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State of images

With the emergence of smartphones, we are producing more photographs than ever. We’re photographing our food, our daily lives, anything – and sharing them with our Facebook friends, giving everyone a glimpse of what we had for lunch or how silly our dog looked today.

According to Flickr, the two most popular cameras are smartphones. And it’s easy to see why – They are usually super easy to use, allowing for quick snapshots without any tweaking. And since we have them with us, carrying a separate camera becomes somewhat redundant.

The convenience is unparalleled, as the devices are also able to handle transferring the images to our services, and we can have our snapshots appear in Facebook, email or online gallery just seconds after they were taken.

With this transformation, we’ve become instant reporters. The effect is felt also with our demand for up-to-date information. Images from an important event should be seen now, not tomorrow.

We’re not so conscious about the overall quality of the image, but produce them is mass quantities. Occasionally we get agitated about the absence of images, and our habits reflects this – along with phrases like this:

“PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN”
- EVERYONE

Looking at the previous, my new DSLR seems fairly limited. It cannot access the net, and the images it produces are huge anyhow and their transfer would take ages. Moreover, they need to be tweaked before displaying them – I need my computer for post processing them, before I have a JPG version ready for the world to see. It cannot automatically geotag the photos, either. It’s bulky and complex.

It’s clear that larger cameras leave smartphones in the dust when it comes to image quality. The gap is closing a bit a as new devices, such as Nokia’s 808, rival point-and-shoot compacts. The smartphone caters for those looking for convenience, but if you wish to retouch the images later on, you find the lack of quality sometimes a real handicap. If the quality issue didn’t exist, our newspaper images would have been shot with smartphones for a long time already.

In versatility a DSLR remains unbeaten. The ability to change lenses and use the various settings precisely affects everything. The control over the images produced is quite different from that of smartphones or compacts.

The below photo was taken in Sicily at dawn. Looking at it, I can remember the smell of salt at the seashore, and hear the distant rumbling of those thunderclouds. I watched those two rain fronts steadily drift towards that mountain, before heading back for breakfast.

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Nikon D800 with 16-35mm f/4 at f10, ISO100, from 1/40 to 1/160 sec.

It is a HDR composure of three RAW-images, stitching them on top of one another to combine the light areas into a single image with a huge range of colors. I was able to process it only when I got home a few days later. Producing it took  about one hour and a really large cup of coffee. I can remember smiling a lot while looking at the result. For an amateur, I was really happy with the result.

It’s not as much the preparations a photo needs, but the entire journey of creating it. A pro photographer Chase Jarvis has said “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. No matter what kind of camera you have, trying to make the best out of it is rewarding.

And who knows, it might turn into a serious hobby. For me, photography is mostly about telling stories.

9 thoughts on “State of images

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