iPhone Redux

There’s a Coffee Shop very near by that I can sit at for hours.

I’ve been taking photos in there for months.

Large Windows with a great street view make it an interesting place to shoot.

iPhone 4 and…

Again, Painteresque and Snapseed.











Throw A Little Back In The Pot

 I’ve said it on quite a few occasions in the past.
I don’t REALLY take pictures for a living. Nah Nah.
Rather, I consider myself more of a ‘Problem Solver’.

The scenario is always the same beginning with these three little words words: “How Do I?”
The questions range from “How do I make this look terrific on my website?”, “How do I make my Condo look good enough to sell on MLS in a hurry?”,(*ask Nathen from Legat & Kien); and the list goes on and on.
From paintings to portraits it’s always entirely of an issue of  either “How Do I?” or “How Can I?”

Now and again, I’m fortunate enough to apply a little bit of that skill set to a ‘Personal Project’.


OK, so…

In August, I was shooting a popular area of town for a Realtor’s website when I stumbled onto this terrific looking converted old house that was beautifully lit.
The colours were wonderful, right down the the wee purple Xmas style lights offset against the garish orange glow of the overhead street lamps and I was drawn to it immediately.
I took some time, carefully composed, grabbed a couple of tripod mounted shots and moved on.

Later that evening, as I processed the work, I got a little curious as to who owned this funky little facade and decided the photos, being really quite specific, would be of a lot more of interest and value to them than they would be to the Realtor.

I looked ‘Fallen Angel Creations From Above’ up, online, and found there was almost no web presence whatsoever.

There was a short ‘Internet Yellow Pages’ listing for a phone number but that was the full extent of it.
Hey…. the Answering Machine wasn’t even picking up.

I didn’t know it at the time but Megan had only been open for business for about 3 months.

Undaunted, though, (*aren’t I always?), I called through and got a cheery little greeting on the other end of the line from …
“Megan speaking.”
It took a minute or three to figure out that ‘Megan’ actually WAS the business owner.

Megan’s store is pretty esoteric. No, I take that back. REALLY Esoteric.
She’s into a whole lot of things including- Psychic Readings and I’m a sucker for a good show!
I mentioned the photos I’d taken the night before and told her I’d email them over for her to take a peek at.

I stated that I don’t generally ‘give’ images away but they’d do me no good at all just sitting on my hard drive so… how about a swap?
Two Images for a Psychic Consult with Maggie Woods, the Robin to her Batman, the Tonto to her Lone Ranger – and thus the deed was done.

I went over a day later to meet Megan and there stood an absolute Miss Universe Contestant if I’d ever seen one.
Trust me on this completely, if you ever meet Megan, you’ll know.

We yakked a while and I told her if I had to guess at all, I’d put her at about 27 years of age. Just a wild swing at a crazy number….
Lucky today.

As a side note, Maggie knocked my reading out of the park with a couple of tidbits she could never have known.

Hi Five to Mags!

Now here’s the rub.

Fallen Angel is a beautifully put together, lovingly organized breath of fresh air for a business. It’s just a comfortable place to be.
And Megan?  She’s not there just selling stuff. She’s into it; really and truly into it.
The whole place just radiates a warm, ‘home-y’ vibe.

But, and I’m not kidding here in the least…
When I was 27? I couldn’t organize a two-car parade and here’s Megan, 100% ‘true to her school’  at the tender young age of 27 playing all in poker and pushing her entire stack of chips right into the middle.
I don’t make those decisions any time it comes to me… I’m incapable of anything even remotely that profound.

This remarkable, talented, dedicated young woman is completely and absolutely invested in her dream and willing to do whatever it takes to keep it afloat.

I’ve never had a shred of that kind of dedication and I promised myself that I’d do whatever I could manage, in my own little way, to help.

I made myself a deal to Throw A Little Back In The Pot, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
It’s a pleasure to turn your attention to Miss Megan Maguire.

In the immortal words of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, Meg?
“….You’re gonna’ make it after all.”



I have NO idea where they got the guy in this video, it’s not original by any means, but hey.

He’s havin’ fun.

Presto, Digito! Mushrooms from Manure

The problem I’m having with my iPhone 4 lately is….
That I can’t seem to get enough.

Uh huh.

The entire nature of the thing is virtually ‘throw away’.

It’s completely and utterly inconsequential, which is why if anything even moderately interesting arises?

It’s a Triumph, plain and simple.

You have 9/10ths of no control, with the exception of the legendary (*Left Foot, Right Foot) or ‘LR Zoom’ feature…some totally lame HDR, which really just gives you a choice of two exposures and a rudimentary Grid over the screen.

But something insidious takes over when it turns your entire shooting process into a complete “No Brainer
, MWAC level, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and never did” photo extravaganza.


We’ll call it Enjoyment.

