More smartphone experimentation











I'm not sure how long this disenchantment with the whole camera / lens comparing and photographic internet gear chatter will last, but yesterday was the first time I've ever gone out to take pictures without taking what I might call a 'real' camera with me. I only took my Blackberry and quite deliberately intended to concentrate on creating pictures without all the BS involved with worrying about lens choice and achieving optimum image quality. I knew I wouldn't be getting the same sharpness, low noise and resolution that I normally strive so hard to achieve, but the idea was to make sure I got something interesting in the squares that my Blackberry produces. I was also using far from the best smartphone available. My Q10 pictures are OK and in fact look very like 35mm film scans but they aren't really that great, I know that. I do however like those squares, I like the colour and above all I like the simplicity, the limited choices and the fact that for the first time in a long while I'm actually concentrating totally on the images I'm creating.

Because my creative choices are VERY limited. I can frame the picture, make sure it's in focus and press the button. That's it. It's so pared down to the bare essentials it's liberating. This 'camera' has none of the sophistication of many smartphones in terms of picture taking, but it does what it needs to. Exposure is 100% spot on and for a 4.1mm lens with no real pedigree it's actually relatively distortion free. I've been thinking about the Samsung K Zoom but I might just stick with this. 

I'm not really sure why, but I've been getting slowly but surely more and more disinterested in the gear and brand focused irrelevance of the photographic internet. And yes I know this is nothing new, but the whole process of constant new product launches, disappointing upgrades, irrelevant tech. gadgetry and the whole tone of the review sites, the rumour sites and the forums has made me want to take a step back from it all, forget about the fact that every camera I've owned has been a disappointment in some way and go back to the reason that I became a photographer in the first place. To create pictures from what I see in the world around me.

And you can't get more basic than a 6MP image creating device that shoots squares. 

Now next week I could well be back doing what I've done for years, but at the moment this gear de-tox is what I need. I'm also playing around with the images as well. Converting to black and white here, adding some vignetting there, pretty much whatever takes my fancy. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the idea is get it done, get the pictures uploaded, move on. 

And I have to say, it's a pleasure to do this. And very satisfying. It's eye, brain and hand. The technicalities, such as they are, are taken care of. All I have to do is make sure my batteries charged and that's pretty much the end of my non-artistic, aesthetic choice input. Everything else is down to me. What I see, what I want to record, what I want to create. 

It's an experiment sure and I'm doing it in places that I know well and have photographed extensively, but again that's the beauty of this. It's an attempt to see beyond what I've seen before. Can I produce something fresh from environments that I've photographed time and time again? And sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. The real interest is in seeing if I can. 

I've written recently about wanting to stop being a photographer for a while, but still wanting to make pictures and also that I've been 'playing it safe' to a large extent for some time. Now of course a lack of sales of what I'm shooting may make me decide enough is enough, but at the moment I'm having a great time going back to basics. And whether this is just a passing fancy or whether it leads to any kind of a 'new direction', it's something I needed to do. And whether or not it leads to some interesting pictures or a load of embarrassing c**p, at least it's all down to me and not the complex technological achievements of an electronics corporation halfway across the world.

And for most people, a basic, not that great camera function on a mobile phone made by a company who are on the verge of going bust may not be their first choice to create photographs with, but for me at this moment in time, it will do just fine.  

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