Posts Tagged: mobile phone

The Tale of Two Cameras, Part I

This was originally posted as Early Access at my Patreon account.


Olympus Pen - The View From Palm Canyon

Feb. 12, 2018 – I am finding that the differences between the photos that my camera phone, the Lumia 950, and the new Olympus micro 4/3rds Pen E-PL8 mirrorless camera are both evident and very subtle.

As my previous post states, I had hoped to replace a camera phone photo practice with a very small mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. The transition is coming along in fits and starts.

The immediate difference between the two example photos taken yesterday while on a hike to Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is the way that the cameras handle color. The Lumia 950 is rather famous for its yellow-tinted take on the world and the Olympus Pen E-PL8 for its lack of neon saturation.

My eyes have become so used to the vivid to neon saturation that most camera phones produce that the subtler colors and tones of the Olympus Pen appear almost desaturated (top photo) until I look at the Pen’s photo carefully – wherein a world of beautiful tones opens up – esp. at the dusty horizon.

Lumia 950 - The View From Palm Canyon

In the Lumia 950 photo (directly above), the sky, plants and rocks are much more cheerful in color and the horizon is just a few volcanic cones peeping up from the dusty, windy day.

For what the Lumia photo lacks in contrast and strong shadows, it makes up for in bright color. For what the Pen photo lacks in saturated color, it more than makes up for in mood, contrast, contour edges, and shadows.

What do you think?

Mobile: What is the best / most beautiful / most innovative / most creative use of a mobile phone recently?

Eight years ago, I conducted a survey on the creative use of mobile devices by creative professionals, which became the research base for my Masters thesis: Moleskine to Mobile.

But that was 8 whole years ago, which in mobile or technology time was practically before the dawn of Mammals. In the last few years, it seems many people have settled into the mobile version of humdrum suburbia: iPhone photos uploaded to Instagram, sharing updates to Facebook, making a video of one’s favorite pet/child/drunkfriend and uploading it to YouTube, or just letting others do it while one watches, etc.

Much like any supposed boring suburbia, there has got to be something interesting going on behind the facade of your mobile’s casing…

People! What is the best and/or most interesting, innovative, beautiful, creative use of a mobile that you have done, seen, heard of, have a link to in the last few months or year? Even if what you think is not really that interesting, but you haven’t told anyone else you are doing it, let me know.

Yes, you, photographer, artist, DJ, musician, banker, teacher, couch potato, maker, creator, builder, I am talking to you. Don’t be shy. If it isn’t you, then tell me about your creative friend. If it is you, share what you have been up to with your mobile. Doesn’t matter if it is a smartphone, feature phone, or super basic phone…

2014 – Let me know. Post the link to your or someone you know of’s creative/innovative activity with there mobile phone. Comment here or tweet a link to me @msjen.


Nokia Connects has a fun program / award called MVC – Most Valued Connector (which really should be Most Valued Creative), wherein a group of us nominate folks who are doing cool and amazing things with their Nokia Lumia mobile phones or helping folks connect in some way thereof.

On top of wanting to see what y’all have been up to with any mobile phones, if you or a friend is doing some cool, creative stuffs with their Nokia Lumia phone, please send me the link so that I can recommend them for a nomination.

Y’all rock!

Happy 6th Anniversary of my Mobile Photo Blogging!

My Happy New Nokia 7610 Phone Bird Refuge

My two favorite Nokia 7610 camera phone photos from 2004, click on them to go to the original post.

Thurs 12.09.10 – Today is the 6th anniversary of my having a camera phone in my hands and using the phone’s camera and internet connectivity to send photos to this blog & Flickr as well as using Nokia’s Lifeblog (r.i.p.) to mobile blog photos and text to this blog and others.
This six years has been the most consistently creative six years of my life, as taking photos daily with an internet connected camera that is always on you has honed my eye, sharpened my senses, made me *really* look & observe even in the most mundane moments, and has inspired many other areas of my life both my creative and other parts of my life.
Since SXSW 2003 when I heard Adam Greenfield & Joi Ito talk about how camera phone photography and mobile blogging was taking off in Japan, I yearned for my own camera phone. In July of 2004, Erika and I went to the “Sent” exhibition at The Standard that Xeni Jardin & SixSpace Gallery curated. My desire for a camera phone increased, as I hated that my computer’s hard drive had become a cemetery for photos never posted to the web, I just wanted to shoot and send.
On Dec. 9th, 2004, when I picked up the Nokia 7610 and drove to AT&T to re-up my contract with a fancy new, shiny unlimited data plan and then started taking photos and moblogging them, a whole new world opened up to me. A world of mobile photography, mobile creativity, and community that I am very glad to have participated in the last six years.
I would like to thank (then) Nokia’s Charlie Schick and (then) Creative Intelligence’s Kristen Bennett for taking a chance on me for the Lifeblog Wasabi four month project from Dec 2004 to March 2005. I am grateful that Nokia has continued a six year run of excellence in producing the best camera phones, here is to another six!
To celebrate my 6th Anniversary of camera phone photography & blogging, aka Moblogging, I will be posting my fave photos from each of the six years over the next week, starting with my two favorites from 2004 above.
Celebrate along with me: take a photo or two or three or more with your camera phone and post them to your blog. To life & creativity!

DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed

Fifteen years ago, to prove a snotty engineering student wrong who said artists couldn’t make websites, I taught myself in less than 2 hours how to code a website. Ten years ago, I wanted to do more than just write HTML and use Photoshop, so I checked myself into Long Beach State’s Extension and took a class on Javascript and one on Flash Actionscripting, more classes and trainings followed. Five years ago, I wanted to learn even more programming and checked myself into a graduate program that took 1/2 designers and 1/2 programmers and taught them both disciplines.
My programming professor at Trinity after our classes were over encouraged me to learn Python, of which I have done over the course of the last few years. In the last two years, I have had the opportunity to write several full web apps from the ground up. All of this has been hard, satisfying, and more than a bit of a stretch.
But I am glad that I have pushed my own boundaries and didn’t listen to the naysayers, not the ones 15 years ago or last week, who said that an artist/designer/webdev can’t learn to code/program.
If you can learn to speak/write/read a language and can reason, of which most of us have done at least once, you can learn to program.
Over the last few years, I have found myself getting increasingly frustrated that there is not the mobile app that I want out there or the one that is out does not have the features that I want, etc etc etc. Up until recently, at least from my perspective, programming a mobile application has been hard as one has to be a “real” programmer, the kind that learned Java/C/C++ in a four year Computer Science bachelors degree.
I am an optimist and frequently over commit myself by getting excited about how easy it will be to learn a new technology or language and then find myself more than a bit overwhelmed. But a funny thing happened along the way, C++ doesn’t seem so obscure/opaque and/or hard any more. In experimenting with it recently, I found myself delighting in how easy it was for me to learn it and make simple apps. All that programming in python for Google App Engine over the last 18 months has paid off.
This has me excited. Excited enough to go two weeks ago up to San Francisco for the Nokia Developer Day at CTIA to see the demos and presentations on Qt. Excited enough to then go to the Qt Training Days in Austin this week.
I have mobile app ideas running around my head and now is the time to start programming to get them out and about.
Ms. Jen’s DIY Programming Series:
DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed
DIY Mobile Programming: Get Started with HTML, CSS, and Javascript
DIY Programming: Should HTML be Required for Literacy in the 21st Century?

On Device Attachment

I am not a super-uper-duper early adopter with device lust who *must* have a new device [Insert Name of Object] NOW – of which that now is every few weeks to month.
No, I am another person entirely. I am the person who knows and is friends with the super early adopter device junkies, who is conversant in the various bits about new devices, but whose dirty little secret is that I like to keep my mobile phones for at least 18 months and my computers for at least 3 years before purchasing a new one.
I like getting to know them and living with them over time. And I name them.
I name my cars. I name my computers. And I name my mobile phones.
I had my Nokia 7610 for 18 months. I had my Nokia N95 and used it for 3 years, on & off after the first 18 months. And I have only had my Nokia N86 (love the little beast) for 5 months now and am not sure I am ready to give it up for a new device, no matter how shiny, pretty, new and full of 12 megapixel camera goodness.
When I took my sim and memory chips out of the N86 and did the device transfer to the N8, knowing that it was not a couple week trial but instead for good, I was not ready. I was not ready to give up my N86 yet. I was not ready, no matter how delicious of a camera on the Nokia N8 to give up my precious baby N86.
I have been keeping the N86 with me most of the time without a sim chip in it, ostensibly to take photos for a side by side comparison with the N8. But the real reason is that 5 months is too short of a time with my beloved N86 8mp little tank of a slider phone.
Whatleydude was right, there will never be another mobile like the N86.

