Photo Friday: Stygian Jack

This week I had my camera at work to take a picture of my new desk (forthcoming), and I also took the time to snap a photo for this week’s Photo Friday image.

Stygian Jack

Samurai Jack on dangerous waters

This became an exercise of using whatever’s available to set up an image. In this case, I set him up with the background as the riser on the back of my desk. I cropped most of it out, but the backdrop now barely visible above the background wood is my black polo shirt; I had to block reflections on some windows and I stood back there to trigger the shutter with a remote anyway. I illuminated Jack with the LCD screen on my MacBook Pro cranked up to full brightness, and I used the angled surface of my Magic Trackpad as a lens prop.

I’ve found small, wedge-shaped objects excellent lens props in a pinch. Rather than purchase a fancy Gorilla Pod or a beanbag like THE pod, I’m thinking a simple, old-fashioned wooden or rubber door stop would be enough for fast-and-dirty lens elevation without adding height. One could be cut from scrap wood for nothing, and a narrow one wouldn’t creep into the edges of wide shots like, say, a book would.

On a separate photography note, I’ve been reading more about the Lytro light field cameras. I still think it’s an interesting concept, but I have yet to see a photograph that convinces me I need one of these things. Take the photos from the Lytro site or this Wired article, for example. Not a one of them says “wow!” to me other than the ability to fiddle with the focus.

So far, best case scenario, it’s a cool point-and-shoot camera someone can use to keep from flubbing focus. I can click a point to make a photo passable, or I can click elsewhere and ruin it. This is a great feature reduced to a gimmick by handing the ability off to others to click around and fiddle with focus.

Sure, maybe someone can make any photo their own. But here’s the thing: at least compose the photos so they’re interesting at all focus points. Now that’s a challenge I’d like to see some of the great pros undertake. Rescuing candids is one thing, but I bet if someone set up a scene or image where I may like the focus on something in the foreground, the next guy may like the focus on something in the background, but we can both agree that it’s a great photo in either scenario, we would start seeing some really impressive work. For now, most of the photos are ruined by clicking around.

There are also several sample photos in the batch I’d like to see in focus most of the way through. Is this not a possibility? Imagine if a photographer can expand his depth of field from a few inches to a few feet—or even a few yards—on the fly in post-processing. That would be slick.

Until then it’s just another point-and-shoot that I’d have to carry in addition to the one built into my smartphone. It doesn’t appear to have the optical sharpness of higher-end point-and-shoot cameras or DSLR lenses (yet), so it’s not going to sell pros (yet). I also haven’t read anything about low-light performance or shutter speed and motion capture.

Is it convenient, and does it save average shooters and candid shots? Hell yes it does. It’s very impressive in that respect. And yes, I understand they’re just getting started with this technology and we may see it in more places.

I just don’t see many of us tossing out our DSLR gear anytime soon.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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