Right beside my house keys sits my phenomenal Fuji X-100 Digital Rangefinder Monster Machine.


It is capable of producing stunning files, in JPEG no less, the likes of which I have never seen to date in an incredibly hot, retro styled package that people swear must have belonged to Grandpa.

“Hey! That’s an old Film Camera, right??”

The colour it produces is exquisite, the image sharpness is utterly off the chart:  it’s quirky and irritating to use on it’s BEST day and even though it goes with me everywhere….


The iPhone contains the penultimate PHD, (*Push Here, Dummy) Camera.

There’s virtually nothing you can do with exposure, compensation, white balance, flash, contrast et al., and simply because of that, the App store is always singing a happy tune.

You’re compelled to rely on the Gods of Appleography to provide and on the off chance they DO, smash up your unlikely little victories with App after App –hopefully– turning your t*rds into tomatoes.

I’ve managed to harvest tomatoes in some of the least likely of locations.

As the old saying goes: even a blind chimpanzee finds a banana now and again.

Case in point.

Go shopping in the cool, trendy “New Consciousness Markets” where everything is w-a-y over the top Organic, and it’s all designed to say, “Gee, Baby. Ain’t I good for you?”

Smoothies to Tofurkey, Hummus to ‘Holy Crap’ Cereal.

There’s no sense asking for the Drain Cleaner aisle.

The labels LOOK – Organic; the fonts look ‘earthy’, the stands are built of barn wood and the displays simply SCREAM, “Hey. Being this pretty? I have to cost more.”

They package up fresh cut flowers to look, well, fresh cut.

Enter the iPhone.

We’re in a grocery store here, I mean ‘Upscale Urban Market’, remember?

Nevertheless, with any luck, these here happy snaps won’t look remotely like anything I’d actually SHOT when I was there.
Post exposure?

That’s precisely the case.

Put a little spin on it and if you hold your mouth just right, with the few swipes of an index finger…..
Presto, Digito!

Mushrooms from Manure.

Painteresque and  NIK Snapseed.



An Honest to Goodness Treat for an Old Dog Photog

Every once in a Blue Moon…
a lucky, pleasant event blows into the life of any Old Dog Photographer who manages to keep at it long enough.
This past October 1st, I found a nice surprise in my inbox that went a little bit like this:

Hi John;
You snapped our wedding in 1997.

(Possibly you’d recall a bride, groom and 2 grooms-brides-men on stationary bikes at Heaven’s Fitness.)

Anyhow, we’ve got a son now and have never done any photos. He’s 3.5 and it’s time.

Looking to connect and do some visual damage when you have time.


Fast forward to 2012-FIFTEEN YEARS!


I’d only been shooting as a Pro for 4 years then; as of THIS shoot?
It’s 21.

Hence the ‘Old Dog’.

Both Tom and I have a little more grey.

Say, oh…50 Shades?

How come he looks so much better?

I’d have to say it was an honor and a privilege.
These were shot on October the 18th on a terrific Autumn Day but just at the very end of the last of the Fall colours.
What once started as two all those years ago is now a terrific Family of Five.
Thanks Tom, Maureen, Seeton Java and Toby.
It was a great day and a real treat!



Another Funkly Little iPhone App

This morning, I found another terrific little iPhone App for making myself look even worse and worse.
Painteresque is available in the iTunes Store.
Give it a look.
It’s a fun play.

*This one took an extra little tweak from Snapseed for Border and Colour.

Big nod again to Dewitt Jones. This guy finds them ALL!

The Single Biggest Thing You Never Want to Miss

I had some catching up to do the other evening with my friend, Paula.

She has two adorable ‘rescue mutts’ and she’s Mutt Mom Extraordinaire.

Paula is an absolute beauty; she shoots like a house on fire and the dogs are adorable so, when it’s ‘walkie’ time for them, it’s also Canon Time for me.

Why not?

You couldn’t take a bad shot of Paula if you put her head in a burlap sack and banged her around with a plank.

She’s also irritatingly COOL in front of a Camera.

She’s always ‘ON’.


Why can’t I do THAT?

I kid, I KID.

It’s simply to say she’ll always shoot like a Beauty Queen.

So after a quick coffee we piled the pooches into her trusty little black ‘Bug’ and off to the Dog Park we drove.

When we got there it was completely in shade, the sun had gone down and the light was an absolute non-event.

Nevertheless, I decided to take my Mark III and L series 100-400 Zoom for the stroll.

It’s a BIG Park and those two clown dogs can run for miles!

Shooting down on a small drooly canine in the grass is never going to win you a Pulitzer Prize for Photography, but undaunted I walked around with the gear in my arms for the better part of an hour.



There they were! Woot!!

Just out of the blue…

*That was SO bad, I know, I know.

