Further iPad camera explorations and ruminations . . . Now with inanimate objects.
I’m quickly coming to the realization that the form factor of an iPad is really no more strange as an image-capture device than an old-school view camera. In fact, ergonomically it’s actually probably less strange, but also less familiar. And there, I suspect is the basis for nearly all that makes it seem ‘strange’. Truth is, most of us will get over any aversions we harbor toward the iPad camera’s differentness pretty quickly as we work with it a while, especially as we fall in love with some of the beautiful images it affords us. But like any other new camera or image-capture medium, you know there will be some who will inevitably need to step atop their soapboxes and with great surety and passion bemoan all that is wrong with making pictures in this godfersaken, newfangled-ish way. I imagine it was the same with Polaroid when it first arrived on the scene. For these bleating naysayers, defining themselves by the negative space has always been deemed, in and of itself an act of high art. Sometimes it is the only act of art they are qualified to render up. (Think bacon grease, here). Don’t let them sway you, my friends. Try making pictures for yourself and let the results be your guide.
This is the very first photo I made with the new iPad, hand holding it an inch above the soggy ground while peering at its glossy screen from an awkward, bent-over vantage on my hands and knees. It's not exactly an award winner, but on that chilly March morning, and despite all the things about it that were clumsy, I definitely felt I could see some potential.
The first step for me was shooting a few handheld, snapshot-y type photos with the iPad and discovering just how good the camera’s lens actually was when combined with the Camera+ app’s precise exposure and focus controls. These first few pics made the creative lightbulb come on for me, which left me then wanting to try more deliberate sorts of pictures . . . pictures that actually gave that camera, in its strange, print-sized shape, a chance to really shine. It did.
First thing on the list: I needed a way to attach the darn thing to a tripod.
I looked at several iPad holders of various over the top prices and goofball designs, and finally settled on one of the simplest and surprisingly, least expensive that I had seen, The NOOTLE tripod mount at www.grifiti.com. Here’s a look at their page …
Simple, affordable and elegant. Just put your iPad into the snug fitting holder, attach it to a 1/4 20 threaded tripod head and you are ready to take your iPad photography to the next level. Literally.
A few days after ordering it, my new nifty Nootle arrived along with a bonus, free, Big Ass, (yep, real name), rubber band and an actual, hand-written thank you note. I immediately liked these people!
This single tulip in a hanging vase on my back door was my first tripod-stabilized photo on the iPad, prior to finding a suitable holder. Here, I merely rested the iPad atop a tripod head and held it as level and steady as possible. The image was shot and processed with the very groovy, Camera+ app. It's simple elegance convinced me that the camera was more than worthy, and that I really needed to either buy or build a hands-free holder to free me up for further photo explorations with it.
I can’t say that the iPad has become my ‘go to’ camera at this stage, but I can report that it has been winning me over a little more each time I use it. Mostly I use it for other things, like during workshops and shoots as a place to import photos shot with other cameras in order to include others in the discussion and viewing process. When hooked up to a projector, the iPad allows all of the participants in a workshop to view each others’ assignment image captures along with a show-and-tell classroom critique about what works and what doesn’t quite work in individual shots. On photo shoots, I find that being able to import a few photos from the camera to demonstrate to the subject what we’re getting on camera, or to stimulate a more informed discussion with the art director can really shorten the learning curve substantially, delivering us far more efficiently to our goal line.
But I digress. We’re here to talk about the iPad as camera, and more specifically, to explore the other half of that team of two photos I shot a few days ago and posted up together: Consider yourself reminded.
Here’s how the still life of those beautiful, maroon and gold, ‘Holden Clough’ iris looked straight out of the camera: clean, sharply focused and saturated with delicious color.
Shot on the iPad in Camera+ and unretouched, but for cropping a bit off the top.
As you can see, I tried warming up the colors in this early variation of the original. And though I do like it, I quickly became convinced that it feels much to warm and contrasty to serve as a suitable companion for the portrait I was matching it up with.
Over time, one learns that the best solution for a problem is not always the prettiest solution … or the most true. It feels as if to work side-by-side with the antique-looking portrait, this still life needs to feel cooler, more blue tones and cyans… and it needs to feel as if it is more of a long-ago memory, softened and faded by time.
I've added a white border to frame the image and curve its edges, but honestly, I think I've over-adjusted the color palette. This feels too blue and it is still too contrasty to imply the faded effects of time. Let's save this step and then run it through the app one more time.
Having added the curved-edge white border to set off the photo and provide enough white space to add the flower’s Latin nomenclature beneath it (we’ll add this later in Photoshop), it occurs to me that we need yet another level of ‘frame’ for the picture to finish it. I add that touch, still working in the Camera+ app, by adding a styled border called “Vintage”, then save it and run it through one more time to tweak the colors.
By tweaking the color palette and lowering the contrast, and then slightly blurring the edges of the white-matted image before adding that final 'Vintage' frame, I finally come to a place that feels quieter and softer than the original, as shot, a faded, patina-ed place that feels like it belongs to another era. The color palette isn't precisely consistent with the portrait image, which actually pleases me. I don't want it to feel like somebody's mother laid out a perfectly matching outfit for him to wear to school. In this case, I like the tension of color palettes that are not quite in tonal sync., but at least in the same neighborhood. Good enough for today's playtime.
Once I’d gotten to the soft, cool look you see above, I saved the image and then opened both it and the self-portrait in Photoshop, where I gave the portrait its own frame, butted the two pictures together and added copyright notices and the storytelling typography elements. Lots of steps. Lots of ‘practice’. And for what? Love? Money? Nada, unfortunately, on both counts. It could just be that I’m nuts.
Ahh well, at least I’m constantly stretching myself, join’ out there on the limb, where the fruit grows. At least I’m trying things, experimenting and giving myself permission to play, and fail, and grow.
I’m hoping you’ll be able to glean something for your own creative ventures from this journal. If you’d like to workshop with me to develop your own iPad photographic workflow, stay tuned. I am working on the elements necessary for both a lecture and a workshop on the topic, and you would, of course, be most welcome to attend.