Month: September 2016

iPhone 7 Plus camera thoughts

You’ve got a wide lens and a not so wide lens. Apple keep calling it a telephoto but its not really. It’s a mid-range prime I guess. Apple doesn’t see it as 2 cameras or the ability to swap lenses. Apple sees the dual camera functionality as a zoom lens. The way it works is that every time you open the camera app it defaults to 1x, to the 28mm-ish wide lens. To get to the 56mm-ish lens you have to tap the 1x button changing it to a 2x lens. It’s not wide and zoom. It’s 1x zoom and 2x zoom, like on a bridge camera. I guess I’ve been using primes for too long so I see this more like the ability to switch between lenses but Apple have chosen a different way of thinking about it. I guess its a more consumer focused way of thinking about it.

What this means is that it’s a little fiddly to quickly put it in street photo mode. Maybe there will be an app that can open directly to the 2x lens but that still requires unlocking and tapping the app instead of the quick swipe from the home screen.

One nice thing about the 56mm lens is you can get some good street photos with it. Everyone knows how wide the normal iPhone lens is so you’re able to get closer to people with the 56mm lens on and no-one will think you’re photographing them. You look like a tourist. Kinda handy.

I’m not really going to get technical nerdy about apertures n stuff. Plenty of sites where you can read about all that. But the other main feature is the portrait mode. It’s called portrait but maybe it should be called blurry background or something because it works just fine on random things like benches, cats, bottles, droids, etc. I’ve been testing it for the past day and I can see that its not 100% perfect but for the average Instagrammer its fine and I’m sure it’ll be popular. Nice thing about it is you can see it live on screen so you know whether its working and also when you take a photo it saves an un-bokeh’d version just so you’ve got it. This feature really needs good lighting though. Maybe because the software doesn’t like digital noise.

So I’ve had the phone for a few days. Love it in every way. Here’s what I’ve been doing with it.

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A little Biennial walk

It’s the Liverpool Biennial year. Unfortunately due to the loss of my dad I haven’t had the time to dedicate an entire day to walking the full Biennial trail. I’ve caught bits and pieces over the past few months like the dancing inanimate objects at the random apartment in One Park West, which while technically a fringe event was really nice. I’ve seen the stairs in Liverpool One, the Hummingbird telescopes in Derby Square and a few other things. I’ve also been lucky enough to see behind the scenes on a few commissions. So while I haven’t had the best chance to take time out and soak it all up like I normally do I feel like I’ve not missed out this year.

At the weekend we managed to find a few hours to nip to the out of town bits, Granby, Toxteth and Cains. I’m really not qualified to discuss the artwork. I couldn’t tell you what the deep meaning was of the lasers inside the Toxteth Reservoir but it sure looked cool. Thats why I enjoy the Biennial. I’m looking for the everyday made different so I can best photograph it. My brain just isn’t built for abstract artistic thinking.

I did enjoy our walk between locations but I did feel a bit like a tourist, well I guess I was. The only times I’ve ever really wandered around the Welsh Streets, Granby, Toxteth etc have been while there’s an event on because I feel “safe”. I’m a guy with pretty annoying social anxiety issues so for me to be able to casually wander around Toxteth with a camera I need the safety of an event. While I would like to walk around and document the street life there sometime I have no authority to do so. I’m not Tricia Porter or Paul Trevor. I’m a guy who loves street photography and fears people. I’m just kinda broken that way. Toxteth isn’t Bold Street. On Bold St you can vanish but Toxteth I feel that you need to be visible and you need to be accepted in order to do good work. Paul Trevor was, very much so. He’s a lovely guy to talk to.

What I mean is that I felt like I was a bit of an art tourist dropping into someones house party as a guest. I didn’t know the people there so I felt awkward, a bit shy etc. When I came out of the Granby house installation a guy on the street asked me for spare change. I had to apologise because I’m a trendy modern guy that only uses Apple Pay. I felt really uneasy after that. I questioned my motives for being there, for poking around what was someone’s home under the guise of interesting art. The whole area is filled with decaying homes and it’s upsetting because you can see that the community is passionate about the area. Those decaying homes that have been boarded up are covered with drawings. Round the corner the Granby 4 Streets project is working with the talented Assemble to create new homes. This project won the Turner Prize and has interestingly enough been classed as art. It’s at this point when everything just becomes hard to wrap my head around. What is art? Is everything art? Was the homeless guy asking for money art? No, that’s stupid. What am I thinking here? I guess at the end of the day I’m thinking that on the one hand I may not fully get the intended meaning behind the specific artwork of the Biennial but the experience certainly made me think. Thats a good thing. Art should encourage discussion and thought. If it can be used as a force for social change then bloody well deploy that art.

*phew* Right. That got kinda deep so heres some pretty pictures.

Oh and if you go to the Oratory and have some spare time say the words “I like my friends” at the desk. You’ve got a couple of weeks left to do that. It’s interesting.

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Littlewoods Bunker by shedkm

I’m on a series of RIBA architecture tours over the next couple of weeks. The first was of shedkm’s very cool Littlewoods Bunker. Things I loved included the strong use of colour and bold typography against a concrete frame. Bold yellows, black and concrete. Nice. It’s a great little building and good to see the plans for the wider area. Once its all done the whole Littlewoods complex should be a great community. Read More

Lakes Alive in Kendal

A new festival up in Kendal. I cover so many events and I’m usually rushed off my feet trying to Pokémon it all. This was a festival just as jam packed as any but somehow super chilled out. Maybe it was because it was spread over a few days and we glampped over. Is that how you even use that word? Glamped over. Well thats what we did. Posh tent out in a field 5 minutes from a Morissons and idling sheep. I’m doing a middle class wrist flick snap yo.

Unfortunately we couldn’t see the first days performances due to work but the second and third were lovely. A giraffe roamed Kendal nibbling on the tall trees. There was a permanent full moon inside a church. You made your own screen print totes. Live music filled another church at night. You could fly a drone and a project by Ironbird and Draw & Code, Bird Hive let you fly over the Lakes with a 360 degree VR experience like you were a bird… Or well a bird captured by a robot from a dystopian future perhaps as when you looked up you would see your drone overlord. VR outdoors made for a super accessible experience.

On Sunday a few hundred people helped to build a stunningly beautiful installation about climate change. Everything was in walking distance and there was a festival beer too which I grew to like quite quickly. The installation was called Minimum Monument by Néle Azevedo. 3,500 tiny ice figures had been made by the local community and transported up to Kendal Castle to be installed by whoever visited the castle on the day. It wasn’t just a thing to look at you had the task of building the piece of artwork. It really helped people think about the issue of climate change without thinking about politics and science.

Oh and there was Lego used like putty to fill holes in a wall. This festival had so much to love.

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