Dinner for one

When I started this blog, I had every intention of sharing some so-called design ‘recipes’ with you. However, through no fault of my own – OK so it is my fault – I’ve never actually shared anything particularly creative here. I’ve decided that I really ought to show more commitment, and so without further ado, I’m proud to present not only something quite close to an actual ‘recipe’, but also – drum roll please – my first post with pictures! Actually, there’s just one picture. Sorry about that.

There’s a theory that the ‘best’ camera is the one that you have with you all the time…. Codswallop. The best camera is probably a Canon 5d mkII equipped with a 24-105 f/4 IS USM lens, or perhaps something from Nikon. Maybe Hasselblad even. It would be fairer to say that the best camera is the one you left at home, and the best camera you have with you is your camera phone. Even worse, from both a technical and creative perspective, you’re never going to get a great photograph from your camera phone. Or are you?

Camera phones may only have teeny-weeny sensors, but recent models really are giving budget point-and-shoot cameras a run for their money. It may have its’ shortcomings – most notably the horrendous automatic white balance – but I must say I really enjoy snapping with my iPhone 4 camera. The HD video’s pretty decent too, as long as I haven’t had too many coffees – “image stabilisation” next please if you’re listening Mr Jobs.

In my experience, one of the key ingredients in the recipe for a great photo is the processing, and this really is where the iPhone comes into its’ own. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of photography-related apps available from the App Store, some of which are free (and too expensive at that), whilst others genuinely are worth spending some money on. Personally, I’ve not gone app-mad and only have a few installed, but those few apps have turned my iPhone into a fairly versatile virtual dark room, capable of turning out some pretty decent pictures.

Witness the photo above, shot with my iPhone 4, processed using one of the excellent Camera+ presets and seasoned to my personal taste in Photoshop Express. Some might say that using presets is a bit like painting by numbers, but I personally picked the brush and chose the numbers. I also positioned the pot, framed the shot (some might say badly), and probably broke a few photographic rules in the process, but ultimately I have – hopefully – created an image that has a certain degree of artistic merit and ultimately tells you, the viewer, a story.

Ultimately, I could have shot this using my Lumix GH1, processed the RAW capture in Aperture, and created the same selective focus look in Photoshop, but for what? Greater resolution? More dynamic range?

At the end of the day, the photograph would still have the same impact, make the viewer feel the same things, and tell the very same story…. “dinner for one”.

Cooking Method

  • Preheat your Photoshop to 160°c
  • Take a fresh photograph (or one from your library if you prefer)
  • Bake the photo for 5-10 mins until the colours are golden
  • Split into 3 equal portions horiztonally, and select the middle one
  • Feather the edges well, and then select the other two portions
  • With only the top and bottom portions selected, give the photo a good blur
  • Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving

3 thoughts on “Dinner for one”

  1. Bang on and forget rules. Who made them, updates them and enforce them eh ?

    iPhone 4 camera is surprisingly good for a phone. There will be many news events in the future only captured on these devices. Oh to have had these around when Kennedy/Oswald was shot, or the moon landing for social commentary (although the WB would have made the moon like real cheese). Needs better WB, closer macro, EV+/- and perhaps a shuter button then it becomes a camera with built-in phone.

    The only thing improvement i suggest to above photo is removing the pea soup from the lens, or smear it for greater effect.

    ~ John

    1. Thanks for commenting John!

      Are you telling me the moon isn’t made of cheese? LOL! The iPhone 4 is surprisingly good at a lot of things, including being a point’n’shoot camera. Heck, it’s even capable of making phone calls, as long as you hold it correctly. It would be nice if the next iOS update can address some of the ‘issues’ (i.e. WB/EV+/-), but judging by how Apple Police reacted to the Easter Egg shutter button ‘hack’ in the Camera+ app, I doubt we’ll ever be able to use a physical button as the shutter. Shame really.

      As for better macro (or possibly even a 3x optical zoom), that would of course need new hardware. On that front, I don’t hold out much hope. In fact, one of my biggest fears is that the iPhone 5 camera will be 3D. Like we’ve not had enough of that already.

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