Lens-Artists Challenge #232 – The Evolution of Things

Nikon FM, Photography, camera, lens
And So It Begins

“Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.”

Bruno Barbe

This week Sofia challenges us with presenting an evolution – defined as “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form“. While one can think of hundreds of things we’ve seen evolve in our lifetimes, few have evolved more than technology. In fact, if not for technology we wouldn’t have blogging, would we?!

Having spent my entire career in technology, I have experienced first-hand the wonders (and the challenges) it offers. Taking advantage of its leaps and bounds, photography equipment and editing software both offer wonderful examples of progress. From my first camera, my beloved Nikon FM shown above, to today’s iPhones, there is no longer any reason anyone interested cannot learn to make memorable images.

antiques, historic, iPhones, apple
IPhone Antiques

“Although the technology made everything easy, good images still depend on the creative eye.”

Lakshman Iyer

Apple’s IPhone offers an excellent example of a remarkable evolution since its introduction 15 years ago. Along with many other improvements, the quality of the images (and videos) it can produce today is simply remarkable. From a 2 MP, stills-only camera and a max 16 GB of storage, today’s iPhones deliver up to 128 GB of storage and a dual-camera system with both optical and digital zoom, image stabilization and HD video recording. The image quality competes easily with many of the cameras available today, and offers an advantage they do not – ubiquity! How many times when out and about have you wanted to make an image but had no camera? I’m guessing you used your omnipresent cellphone without a second thought!

Iphone, 12 Pro Max
IPhone 12 Pro Max

“Everybody now has a camera, often as part of our phone, and most of these cameras require little to no technical training.” 

Michael Kenna

Beyond the capabilities of our cameras and phones, once an image has been made there are an incredible number of software products which allow us to alter them in multiple ways. From simple cropping or straightening to combining layers, adding or deleting elements, softening reality, replacing skies…….I could go on and on.

While traditional photographers see images as art, there is an entire world filled with cellphone users who love memorializing the important moments in their lives. Children and grandchildren will have thousands of images to pour over in their later years, iconic buildings and landscapes will be captured during millions of journeys, and Mother Nature’s finery (and treachery) will be available for all to see whenever and wherever we want. There are also dozens of cellphone apps, often designed simply to make photography fun, and many outlets for sharing such as Facebook and Instagram.

flower, dew, droplets

A good eye can edit before the shutter opens.”

Craig Coverdale

I’ll close my post with an example that illustrates some of today’s thoughts. On the left of the side-by-side images above I’ve positioned an unedited iPhone image captured last month. On the right i’ve removed the cluttered background using the tap-and-lift technique Donna describes here. From there I’ve used some readily-available editing tools as an example of the artistic freedom that offers both opportunity and challenge for today’s photographers.

Blushing Flower, Topaz Textures
Dark and Stormy, Nik Silver Efex Pro
Abstract, Topaz Impressions

“Artistry is important.”

Sarah Kay

Technology has in some ways made our lives easier, and in others, more complex. When it comes to photography, technology gives us the ability to capture what we see, which is of course critically important. But it is the seeing that defines us as artists. A palette filled with all of the colors in the world is nothing without the hand of the artist who visualizes and then creates a masterpiece. Our cameras offer us the technical ability to create art, but our eyes, heart and vision are what brings it to life. Here’s to a New Year filled with creativity, challenge, and at least occasional satisfaction with a job well done.

Sincere thanks to Sofia for this week’s challenge, which I’ll admit required a bit more thought than usual. Be sure to link your responses to her original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to John for his Favorite Images of 2022 last week. It was so much fun seeing the images everyone chose and understanding why they chose them. Finally, be sure to join us next week when Anne leads our challenge on her beautiful Slow Shutter Speed blog. Until then, remember to stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.


93 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #232 – The Evolution of Things

  1. I do not know anything about photography I bought myself a camera the idea being that I would use it to take photographs. Having a smart phone now I use it to take photos.
    Your post has enlightened me one on the subject of evolution thank you.

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  3. I love these Tina…I love the quote that says “a good eye can edit before teh shutter opens”. I tend to use my phone a lot with my grandkids. I love my camera though and really need to get out and take more photos. To get in the habit of carrying it with me. I love the final photos you shared and that technique. Very interesting.

