This is a shot I sent to Instagram last Monday night, while I was walking as the night was falling. I was attracted to how the dark blue in the sky was gradually turning black.
I took the photo along Military Road, near Government House, as I was heading to Bannerman Park to meet up with Nick's Scout group as they finished an "urban hike" around the neighbourhood. It was a great evening for it.
I snapped this picture yesterday after Nick and I got our hair cut and had a snack, before heading home. Everything was too blue not to notice (it was also very, very cold), so I headed to a corner of the harbourfront, just kitty-corner to the Fortis Building.
A corner, of course, that is currently bound by a temporary fence which remains open much of the year. That will change if/when a new permanent fence is built, at least as disclosed.
I walked right into not one but two spiderwebs this morning while I was clearing up some deadwood around the property and tossing it on the pile of tropical storm Leslie remnants. The spiderweb above, though, was one I spotted a few days ago, growing on the pole by the fire hydrant near our house. It was too remarkable not to stop and admire.
The image above was run through an Instagram filter to bring out the detail of the webbing.
[Surfs Up, as published in the St. John's Telegram on Feb. 2, 2012.]
Last fall, I was talking to a friend of mine who has a talent for photography that I’ve long admired, if not envied. I asked if he had gone out for any expeditions lately with his camera.
“Not quite,” he said. He revealed that he had been leaving his camera at home most of the time, and had instead been playing with the camera in his phone.
I don’t think he’s alone. The little Nikon point-and-click that has often been my companion on walks around St. John’s now mostly sits neglected by the dish that holds loose change.
Instead, I’ve been content – far more than content, really – with what I can get out of my iPhone. I’ve often been able to do with my phone what I use my camera for (namely, a quick snap on the fly), so why carry something extra?
As well, there’s been an explosion in photo-focused apps that together are changing the very nature of digital photography. So much so that the phrase “iPhoneography” has been popping up all over, and not just as a hashtag. For some, it’s their key hobby, if not obsession.
This column is largely about the iPhone. Apologies to the Android community – I just don’t know enough about how those cameras work, although I do notice a growing number of Android apps are coming on the market. I’ve also been using BlackBerry phones for years, by the way, and while the BB camera technology has improved, I think one of the key reasons that Research in Motion lost market share is because the BlackBerry produces pictures that simply, to put it mildly, pale in comparison to the competition.
The iPhone quietly celebrated its fifth anniversary in January (Steve Jobs unveiled the concept in 2007), but the camera in the iPhone 4, which came out in the summer of 2010, is what really transformed mobile photography. The quality was a huge leap forward, and combined with an endless array of mobile sharing (users send their pictures to endless social networks, in real time), iPhoneography took off.
Yes, the quality on a phone is inferior to an SLR – but often that’s not the point. The mobile priorities are speed, social and creativity.
This week, we look at some apps that help improve and transform your pictures, and may change how you see the world (and yourself). First, a note about just how dramatically the marketplace is changing. When I checked earlier this week, there were more than 5,600 separate apps listed in the iTunes store’s photo and video category. In the last week alone, more apps were released than anyone would ever need. Remarkable.
Here are some things on my own phone. Get in touch – johngushue @ gmail.com will do the trick – with your own favourites.
Instagram: I like this free app so much I wrote a whole column about it a while back. I’m still enthralled. It’s fun, it’s social, it’s brilliant. Pick a filter that changes/distorts the picture, and see how a mundane shot can instantly pop. Build a network of other users; I have contacts down the street and around the world, together bringing me dazzling perspectives.
Camera+: Don’t forget that plus sign when you go looking for this excellent app. For just $2, you get a photo assistant that does many of the things that a powerful photo editor (think Photoshop) can accomplish. Is the lighting too bright or too weak? Select one of the options in the edit function, and see how adjusting the levels can save a pic. Brilliant.
NightCap: I’ve been using this $1 app a lot lately for strolls in the evening, and have been loving how night-time images – usually the bane of phone photography – have been coming alive.
Pixlr-o-Matic: Like Instagram, Pixlr-o-Matic is a free app that uses filters to distort your pic – although distort is not a fair word. There are several steps here. Pick an effect first, then select an overlay, and then choose a border. The combinations are mind-boggling. Some of them are butt-ugly, but playing around with a shot can produce very cool results. Have fun with it.
SketchMe: Instantly transform a photo into what looks like a drawing. Very cool, although some photos definitely work better than others. Not bad for a buck!
Diptic: I love this one. Named after a diptych, or a two-piece work of art, Diptic allows you to put two, three or more photographs together, quickly and easily, into something that you’ll want to print or at least share. Not bad for a dollar. Think of it as a great way to make the most of family or vacation shots. I’ve been astonished at how quickly I can make something that would take quite a bit longer in Photoshop.
Photosynth: I use this app to make 360-degree panoramas. It’s a breeze to figure out, and the results can be remarkable. One I took of the New York skyline was a great memento. Best part? It’s free.
Pocketbooth: This $1 app turns your phone into a photobooth – and an old-school one at that. Four quick snaps are made, producing what looks like a thin, black-and-white strip like the kind you’d get at the mall. A fun novelty item.
That’s it for now. There are others I’ve been using, some of which will find their ways into upcoming columns.
John Gushue is a digital editor with CBC News in St. John’s. Twitter: @johngushue.
Years before he began directing films (and he was rather young when that career started), Stanley Kubrick had been taking photographs around New York City, developing an eye for the visually striking and learning how to compose a frame.
I noticed this image on my Tumblr feed: a photo of U.S. Airlines flight attendants - and make no mistake, they were definitely called stewardesses then - displaying uniforms from the 1940s into the 1970s. It'd be interesting to see the intervening 30-odd years, too.
I snapped this last night as we drove along the harbour, one of a series of rapid exposures. I liked how this one turned out by chance, catching a bit of the evening sun and the vibrancy of crowds downtown on a summer's night.
Tonight, it's rainy and overcast ... and a reminder of how wonderful Monday evening's sunset was from Topsail Beach. We had gone out to watch Twelfth Night in the Shakespeare By The Sea festival. The play was fine, but they sure had a distracting backdrop!
We've been calling it Fogust, Fogtober, Augember ... all to express the idea that the weather so far this month, like much of the summer, has been unseasonably cold.
Here's a brief slideshow of the grey weather we've been having. I try to make a screengrab every day of the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador webcam, which is attached to the fourth floor of The Rooms. This gallery also includes a couple of shots of the skies in the city, which have more often than not been overcast or filled with fog.
The other night I noticed that the light of the sun as it started setting was striking the leaves in just the right way. In the movies, it's called the golden hour: an all-too-brief period when the light really seems kind of golden. I stopped to get a snap of the leaves over my head.
Rocket Bakery opened a couple of months ago on Water Street in St. John's, in the space left vacant when Janet Kelly wrapped up her retailing career and Auntie Crae's sold. The new spot involves two people who have been deeply involved in the downtown business scene, Kim Winsor of Johnny Ruth and Dave Hopley of Living Planet. Rocket Bakery's main calling card is its array of baked goods, which are, well, out of this atmosphere. They also sell prepared foods, coffees and imported goods; we had a chat several weeks ago with Kim about the items they're planning to bring in. I have to say I'm intrigued.
Here are some snaps I took during a recent visit. [If the slideshow does not play properly in your browser, you can see the images in this set on my Flickr stream.]
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.