Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Wednesday December 05 2012

My blogging theme just now seems to be photography, face recognition, me photoing photographers, and so on and so forth.

This Samizdata posting, for instance, is about a guy using a great big iPad to photo Westminster Abbey.  Scorn was expressed by some commenters at how stupid this man was making himself look.  I disagree strongly, as did Michael Jennings.

Michael’s comment about this deserves further attention and here it is in full:

It is believed that the reason that the first generation iPad did not have cameras was because Steve Jobs believed that people using it to take photographs would look ridiculous. This received complaints, not so much for people who wanted to use it to take photographs, but for parents of small children. Point the iPad at the baby, start up a video conference with the grandparents, allow the grandparents to watch the baby, and the grandparents will be happily occupied for hours.

However, people then started using the iPad for taking photographs anyway. So, Apple gave it a decent camera. I have one myself, and I prefer taking photographs with it to taking photographs with a cellphone camera. Whether that is the quality of the camera, I am not sure. (By standards of cellphone cameras, the one in the iPad is of high quality, but most high end phones have cameras of similar quality). I think it may be the screen. Everybody who takes digital photographs knows the experience of taking what you think is a good photograph, but discovering later that it is blurry, but being unable to tell that at the time on the tiny screen on the camera. The iPad has a large, very high resolution screen, so you have a much better ability to tell at once if you have taken a good picture or not. If you haven’t, there may even be a chance to take it again.

A final good thing about the iPad is its fantastic battery life. (This isn’t hard to explain - if you look at pictures of the innards of an iPad it is almost entirely battery). At the end of a busy day, its not uncommon to find that your batteries are low or completely depleted on all your devices except the iPad. You see something that needs photographing, so you use the iPad simply because it is still going.

As for looking ridiculous, that is all about what is normal and expected. If everyone does it, it no longer looks ridiculous.

To me what is truly ridiculous is refraining from doing what works best, because you think that looks ridiculous.  It’s like that thing about being cool.  If you are trying to be cool, you are by definition failing.  If your over-riding concern is not to look ridiculous, then you are being ridiculous.

To illustrate the matter further, Michael immediately added another comment, which included this photo, also deserving of a wider audience than it may get while buried in a comment thread:

image

Underneath which Michael added:

For instance, if on a slow afternoon you unexpectedly find your self at the tomb in Jerusalem where protestants believe that Christ rose from the dead, it can be really helpful to have your iPad with you.

Indeed.

Last night, Michael and I both attended the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party.  Here is my photo of Michael, taking a picture of me with his iPad:

image

And here is my photo of Michael’s photo of me, as instantly displayed on his iPad:

image

Michael could be sure that his photo was in focus even as he was taking it, and certainly immediately afterwards.  I could only be sure that my photo of his photo was also in focus when I got home, and actually, a great many of the other photos that I took at this shindig were not properly in focus, there being somewhat insufficient light (with what there was of it typically being ill-directed for my purposes), and people being prone to move about when they converse with one another.  Which makes Michael’s point yet again.