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  5. Such an interesting post Tina and it is truly amazing to see how the quality of phone images has advanced over the years πŸ’–

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  7. Astounding images and a captivating expression of the topic. a boundless theme well captured. Tina ji excellent focus as always.A pleasure to view and read. Great start in time.

    • Your post is historical and reflects an incredible journey of your life. As a Teacher Trainer and teacher of History I was assigned the prep. and presentation of Teaching of History…Methods Resources and Activities. That gave me the chance to make use of the techniques to show the evolution of things…it was the camera and the telephone…..I would like to share pics …maybe in a post..I have lost much energy and stamina after fighting a corona attack..Allah ismost Gracious..he gave me more time…Love and prayers Tina Ji

      • I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sick AWD, my husband had it over Christmas and his energy still isn’t back to normal. Hang in there, I promise it gets better! Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment!

  8. Inspiring post, as usual! I went right to my phone and did the tap & lift technique on a pic of my granddaughter with a messy NYC background – she loves it, what a handy little trick! Thanks for cluing in the clueless.
    I guess my iPhone has made me lazy. I’ve taken classes and worked to master my DSL, but honestly, for most shots, the iPhone does it better for me. I love to travel and the phone allows me to take pics quickly and inconspicuously. Of course, the exception is when I am trying to do something artistic with my Nikon, trying to be patient, and actually using a tripod – lol. I’ve also taken some workshops in iPhonography and playing with the images and apps is really a lot of fun. You’ve inspired me to get back to learning more photo techniques, for whatever tool I’m using.

    • Thanks so much Karen – I did the exact same thing when I read Donna’s post about it and am happy to hear you did the same! I know what you mean about being “lazy” with the iPhone. I like to think of it more as “practical” 😊. It’s just so much easier than lugging a camera around all the time. I still use the DSLR for photo outings or travel but that’s about it these days.

  9. Such a great post Tina and I agree with everything you say. From my first Pentax Spotmatic SLR through various iPhones to my current 13 the image is all about how you see the world. How lucky we are to see the world through your eyes. πŸ’•

  10. Your idea for this post is perfect for you and your love of technology. A great idea. I loved seeing the flower image with different filters. I especially love the ones with Topaz and Nik. The header image of you in action with your Nikon is great, too! I wonder if the icebergs are still as large and as prevalent. I hope all’s well. Have a great week with plenty of sunshine.

  11. What an interesting topic to have chosen and you’ve explored it really well. I often marvel at how photography has changed since my early forays into it and my days lugging an SLR around. I still prefer my ‘real’ camera over my phone but you’re so right that the convenience of always having the latter with you is a big plus! And I enjoyed seeing your creative edits of that flower shot. I loved the Silver Efex one (I’m a big fan of that software) and also the Topaz abstract one. I don’t use Topaz Impressions – I’ve got their Sharpen and Denoise AI software, would you recommend that I look into Impressions too?

    • Thanks Sarah, a subject near and dear to our hearts for sure. Agree whole-heartedly re “lugging the SLR”. To me it’s well worth it when traveling or on an outing specifically targeted at photography but other than that the ever-ready IPhone is my favorite companion. 😊 Re Impressions, I don’t use it that often as it’s really only appropriate for pretty extreme recreation of images but I do love it when that’s what I want. Very easy to use and perfect when an impressionist look is your goal.

  12. This is such a great challenge topic, with so much variety in people’s choice of subjects. You’ve kept your choice to the heart and soul of Lens-Artists, the camera and its evolution! Love it.

  13. Dear Tina,
    great photographs like always. We very much like the pictures of the flower with different tools.
    We only disagree with the Bruno Barbe quote. Pictures – we suppose that’s what he means when writing photography – are understood quite differently in different cultures. Klausbernd was confronted with this with different translations of his books about symbols.
    Thanks and cheers. Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Klausbernd – a very interesting observation about photography and symbols. I’m sure you’re right about that! It would be a good example of learning the hard way to publish a book and have it be misunderstood.

