iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/390 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image data — nearby photos
iPhone photo and processing by Paul Barr
Rarely does a photo take my breath away, but this rendition by Paul Barr does it every time I come across it. I don't know what it is about it, but if you'll excuse the pun, I'm really drawn to it.
Paul recently got an iPhone 4s, and to compliment its camera he loaded a few photo-processing apps, and spent some time over coffee futzing with the apps to get a feel for them. He ended up with a jumbled mix of results, almost all of which are interesting (though one really creeps me out), but the one above really strikes me as exceptional. I intend to frame it for my wall.
The temple building itself is fairly generic and I didn't recognize it, but it turns out to be from our trip to the Jingoji Temple last month. Apparently I was standing next to Paul when he took the shot, though I was in the process of photographing a different building at the time.
Paul normally shoots with a Nikon D3, but he was also using his iPhone at times because he wanted to get to know the iPhone camera. Frankly, after seeing the low-light prowess of my Nikon D700 I can't see myself ever using a point-n-shoot like the iPhone except when I don't have a “real” camera around, but Paul shows that skill, patience, and perhaps some luck can go a very long way.
Regardless of the source of the photo, there's also Paul's inspired processing. Paul says that he doesn't know whether it's luck or genius that he came up with this, but it's my guess that it's luck that allowed him to get there, and genius that allowed him to stop there.
I'd like to be able to do this kind of thing myself, but I'm scared for the amount of time it would take, and how I'd feel about the outcome. I've dabbled a bit with “artsy” processing from time to time, and usually feel that by the time I'm done that it's started to get a bit cliché. I think it's just lack of artistic confidence: I'm a scientific geeky guy, so “art” is totally foreign to me.
I do very much like the “artsy” art I printed for my home office (photos processed via Corel Painter Essentials, as written about last year and in 2007), and I think the “Impressionism in Lightroom” shots from last fall are impactful. Among other recent artsy-fartsy endeavors are “A Few Stylized Shots from Bunny Island” which I also like, and “Context for the Bamboo-and-Leaf Photo, and Some Crazy Post-Processing” which perhaps was more useful for the experience than the results.
Then there's the whole realm of black & white processing, which is much more complex and artistically varied than you could possibly imagine if you've never really looked into it. I use it sparingly (of note recently here, here, here, and here), but if you want to get an idea for just how complex it can be, watch Martin Bailey's walk-through of Silver Efex Pro, a B&W conversion application by Nik Software. I have resisted getting it because my head would explode at all the possibilities, and I have enough on my plate as it is.
Update: Paul put up the original photo from which the result above was derived.