Archive for the Brownie Camera Category

The History of Photography Part VI or It’s the Monkey, not the Banana

Posted in Brownie Camera, Kirk Tuck, Lytro, Olympus Camera, Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 by smpiv

I haven’t been able to get this one going.  So here goes one more time.

The future of photography—what could it be?  What will it bring?

It’s not a particularly long history.  Henry Fox Talbot, Daguerre and few others got us all going.  One motivator with the fixing of an image was Wedgewood trying to figure a less expensive and quicker way to decorate their china and porcelain than by hand.

Innumerable images have been taken since then using any number of processes to fix an image, usually, to paper.  I read recently that 10% of all the pictures ever taken were taken in the last year.

And, then, most of those weren’t affixed to paper, but live on our computers and social media sites.  What about photo albums?  Not so much.  And on-line books? Much more, but still the thought of a hard copy of an image is becoming an alien thought.

The image is becoming a commodity of the mind encapsulated in bits and bytes.  Something that is posted and then forgotten as evidence of participation, if not, actually interacting with the actual moment. 

This is not news.

This is science fiction.

But we are no longer comfortable with the future.

To look at a camera today is like looking into the past.  We prefer our fantastic futures to be comfortably wrapped in something familiar.  Thus we have Olympus bringing us a digital version of the Pen and OM series cameras.  High end cameras continue to look like their film base brethren for no other reason than that’s what they’ve always looked like with all their built-in soft spots—a flip up mirror that can’t get much past five fps for instance.

Except for certain esoteric purposes, extreme croppers and for pixel peepers we are already comfortably at a point where megapixels are not an issue.  Like wow and flutter passing into synaptic history, with the advent of the CD, megapixels are becoming an afterthought. 

But not quite.

What is on the immediate horizon is the merging of the still camera and movie camera as one.

Even the high end cameras of all the manufacturers have video capability and such good resolution that movies and TV shows have been made with them.

The other part of the mix that will truly put it all on its ear is the introduction of the Lytro Camera(http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lytro/).  It’s relatively small rectangle with little more than a shutter release and no need to focus.  The point of focus can be chosen later on your computer.

The camera itself may never make much of itself, but the technology that allows for an image to be taken and then the point of focus chosen at a later date is—at the moment—almost incomprehensible and I’m sure one that will be taken advantage of.

Depth-of-field was and still is a difficult concept to explain to someone just taking up photography.  Trying to explain the relationship of shutter speed and aperture to depth-of-field is even harder.  Being able to dismiss it is revolutionary.

Now for the future.

The death of the SLR—no brainer at this point and at this juncture it is not going to be the Pro level camera leading the way, but the mirror-less consumer models showing the way.

The death of the still camera—as mentioned before video capabilities are being added to every level of camera and it’s only a matter of time before the resolution quality of the video part of the camera crosses comfortably with still camera resolution.  It will be the editorial slicing of the fluid that will create our still moments and the decisive moment will only be realized at a later date.

The death of focus—there will simply be no need for it.  With the Lycro, it’s already been proven that there is no need for it.  It will not be a standalone product, however, but a technology that will be added to video technology.  Jump frames?  Watch out!  There will be a fluid sense of focus that will turn movies and videos on their ears.

The framed photograph—seriously, when was the last time you did that?  Our pictures live on our computers and with the advent of the video moment that I’ve outlined above a capture now may require more than the fixed 1/125 of a second image we were used too.

I don’t think any of this sounds outlandish, but for someone like me who began photography while it was still firmly in the grasp of Kodak, it is a bit sad.  Unlike music reproduction where the outcome is still the same despite how it is reproduced the photographic image is going to lose its static resolution.

The still image will endure one slice at a time; it just won’t be the result of a decision behind the camera with the selective depression of a shutter by a finger.  It will be in post production as we look at our video stream and freeze the moment and then muck about with the focus with a slide bar.

Do I know what I’m talking about?  Don’t know, but this is what I’ve noticed over the last few years and diligent reading of Kirk Tuck’s blog site.  As always with technology, exciting times.

And finally I will illustrate this blog with a still picture taken with my iphone 3GS, that in photographic terms is something akin to a Brownie camera in sophistication and resolution. However, like any photographic device before it or after it, there can be magic in its results.

What I am saying is that it ain’t the equipment, it’s the person behind it, in front of it, and, soon, after it that makes technology sing and have purpose.  So bring it on and don’t sweat the future.

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