      • Dear Tina
        For the Chinese, Japanese but even for the USAmerican edition I had to rewrite many parts together with the editor.
        Pictures are seen quite differently even in our own culture in different groups.
        All the best
        Klausbernd πŸ™‚

  14. Hi Tina – enjoyed your thoughts on the way tech has advanced and the nice connection to photography – and this “our eyes, heart and vision are what brings it to life” is so encouraging because we can drop our guard and focus on doing what we do versus looking at what others do with their lens (whether on these amazing phones or the nice cameras and lens kits)
    Oh and your comment about how our culture takes so many photos (you spun it with such a positive) and it reminded me of a Jim gaffigan joke about the plethora of photos we take these days!
    He said something about getting a new computer because it was filled with photos / and just saving computers as photo data bases (something like that)
    And I loved that photo with nat geo 125 years

    • Many thanks Yvette – laughed at the Gaffigan comment! It reminded me when I first got serious about photography I saved all of my images on my computer and totally degraded its performance. It taught me a valuable lesson and rather than spend the countless hours it would have taken to fix the issue I just left them there and got a new computer with portable hard drives for my images. Every now and then I go back to that very old Mac to retrieve a photo or two but it’s painful LOL!

      • That is a great story to share and I bet those portable drives work really well! I am trying to find a solution for photos and actually started taking less this last year because I was so fatigued going thru images
        It was a gif thing to take less – or if I take a bunch – I try to delete some right away because it can be exhausting going through a few months of images!
        Anyhow – Getting back to your post – good theme πŸ“ΈπŸ“·πŸ“½οΈπŸŽ₯

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  16. Very interesting reponse to this weeks challenge Tina. I am not an iphone person as I have never had one. But my Android takes remarkably good photos. It never ceases to amase my that my phone can do this . Anyway I enjoyed your response very much.

    • Interestingly Anne, I actually had Android along with iPhone in my first version but since I have the iPhone I’m for familiar with it. Honestly based on what I hear I think Android probably has an edge right now in the photography department. But you know what they say about the devil you know! Thanks as always for your visit and comment.

  17. Tina, you are truly an artist. I loved the second flower picture until I scrolled down to the third one. That one is my super favorite, It is stunning to see the shades of white. I would love to sit at your feet and watch you make those changes.

    • Thanks so much Marsha for the lovely comment. So many options it’s overwhelming! Personally I’m pretty much a minor-tweaker and try hard to get it right in camera. But there are so many ways to make art these days it’s overwhelming!

  18. Ah … words of wisdom β€œOur cameras offer us the technical ability to create art, but our eyes, heart and vision are what brings it to life.” Great read and samples of how a flower changes with the help of evolution.

    • I’ll be honest RB, I don’t really use any of the iPhone apps. but several have been recommended to me. At the most they’re $2 or $3 usually. Some include Waterlogue, Brushstroke, PaintCan, and Prisma (that one is really nice and may be free, not sure). There are indeed so many and more every day!!

  19. I couldn’t tell if you struggled or not, Tina. But I do like to get people thinking πŸ™‚ I’m glad I did, this is a terrific post. I love your creativity at the end of the journey, all of them brilliant examples. And I have an iPhone antique too!

    • You certainly did push me a bit this week Sofia, and thank you for that! It was interesting thinking about how so many things have evolved so far and so fast. Once I landed on my subject I could have gone on and on, but I decided to spare people from that LOL. Today I saw a short story on TV about how Artificial Intelligence products are now creating beautiful art. Good grief, pretty soon even PEOPLE will be obsolete!! Thanks for the uber-interesting challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s responses.

  20. Love where you went to answer the challenge, Tina. The main reason I wanted a smart phone was to have a camera I could take with me everywhere and that part has never disappointed. I still like to use my Nikon but I can’t tuck it in my purse and carry it with me all day every day. I love that last edit. I keep playing with the idea of getting Lightroom but have never yet pulled the trigger. So many apps, so little time. πŸ™‚

    • I feel exactly the same way janet – I use my camera less and less these days. There is much to be said for the omnipresence of the smart phone. It’s truly amazing how far they’ve come, especially with photography. I saw a TV segment about a filmmaker who made an amazing movie using only the iPhone. Crazy!! As for L/R, I was forced into it them Apple discontinued their Aperture product which I loved. For me it’s much more about organizing rather than editing – I still have my challenges but that’s only because I don’t take advantage of their many features. So much to learn, so little time as they say!

