even if it’s fake it’s real, the computational photography edition

I loved this post from Josh Rose in The Art of Photography: Does the iPhone 12 Dream of Rendered Moments? He uses the Voight-Kampff test from the movie Blade Runner as an analogy for computational photography.

You can tell a non-human from a human because the non-human is trying to be human, whereas a human is just being human. And imitation will always feel slightly cartoonish to anyone who has studied emotion deeply. But this works in reverse, too. Life and simulated life are indistinguishable to those who have not connected deeply with nature or humanity. And an image created from an iPhone 12 will feel like photography to anyone who has merely sipped from the Pierian Spring of the medium.

I have a nice digital camera that rarely leaves the top of my bureau. The best camera, of course, is always the one you have with you. For me this is an iPhone 12 mini, which lately has been producing some remarkable images that feel an awful lot like photography.

I have no idea what the machine has done to this image to have it more accurately simulate an actual photograph. Then again, I have only “sipped from the Pierian Spring” of the medium. Hat tip to Rose for the Alexander Pope reference, from An Essay on Criticism:

A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

I don’t mind this intoxication, if a rolling shutter and a slew of ML can reliably produce images like this on a casual Sunday afternoon walk.

Avid reader, long time blogger, art nerd, Swiftie. I work at Medium.