Sunday, February 19, 2012

Phoneography, Part 1: Introduction

Sunlit Tree In Winter - Palmdale, California
Phoneography is a made up term for photographs taken with--and post-processed on--a cell phone. It is the digital equivalent of lomography.
Trees, Clearing Storm - Palmdale, California
Anyone can be a phoneographer. Pretty much everybody has a cell phone, and pretty much all cell phones have a built-in camera. There are numerous free applications--or Apps--that can be used to post-process the images. Likely, you already have everything you need.
Caps On Brick Wall - Palmdale, California
What makes phoneography fun is that, within minutes of taking the image, you can have a finished photograph that can be shared quickly. It is kind of like a Polaroid camera, except you have much more control over the final image and it can be easily sent--via e-mail, text, Facebook, etc.--to people across the world.
Communication Towers - Palmdale, California
And it's not just all fun and games. Phoneography can be serious. Greg Schmigel has a pretty impressive portfolio of cell phone photographs. Chase Jarvis has a published book of iPhone photographs. The New York Institute Of Photography offers courses on the subject. And photographer Damon Winter prefers to use his cell phone to capture the war in Afghanistan.
Pink Lemonade - Tehachapi, California
A cell phone camera can be a serious photographic tool when placed in the hands of a skilled photographer. That's because the camera you use doesn't matter--either you can create great photographs or you can't, and the tool you use to create them makes little or no difference.
Two Trees, Clearing Storm - Palmdale, California
My cell phone is a Samsung Galaxy S, which I got for free with a two-year contract. It has 5 megapixels on a very tiny sensor.
Brick Pillars - Tehachapi, California
Most images from this camera have enough resolution that I could make 8" x 10" (or 8" x 12") prints. Some images only have enough resolution for 5" x 7" prints. A few have enough resolution for 11" x 14" (or 11" x 17") prints, just as long as the photographs would not be viewed closer than from three feet away.
Boy Sharing Napkins - Tehachapi, California
Since most photographs are never printed larger than 8" x 10", it's no big deal that 8" x 10" (or 8" x 12") is pretty much the limit for photographs from this camera.
Paper Saw Blade - Palmdale, California 
I post-process the images on my phone using one of several free applications (or Apps). Post-processing right on the phone is one of the great advantages of phoneography, especially if you are traveling.
Pipes - Palmdale, California
My favorite App is Pixlr-O-Matic, which is quick, easy to use, and gives good results. Most importantly, Pixlr-O-Matic doesn't downsize the image, which most Apps (at least the free ones) seem to do.
Wood Crate - Palmdale, California
Another App I use is PicsArt, which has a lot of features and gives you a lot of control, but (for whatever reason) downsizes the images by half when you save the file.
Life Lifeless - Palmdale, California
After that, my App of choice is Adobe Photoshop Express, which has some features that the other Apps don't have, but unfortunately it downsizes the images by about 75% when you save the file.
Small Canal - Palmdale, California
I don't understand why these Apps downsize the images. Even so, most images edited with PicsArt can still be printed as large as 8" x 10" (or 8" x 12"), and about half of those edited with Photoshop Express can be printed that large. That's because most files contain some information that doesn't directly translate to the viewed or printed image. It's similar to what MP3 does to a music file. Still, when you are dealing with somewhat low resolution (5 megapixels), you want as much data in that file as possible.
Stairway Down - Palmdale, California
I still have a few more Apps that I'd like to try, but with those three mentioned above can do everything that I'd like to do plus much more.
Pathways - Palmdale, California
All of the photographs in this post were made using the Galaxy S, which arrived in the mail seven days ago. I've had a lot of fun so far, and I'm sure that fun will continue.
Train Around Bend - Tehachapi, California
What I've decided to do is create a series on Phoneography. It will include my photographs, links to other phoneographers with amazing images, information on Apps, and details on the creative process. This post is the first installment.
High - Tehachapi, California
My goal is for this to be a weekly installment, so check back often. If you like cell phone photography, you may even want to "follow" me.
Firepit - Kernville, California
In the following photographs, I'll discuss some of the creative process in creating the images. Most were taken at the Whiskey Flats celebration in Kernville, California.
Back Lit Teepee - Kernville, California
This photograph was not actually back lit, as a study of the shadows will tell. The sun flare was added in post-processing. Also, regarding the border I chose, I didn't notice the film sprocket holes, and they are not oriented the correct way. It's a good lesson that with digital you have to be careful to keep the image believable. That is, unless you purposefully don't want it believable.
Pony In The Woods - Kernville, California
I added color saturation and contrast to make the image "pop" more. I also added some vignetted to draw the viewer's attention away from the edges. I like borders--when I printed my own photographs many years ago almost all of my images had borders--and the Apps I use make it easy to add them
Old West Girl - Kernville, California
I wanted this photograph to appear old. Perhaps some sepia toning would have added to the effect.
Little Girl, Big Drum - Kernville, California
I used vignetting to draw the eyes away from the edges.
Potluck - Kernville, California
Vignetting and a narrow depth-of-field (created later in post-processing) keep the eyes on the central subject and away from the distractions. Note that this border is orientated the wrong way. That's what happens when I'm not paying close enough attention to what I'm doing.
Belt And Spinning Wheel - Kernville, California
Again, vignetting and a narrow depth-of-field draw the eye to the center and away from the edges.
Buffalo Bill - Kernville, California
I really like the colors and tones of this image. Sometimes you have to play around with that in post-processing to get it the way you want it. Bill, the guns, the flag and the banner were carefully placed. You have to pay attention to the whole scene and make sure everything is where you want it.
Chevrolet Apache - Kernville, California
I wanted this photograph to look like it was from the 1960's or 1970's. I toned the image and added light leak effects and scratches to give it an old appearance.
Lake Isabella - Lake Isabella, California
I gave this image a warm, redish tone so that it would have the feel that I wanted.
Construction Signs - Kernville, California
I increased the contrast and saturation to make this image "pop" more.
Old Organ - Bodfish, California
I used vignetting to draw the eyes away from the edges.
Freezer Door Handle And Lock - Bodfish, California
Again, I placed the sprocket holes in the wrong place because I wasn't paying close attention to what I was doing. On this image it might actual work as it adds some uneasiness that increases the drama in what would normally be a unassuming scene.
Horse Eye And Bridle - Kernville, California
I increased contrast and color saturation to make this image "pop" more. I also added vignetting to keep the viewer away from the edges.

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