Using an iPhone 3GS as a film camera

I got my iPhone 3GS a little over a week ago, on the 11th, and have been lucky enough not to get one that overheats or goes dead after a few hours. The WiFi reception isn’t as good as on my old iPhone 3G, but that’s another story.

My main reason for upgrading was the speed increase, and in that respect the phone has been everything I expected. I play a lot of casual games on it, and being able to start up and get into a level within seconds is something I’ll never take for granted. Even other handhelds like the Nintendo DS and PSP don’t always do a good job of loading quickly. Don’t even get me started on games that only let you save at predetermined points.

The secondary draw of the iPhone 3GS was its improved camera. With apps like Autostitch (a Flickr group I started is here) and ShakeItPhoto updating to support the increased memory/speed of the 3GS though, it may soon be my favorite feature. It’s not like I’ve never had a good camera on a phone before; my old Nokia N82 had a good, autofocusing 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics. It was versatile enough that I tried using it as my only camera while on a short holiday. But it wasn’t a very lovable device – great hardware features bolted onto creaking, vintage software.

Because the iPhone does so much (takes notes, calculates tips, translates Japanese, tracks expenses, etc.), and gets pulled out of your pocket so often, it also finds more use as a camera. And with the right iPhone apps, you can do all your post work and upload the results to Flickr without even coming near a desktop. Some of my other recommendations: Photo FX, CameraKit, ColorTaste (outputs low-res photos, hopefully an update is on the way), Mill Color, and Camerabag.

Here are some photos I’ve taken this week, processed to look like they were shot with a film camera: noise, light leaks and all. (Unfortunately, these weren’t done on the iPhone.)

Starbucks mug macro

Mandy in the garden Mooks' Australian paraphrenalia Chili's Burger Canon Singapore Visitor Centre

Bintan vacation wrap-up

I haven’t been very good about uploading the rest of my holiday photos since the last post, but finally got around to it this afternoon. Here are some of my favorite non-people ones.
Resort Leisure Center Panorama
Pool Villa Panorama
(The above panorama was stitched together from about 20 photos; the two edges of the pool you see on the left and right were part of the same straight line. I have no idea what an equivalent wide-angle lens would be.)
Black & White
Martinis by the pool
Dragon cloud 20090328-P1000965

Night for Day

Night for Day

There’s a thing they do in the movie business (far more in the past, when technical limitations mandated it) where night scenes are shot in daylight through a special filter that darkens the scene. It’s called day for night photography; watch any old noir film and you’ll see it, the darkness that doesn’t look quite right. We roll with such tricks the same way we do hokey CGI effects in modern story-driven films (bonus points if you can name any) – we’re willing to suspend our disbelief.

On holiday in Bintan recently, I took a couple of photos like the one above. It was pitch black and near midnight, but setting my camera to keep its shutter open for a full minute, it was possible to gather up all the faint light that normally eludes the human eye, getting a photo that looks very much like day but not quite. The stars are one telltale sign. Who knew that the sun’s orange rays continue to creep past the horizon long after we consider night to have fallen?

For working people, one of the joys of being on holiday in the middle of the week is imagining what you’d be doing if you weren’t, and knowing that your office and colleagues continue to toil in your absence, maybe even suffering because of it. You know the feeling I mean. When it’s Thursday afternoon and you’re lying on a beach somewhere, the mind experiences a strange sensation, a pleasurable disorientation, as it tries to reconcile the information it has. You’re not in a meeting. You’re on a beach. It’s Thursday, but not quite.

I used to wonder if it was possible to get that feeling of freedom on demand, as easily as pulling a filter over a lens. Having a tough day at work? Maybe project a few months into the future, where you have a new job or whatever, and confuse yourself into thinking that that world was running in parallel with the present.

Now that I’m not traditionally employed, I find myself having to take the reverse approach on holidays. For my travel companions, the four days burnt brightly with a sharp peak, followed by a treacherous comedown back into working routine. Not having to feel the pinch of expending precious leave days or returning to deal with crises left my experience curve shallower. I didn’t dread the end as much, so one might say I enjoyed myself less. The solution was a perverse one. I had to imagine a time when this self-employed life was no longer viable. It’s a state that continues to feel temporary, like an illusion made possible by warped optics. Having a job but not quite.

Anyway, I have a nice tan now. Nobody can believe it’s me.

— Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress