Slow Shutter Makes Long Exposures Easy

ghost cabs
Took this within minutes of trying out Slow Shutter - and it was the DCist Photo of the Day!

I heard about Slow Shutter from James Campbell, an iPhoneographer who I’m pretty sure has every iPhone photo app ever created. I was fascinated by the blurry, abstract long exposures that he had created with it.

I have a “real” camera, a Canon DSLR, that I could use to get long exposures. I’ve done so before, but it’s always a bit of trial and error, since I don’t create long exposures that often.

Slow Shutter and it's rather cryptic controls
Slow Shutter and it's rather cryptic controls

Slow Shutter has enabled me to get long exposures just with a click – the app is that easy. I downloaded it, played it with a bit (the controls are little cryptic), then went out into the street. I wanted a photo of cabs going by.

But the cabs weren’t going fast enough – they didn’t have the long lines I wanted. So, I went to another corner and waited for the stoplight to change. Taxis took off and I got my shot.

I ran the photo through Slow Shutter, adjusting the “freeze” until it was dreamy, blurry and ghostlike while still retaining enough of the scene to make it identifiable.

Then I used Instagram (best iPhone photo app ever) to crop it to a square, Polaroid format using the X-Pro II filter. The filter also vignetted the photo, something I always like.

Slow Shutter preferences
You can do a lot with these Slow Shutter preferences.

My dreamy cab shot made the DCist Photo of the Day. It’s one of those common urban scenes but with a slightly different, mysterious perspective.

Some photographers might look at Slow Shutter and say, “That’s cheating.”

My knowledge of f-stops and exposure times is, at best, limited. Just a few years ago you’d need fancy equipment, technical knowhow and darkroom experience to get such a shot. Now it can be done with just a click.

But what can’t be duplicated by technology is a good eye. Apps like Slow Shutter just make it easier for photographers to achieve their vision.

And like a good iPhone app, it’s also a lot of fun.

Art, Food and Protest: My Year in Photos

A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.
– John A. Shedd

2011 was the year I decided that a camera in a bag was a dead camera. Our photographic tools (DSLRs, point-and-shoots, iPhones) are designed to be used. That’s where they’re built for.

I’m also fortunate/cursed to live in interesting times, as protests descend upon Washington. I know the city well and can get just about anywhere quickly by walking or biking.

So, I decided that I would use my Canon T2i and iPhone 4 to document political protests, art events, food and just interesting things I saw in the city.


One of my favorite photos of the year was from an OccupyDC protest:

hippie star Continue reading “Art, Food and Protest: My Year in Photos”

First Place in the Fotoweek Mobile Phone Image Contest

I recently won first place in the Fotoweek Mobile Phone Image Contest. Here’s how I came up with the winning photo.

The theme of the competition was “Fotoweek Through the Mobile Lens”:

Mobile devices allow you to get up close to capture intimate moments, abstract macros, candid street photos, night projects, and what FotoWeek DC Festival means to you this year as you walk around DC and experience all of our events.

I went to several Fotoweek shows but was so busy seeing amazing photos that I hardly took any pictures at all. Continue reading “First Place in the Fotoweek Mobile Phone Image Contest”

InstantDC Returns

light against blue skyI’ve become a huge fan of iPhoneography. While I have a “real” camera (a Canon T2i), my iPhone is with me all the time. It’s great to capture the little moments of life that you might otherwise miss.

Somehow, it’s also more fun, less serious than taking out the big camera.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr. That’s quite an achievement for a device whose primary function is to make calls.

And now iPhone photos are making their way into art galleries. And I have a picture in one of them (see above). My photo is one of fifty photos selected by judges for the InstantDC show on November 9. There are some great photographers represented – Jim Darling, Keith Lane and Greg Schmigel, among others.


Friday Photo: The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead
Bridge over the New River, near Fosters Falls, VA

This is from one of my favorite places – New River Trail State Park in southwest Virginia. It’s an old rail-trail that follows the river for miles. It’s scenic and sparcely-used, especially in late fall. I was lucky to get this picture (and bike ride) in before the weather turned. This is where the trail goes over a road which looks like it could be the cover of a country album.

It’s an iPhone pic modified in Instagram.

Bonus: here’s a video of biking down the trail.

"The City of the Dead" Published in Digital Americana

Digital Americana july coverIn the age of the e-book, how will readers discover new authors? One possible way might be through journals like Digital Americana, the world’s first literary magazine for tablets. It’s like Esquire or The New Yorker but on an iPad.

And they just published my short story, “The City of the Dead.” My story is about a former Senator’s efforts to right a wrong in sunny Florida, as seen from the perspective of his imperious Egyptian wife.

Digital Americana is a gorgeous multimedia reading experience, featuring over 80 pages of fiction, poetry, interviews, book reviews, music videos and beautiful photos all in a format that you can scroll through on an iPad or iPhone. I’m biased, of course, but it’s one of the prettiest magazines I’ve ever seen.

To read “The City of the Dead”, buy the Digital Americana app for your iPad or iPhone. It costs all of 99 cents and includes the July Freedom issue. My story is on page 44.

Friday Photo: The View from 5F

Flying, especially on USAIR, is hellish. Sometimes, however, you get lucky and end up in seat 5F when your flight returns to DCA via the winding western route along the Potomac. It’s like a roller-coaster ride as you turn and bank along the river in the approach to the airport. The plane made a banking right turn, allowing me to capture this shot of Rosslyn from above. I shot this with an iPhone 4 on the HDR setting, then used the “punch” preset in Adobe Lightroom to make it more contrasty.