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Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
This morning I came across this article on Medium.com titled I Beg of You, Do Not Take Photos of Fireworks With Your Smartphone that was written by Lindsey Weber. The title itself is self-explanatory and it was uploaded just in time for this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities where a lot of communities will sponsor numerous fireworks shows across the United States. Here are a few choice quotes from that article.
Your fireworks photos are bad.
As we approach this year’s annual Fireworks Day, aka July Fourth or Independence Day, no doubt my Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will be flooded with your horrible, awful, horrendous photos of fireworks.
It’s not your fault! Your smartphone, be it iPhone or Android, was not equipped to take photos of fireworks — so quick, so bright, so impossible to capture that they never appear as gorgeous as IRL through the lens of your cellphone.
You mean like these fireworks photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival back in April, 2015?
Skill (and a bit of luck, Stocker adds) is certainly a factor, but without the manual controls of a Real Camera, here is how your many, many fireworks photos will appear:
You mean like these photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at a Bowie Baysox minor league baseball game back in June, 2015?
Oh, really. So are these fireworks photos I took at last year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Laurel, Maryland with my Droid smartphone “just awful”?
I’ll admit that not all of my fireworks photos I took with my Droid have been posted online. For every one of my fireworks photos that I actually end up posting online, I take at least 10 other photos that exist only on my hard drive and will never see the light of day because they are just as bad as the Instagram photos Lindsey Weber posts in her article as examples of bad fireworks photography taken with a smartphone. The difference is that I don’t ever post any pictures online that I personally feel is not up to my personal high standards as to what is acceptable to post online. I will admit that some people have no hesitation with posting a blurry photo online because they just want to post something online no matter the quality of the photo itself but I’m not like that. It’s no different from me refusing to step outside in anything other than acceptable street clothes while I’ve seen people out in public wearing pajamas with curlers in their hair or wearing pants so baggy that one can see what color underwear the person is wearing. I’m more hesitant with exposing everything while other people don’t share my hesitancy to put everything online and/or in public.
The other reason to refrain from the stereotypical fireworks photo this Fourth of July is simply that everyone’s doing it. And I don’t just mean taking pictures of fireworks, but seeing fireworks. It’s pretty hard to avoid them — so high up in the sky and so very loud. We all know what they look (and sound) like.
Okay so maybe she has a point there with so many people are already viewing and taking pictures of fireworks so your own photographs are bound to get lost in the online social media Internet shuffle. But you know what? Who cares? If you really want to take photos with your smartphone, go head and do it, even if your mother or grandfather are the only people who will ever see your fireworks photos online. If only one person ever sees your fireworks photos and likes them, you have made that person’s day brighter, even if it’s only for a brief moment.
The only thing that I agree with the writer about is this:
And there’s one tip we should all remember — forever and ever, fireworks or not: Turn off the flash.
I rarely use the flash in my smartphone because the colors always look dull and washed out. And if a person is staring directly into the lens, you’ll get that infamous red eye look where that person looks like he/she is possessed by demons. Generally people tend not to mind being photographed in public places if their eyes don’t get temporarily blinded by the flash.
Instead of snapping at would-be fireworks photographers whose only available camera equipment is a smartphone, I’ll provide this advice. When the fireworks shoot up in the air, take the picture right at the moment when the fireworks pauses in the sky. A firework will typically pause for about one or two seconds before bursting their full display. If you hit the shutter right at that pause, you’ll have a better chance of taking a great fireworks picture.
Getting a terrific fireworks shot with your smartphone will take some practice. I’ll admit that you won’t get the perfect fireworks picture on the first or second try. You might end up taking 50 or more crappy pictures to come up with less than 10 good shots. That’s the nature of photography in general. Most professional photographers will end up taking more pictures than they actually need in order to increase the chances that they will have a few usable photos that they can get paid for.
Just remember that not everything you shoot is worthy to upload on to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or some other social media. In fact it might be better if you wait a day or so after shooting those fireworks (when you’ll be less tired after having a good night’s sleep) then sift through the photos that you’ve taken in order to decide which ones you feel are good enough to share online.
But don’t let Lindsey Weber or anyone else deter you from taking fireworks photos if you want to do so. With enough practice you could come up with some fireworks photos that are similar to the ones I took at the Fourth of July celebration at Greenbelt Lake in 2014.
It’s been many months since I last wrote something on Medium.com. I finally published a new article on that site. It’s something that tends to kick around in my mind this time of the year as students on both the high school and university level graduate. I’ve long had this fantasy when someone would invite me to give a Commencement Speech at some graduation ceremony somewhere in the U.S. and my speech would basically consist of life lessons that I learned from what I experienced in my adult life (either directly or indirectly through my friends and family). Last night I was stricken with a bit of insomnia so I began to dwell on my fantasy speech. I finally decided to just type it in the computer just to get my fantasy speech out of my head. Once I finished typing, I went back to sleep.
I thought about making a new post in this blog about that speech until I remembered that it’s been a while since I wrote my first story on Medium.com so why not publish it there for a change. Besides, I feel that that post is better suited for Medium.com since it’s really off-topic from the main focus of this blog (which is on my arts, crafts, and photography). So I uploaded it there this morning and you can now read it. It’s called Advice I Would Give to Graduates in a Commencement Speech If I Ever Have the Chance.
I’ve first learned about Medium.com when one of my friends decided to try her hand at writing for that website by posting a story about how her hometown of Gardner, Massachusetts have sent its prized Norman Rockwell painting to the auction block in order to raise money for the local public education system.
Basically Medium.com is a place where people can write stories but don’t want to commit to writing a blog on a regular basis.
After a few months of toying around with writing something for Medium.com, I finally took the plunge. The effort to publish my first story is a story in of itself. Six months ago I attended two related exhibits in Baltimore. One was on painted screens, which is a peculiar art form that Baltimore is known for, and the other was about the painted screens’ most noted practitioner, Johnny Eck.
Soon after that visit, I found out that one of my friends, Phil Shapiro, is currently a writer for Make magazine. He wrote an article for Make on why he felt that Pete Seeger, who had recently passed away, should be considered a Maker. As I read that article, I began to realize that Johnny Eck could also fall under the Maker category due to his incredible amount of art and general tinkering that he made in his lifetime (such as carving a miniature circus from wood at 14). Phil encouraged me to try submitting something to that publication.
When I went to the Make website and found that there was a form that made it easy to contribute something, I decided to take Phil’s advice. So I re-wrote my earlier blog post on that Baltimore exhibit to make the case for Johnny Eck being considered a Maker and submitted it. Then I waited a few days. When I didn’t get a response from anyone, I did a search on Make‘s site and found no mention of either my name or my Johnny Eck article.
I thought there was some kind of a glitch so I submitted the same article again then waited another week. When I didn’t get a response, I did another search and found that my article was not posted online anywhere. I decided to make a third submission. Again I waited a week with no notice from anyone regarding my article.
When I ran into Phil again and told him about my unsuccessful efforts to submit my story, Phil told me that Make magazine has a total of 20 staffers and they get inundated with hundreds of submissions each week so there are quite a few contributions that fall through the cracks.
So I gave up on Make magazine, took out an account on Medium.com, and submitted my story there. I found the interface take some getting used to but I learned it quickly. I uploaded my article and it’s now live.
If anyone from Make magazine is reading this, all I can say is that it’s too bad you’ve chosen to ignore my article and now Medium.com is the one that people will go to read about the interesting life and career of a Maker named Johnny Eck.
You can now read my Johnny Eck story in its entirety right here.