What is my Passion? Do I even have one?

Does everyone have a passion? One particular interest that provokes intense feelings and takes over your mind like no other subject can.

I’m sure they can and do, but I feel kind of fickle in that regard. Until recently, I had convinced myself that photography was my passion. It’s certainly an activity that I take a great deal of enjoyment from, but on the other hand, I don’t live for it. I don’t miss it that much when I don’t pick up my camera for a few days or even a week.

Now that I’ve got my new road bike, cycling is becoming a massive part of my life. When I see cycling on TV, the desire to jump on my bike and ride is tough to ignore.

The fact that when I’m not riding my bike, I’m often thinking about doing so, just makes me feel that perhaps I was just convincing myself that photography was my passion because I knew that it was a job I would rather do over many others.

Of course, I would be happy doing it for a job whether it’s my passion or not as I still enjoy it very much, but it makes me question myself more and more.

I don’t know if even cycling is my passion, whether it’s motor racing, something I’ve yet to discover or maybe even nothing at all.

I wonder what percentage of people really have a passion and what the most common ones are.


More on iPhoneography and Hipstamatic

Image representing Instagram as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

I wrote a while ago about whether iPhone photography, or iPhoneography as it’s often referred to is good or bad for photography in general. I was fully in support of these kinds of apps which allow anyone to really bring out their artistic flair while taking regular snap photos.

Hipstamatic is similar to Instagram in many of the things it does, but rather than you taking a photo first and then applying a filter afterwards, Hipstamatic is designed to invoke the feeling of using analogue cameras by allowing you to change your virtual lens, film and flash. Each of these things has an impact on how the picture and the frame turn out, and a lot of the fun is in trying to find your favourite combination, and seeing how making small changes effects your shot.

The interface is designed to immerse you in this feeling by actually showing a limited viewfinder and a shutter release button on the back. It’s a typically very stylish iPhone interface that really immerses you more. While the small viewfinder isn’t the most practical idea ever due to the fact that you’re wasting the large touch screen, it doesn’t really matter as long as you can frame the shot well enough. I think that losing the larger framing ability is made up for by having a large shutter button located in the top right corner. This allows you to get a much better grip of the device when shooting and is the closest we’re probably going to get to a dedicated camera button for quite a while I would imagine. We don’t know if Apple sees this as a priority and they always like to reaffirm their belief that touch controls are superior to buttons most of the time. Therefore, I wouldn’t hold your breath for a dedicated button on the iPhone 5.

The optional in-app purchases of new lenses, films and flashes in bundles known as hipstapaks is a bit  sneaky in my opinion, as each one costs about half the price of the app itself. If they could lower the prices of those by about half then I think that would be fair. Especially because you really don’t know how the effects are going to work in practise on the shots you take until after you’ve purchased them, so they may end up being big disappointments.

While I am a huge photography fan, I have to admit that without the digital revolution, I just don’t think I would have gotten into it as much as I have. Analogue is great now because it’s an extra option to play with as a novelty, but for everyday use it’s definitely a huge chore and too expensive to be viable today. This is why this kind of app is a great fun tool for everyone to be able to bring back the feel of analogue photography in a sense, but without any of the cost.

Purists will disagree of course, but even they must admit that just trying to recreate the look of those classic cameras is still a great thing, especially for young people who will have never used an analogue camera while growing up. Mine was probably the last generation to not have digital cameras readily available and cheap enough to make the old one-use and regular point-and-shoot film cameras practically obsolete.

Another benefit of this type of photography is that it really allows you to get back to basics, forgetting about complex SLR settings and just letting you focus on composing your shot and being as artistic as you can. Because the resolution of the iPod Touch camera is so low, it adds even more to the fun as you know that no matter what you do, the shots will never look even close to what you can get out of an SLR. You can let the content itself speak for the quality, and the customisable elements have an even bigger role in making the end result look good.

As I wrote in my last post on this subject, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many young people had gotten into photography seriously as a result of playing with apps such as these, and that is of course still a brilliant thing.

