Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Reach for it


I don't normally given my photos a special title, but this one might very well be called 'Reach for it'.

To me, it conjures up a scene in a sci-fi movie where a seeker after forbidden knowledge finally has the presumed Elixir of Life within their grasp. But the vessel contains a strange, seething and dangerous fluid. Those straining fingers are the very picture of desperate yearning - and fearful hesitancy. Behind, the red light patterns emphasise the potential horror of what could happen next...

Actually, those are my fingers, and this was a Dartington Crystal vase on my lounge mantelpiece!

Here's the initial shot (taken just yesterday) that led on to the one with my fingers in it:


The reality of this scene is as ordinary as can be: so much so, that I haven't actually got a ready-made shot of the vase (as it really looks) on my phone or laptop. There's several on the desktop PC, but to fire that up will take a few minutes at least (that's Windows Vista for you) and, to be honest, for the purposes of this quick post, it isn't worth the effort. 

The thing is, though, both the above shots were taken with Tigerlily, my new Samsung Galaxy S8+ phone. Clearly you can be mildly creative with a phone camera! And you don't have to be an experienced professional either. 

The S8 and S8+ both have a picture mode called Classic (reached by swiping in from the right edge), which gives you arrestingly stark Black-and-White shots. Basically it's a colour shot that has been totally desaturated, but the contrast heightened. You could easily create it yourself from a colour shot, but 'seeing' in B&W is a quite different matter from 'seeing' in colour. It's usually best to have your eyes open to what might work well in B&W, and then compose it on the screen in that very mode. In that way you can judge best whether the effect helps or hinders the shot. Anything with strong light and shadow in it, or sparkling water, or lots of texture, will generally look very good in B&W. 

Well, I had Tigerlily in my hand, and I saw how the sun was throwing that well-defined shadow onto the flock wallpaper behind. It looked interesting in colour; but a quick switch to Classic mode (i.e. B&W) turned the shot into something worth publishing. Then I went a step further, using my fingers close up against the shadow alone, to make a 'sci-fi movie' scene. That second picture was then modified with colour gradually added on a selective basis with a Curves tool, on the laptop, using all the channels to a greater or lesser extent. 

My 'groping fingers' picture won't float everyone's boat, but I'm pleased to discover that the S8+'s photos have this kind of potential. Phone cameras are not just for selfies and social occasions.  

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