I admit I’ve been a snob about photos made using cell phones. Part of it has always been the rather low image quality, and the other part was the huge numbers of images made with little or no thought. Well, I’ve changed my opinion on both counts.
As the ubiquity of the “bad” images, while I still see many as just plain terrible, mindless wastes of storage space, I also recognize they are often important in some way to those who press the button. I’m amazed at how so many people use them as a means of immediate communication, sometimes supplemented with text but more often demonstrating the truly immense power of a picture, even if not a great one viewed on a tiny screen. In particular I thank my wife and daughter for helping me shift my opinion.
Of course we are also now seeing some really fabulous images coming out of these more-and-more sophisticated cameras. When I was at Sam Jaffe’s recent show of caterpillars, he showed me a remarkably simple piece of technology, Easy-Macro, basically a rubber band with a small, plastic macro lens embedded in it. I just stretch it over my phone, center the lens on the phone’s camera lens, and, voila, suddenly I’ve got a closeup lens.
Here are a photograph of Black-eyed Susan made with an iPhone 5 without the lens, typical of the millions of photos “snapped” each day on phones of all kinds:
Add the lens and, even hand-held, this is what things begin to look like quite interesting:
When I take that image and crop part of it in LightRoom, here are the results:
While still not great photographs compared to what I’d get with better close-up equipment, a tripod and a RAW image file, I’m fascinated to think about what can happen with something I often have in my pocket. It all may lead to yet more crummy phone photos, this time unrecognizably close up, but it may also prove both useful and, with care and luck, artistic!