When news hit that a new camera would be arriving in stores later this year allowing you to apply focus effects on your pictures in post production, interest seemed to be as intense as an amateur photographer capturing her first standout photograph. Based on recent online comments about the camera, however, the excitement seemed to be from those who still wallow in the frustration of capturing a perfect photograph. Following in tow were a few lonely protests from more seasoned photographers lamenting the demise of people taking time to learn the craft of photography.
Blame this discord on the Lytro light field camera due out later this year and created by photography technician Ren Ng. (See References)
Yet for those living in the last twenty years, an adamant attitude formed in Generation Y into believing digital photography is the true approach to capturing images of the world around us. Not that you still can’t find a rare few from the same generation who swear by the older methods of using film and a decades-old manual camera to help capture major or mundane events. But as a whole, digital has been embedded into multi-generational DNA as a dependency on megapixels being the true path to truly capturing the nuances of reality.
The new digital Lytro camera is going to enhance the clarity of reality even more by using light field technology that captures all the light available in the scene you’re photographing. It’s through this technology that allows you an image with more depth–then giving you a chance to manipulate the focus of the image later. This means you can blur out your obnoxious uncle standing in front of you in the family reunion photo and make your wife or girlfriend in the background the center of focus instead.
Call it the beginning of a new photographic dependency as Lytro wants.
Or, you can also call it a new extension or enhancement of Photoshop that, in the last decade, arguably took photography into the world of the grotesquely surreal. All you need as proof is occasionally spying an overlooked third arm on a model in a fashion magazine photoshoot. Add the manipulation of the same model’s face so it looks like she walked out of an overly ambitious and overpriced Los Angeles plastic surgeon.
While adding a post-focus feature to your photograph is quite banal in contrast, the twisting of reality in photographs seems to be here to stay as a real philosophy on photography that all photographic philosophers of the past never predicted or could possibly tolerate today.
And because most philosophies in art are impossible to stop once they start, it’s one those old philosophers would have to deride over the shoulder of the modern person doing post-photographic edits on his computer.
Nevertheless, the quest is always on to find the perfect photograph giving the ultimate view of the world for sale to a magazine or other piece of media. When you add the ability to take 3D images with the Lytro camera, we may be able to see more than we have prior. Creating the most powerful essence of something in a photograph, though, doesn’t necessarily mean seeing every morsel of detail or manipulating the image.
If you have to find the biggest fault of the digital photography era, it’s the lack of simplification in learning how to use a digital camera properly. Granted, using film-based cameras can also be a time-consuming art form to learn. One committed to the art and craft of photography, nonetheless, could generally learn the elements of photography easier with a camera that doesn’t add peripheral features that require days, weeks or months to learn.
Despite the ease of use of digital compact cameras (Ashton Kutcher must have a raise by now from Nikon Coolpix), most neophytes to photography capitulate to the camera’s auto features rather than tweaking features manually. Likewise with digital single lens reflex cameras (or DSLR’s), most beginners become frustrated trying to use all the myriad features to take a creative picture they can call their own. In many cases, the auto features on digital cameras usually don’t cooperate and end up giving an amateur a picture that lives up to their title — with occasional happy accidents.
Overall, a lack of time or just an unwillingness to take time to learn is the new culprit in forming a new breed of potentially creative photographers.
Add to that the expectations of photography being ever higher based on such a high volume of good to great photographers worldwide, and you have a major pathway for the Lytro camera to succeed in the marketplace.
The idea that such a camera is going to be a smash success also gives proof that photography has become an art form loaded with pressures. No longer is it a part of a more relaxed pastime to capture the instantaneous essence of people, things and events. Now that we have better chances of making money at it in the age of the Internet, the desire to get perfect results for a high premium is being routed into cameras that can bring magic without anybody questioning how it was done.
If there’s any bigger beef with the old school photography movement, it’s the accolades showered on those who make alterations to a photo after it’s taken. Many photo contests you see on local or national levels don’t stipulate using photos that have no digital editing tricks. Because many digitally altered photos look undeniably beautiful in various ethereal ways, they usually become the ones that win and keep setting irrevocable precedents.
In that regard, some will say it’s truly impossible to capture anything like a digitally altered picture or a Lytro style picture with an older camera. It’s been forgotten that capturing the essence of something is quite different from the bravado of special effects.
Essence is really the missing link in photography that can be captured with the cheapest disposable camera. It doesn’t even have to involve the adjustment of ISO, aperture, F-stop, shutter speed or the use of telephoto lenses. All it takes is someone with a creative eye and a basic understanding of lighting. The use of both can capture the essence of people and things through angle, shadow and light. In many cases, the tweaking of a camera’s effects without thorough knowledge of them can make a photo’s essence even more unusual.
It’s this distinguishing factor in photography that has to be divided from the novice critic who likely tells you that you must have had a good camera to take that unique picture you’re showing off. You don’t have to tell him it was taken off your iPhone camera.
The person taking the picture ultimately has to be re-found within all the chaos of technology that sets the new photography rules. Everything the person is should be reflected in the photograph to make photography a human art form again while giving credit to the photo’s creator.
This doesn’t necessarily negate the use of the Lytro camera if the above scenario ever returns. When it comes to new photographic technology, it’s malleable enough to take it down several notches in order to inject one’s own unique soul through the digital filter lens.