2,045 Days with a Camera Phone

On Dec. 9, 2004, I drove to Beverly Hills to pick up my first camera phone, a Nokia 7610 with a 1 megapixel camera. I was ecstatic.
In 2003, I first heard of mobile phone / camera phone photography and mobile blogging from Adam Greenfield & Mie Kennedy’s blogs, as well as Joi Ito mentioning it at SXSW. I really really really wanted to start taking photos with my phone and upload the photos directly from my phone to the internet.
The last 2,045 days of mobile phone photography have been wonderful. I don’t use the word wonderful lightly here. By wonderful, I mean a whole new world of wonder. A world of exploration, of pushing the boundaries of and of purposefully constricting the boundaries of photography.
In 2003-2004, most of my photographer friends were moving from their film SLRs to DSLRs and thought I was crazy for showing up at concerts and shows with a crazy little camera phone rather than my Nikon or my Sony Mavica digital camera. But as they watched me upload the photos directly from the phone to Flickr or or to this blog while I was still at the show, then their sense of wonder was activated.
In the nearly six years of taking photos and mobile blogging with a Nokia camera phone much has changed. In 2004, my Nokia 7610 was only 1 megapixel, but it was connected to the internet. I had a browser, email, and most importantly, I had Lifeblog – all the better to mobile blog with.
Today, I have a Nokia N86 8 megapixel camera phone which takes fantastic photos. It has a browser, email, GPS, and many more features, but unfortunately no Lifeblog so mobile blogging is more than a wee bit more difficult than it was 2004-2008. But I love the photos that the N86 takes, so I won’t complain about the lack of direct phone to blog with no stops at 3rd party server mobile apps.
Having a camera on my phone in my hand, in my pocket, or in my purse has opened up many creative doors and worlds in my life the last 6 years – I wrote my masters degree thesis on how creative people use their mobile phones, I did a whole mobile geo-photo master’s project by photo & video’ing while traveling around Ireland with a Nokia N80 and my brother’s Garmin GPS (sorry, no GPS in phones in 2006). I have gotten to travel to India, Austria, Helsinki, and San Francisco as well as many other places in the name of mobile phone photography.
Lately, as I think about the upcoming Nokia N8, a 12 megapixel, HD video monster of a camera phone, I have been reflecting about how the camera phone has arrived. With the Nokia 5, 8 & 12 megapixel camera phones, the Samsungs & Sonys, and the just released iPhone 4, camera phones are now good enough that one does not need to carry a separate point & shoot and in many cases they can be better in crowds or public places than a bulky DSLR. And the camera phone in hand is always better than the DSLR that you left locked up at home or in the car.
The last few months, part of me has wondered if it is time to creatively move on, to purchase a high end Nikon DSLR, like the D700, with a few prime lenses or start exploring medium & large format film photography with a used Mamiya or pick up a rangefinder camera and explore that world.
As I researched other photography avenues, I kept asking myself if it is time to say goodbye to the now past frontiers of the camera phone photography world and move on? Is it time to say goodbye to the frustrations of sub-standard mobile blogging software and the further frustrations of trying to convince various industry folks that good software matters? Is it time to move away entirely and take back up with my paint brush, of which no software is necessary?
Then I met a Nokia N8 in the wild. What a beauty. I can’t say more due to an NDA and complete respect for the owner of said device… but… Oh my, what a camera. Color, clarity, oh my.
Rather than get sappy at this point or descend into a drooling heap of gadget lust, I will refer y’all to the man behind the N8’s camera, the man with 215 more days in camera phone world than I and more days in the Nikon world – Mr. Damian Dinning – who has penned a very thoughtful and thorough series of articles on camera phones, photography and the upcoming Nokia N8 for the Nokia Conversations blog:
Nokia N8 Camera – 2,260 days in the making Part 1/2
Nokia N8 Camera – 2,260 days in the making Part 2/2
Nokia N8 photography – all the FAQs
And yes, come release date in a couple of months, I will be purchasing a Nokia N8 and then tracking down a QT developer to help me flesh out the code of my mobile app idea. Here’s to 2,045 more days of camera phone photography. ;o)
Follow up Post: Camera Phone Photography: Celebrating Constraints

From the Floor: Grace and Magnus

Grace and Magnus

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

Tues 11.10.09 – I was playing round with the Night Mode on the Nokia N97’s camera to see under what light conditions could I get a bit of blurred movement. While I could have used Auto setting with the flash off and gotten a crisp, sharp image of Grace and Magnus in the bright light of Tammy & Ryan’s kitchen, I purposely set the N97’s camera to Night to see if I could get a bit of doubling or blur.
I am happy with the way this photo turned out.

The Nokia N97 : A Conversation with Jeb and Al

Conversation about the Nokia N97 at Tuttle Club LA from Ms. Jen was filmed/captured with Ms. Jen’s Nokia N95 camera phone.

Fri 07.31.09 – While at Tuttle Club LA, I (Ms. Jen) interviewed Jeb Brilliant ( and Al Pavangkanan ( on what they both thought of the new Nokia N97 flagship touchscreen smart phone.
Al was an early adopter and pre-ordered his Nokia N97, both Ms. Jen & Jeb Brilliant recently participated in a three week trial with a Nokia N97 from WOM World.
I think the big question in all of our minds is and discussed in this video – What is the Future of the Nokia N97? Given that Nokia has released a ‘flagship’ device that much of the firmware and software is in transition, should the Nokia N97 have been released at the end of June, or should Nokia have waited a couple of more months and released the N97 when it was more “ready”? Will the Nokia N97 be the phone that we hope it will be in a few months?