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Shades of Brown and Dust

JUAREZ, MEXICO and EL PASO, TEXAS–On each of my trips over the last few years I have used the iPhone (first the 5 and now the 5S) as a companion to whatever cameras I am working with. The iPhone has, essentially, taken the place of a point and shoot in my gear lineup and is capable of producing good prints at least up to a 16 by 24 (the largest I have made from this camera). This is truly astounding, considering how camera phones (and digital point and shoots in general) began. In fact, people, even relatively camera-savvy people, are surprised that such high-quality prints can be made from an iPhone. This is reflected, I don’t doubt, by Apple’s current marketing campaign promoting the camera–and thereby the rest of– the new iPhone 6. On the walls of the stores and lining the tunnels of the D.C. metro are large scale prints of various formats showing off the exceptional quality the camera phone (phone camera?) is capable of producing.


One of my favorite camera applications ever since getting an iPhone, in fact the first app I downloaded, is Hipstamatic. For those unfamiliar with Hipstamatic it is  an application that mimics the act of using different films and lenses. These are not, mind you, digital versions of films like those produced by programs like DXO Filmpack, VSCO, or Alien Skin Exposure. These are filters invented by various developers and given a name, an icon and a sort of personality. You must buy each film/lens combination (usually $.99) and then each can be combined in different ways with whatever films and lenses you already own.


It is similar, in effect, to the filters you might be familiar with via Instagram but with far greater variety and one key difference: you decide on a film/lens combination and that is the picture you get. You can’t change it later so, in essence, it really is much like choosing a lens and a film. I like that. Other may not be so keen on it but I think the ability to endlessly change and filter a digital image leads to uncertainty and creative malaise.


Overt the years I have experimented with many different lens/film combinations (which you can save within the app) and I tend to use one or two different ones depending on the situation I find myself in. For example, while in the Miskito Coast region I mainly used the Bettie XL lens + Float film, while out in Arizona and New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation I mostly photographed with the Tinto 1884 +C-Type Plate combo and, most recently  in El Paso and Juarez, I used Diego + Uchitel 20 for the images below.IMG_9066 IMG_9412 IMG_9240 IMG_9403 IMG_9605 IMG_9394 IMG_9481 IMG_9273 IMG_9679 IMG_9627 IMG_9503 IMG_9428 IMG_9065

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