  21. What a creative way to present this theme, Tina! The flower image is beautifully processed, the abstract one is amazing! These apps are advancing quickly; I’m constantly amazed by those brilliant youngsters who create them. πŸ™‚

    • Ah yes Amy, the youngsters indeed!! I suppose we’re becoming those “old dogs” trying to learn “new tricks” these days 😊 Fortunately one of the hallmarks of the newest technologies is their focus on “ease of use”! I’ll all for that for sure.

  22. Wow Tina, you sure took this challenge in a techno direction. I keep thinking how much technology has changed our lives, and it seems that the changes are speeding forward. I loved your images showing the various phones and processing programs. I especially loved your floral images with the various Topaz effects. I think using processing programs and filters help bring out how we feel about the subject, and isn’t it great that we can do that today!

    • Thanks Anne – yes, I Found this one to be truly challenging but once I thought about my use of the i-phone it came together pretty easily. That’s the beauiy of a “challenging challenge” I suppose, right?!

  23. I hadn’t seen the prompt yet for LA challenge, Tina. I started reading yours about the constant changes in tech, especially mobile phones with their amazing cameras, then saw all your gorgeous white florals in their various filters! These are all so stunning. As you know I have always loved your Topaz-filtered works. I hope you don’t mind, but I linked this post to my round-up πŸ™‚

    • Hi Terri – of course I don’t mind, thanks for catching the parallels between our subjects. I struggled a bit with this week’s challenge but once I thought of photography it was off to the races! Glad you enjoyed.

  24. Tina, I like the many examples you present here and especially the flower pictures, very creative! (Hopefully I will have a new video card for my PC and will be able to participate🀞)

  25. I have to say that so much of this feels like cheating to me, Tina. Yes, you can call it artistic interpretation, but the skills that you and so many other good photographers have are lost in the deluge? My favourite image here is dark and stormy. Have a delightful week, darlin πŸ€—πŸ’—

    • I know exactly what you mean Jo, and any time I use an altered image I make sure to say that’s what it is (as I did this week). But so many are using these tools it’s become a serious industry. And now Artificial Intelligence is getting so good it’s hard to tell images created by machine vs those created by photographers and artists. I suppose we are just old-fashioned but I like us that way!!

  26. I love that you stair-stepped us into the camera technology. Most of us have witnessed all of this “recent” technology in our life time. I admit, I wish I carried my Nikon more. Funny, before mobile cameras, we never thought of how heavy our equipment was. We took our gear, because we wanted the photos. But a good camera that fits in my back pocket, on an 8 mile hike, is pretty convenient. Regardless, I agree with your quote… ” good images depend on the creative eye”. It is kind of like competition, You can’t win if you don’t play. You still have to take the photo. And you still make it yours.

    The editing techniques you shared teach us how we can creatively change an image to suit our needs at the time. You are always an example to follow, Tina. Thank you. And thanks for the link.

    • Thanks Donna – this one was really different for me and I struggled with it for a while. Today everyone has a camera so it becomes as you say making it yours – from the way we capture it through to the final image. You always have a way of getting to the heart of things – as you did with both your post and this comment .

      • Thanks Tina. For me, the blogging is about connections, and learning from others. A place to share thoughts globally is like having instantaneous penpals any hour of the day. lol. As someone who moved frequently, I loved writing letters back in the day. I love it all.

        I just realized this also applies to the challenge. lol.

        Thank you again.

  27. Tina, great examples of how photography has advanced with technology. I really enjoyed seeing the results of your flower image after using the different editing tools. I’m hoping to upgrade my old IPhone 7S this year so I can take advantage of all the new camera upgrades.

    • Thanks Beth. I upgraded last year from an 8 to a 12 and it’s a whole new world. Then again, I went shooting with a friend who has a 13 and her phone definitely had better capability. And now of course there’s the 14. Amazing but challenging for all of us!

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