The One I Love

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I am putting together a collection of best photos I took in 2014. I want to really focus on photos with most impact. In order to achieve this, I made special rules for myself:

  1. Only 2 photos from one photo session, no matter how good the photos are.
  2. Thematically focus on most strongest images
  3. No decoration or fill-in photos
  4. Every photo must have a story
  5. Never mind if photos have been in my exhibitions or not

Number 1 is really hard to follow because I have had some photo sessions that went really well (and others that didn’t). But this ultimately keeps number of images in control and is excellent, if not even painfully efficient eliminator of bad images.

Phantom

Peter Lik’s “Phantom” hit the headlines as it was recently sold for $6.5 million. This apparently is a world record of some sort. The news immediately attracted some less than admiring commentary.

Jonathan Jones from Guardian:

This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists. It is derivative, sentimental in its studied romanticism, and consequently in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room.

I agree, but I don’t feel any kind of sentimental feeling from this photo. And then, since I know nothing of the buyer, this image might actually end up in pretentious hotel room. I wouldn’t be really surprised since pictures in hotel rooms are always something quite like this.

Jones also says:

Photography is not an art. It is a technology. We have no excuse to ignore this obvious fact in the age of digital cameras, when the most beguiling high-definition images and effects are available to millions.

I also think photography is not an art. It’s something else, sure. But I would disagree with Jones here; photography does not equal technology. That’s exactly what Phantom shows us; it takes more than technology or photographic technique to create a successful image. Truly great photograph is more than sum of it’s parts. There is something intangible in it, always.

Even if Phantom would have a subject matter that’s actually not a cliche but something original, it would still be boring shot if it was taken the same way. You need a feeling.

iPhone 6 Review

When iPhone 6 first came out, I thought I would never upgrade to it, but instead stick with my iPhone 5. But the battery life of my phone was getting worse and worse. I live near SoftBank Shop and I just kept dropping in to check out that gorgeous screen..

I have now used iPhone 6 for about a month. So I am ready to write my experiences with it.

Design

Apple has a remarkable legacy behind it what comes to industrial design. They designed the colourful iMac series, then the amazing flat screen “snow ball” iMac G4. They made iPod. The computers they make exhibit all great industrial design sense. I love especially the new Macbook Pro which is, by all means, extremely well designed piece of equipment. It has clean lines and is thin and light.

Apple’s phones have always been well designed too. My favourite of the bunch is the glass encased iPhone 4. It’s extremely ambitious and beautiful design. Steve Jobs even compared it to the old Leica Camera. It’s example of a design which has achieved harmony between form and function.

iPhone 5 also is a nice design. It also demonstrated a kind of simplicity although it was definably less cute and more industrial; I personally kind of liked that, especially the black model. It looked like monolith from 2001: Space Odyssey.

Now to tell truth, I don’t know what to think about iPhone 6 design. It is not awful, and definably still one of the nicest smartphones I have ever seen. What comes to ergonomics, this phone is comfortable to hold. It feels just right and I had no issues with the sleep/wake button being moved to the right side. The design choices are speaking practical.

Visually however, I don’t know what to say. The phone looks like pre unibody Macbook Pro which had those grey plastic stripes running in the edges. The segmented back looks like a skeleton of an early prototype, and the protruding camera lens makes it look more fragile than it probably is.  I like the large speaker holes on the bottom which look kinda sporty, but otherwise, it almost seems if the iPhone has lost it’s design identity. This is just another thin metal and glass rectangle. This doesn’t even lay flat on a table.

Smaller size iPhone 6 feels really good in my hand and the larger size is diminished by it’s thinness; this still doesn’t feel bulky.  The phone feels very solid. I have dropped mine (accidentally) couple of times on floor; not a scratch, but maybe I was lucky. The curved glass seems to be more prone for shatter as my friend found out. In terms of durability and shock resistance the new design is clearly a step back, despite the reduced weight.

Technology

The display is gorgeous. It’s again improvement over the predecessor by contrast and clarity. The pixel density haven’t changed in the smaller model, there are just more of them. But the colours are much better; the display exhibits controlled saturation and rather neutral white balance, although the display is warmer than in Macbook Pro display (by standard calibration).

Since I work with images, the display is the main reason why I bought the phone. Photos look indeed great on this. And now there’s room for extra row of icons in home screen if you so choose. The added screen estate is of course a welcome thing.

The camera is ridiculously good. It’s so good that I am always taking my phone out when shooting in studio environment for test shots, to experiment some camera angles and different lighting. I came out comparing them to my 5D Mark II shots with off camera flashes and whole shebang. Here is unprocessed shot with iPhone 6 using the default camera app with only a single light source, no flash.

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The colors are accurate and surprisingly neutral; there is no over saturation and most of the tones are reproduced faithfully. The photos turn out extremely sharp. Low light performance is amazing for a camera phone and phase detection autofocus is almost as accurate as with 5D Mark II even in relatively low light.

I don’t use the iPhone 6 flash, although it might work as a fill flash in a pinch.

Apple’s camera app however feels clunky to use. I am not big fan of the exposure control, I always accidentally keep changing the camera mode and rotating the phone it’s impossible to know which direction I should move my finger, and then gripping the phone in landscape orientation I hit accidentally the sleep button or the lower button which acts as a shutter button. I am definably looking for a better alternatives which certainly exist.

Video is improved too;  the biggest deal here is the slow-mo which is can now shoot whopping 240fps. This is more than a gimmick, the movies are real slow motion videos which can be imported to FCPX and used as a part of a movie. The video quality is so good that I can’t see why this can’t be used for broadcast. This offers some interesting artistic opportunities which have been out of my reach until now.

And iPhone 6 feels of course fast and all is great, iPhone 5 was no slouch and this new one is just extremely fluid experience. Moving around with apps is instant, there is almost no lag at all, and animations play really fluently. There are few annoying quirks with iOS8 but overall, I love it.

Also, for me this phone is first device that has Touch ID and I love it so much that I want to register my tongue so I can unlock my phone with it. It works, and it works great; especially when purchasing things from App Store.

Battery life is definably improvement to iPhone 5. Now mine lasts comfortably through a day even with a heavy user like me. There’s often even a charge left during late evening. I usually charge mine using the larger iPad charger or computer; and iPhone 6 charges to 100% amazingly fast. It takes like half an hour. That’s really good thing.

Conclusion

iPhone 6 is extremely good phone and I am really glad I chose to update. Biggest improvements in my experience are the screen, camera and battery. The screen is not only bigger but better. If I were to review iPhone 6 what comes to the overall UI and technology, I would rate this 9 or 10/10.

The industrial design is so-so and it makes me wonder about the direction Apple is taking in their future products. It seems almost as if Apple is putting priority on releasing technology products for competition rather than being a company that aims for perfection in industrial design without compromises.

I wish the overall design of iPhone 6 would be more ambitious from standpoint of simplicity and elegance.

Nonetheless, I can recommend iPhone 6 for those thinking to upgrade.