Monday, November 08, 2010
"Standing Woman" and "Strolling Man" -- iPhone 4 photography at the Milwaukee Art Museum
I had a chance to put my new iPhone 4 camera through its paces at the Milwaukee Art Museum yesterday. In the spectacular corridor of the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, I was struck by the contrast between the monumentality of the Gaston Lachaise bronze, "Standing Woman," and the mobility of the walking figure -- and also the way the converging lines pulled them together.
I was using the iPhone 4's HDR feature because without it the slanting late afternoon shadows were much too pronounced and dominated the picture. Coincidentally, I found a "bug" that's really a feature. If you look at the large size of this photo, you'll see that the moving figure is triple-exposed, giving it an almost Cubist quality that I like. This was caused by the way the HDR mode works. It shoots three images in rapid succession -- exposed for shadows, midtones and highlights -- and then merges them in processing to extend the dynamic range of the photograph. But, of course, when a subject is moving, the different images can't really be merged. They just become overlays piled on top of each other. On the one hand, this is why HDR is usually not shot with moving subjects. On the other hand, it suggests some really cool special effects opportunities -- in which multiple exposures of a rapidly moving subject appear against a single, nonmoving background. Can't wait to try it deliberately.
I also stepped outside and took some photos of Santiago Calatrava's magnificent structure in the fading light of the late afternoon sun. This is straight from the iPhone, uncropped and unprocessed. Cell phone photos sure aren't what they used to be. I used my mobile Flickr app to upload this photo to the internet right on the spot, standing outside the museum. It all seemed like magic to me -- Calatrava's striking architecture, the iPhone itself, and being able to upload photos to the intertubes from anywhere.