When Photographs Seek Alternative Mediums

Last month on April 21, was The iPhone Art’s third anniversary, a moment that just went by without much fanfare and that is all right. At some point one no longer counts the birthdays or anniversaries, rather just enjoys the moment. While a number of iPhone dedicated websites have closed, TiPA plans to stay around a few more years and like with every anniversary, there is a reflection of looking back to see what has been accomplished, that which is still on the drawing board, and then focusing on the future.

After mobile photography having played a major roll in my creativity at the cost of other creative interests, the pendulum having reached its zenith, it has slowly begun a descend into the opposite direction. 

By no means is this signaling that mobile photography is taking a backseat, it simply means that photography is looking for an alternative way to express itself, for most creative individuals express themselves in a number of different ways and various mediums. 

So when Fletcher called me a little over one week ago, asked if I would join him on a trip to Mare Island, Vallejo for a few hours, revisiting the pier we were at a couple of months ago, I said yes and the next day we were on route.

Unfortunately, Mare Island is one of those places where everything is fenced off and you see more “No Trespassing,” and “Trespasser Will Be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law” signs then people. Then you are dealing with Vallejo’s Public Works, Private Security and of course the Vallejo Police Department, who are actually more understanding then the other two.

We just arrived and I went to the far end of the pier and setting up, when my cell phone rang and Fletcher said, “We’re busted” before a single exposure was taken. Undeterred, we searched for an alternative location within the island. Thirty minutes or so later we reached a place I knew would be less visited and the next ninety minute or so, we were both lost within our visual creativity.

Photography is not only an art form in its own right, it is also a tool with which to explore and record visual ideas to be applied in other mediums. What I am eluding at, is that while honing by compositional skills by carefully selecting segments of a wall into their own rightful artistic expression, I’m also having numerous images that would serve not only as inspiration for other forms of artist expression, even reinterpreted in the form of an abstract painting, as with the two previous photographs, which could serve as the foundation of a painting. 

Even just capturing segments of a building which one finds interesting can serve as a compositional layout as we see in the following two examples.

But now my photography is longing to find a new path in which to express itself, for I’m no longer satisfied just taking photographs, post processing them on my iPad and printing out a few. My photographs and future images want to live in another environment, another form other than just being illuminated on the screen or viewed was a print.  

Therefore I now stand at the precipice, carefully measuring my next step, because that which I have left untouched for four years and counting; several unfinished canvases and numerous concepts that have not left the pages of notebooks, the old books I have collected to convert into altered book art or use some of the pages in a collage, are all waiting for my return.

And just as the images long to be converted into beautiful brush strokes of splendid colors living on a large canvas, or other photographs intertwined amidst a variety of papers, or a letters from a son mixed in with a few different ephemeral materials, which have been assembled into a collage; or reconfigured into an image transfer and applied to a multi-medium surface. The photographs also desire to live along side of words, telling stories and filling one’s imagination, then to be stored as a digital file on a hard drive and given a number for easy retrieval. 

So for now and through the summer months, when opposing mediums come together through a symbiosis, mobile photography will be playing a supportive roll, so that it may find a new voice.

All photographs ©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


First Friday of the Month - Brussels HipstaPak Revisited

Earlier this month I reviewed the HipstaPak Brussels and despite my few reservations, I had recommended the lens and film combo. I still stand firm on my review, so why am I revisiting this HipstaPak? Just because I have reviewed an item, it does not mean I do not continue to test and try an item after publishing my findings and so it was with the Brussels combo. 

During a walk, I came upon a pond with numerous wonderful Koi of various splendid colors and sizes, that within seconds the iPhone was engaged and I quickly decided to use the Hipstamatic Classic camera application. After my first exposure and having a look at the results, I was intrigued and decided to continue  shooting. With every additional exposure I became more and more excited, now finding myself workings seriously at various elements to obtain that one image where everything comes together as one.

The Brussels lens and film has a tendency to turn areas into solid color by stripping any detail from the subject. While I did find this irritable in general, under the circumstances in which light, shadows, reflection and movement of the Koi, magic happened.

Not every image shot that afternoon was a success. There were many failures and just as many “just” alright, but then a small handful on the other hand were better than just alright.

The other reason why I am so excited by these results is that the movement of the water interacting with the reflections, created the appearance of a special effect that was achieved in post production. 

