Getting Into Focus

flowers in focus

Flowers in Focus

Remember the old days when we used cameras with film?

Taking pictures was simple, but a little cumbersome. We need to make sure we had the right film for our camera, we needed to have someone else develop the film ( unless we were really hardcore and had our own dark room) and were often disappointed in the quality of then pictures when We got them back because they were under or over exposed, out of focus, or poorly framed. Of course Polaroid cameras gave us instant photos, but the film was really expensive, and after one hour film development became common, our wait time was minimized, but there was always the fear of that Robin Williams-type stalker guy looking at your private pictures.

Now it seems like we’ve had the benefit of digital cameras forever. We don’t often think about how the digital camera has changed our lives. We take huge amounts of photos, never worrying about the amount of or type of film we have with us ( of course we have memory card limitations but they are really not the same problem). We see our mistakes right away so we can take an extra shot when we make a mistake. We perform miracles in post editing, adjusting light levels,color saturation, cropping, reversing,resizing, and adding special effects.

The introduction of photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa ( now Google Photos) and Snapfish allowed us to share our photos immediately with family and friends all over the world. By the time we started sharing photos on Social networks, we were completely blasé about sharing.

The provision of camera phones made cameras positively ubiquitous. Now we had still and video cameras that were constantly in our pockets, and upload our pictures to file sharing platforms like Twitpics, Facebook, MySpace and Google + instantaneously. It seems like things just couldnt get any better. And yet it seems that they can, and perhaps just did.
Lytro, a startup company located in silicon valley is introducing something called a light field camera that captures color,intensity and the direction of individual light rays to allow you to adjust the focus of camera after you take a picture. These interactive pictures on Lytro’s site  demonstrate just what that means in terms of enhanced creativity. The concept is mind boggling.( I assume you took minute to go play with the interactive photo and found it as incredible as I did- if you didn’t , go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait.).

Now it doesn’t matter where we choose to focus. We’ll be able to shoot now and focus later., making our photos as artistic as we want, or making choices about what we want to emphasize when we’re working on the photos well after we shot them.   Like the introduction of the digital camera, this technology may well change the way we take and use our photos for a long time to come.

The manufacturers also claim that the camera will work in low light situations without a flash, and create 3D photos with a single lens, pretty impressive claims. The price of the camera has not yet been announced, but it it is priced competitively, and is portable enough to compete with existing pocket cameras or DSLRs, it could send revolutionize photography yet again. I know I’m just waiting for the price to see how soon I’ll be able to own one. What about you?

(UPDATE 10/21/2011) Lytro has finally released their new camera. With a price point of $399, and only two buttons to push (power and shutter) the Lytro looks to be the simplest camera made since George Kodak came out with his box camera and the motto “You push the button and leave the rest to us!”

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