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Author Topic: Different Tools for Different Purposes - An Old Issue  (Read 1745 times)


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Different Tools for Different Purposes - An Old Issue
« on: May 14, 2015, 12:56:56 pm »

I was thinking about when I use my mobile phone camera and when I use larger format cameras. It reminded me of a discussion that began over 70 years ago with the formation of Group f/64:

The aim of this group was to create the clearest representation of the world using photo technology to its fullest capability:

"As Edward Weston phrased it, "The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh." A corollary of this idea was that the camera was able to see the world more clearly than the human eye..."

This is not exactly my aim when using my mobile phone camera. I have been photographing using the Hipstamatic application for about three years and use it when I respond to something visual in the world around me. I frame and 'select' an image in much the way the Group f/64 photographers described their framing approach. The difference is in what type of image I expect from the process. Grain is not a major concern. Sharp focus throughout the image is not a concern. My aim is to record something in my environment and create a visual image that isolates that something for inspection. This is similar to the aim of Group f/64 but does not seek to gain the best image that any photo technology can produce. When I use the phone camera I limit myself to best image that the camera phone can produce.

I enjoy the limits of camera phone technology. In Hipstamatic there is no zoom lens. In using the application it is akin to using a camera a single fixed focus lens. I can move closer or move further away. I can gauge the range of focus of the camera and shoot as I would in street photography. I live within the resolution of the technology - printing, with limited post-processing, smaller size images on matte paper. I find that the matte paper complements any grain. I can print as the pictorialists might have printed, producing images that move toward what I might get in screen printing. Group f/64 might not agree, but for me it is a good tool for different purposes.

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