Behind Lens - Low-tech photography
Now that most people carry a cell phone with a built-in camera, spontaneity and creativity trumps technical perfection. Face it, a cell phone is always with you. Camera apps for your phone like, FxCamera, CameraBag, Hipstamatic and Retro Camera, all offer filters and effects to mimic toy cameras, fisheye lenses and Polaroids etc., creating a retro and analog look.
My wife and I recently went to see Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The reunited triptych is on display through Aug. 7. Monet depicted his water garden in Giverny, France, as a near abstract surface of shifting light and color. The Impressionist master’s painting captures a feeling and experience more than a detailed document of his subject. If Monet had used a camera rather than a brush, he probably would have gone low-tech. I imagine him using a Diana or Holga instead of a Hasselblad to photograph his lilies. The Diana and Holga are cheap, plastic film cameras that produce muted, blurry and optically distorted images. The Hasselblad is an expensive, professional camera known for its precision and razor sharp images.
Low-tech photography is popular, and I’ve noticed quite a few shutterbug friends, myself included, joining this retro trend. The company Lomography distributes an extensive collection of inexpensive film cameras and has a large international and cult-like fan base, all sharing a passion for creative and experimental film photography. Urban Outfitters, 1013 Mass., carries several shelves of plastic Lomo cameras, including the Holga and Diana. This fascination for less than technically perfect but creative imagery has made its way to digital photography, too. One product, the Dreamy Diana Lens, is a plastic lens that you can mount on your expensive DSLR and turn it into a digital toy camera. So while digital camera makers increase resolution and color accuracy, many shooters reach instead for fun tools that do the opposite, de-empasizing formal technique and high-fidelity.
Now that most people carry a cell phone with a built-in camera, spontaneity and creativity trumps technical perfection. Face it, a cell phone is always with you. Camera apps for your phone like FxCamera, CameraBag, Hipstamatic and Retro Camera all offer filters and effects to mimic toy cameras, fisheye lenses and Polaroids, among others.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration or a way to bring more spontaneity and fun to your photography, try going retro. And keep in mind the Lomography credo: “Don’t think, just shoot.”