What’s so funny?

Smiles. We’ve all got ‘em. And just as importantly, we all use ‘em.

Happy, satisfied, impressed, thankful, vengeful, bullshitting, drunken… Smiling.

Plenty of us think that we’ve got to smile whenever a camera is pointed at us. That that’s the proper image to publicly project. Everything in our life is perfect, and we want you to know it.

BULLSHIT! Don’t lie to me! There’s something fucked up in your life (your bunion is killing you; you’re wearing two day old underpants; the latest Star Trek movie was shit; the person taking your picture is an asshole…..) and we both know it. 

But I suppose it’s not really your fault. You’ve been told ever since you were knee high to a grasshopper to ‘smile for the camera’ by your parents, or someone close to you. 

Guess what? They lied. Or, rather, they told you that you should lie when someone was about to take your picture.

Used to be that only East Europeans, bank managers, and communists posed for pictures with a dour, or expressionless appearance. They had to. It was serious business being an East European/commie. Under their regime, anything that could be misconstrued as levity might get you a free trip north for some personalized ‘political rehabilitation.’ And bank managers? That’s some serious shit as well. They had better not be fucking around with my money!

But maybe, just maybe, our culture of forced smiles is a remnant of our side of the Cold War. “Why aren’t you smiling?  Dontcha know how good you gottit? Whattareya, some kinda’ godless pinko commie?” Smile, or you’ll be black listed, ostracized, and persecuted.

Alright, yeah, I’ll admit it, sometimes we’re just in a good mood, so we smile. That’s a good thing. But smiling all the time, or smiling on demand? That’s just weird. Or insane.

Above self portrait of yours truly, ‘ol puttyface,’ not smiling for the camera, having just found out that Jason Van Der Beek wasn’t in the running for the Mirror Ball Trophy on season 28 of Dancing with the stars. (extra shadows, and deep side lighting to intensify the gloom)

Sooner than you think

When I was a kid, had I told someone that in the future, we’d all be carrying around a little rectangular thing that fit into our pants pocket; that enabled us to simultaneously talk to a friend in Cambodia, while taking pictures, and was also capable of storing our entire music collection; giving regular weather updates; choosing between watching pornographic videos on public transportation, or searching for the perfect Shakespearean allegory about your shit job so you could impress the other stiffs that you work with at you annual staff mixer, somebody would have slapped me in the back of the head for being a dreaming flake.

Hell, to us, Dick Tracy’s ‘two way wrist radio’ was still some kind of voodoo fuckery that existed only in the blurred, and murky future.

(Of course, I didn’t tell anyone that -I was too busy trying to figure out ways to get to Hollywood and somehow woo Farrah Fawcett-Major away from the Six Million Dollar Man, and trying to fill every blank space in my Esso sticker book of every (256 at the time) player in the NHL. Kinda’ goes without saying that I didn’t want the slap in the head, either.)

But here we are. 

One of the neat things you get to experience as you get older is the sweeping changes in technology. I’ve already mentioned the insane capabilities of the cell phone, (one of the few instances in life where we actually get to use the term ‘billions,’ other that talking about the earth’s population. There are over 4 billion transistors in the average modern phone) and since this blog is -loosely- based on photography, I’m mentioning the photographic capabilities of that little thing that we all carry around with us.

My current phone (Galaxy s10e) has a 12 megapixel sensor. That’s as many as my first really good DSLR. Of course, their jammed into a much smaller sensor size, so the quality isn’t going to be as good, but still…

The apertures we use when taking snapshots is also miniscule -typically f1.5-f1.8. But with smaller sensors, the apertures don’t have to be huge to give us lots of depth of field.

Computational photography more or less gives us the results we want. We’re not quite at the point where we have phones with artificial intelligence, that learn as you take pictures with them, but it’s coming. For now, my main photography camera still beats a cell phone cam hands down -well, for everything except speed of use, but that’s all going to change in the future. 

Probably not in my lifetime though, but who knows?

For now, I’m just going to remain reasonably content with what I have so that no one cuffs me in the back of the head, and more importantly, so I can enjoy taking most of my cool shit for granted, like everyone else seems to do.

The above shot, of a tube in the Lambeth North tube station in London, was taken with my phone cam, or mobile, as the Brits say. Not too shabby, at least as far as processing, and colour goes!

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