Incidental Geometry

Airplane and architecture

There was a significant amount of swearing involved in the creation of this image.

I was walking along with Crystal on the pedestrian mall at Silver Spring, marveling at the blue sky and 80º weather. I spot a plane leaving a narrow white chalk-mark across the pristine sky in pleasing juxtaposition with the nearby architecture.

Immediately, the internal debate: iPhone or GF-1? Both will involve getting into my bag, which I am currently wearing as a backpack. The iPhone is in an outer pocket, the GF-1 in the main compartment. Gah! What to do? What to do?!

The iPhone’s lens is wider-angle. So I’ll probably have to crop to approximate what I’m seeing right now. And if I have to crop (which seems likely), I want to have as many pixels as possible, but the iPhone is lower resolution; if the angle of the normal lens of the GF-1 will give me what I’m seeing, I probably won’t have to crop at all, but if I do, I’ll have more pixels to work with. Okay, so I guess the GF-1 is best.

I unsling the backpack and fish out the GF-1, which has wedged itself in an unfortunate spot in my bag and practically requires a crowbar to extricate it. The seconds are ticking by. I uncap the lens. I turn the camera on. I hold the electric viewfinder up to my eye and I can see nothing. It’s whited out. WTF??? I turn it off and on again.

The plane is moving in an inexorable trajectory, and the picture I thought I would make is changing and becoming less compelling.

Still white.

Crap. The ISO was left set to 1600.

Use the menuing system to change the ISO back to auto.

DAMN IT, the EVF has once again failed to retain its diopter setting. Focus the diopter to accommodate my middle-aged eyes.

I now make four exposures in rapid succession with the bitter taste of defeat in my mouth. A steady stream of invective has accompanied this entire process.

Would I have been able to get the picture quicker or better with the iPhone? Hard to say.

  • Fish out the iPhone.
  • Orient it correctly (with my old iPhone it was extremely easy to tell simply by touching the edges which way was front/back and up/down; the new one, not so much).
  • Double click to quickly activate in locked camera-mode.
  • Tap camera icon.
  • Frame.
  • Tap to focus or set exposure (focus was pretty much infinity in this shot).
  • Tap or press volume button to release shutter.

My best guess is that I would have gotten a picture more quickly, but only by a small margin. And I would probably not have been as happy with the image quality. As it turns out, I quite like this last of the four exposures I made while swearing up a storm.

The take-away from this is: if you want to make a photograph quickly, at a moment’s notice, there is no substitute for having it in your hand. If you have to virtually get undressed to deploy it, you’ll miss the shot. Furthermore, it’s better to get the shot you want with the wrong camera than to not get it at all.

Oh, and one other lesson? If you’re willing to be my friend, you’ll inevitably get to witness one of these DEFCON 1 aesthetic emergencies, where it looks like I’m having an attack of some horrible St. Vitus’ Dance/Tourette’s mash-up as I scramble to photograph a thing, often not at all obvious, which probably nobody but me thinks is worth a second glance. And it will probably happen while you’re in the middle of saying something important and interesting. So I apologize both retrospectively and in advance.

A Year Ago: Picky

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2 Responses to Incidental Geometry
  1. [...] I spotted this somewhat collapsed mobile in the late afternoon light. After the annoyance with the airplane photo, I wanted to make sure I at least documented it for myself, so I whipped out the iPhone and made [...]

  2. [...] A Year Ago: Incidental Geometry [...]