A few weeks later I came upon another pond with Koi fish and after a couple of exposures, it was clear that light, shadow and reflections were needed to be able to achieve the kind of results I had a couple of weeks earlier. 

When I have the opportunity to return to the original location, I can only hope that I will have perfect condition between light, shadows, reflections and movement, in order to have a chance in achieving the perfect photograph.

Note: All photographs in this post have not been altered or retouched in post production, except for one, “The Solitary Koi.” 

The Solitary Koi

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


Experimental Photography - A Book Review

The title is somewhat misleading, considering that a good portion of the book introduces the reader to numerous first techniques available for processing images more than a century ago. Never-the-less, there are plenty of examples of creating your one-of-a-kind camera or pin hole system one may wish to build for truly surprising and experimental photographs.

Having tea and reading up on “Experimental Photography”

This books serves a good purpose by introducing curious photographers in the alternative imaging processes without going into great depth. In a way, “Experimental Photography” serves as a guide for mobile photographers using applications like Hipstamatic Classic camera, or the post processing app “Photo Copier” and the like, who base a good portion of their filters on old traditional photographic photo processes and provides them with an understanding how the image was created. 

Sample pages from “Experimental Photography”

I also believe the book offers a photographer of viewing at their own work differently, by thinking how any of these older techniques or mobile application filters would complement a certain subject or scene.

Everything in the book is nicely compartmentalized, brief and direct, with each concept given two pages and in some cases four, is one of the reasons I refer to this as a book that introduces one to the different techniques with plenty of examples, rather then go into great depth. There is however a good index to all the chemical mentioned in the book with further notations and chemical safety information. 

There are also listed thirty-nine other publications for further reading on alternative processes and printing, one would find very useful as a base source.

Sample pages from “Experimental Photography”

Final Thoughts

The book does provide a service for the inquisitive individual desiring an introduction to alternative processes, while lacking further detailed information on a specific method, which no doubt would have greatly increase its current 240 pages and so I cannot fault the publisher.

There are plenty examples of building ones own alternative image capturing device or altering an instant or film camera most interesting, considering that there are many used film cameras inexpensively available for purchase.

There is also a nice addition of various photographers being interviewed about their work and these alternative processes mentioned in the book, that can only inspire and generate ones creative juices.

The book does an excellent job at all of this and thereby opening the readers eyes to all these various processes and possibilities they are able to explore and so develop their artistic craft further. 

If one desires a greater depth of information on these various traditional old time processes, this book is not for you and while I had hoped the authors would have focused more on experimental photographic techniques using not only film but also a DSLR or mobile device, the book is still a good resource.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

“Experimental Photography”

240 pages with over 600 illustrations, 

Authored by: Marco Antonini, Sergio Minniti, Francisco Gomez, Gabriele Lungarella, and Luca Bendandi

Edited by: Luca Bendandi

Published by: Thames & Hudson, 2015

ISBN 978-0-500-54437-2 Hardbound edition, $45.00 US Dollar

All photographs taken with an iPhone by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

First Friday of the Month - Brussels HipstaPak

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

I have been having a Love - Hate relationship with Hipstamatic’s ‘First Friday of the Month’ HipstaPak releases, but April’s offering is certainly better then last month’s Versailles HipstaPak, with the Savannah lens and Luis XIV film, which I elected not to review.

My belief has been that Hipstamatic has lost sight of their direction and so it certainly has been difficult to say anything good, and while I am not going to rave about the Brussels HipstaPak, I will admit the combo has a certain charm that makes me want to shoot with it more and more and here is why.

While the results greatly depend upon the quality and direction of the light, the Brussels HipstaPak produces either bold contrasty colors or color shifts with certain colors. Yet when one looks at the images of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge or the daylight industrial image, the results remind me of a 50s hand colored postcard and I like that.

Driving on the Golden Gate Bridge

While images taken in my garden, especially of my cat Sasha, there is an unwelcome color shift in Sasha’s face and one I see in other images when yellow is one the colors base that does shift and flatten out.



Parts of my garden

There is more contrast with this combination of lens and film, as well as some colors appear desaturated and others more saturated. Shadow detail in saturated areas is lost, but all this does not bother as does one of the random grey colored anomalies that appears not only fake but alters its shape insignificantly as it appears at various places of the frame and at the edge of an image.