Now, I’m no Ornithologist so you needn’t ask, but compositionally it certainly beat two small black waggers in the grass under pitiful light any day.

Hands down. No Contesto.

This morning?

God came a knockin’.

Well, awful close to that anyhow.

Eric Meola took time out of HIS schedule to let me know he thought it was:

“Very Nice!”

I got a lovely little post that made my month.

It’s akin to McCartney telling you he really fancies how you play the bass.

I told him this a short time ago.

“Any of your GARBAGE would be a Career Changer for almost any Photographer.”

There’s a moral to the story. Ain’t there always?

If you don’t already know who Eric Meola is?

You can do yourself an enormous favour in 15 seconds flat.


I don’t have to tell you the rest do I?

ALWAYS have some form of Photographic Device handy.

You just never know when you might…..


Get Clickin’, Chicken!

The Four BEST Things about iPhoneography

OK, Cats and Kitties.
It’s True Confessions Time.
I’ve been shooting as a Pro Photographer now for 21 years.
I have a bag full of ridiculously expensive Camera Gear.
(*I won’t mention any brand names like Canon of course, or 4 L Series Lenses and a Zeiss Distagon), Flash Meters, Studio Lighting, Location Lighting, Stands, Reflectors and the list drags on….
But lately, I’m highly addicted to iPhoneography, which is really a generic term like ‘Google This ‘, Bandaid or Xerox.
From the good people at Wikipedia:

iPhoneography is an art of creating photos with an Apple iPhone.[1][2][3] It’s a style of mobile photography that differs from other forms of digital photography in that images are shot and processed on the iOS device. It does not matter whether a photo is edited using different graphics applications or not. However, this issue is often argued over among iPhone photographers.
iPhoneography has grown quickly since the original iPhone 2G with its 2 megapixel camera was released in 2007. As the iPhone cameras improved in both resolution and image quality, more professional photographers ventured into this art form and started recognizing the value of an iPhone image.[4][5][6] The New York Times published a summer series of reportages[7] using Instagram in August, 2011. The photographer Damon Winter won prizes for his Hipstamatic photos[8] of the war in Afghanistan.[9]

Why the attraction?
1.) You don’t see it now. You see it RIGHT now.
2.) It’s always available. You don’t need Wi-Fi or even Cell service.
A very nice addition to your ‘In flight’ package.
3) The virtual circus of available image processing apps can give you results ranging from the sublime to the totally ridiculous and…
4.) It’s INSTANTLY Publishable.
Just as a note:
The new Nokia 808 Pure View Phone sports the following mind numbing specs.
41MP sensor, Carl Zeiss lens, PureView imaging technology and Full HD video

One of the unwritten beauties of this type of shooting is that it really doesn’t matter.
Get the shot? Good
Miss the shot, there’s always another one at arm’s length.
There are so many great Apps available in the iTunes Store and I have over a dozen different ones on my creaky old iPhone 4, but for my money?
SNAPSEED by Nik Software is head and shoulders above the rest.
Google, I’m sure, would agree.
They gobbled it up like Facebook absorbed Instagram.
It’s certainly not the cheapest app in the house at $4.99, but it will give you exceptional quality, borders, grunge, black and white, tilt-shift, white balance, vintage looks and the list goes on and on.

One thing I like a great deal about Snapseed is that is doesn’t crop your image into a square, like Instagram or Hipstamatic.
You lose an awful lot of real estate that way, even though I love shooting square having been a very happy Hasselblad owner in the 80’s and 90’s.
If you shoot square you really ought to compose in a square.
Your phone doesn’t do it quite like that.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been reading the works and admiring the images of Dewitt Jones.
If you’re smart enough to friend him, tell him Sharpeshots sent you.
He does some remarkably beautiful work.

Both Snapseed and Dewitt Jones are Highly Recommended.

The New Future of Black And White

I heard someone say the other day, “….the one thing that never changes, is CHANGE”.

So what’s changed and, more importantly, what have we learned?
For Black and White enthusiasts the future has never been brighter.

Glass and Resin Filters, which used to be a staple in every pro camera bag, have almost completely been replaced by Plug In Suites.
Film stocks are rapidly becoming less and less available.

Nik Software – just recently bought out by the Giant known as Google, provides some of the very best available, including the much lauded Silver Efex Pro 2.

For Black and White Conversions the sheer flexibility of this software is unmatched.

It features a wide variety of Black and White ‘pre-sets’ which now completely replaces the need for any filtration as well as numerous pseudo, digital ‘film stocks’ to choose from.

Of course they’re not dead ringers for real film but the feature characteristics of each emulsion are approximated quite well.
There’s virtually an infinite amount of ‘tweak-able’ variations available with absolutely zero cost in materials.

No wet darkroom ever offered anywhere near this degree of control with paper grades, contrast, and film grain.

Demo versions are available for download.