I saw remarkable and moving photographs today, culled from the front page of the New York Times. They were taken in the field by Pulitzer prize-winning war photographer Damon Winter in Afghanistan of the U.S. First Battalion, 88th Infantry. That explains why they were moving. The remarkable part is that they were taken on a SmartPhone using Hipstamic.
Hipstamatic is a digital photography application for the Apple iPhone. It allows the user to shoot square photographs and choose filters to make images look like they were taken with an antique analog camera. It works. Remarkably. hipstamatic.com/ I wrote about this and other great apps for SmartPhones on a previous blog, http://linda-rosenbaum.blogspot.com/2011/02/happy-snapps.html Honestly, if you have the least bit of interest in photography, check these apps out.
Seeing those photos was all I needed to kickstart my desire to learn more about digital photography. If Winter could do that with an iPhone, I should be able to do something with my point-and-shoot. Surely.
I saw Winter’s photos during a five-hour workshop I took today, basically a Point and Shoot for Dummies at a place called Pikto in downtown Toronto http://www.pikto.com/. I needed every second of it. Up until a few years ago, I would have called myself a serious photographic hobbiest. Maybe even a photographer. I filmed only in black and white, developed my images in a darkroom, even had a few shows of my work. My specialty was hand-colouring the black and white photos, mostly landscapes, gardens and botanicals.
Well, that was then. The world changed. I did not.
When it was all-too-obvious that the tides had turned and digital was the state-of-the-art, I had no choice. I succumbed. I waited as long as I could, but eventually gave away my SLR and bought a point-and-shoot. I was traveling to Israel, and thought it would be good to take a camera. I never learned a thing about it, before, during or after the trip. I took one or two decent shots.
That was three years ago, and I’ve barely taken a picture since. Partially, because I’m a technophobe and don’t do well learning how machines work. I know it sounds silly, but my body really does tighten up when I hear terms like mega pixels, raw files, ISO, .TIF, DPIs and bit depths.
So I just stopped taking pictures. I wasn’t that interested in shooting color and didn’t know how to shoot b&w with the digital. Nor did I know what type of digital printing papers were appropriate, if any, for hand-painting. The surface of the paper has to have very specific properties to ‘receive’ oil paints and water colors. I knew nothing about the new papers.
The workshop was a success. Great teacher. I still have a lot of playing around to do with my camera, and have yet to master all the settings that can improve my shots. Who knew there were so many options. Not me, but I did have a hunch.
My husband and I are often in the same place taking pictures. I, of course just hold up my camera and shoot, whereas he’s always fiddling with the camera and seems to take, IMHO, forever. ‘Get on with it’, I’m thinking. And, guess whose pictures look good and whose don’t. Those stops and whistles must do something, I guess.
So I took the course. I was impressed with myself. But even more impressive is what I did when I came home. I found my instruction manual and actually read a few pages. Enough to know how to change my ISO, use the flash for infill and learn the maximum distance I can be when using my macro setting. Who knows what might be next.
All this may mean little to you non-photographers. So let me explain: You can indeed teach an old horse new tricks. And rekindle flames for a lost love (of the photographic kind).
Please stay tuned. I hope to share on of my new photos with you on this blog. Until then, enjoy Damon Winter’s photographs.
And lest we forget, take a look at the old b&w film masters too.
One last thing. A picture from the Israel trip: A ritual hand-washng urn.