Fly’s Eyes and Virtual Reality: Rethinking Photography

Over…done…finished. Time to say ta ta and wave the hankie.

Ciao to the single lens reflex camera – film or digital – which has not changed shape since 1949, along with its supporting cast of lenses, gew-gahs and the Duck Dynasty vests needed to carry them. Ciao to the hulking video camera (I once carried a 7 pounder plus an equally heavy VCR and a suitcase full of tapes and batteries through the jungles of Borneo).

My aching back and tired shoulders have schlepped this stuff to some 60 countries since the 1980s. Good riddance, I say.

I have been rethinking the process of photography for the past few years.


Consumer Camera Bests Camera Used By Hollywood


When you taste wines, you never do blind tastings. You’d be terrified.  – Francis Ford Coppola, winemaker/director

Francis Ford Coppola chose the camera I use, a humble $750 Panasonic, over professional rigs costing 100 times more. He sat in a screening room with a bunch of other top flight directors and cinematographers and looked at images from nine cameras, from an iPhone to a $60 thousand dollar Sony CineAlta and determined that the second cheapest, the Panasonic GH2, was the best of the bunch. Many of the rest of the film hotshots couldn’t really make up their mind, even saying that the iPhone was perfectly capable of shooting a feature film.

The consensus was that the camera really doesn’t matter so much anymore, they’re all good. It depends on the lens and on the skills of the person behind it. Picasso beats the chimp with the paintbrush hands down.


Rise of the Frankencam


When I was a child, a friend of my dad’s, a boxing photographer named Ed, one of the cigar-chomping bulldogs you saw in the movies resting the beds of their Speed Graphic’s on the canvas, gave me one of his old cameras, a Burke and James 4×5 Speed Press. I used it as a camera and, by mounting it on a stand that my father rigged up, a darkroom enlarger. You could switch out its lenses, lens boards and backs for different optics and film sizes. Ed had also “hacked” it, literally, with a hack saw and soldering iron, adding his own levers so he could feel the focus and f-stops without taking his eye off of the action in the ring.

Now, after decades of subservience to the lords of Nikon and Canon, who locked us into their predictable products as surely as MacDonalds imprinted our DNAs with Big Macs, the serfs have crashed the gate of the castle: cameras are again hackable.


Lightscoop: Cure for Ugly Flash Pictures

The Doctor is in! Dr. Ken Kobré, that is, and his Lightscoop is the a cure for those ugly flash pictures that wash out faces, cause red eyes and obliterate background figures. The lightweight, inexpensive device fits atop most pop-up flash cameras and provides a wash of flattering light. Guests at The Connected Traveler Technology Showcase were photographed in front of a beach backdrop with a hula dancer in the foreground and thanks to the Lightscoop, their photos turned into instant flattering digital postcards.