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What did these people do before there were cell phones?
Image by Ed Yourdon
Intellectually, we all know that everyone has a cellphone today … and we spend a lot of time talking to people on those phones. Even when we’re waiting for the traffic light to change, so we can cross the street.
But those of us who a little older can’t help wondering: what would this scene have looked like 20 years ago? Or even ten years ago?
(Oh, yeah, one more small thing: note that all four of these people have a backpack slung over their shoulder.)
Note: this photo was published in an May 14, 2012 issue of Everyblock NYC zipcodes blog titled "10025." And I chose the photo as my "photo of the day" on May 15, 2012.
It was also published in an Oct 31, 2012 blog titled "Shocking Statistics About Mobile Subscribers in 2012."
This is a continuation of a Flickr set that I started in the summer of 2009, and continued in 2010 (in this Flickr set) and in 2011 (in this Flickr set) . As I noted in those earlier collections of photos, I still have many parts of New York City left to explore — but I’ve also realized that I don’t always have to go looking elsewhere for interesting photographs. Some of it is available just outside my front door.
I live on a street corner on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where there’s an express stop on the IRT subway line (with a new space-age subway station), as well as a crosstown bus stop, an entrance to the West Side Highway, and the usual range of banks, delis, grocery stores, fast-food shops, mobile-phone stores, drug-stores, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Subway, and other commercial enterprises. As a result, there are lots of interesting people moving past my apartment building, all day and all night long.
It’s easy to find an unobtrusive spot on the edge of the median strip separating the east side of Broadway from the west side; nobody pays any attention to me as they cross the street from east to west, and nobody even looks in my direction as they cross from north to south (or vice versa). In rainy weather, sometimes I huddle under an awning of the T-Mobile phone store on the corner, so I can take pictures of people under their umbrellas, without getting my camera and myself soaking wet…
So, these are some of the people I thought were photo-worthy during the past few weeks and month; I’ll add more to the collection as the year progresses … unless, of course, other parts of New York City turn out to be more compelling from time to time.
NY at it’s best
Image by Shyha
Well, I don’t know much about NY at it’s best but, sad to say, I didn’t like it as much as I anticipated I will… to say at least. I didn’t like it at all to be honest. Maybe I expected it to be much different. I’d like to give it another shot and maybe it’ll turn out to be much better place. What I didn’t like the most was the ugly smell and piles of thrash on the streets… there also were some ground works on Times Square which added a little bit to the bad picture although I know it’s temporary. Anyway, I would really need to spend more time there so I could go to proper NYHC gig somewhere in the city 🙂
One more photo taken with MC ZENITAR 16/2.8 fisheye lens (M42 mount).
Listening to music
Image by Ed Yourdon
This is one of the many subway scenes I’ve shot with my iPhone.
I thought it was an interesting photo, and I gave it four stars in my Aperture rating system. But not five stars, so it never did get uploaded as a "public" Flickr photo.
Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer, it’s hard to walk around with a modern smartphone in your pocket, and not be tempted to use the built-in camera from time-to-time. Veteran photographers typically sneer at such behavior, and most will tell you that they can instantly recognize an iPhone photo, which they mentally reject as being unworthy of any serious attention.
After using many earlier models of smartphones over the past several years, I was inclined to agree; after all, I always (well, almost always) had a “real” camera in my pocket (or backpack or camera-bag), and it was always capable of taking a much better photographic image than the mediocre, grainy images shot with a camera-phone.
But still … there were a few occasions when I desperately wanted to capture some photo-worthy event taking place right in front of me, and inevitably it turned out to be the times when I did not have the “real” camera with me. Or I did have it, but it was buried somewhere in a bag, and I knew that the “event” would have disappeared by the time I found the “real" camera and turned it on. By contrast, the smart-phone was always in my pocket (along with my keys and my wallet, it’s one of the three things I consciously grab every time I walk out the door). And I often found that I could turn it on, point it at the photographic scene, and take the picture much faster than I could do the same thing with a “traditional” camera.
Meanwhile, smartphone cameras have gotten substantially better in the past few years, from a mechanical/hardware perspective; and the software “intelligence” controlling the camera has become amazingly sophisticated. It’s still not on the same level as a “professional” DSLR camera, but for a large majority of the “average” photographic situations we’re likely to encounter in the unplanned moments of our lives, it’s more and more likely to be “good enough.” The old adage of “the best camera is the one you have with you” is more and more relevant these days. For me, 90% of the success in taking a good photo is simply being in the right place at the right time, being aware that the “photo opportunity” is there, and having a camera — any camera — to take advantage of that opportunity. Only 10% of the time does it matter which camera I’m using, or what technical features I’ve managed to use.
And now, with the recent advent of the iPhone5s, there is one more improvement — which, as far as I can tell, simply does not exist in any of the “professional” cameras. You can take an unlimited number of “burst-mode” shots with the new iPhone, simply by keeping your finger on the shutter button; instead of being limited to just six (as a few of the DSLR cameras currently offer), you can take 10, 20, or even a hundred shots. And then — almost magically — the iPhone will show you which one or two of the large burst of photos was optimally sharp and clear. With a couple of clicks, you can then delete everything else, and retain only the very best one or two from the entire burst.
With that in mind, I’ve begun using my iPhone5s for more and more “everyday” photo situations out on the street. Since I’m typically photographing ordinary, mundane events, even the one or two “optimal” shots that the camera-phone retains might not be worth showing anyone else … so there is still a lot of pruning and editing to be done, and I’m lucky if 10% of those “optimal” shots are good enough to justify uploading to Flickr and sharing with the rest of the world. Still, it’s an enormous benefit to know that my editing work can begin with photos that are more-or-less “technically” adequate, and that I don’t have to waste even a second reviewing dozens of technically-mediocre shots that are fuzzy, or blurred.
Oh, yeah, one other minor benefit of the iPhone5s (and presumably most other current brands of smartphone): it automatically geotags every photo and video, without any special effort on the photographer’s part. Only one of my other big, fat cameras (the Sony Alpha SLT A65) has that feature, and I’ve noticed that almost none of the “new” mirrorless cameras have got a built-in GPS thingy that will perform the geotagging…
I’ve had my iPhone5s for a couple of months now, but I’ve only been using the “burst-mode” photography feature aggressively for the past couple of weeks. As a result, the initial batch of photos that I’m uploading are all taken in the greater-NYC area. But as time goes on, and as my normal travel routine takes me to other parts of the world, I hope to add more and more “everyday” scenes in cities that I might not have the opportunity to photograph in a “serious” way.