Market). I did miss the fidelity of a really good camera for some of the photos, as well as the flexibility that good glass can bring to low-light shooting. In general though, I was happy to pay that price. In fact, I am seriously considering doing this again for my next trip to San Francisco to attend the Business of Software conference.

In remembrance of summer

All the leaves are turning and falling. I went back through my photos from this summer and found this one. It was about 80 degrees and a bit humid. I remember thinking, “It could be a little cooler, and this would be perfect.”

Unfortunately, the fall in the northeast has been rather yuck. Lots of cold rain. Not a lot of crisp clear fall days (my favorites). There is still some time left. Fall, don’t fail me!

Deep Breath

I can hardly believe that it has been three months, but hey, time flies when you have the best job of your (relatively short) career, and you are working with awesome people.

This summer was all about the new product we are making at the Creek. It was long hours, fights about features, bickering about color choices, moving the same pixels over and over, and just about the most fun I could ever imagine having at work.

My team also had the privilege of working with absolutely amazing interns. This group of kids, and I use the term lovingly, made a mad dash from a highly imperfect spec to an amazingly polished product in just three months. The team of old fogies (average age: 26) they left in their jet wash has spent the last few weeks cleaning it up and we are marching towards a closed beta in the near future (read: weeks).

I learned an incredible amount working on this project, and I hope to share a bunch of stories over the coming months. That is, of course, if I can find the time to organize these “learnings” into a few posts that I think could be helpful to anyone other than me (an audience of one isn’t so bad, I guess).

All this means that photography has taken a bit of a back seat, but I actually have taken a bunch of shots. They sit, unedited, on my computer at home just waiting for me to mold them into something fit for human consumption. My goal for the next 7 days is to get them edited and start posting any that I think are promising.

I have high hopes for the purported psychological motivation that comes from making a public promise…

Relay for Life

It is a bit last-minute in terms of planning, but I will be participating in the Relay for Life event in Yonkers on Friday night to help raise money for cancer research, treatment, and prevention. My participation was inspired by my Uncle Steve, a lung cancer survivor.

I am asking that anyone who can, head to http://is.gd/MrR3 and make a donation.

What is Relay for Life?

Teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Relays are an overnight event, up to 24 hours in length. Teams of people from all walks of life have fun while raising much-needed funds to fight cancer and raise awareness of cancer prevention and treatment.

More…

Anyone who donates$15 or more can email me or direct message me on Twitter and I will send you a free 8×10 of any of my photos on flickr. I have organized my most popular (or favorite) photos into a single group to help in the picking: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonrr/sets/72157604504206035/

If you don’t want to donate online, and you will be seeing me in the next few days, let me know and we can work something else out (I think I can whip up an offline donation form if you are tax conscious).

Thanks for your support!

West Point at Night

My new camera was enough inspiration to get out and take the night-time shots of West Point that I have been threatening to take for the last year or so. I shot these with my mono pod. Bad move. This kind of shooting requires a real-deal tripod. The results were really pleasing in their own way, however, and it gave me a chance to mess with the D300′s admirable arsenal of shooting tricks.

Here is another shot from the same series, with a different treatment.

Somewhere else

The Winooski river runs through the center of Montpelier, and the buildings that live right above it are hundreds of years old, in some cases. The thing that struck me after I took this, is that it seemed like it was somewhere else. New Orleans? It just breaks away from my comfy preconceived notions of what Vermont looks like.

Industrial

Ran across this old drain on a *mostly* defunct dam in the middle of the woods this weekend. For context, here is the “dam”:

A new take on an old photo

This is the HDR version of a black and white photo that I posted a while back. I appreciate both versions, but this one is so much more like I remember it.

Spring blossoms

We took an extended trip out today to get various things done. Phoebe accompanied us. Partly for her sake, and partly to make sure that we wouldn’t be tempted to go anywhere that doesn’t like dogs (nothing inside). It was pretty perfect.

Graveyard Sculpture

This was the first shoot in what I hope to be a series of location shoots around my area. There are a whole host of old cemeteries in the northeast with some rather amazing artwork in them. I am hoping to capture a bunch of images from them for a series on religious iconography.