M. Willis Monroe

Chatham Harbor and the future of phone photography

This is a simple panorama shot from the deck of the loading dock at Chatham harbor out on Cape Cod.  I’m using this image to illustrate the ease with which the Nexus 5 phone takes more complicated shots, beyond the traditional simple rectangular photo.  In some ways these are simple party tricks that make the phone seem interesting, but they have a greater significance.  I’ve now started shooting all of my photos on the phone with the HDR mode turned on.  I find that the effect is not at all overdone, and in fact often gives low light or photos lacking contrast more definition.

Similarly, I’ve really come to like the Photo-sphere mode on the phone as well.  It is a bit gimmicky in that a massive moving picture with low FOV is not appreciating a vista.  However, the really selling feature in my mind is the way in which the phone can be made, via the accelerometer, to move within the panorama.  I’ve taken a few photo-spheres of places in Turkey, Venice, and also at Chatham.  I can give someone the phone and they can stand, and “be”, in the spot where I took the photo.

Both of these newer forms of photography benefit greatly from the relatively mature operating systems present on these phones.  The camera software is able to capture the raw data and then process it into various forms of panorama, or boost the color and/or contrast through increasing the dynamic range.  The next step is how to share these, and not surprisingly social media is well integrated into these platforms as well.  Despite the advances in social media platforms, we’re still stuck in a method of showing photos slide by slide, with captions and comments.  I wonder if this type of presentation is outdated.  In order to display Photo-spheres, or even wide panoramas properly we need a new form of presentation, one that takes into account the varying dimensions of the media.  In some ways google+’s auto-stories is an attempt to solve this problem, but it’s platform specific.