Welcome to the Platinum Age of Photography

This article was first published by dmcityview.com

The mechanically captured still image has been around for over 150 years. In the mid 1840s, the Daguerreotype process was invented whereby a specially conditioned silver-plated copper would lock in an image when exposed to light and shadow. Silver and copper being two rather expensive metals you shouldn’t be surprised to learn the process died out quickly when film based photography started to develop. Jump to today and the pervasive nature of cameras has pushed the artform into what is unquestionably it’s platinum age.

To be clear the golden age is considered the midnight 20th century when film cameras were still considered a luxury for everyone to own, and were mostly owned or operated by professionals and artists. I consider today to be the platinum age because the technology and the know-how are nearly neck-and-neck as far as progress goes.

More than any feature or function digital cameras provide, the ability to take virtually unlimited pictures has fundamentally altered number of photographically gifted individuals on the planet. Don’t like a picture? Take it again! Heck, take a dozen more. Through the sheer almost involuntary nature by which we take pictures today, our collective skill has improved through accident. Add on top of that every device on the planet has a camera, meanwhile every web service and social network seems to require publishing photos to be relevant. Basically any photo you took ten years ago probably looks like a child took it compared to how you frame a shot now.

On built in camera specifications alone the iPhone 8, Android’s Pixel 2, or Samsung s9 are ridiculously powerful still and video cameras compared to anything previous generations used. The iPhone 8 is equipped with a 12 megapixel camera packed with a f/1.8 aperture and ⅓ inch sensor. From an HD video perspective, that camera is 6 times as powerful as necessary to capture HD video or 1.5 times as powerful as 4K footage requires. Plus a f/1.8 aperture is much faster than most built in camera lenses. So next time you hear a joke about the supercomputer in your pocket, fire back that it’s also a super camera.

But even if you need more than your built in smartphone camera, the amount of aftermarket accessories and gadget to kit out a smartphone is ridiculous. There are clip-on cell phone lens that allow for wide angle, macro, fisheye, as well as telephoto shots all of which can be purchased together for under $30. If you’re looking to take a family portrait and level your camera, there are specialized designed smartphone tripods or normal tripod accessories.

Finally if you want to try your hand at filmmaking nearly all smart devices are ready to bring your stories to life. First off there are a plethora of mobile handheld stabilizers like the Osmo Mobile, the Smoove, and Rigiet that allow smartphone filmmakers to capture long tracking shots. Concerned about audio? The ports on iPhones and Androids can be used to capture professional audio. Finally there are cages that allow cameramen to snap their phones in a case that allows all equipment to be attached for audio management, lighting, as well as most stabilization tools.

So while 100 years ago photography was a painful experience where heavy, frequently single use equipment required serious training, your pocket super camera is a gateway tool to photography mastery.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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