Tag Archives: Canon 5D Mark ii

Supermoon

Supermoon. Cache la Poudre Canyon, Colorado, 2014.

Supermoon.
Cache la Poudre Canyon, Colorado, 2014.

I don’t go out of my way to photograph the moon, and I certainly don’t buy in to the “supermoon” mania that seems to sweep the media every time we have a supermoon event (for those who don’t know, a supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth, this according to my favorite non-authoritative source of knowledge, Wikipedia).  Still, if I’m out photographing and the moon happens to wander its way into my frame, I’m happy to work it into the composition.

This basically is what happened a couple of weeks ago during our most recent supermoon.  I was driving down Colorado Highway 14 in Cache la Poudre Canyon, just happened to glance out the driver’s side window, and saw this scene coming together along the ridge at the top of the canyon walls.  So, I pulled over the vehicle, set up my tripod, and made a couple of quick captures before heading on my way.  Probably took no more than 5 or 10 minutes, tops.

In case you’re wondering, the moon was indeed quite large, larger than normal, but not in reality as large as it appears to be in this photograph.  The photograph was captured with a 400mm lens on my full-frame Canon 5D Mark ii, creating the telephoto effect of a moon just a bit bigger than it really was.

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Photography, not iPhoneography

Triptych, Flow No. 3

Triptych, Flow No. 3

The image in this post was captured with an iPhone.  If that makes you yawn, I don’t blame you.  Not so long ago, using a smartphone to produce a fine art photograph was something of a novelty, and images made in this manner had a bit of a “wow” factor.  Now, smartphones are so ubiquitous that juried exhibitions of nothing but images captured with mobile devices are commonplace.  There’s certainly nothing particularly noteworthy about using smartphones for fine art photography anymore.

What is noteworthy, though, is how infrequently smartphones are used for “straight” fine art photography.  Most fine art photographs captured with smartphones that I come across look like they have been highly digitally processed.  The goal seems to be to create images having certain “looks” – vintage, painterly, selectively focused, over- or under-saturated, whatever the case may be.  These kinds of photographs have been called “iPhoneography,” and while sometimes the results can be worthwhile, the whole thing seems to rely on digital gimmickry to get to the end result.  Few people seem to be pointing their smartphones to make straight captures of their subjects in the way that, say, Edward Weston or Henri Cartier-Bresson pointed their film cameras to make straight captures of their subjects.  It’s as if no one believes or take seriously the possibility of creating works with a smartphone that can stand on their own, without the aid of some kind of digital processing crutch.

That’s a shame.  Smartphones are perfectly capable of producing fine captures, worthy of being made into fine photographs.  Sure, smartphones have their limitations.  The pixel count on my iPhone is dwarfed by that of my Canon 5D Mark ii, its fixed lens limits the kinds of subjects I can capture, and the 8-bit jpgs it captures limits how much the digital file can be worked over.

Still, the files are robust enough to produce a good print.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this image by one of my favorite photographers, Cole Thompson.  He was able to print it to 15 inches wide – I’ve seen it in person, and it looks great!  Still don’t believe me?  I’ve had several images captured with my iPhone exhibited in juried exhibitions of straight photography.  I didn’t disclose that they were captured with an iPhone (nothing sneaky or underhanded, mind you, the capture mode was irrelevant to the exhibitions), and the image quality was good enough that they fit right in.

Plus, smartphones bring certain advantages to the table that other cameras don’t.  There’s the obvious fact that they are with you all the time.  There’s the further fact that as small, handheld devices, you can really move them around to get angles and points of view that you might not make the effort for with larger cameras.  Both of these attributes were key in producing the image in this post, since I came across this subject at a place where I never would have had my big camera, and I was able to wave my iPhone around a lot to get some interesting perspectives.

My process in making the image, though, was the same as if I had used my Canon 5D Mark ii to get the captures.  No fancy filters or effects.  I knew what I wanted the final image to look like even before I started capturing the subject, and my workflow was the same as it would have been for any other black and white print.  That’s why when I use my iPhone’s camera, I think of it as “photography,” not “iPhoneography.”

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