Chevron Refinery, Richmond

Woman Sitting at a Starbuck’s Shop Inside Barnes & Noble Store

On the other hand the light beige smudge marks also found on the border could be a little more random, thereby less repetitive, it does remind me of the Buenos Aires HipstaPak, with the Diego lens and Uchetel 20 film that emulated older 50s Polaroid prints, see my review:

We also have the appearance of a faded light-leak on some images, this is followed by an anomaly on the opposite side that is not a light-leak, but rather has the look of dirt from a Polaroid roller extending upon the entire image but not the frame. This effect either appears in a vertical or horizontal position. These two special effects are subtle and rather nice when they do appear.

Mannequins Inside an Adult Sex Shop

Most mobile photographers and myself included would have preferred the Brussels HipstaPak were a borderless film, so I would like to suggest that in the future Hipstamatic includes the option for the user to select what kind of frame they would like, by having the ability to choose one as they do a different film, lens, or flash. This would be a fantastic update/upgrade, as well as offering future design frame packages, which would earn Hipstamatic additional funds. Are you listening Hipstamatic.

Another aspect of the Brussels HipstaPak is having areas go flat of any detail as we see in the roadway of the bridge by turning the area into a solid single solid color. We also see it in the woman sitting at a Starbuck’s shop inside Barnes & Noble store, as we look at her left jeans leg. It is also evident with the tree trunks photograph, as it works itself into the trees textures. This random effect is another one I like seeing from time to time in my photograph.

A Garden Rose

There are some colors that the Brussels HipstaPak is unable to render without virtually posterizing that particular color as we see with the rose. I also experienced this effect when photographing a deep red rose. In general, I noticed difficulty in handling the red/magenta spectrum.

Exploring Merchandize at a World Market Store

I have not tried the Brussels HipstaPak with other films or lenses, but shall at some point, using not only the Classic Hipstamatic camera but also Oggl. 

Though I would have wished for a no border with its effects or the random grey anomaly, believing that the other special effects, the desaturation or over saturation of some colors and that some images appear as having been hand colored post card with some registration issue would have been enough. I even believe that in the near future, we will see this combo being applied to a commercial fashion photo shoot.

Bottom line, despite the few objections I have listed, this combination should be seriously considered to be part of ones lens and film collection.

Finding Abstracts at a World Market Store Floor

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

Passport to My Neighborhood — Relations between Fine Art Photography and Mobile Photography

When one views traditional fine art photography, there is a specific style and subject matter that has changed very little since the origins of the medium. However with the introduction of mobile photography, the traditional genre of fine art photography, has been virtually abandoned do to the lack of education. 

Though mobile photography has and continues to contribute to the medium significantly, it also has failed traditional fine art photography, at the same time, traditional fine art photographers have also failed by not embracing the new mobile technology.

It seems foolish that the ‘old school thinking’ traditionalists seem set on continuing to use either film or digital DSLR without exploring the flexibility that mobile devices offer, despite the lack of high end resolution and not being to shoot using RAW file format. As the years continue and transform into decades, a large gap reflecting traditional fine art style and subject matter that will have been lost, will only leave a blank in our future collective consciousness. 

It is not that there are at least a few mobile photographers who not only explore the new medium and contribute to its advancement as a new art form, but also continue to add to the tradition of ‘fine art’ photography by using their mobile devices. 

Jonathan, Samuel in the Kitchen with Herbe, San Francisco - 2015

So what is ‘traditional fine art’ photography ? Over the decades the only real change has been how we interpret and process ‘traditional photography,’ while the subject matter has remained unchanged.

At first glimpse there appears little difference to an untrained eye between fine art and mobile photography, but there are significant differences. It may not appear so when looking at this picture of two people and a dog in their kitchen, captured on the spur of the moment with a mobile, as it appears as nothing more than a ‘snapshot’ and not a traditional fine art photo. Yet even my friend stopping off at a fast food drive-in qualifies as a traditional fine art photograph.

Monica at the Fast Food Drive-In, San Francisco - 2015

It lies not only in how the scene was rendered and then treated in post process, but what the scene represents and says about our lives today. There is also a visual language, a poetry about fine art photography that comes through the majority of the photographs, in how one treats the subject matter.