The reason I decided to download Hipstamatic today was because I saw the following article linked to below on Mashable about a UK art gallery putting on an exhibition of Hipstamatic photos. It’s a modern concept and I really like the idea. It promotes pure artistic vision over technical know-how and that’s what photography should be all about at the heart of it.


Instagram and the Rise of Artistic iPhone Photography

Casual snap photographers have been replacing their point and shoots with more practical mobile phones for many years now, and the technology behind those camera-phones has consistently been improving. While even the most expensive of phones can’t match the performance in resolution and picture quality of even the average current point and shoot models, quality is often overlooked in favour of ease of use, practicality and sharing options.

Instagram is a free app available on the app store which combines all of these things, but also adds fun into the mix with a series of filters which are designed to make even the most drab and boring of photos into masterpieces. As someone who appreciates photography in all forms, I really like the concept. It allows everyone to be artistic in their photo taking and I think that’s a great thing. While you lose the photo quality, customisation options and the coolness factor of holding an SLR in your hands, it makes up for those things in sheer fun.

As mentioned before, sharing is a big part of apps like Instagram as well, as it allows you to upload to all of the familiar destinations: Twitter, Flicker, Facebook and even Foursquare along with a location sign in. For free, it’s definitely a must download, and there are other similar apps that play around with the old school way of photo taking and manipulation, but with a modern twist.

One last cool thought would be that if these kinds of apps ignite an undiscovered passion for photography in someone, then that’s another great benefit.


Getting Inspired for Photography

Nikon D700 camera
The tradition tool of the professional. Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always been into the idea of Photography as an artistic medium and it’s something that I wish I had got into properly much earlier on. I never really owned a real digital camera until my birthday this year, but I now have a Sony point and shoot, which takes pretty good, detailed photos at 14mp. Considering that until recently the only cameras I’ve had access to since I was at school and owned a film camera have been mobile phones with terrible resolution.

It’s really refreshing to be able to open iPhoto and crop images quite strongly to reveal hidden detail, without seeing a blurry mess. A photo I shot yesterday at the beach of a windsurfer initially didn’t seem to have captured him at all. I couldn’t see any detail on the camera screen itself, but when I got home I noticed that it captured a lot more than I initially thought.

When I got my new camera I went out and took some photos at my favourite place, the promenade. After that though, I ended up leaving it on my shelf for the last couple of months until this week. A new show started on Channel 5 called how to take stunning pictures. I decided to take a look and they did actually inspire me with the advice they gave. Although the first episode is on portrait photography, something I’m not as into, the tips are relevant no matter what you shoot.

Things like trying to avoid using the flash and making the most of natural light is something I’ve thought myself for a while. It was also inspiring to hear professionals say that it doesn’t matter what equipment you use, whether it be an SLR or a phone camera, you can still create great photos. There always seems to be this notion that the bigger lens you have, the more you know what you’re doing. I’d like to think that the best photo galleries in the world in the future can include shots taken with a regular phone. It should be the artistic vision and not the quality of the equipment that defines a photographer. A terrible movie in HD wouldn’t be considered better than a black and white classic, so why the difference here?

Photography is so accessible now compared to the pre-digital days and in a way that makes me sad that people aren’t being a bit more creative. Almost every person who walks down the street will have a camera with them in some form or another. It’s also important to remember that cameras are there as tools for all kinds of things that aren’t necessarily art related. Taking a quick photo of an eBay auction item doesn’t need to be spectacular, but trying to be a little artistic may end up helping you sell whatever it may be.

In other words, trying to approach any photo opportunity as an artistic one will if nothing else, make taking photos more fun and that is something that everyone wants their experience to be.

I’ve always liked the idea of holding an SLR camera and feeling like a pro, even if I’m not. Whether I can take this hobby and go further with it is unknown, but I’ll definitely continue my interest in the medium whatever happens and hopefully develop my skills a lot over time.