Photography is an addictive undertaking. It appeals to both halves of the brain. On the one hand, it’s an artistic endeavor, the point being to create images that are compelling, even if they are not intended to be “art.” On the other hand, there is an appeal to the logical brain. Shutter speeds, apertures settings, and focal lengths are mathematical. On top of this, there is a mechanical element. Cameras are beautiful objects, with dials, knobs, lenses, and buttons.
That’s why it’s easy for photographers to always want a newer, “better” camera. We always strive to make better images, or get a fresh perspective on the world. The next camera always promises this. A bigger camera, with a bigger lens, and a bigger sensor will surely give us better photos! Or wait, maybe a smaller, more portable camera will get more use! I’ve used both of these reasons for buying new cameras. I’ve also bought new cameras just because I liked the way they looked. It’s easy to fall into the “I need a new camera” trap, but the reality is that better images come from being a better photographer, not having a better camera.
So what’s the best camera? I repeat this often in life and in these pages: “The best camera is the one you have on you.” For most of the world, now, that means your cell phone. I shoot more photographs with my iPhone than any of my other cameras. Most of the iPhone shots are just snapshots, photos of my home remodeling projects, or pictures of my cats. But I’m not opposed to using it for art, since a lot of the time it’s the only camera I have on me.
That was the case with this image, The Pedestrian. I was in a friend’s third floor office in downtown Billings, Montana, and was intrigued by how the windows framed the historic post office building across the street. (This is one of the side-effects I suffer from due to photography; I can’t help but notice interesting juxtapositions.) When I saw a man walking across the street, I grabbed my iPhone and opened the Hipstamatic app, which allows you to apply effects to the image as you shoot. I chose to shoot in black and white with a slight blur effect on the edges. I framed the sidewalk and building in the window and waited for the man to walk into the frame, taking a few shots as he passed.
This is the one I like best from series. He’s in mid-stride, and the blur, coupled with the distortion at the edge of the window pane, make his trailing leg look slightly distorted. His position in the window creates a bit of tension, looking as if he is going to bump into the center window frame. Adding to the tension, frankly, is that someone is taking a picture of him through the window across the street!
Black and white print, shot with iPhone and Hipstamatic app.