Sea Gull, Mare Island, Vallejo - 2015

The death of a sea gull treated artistically and with reverence becomes not just a graceful photo, it also becomes elegiac in an idyllic way. Though there is nothing romantic about death, yet the morning dew lingering upon on the feathers like translucent pears until the sun rises over the obstruction that covers the bird in shade and between the natural recline of the bird amidst the wooden pieces and the photographers composition, makes this a classic fine art photograph.

Intersection Cesar Chavez St and 3rd St, San Francisco - 2015

A favorite traditional fine art subject matter are structures, buildings against the vast lonely and cold emptiness, especially abandoned iconic structures that are slowly reclaimed by natures elements, balancing memory and the romance of the past with the current condition of the scene.  

The Garage Workshop, Pescadero - 2012

Urban or rural landscapes in traditional fine art images are mostly void of any human inhabitance, juxtaposed against other structures or empty spaces, while reminiscing what possible stories these places could tell.

Traditional fine art photography has been primarily Black/White due to the esthetics of the medium, while color has successfully managed to get a good foothold, in part because of a print process known as Cibachrome in the mid 1970s, which gave color prints a little punch of vivid saturation. 

Rusted Metal Door, San Francisco Dry Docks - 2015

Abstract Metal Patterns, San Francisco Dry Docks - 2015

The relationship the viewer has with a color photograph and that with a Black/White one, are two extremes, as color provides an emotional response and a Black/White image causes the viewer to contemplate what is being viewed. Another aspect of fine art color photography is one were natural or vivid colors have been reduced and softened to appear like pastels tones, ensuring a more emotional response that evokes a personal memory.

Asian Man, San Francisco Chinatown - 2013

Street photography is a field all it’s own and not all street captured images are automatically considered traditional fine art, as photographs have certain elements ranging from snapshots to social documentary. Similar to the first two photographs representing slices of our daily lives.

Man with Beer Can, San Francisco Tenderloin - 2012

Mobile photography has certainly shaken up traditional fine art photography, as well as photography in general. While I  have nothing against the many divisions and variations of mobile photography as an artistic medium, I am simple concerned that by mobile users not embracing any aspect of traditional fine art photography or for fine art photographers not including a mobile device as part of their tools, traditional fine art photography cannot really advance as an art form.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S or 4S
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


Searching for Answers and Meaning on Mobile Photography

The last six to eight weeks I have been reading on the subject of photography, considering I have started to question the future of photography and especially mobile photography and what it represents as a whole as a photographic medium.

While many recently published books on photography finally addressing the time period between 2000 to 2005, I have yet to come across a book dealing with mobile photography, other then just being an artists’ picture book or ‘How To’ manipulate mobile images. Even photographic magazines have not addressed mobile photography impact on social, political or anthropological issues or the general influences of mobile photography on photography as a medium.

Yes, these are academic questions and concerns which the greater majority of photographers are not interested in learning about or even discussing, but I find that mobile photography is having a major impact on our daily lives, that we need to have this discussion. We especially need to discuss mobile photography as a medium and the various directions it is taking on as an artistic platform, in order to properly educate individuals interested in using mobile as a personal artistic form of expressing a though or an idea.

Currently mobile photography is more than just a way to capture something one sees, for it is not only a still camera, it is also a video camera, but it does not end there, especially since one is able to alter digitally either form into a personal expression of art. 

Like all forms of art, mobile photography has not been defined or categorized into the various artistic mediums, as most mobile photographers blindly lunge forward having no idea as to the foundation and fundamentals of a specific diversion of the photographic medium. 

Mobile photography is ground braking in so many ways it can easily compare to one of the greatest upsets in paintings history, when Impressionists took on the establishment and altered our perception of the medium and from that point on opened up an entire artistic revolution that continued into the 1950s.

We are now revolutionising photography as a medium, branching off into various groups with no real consensus, especially whether an altered photograph is still a photograph or becomes a collage, or even a multi-medium art form.

At the moment I am only raising questions, while I search through the many layers of history and opinions on photography in general, therefore not offering any answers. Even if I produce in the near future some of my findings as possible answers, they are only opinions, since no discussions have taken place with other individuals interested in establishing guidelines for mobile future and a genuine foundation on which one can build on and thereby securing mobile art as a true and viable artistic medium.

For now I remain singular in my quest but I sincerely hope that very soon others will begin to question mobile photography and it’s relationship with fine art photography, including that as a social medium.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

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