Thursday, March 28, 2013

iPhone in the storm ... with good results

The journalist in me cringes every time I see or read a weather forecaster issuing "a winter storm watch" before mid-December or after mid-March. Regardless of whether meterologists have definitions in their rule book indicating otherwise, you cannot have a winter storm in spring or autumn. Period. OK, gratuitous rant over. Moving on ...

The 2012-13 winter season officially ended March 20, but everybody in Indiana who's been on this planet for any length of time should be very familiar with how seasons blend together quite easily ... and often. And so it did the night of March 24-25.

I've photographed in Garfield Park, within walking distance of home, scores of times, and almost always find -- or try -- at least one thing new with each trip. So I thought about what I could do differently when the so-called "snowmageddon" hit Central Indiana that night. The idea came pretty quick -- shoot exclusively using my iPhone. And so, I did. My venture started just after midnight on March 25.

A minute into my trip -- and the snowfall was coming down pretty steady, driven by a strong gust -- I found myself pleased with the idea and situation. For one, I was traveling light (always a plus). For another, I could quickly and easily protect the device by dropping it into a coat pocket when I wasn't using it. And best of all, it was getting me some pretty decent pictures.

I had no control of the settings, other than to use or not use flash. I used flash for only a half-dozen shots; those shots were giving me very interesting laser-looking streaks that I'm sure were the result of light refracting off the streaming flakes. The default settings were roughly in the area of f/2.4, 1/15 and ISO 800. With a larger, heavier DSLR, I would be very concerned taking pictures without a tripod while dragging the shutter that slow. But I was able to hand-hold the much lighter smartphone at 1/15 with great success in sharpness; I rarely needed to trash a picture because of camera shake.

The pictures in today's post are from that shoot, the first comprehensive shoot I've ever done using a mobile phone camera exclusively. The shoot lasted about an hour; I was back in the house around 1:10 a.m. As an FYI, when the snowstorm finally let up the next afternoon, I think they said we'd gotten more than 7 inches in Indianapolis, and up to a foot in southwestern Indiana (largest-ever accumulation that late into spring here). Even more remarkable ... was that a slight warm-up late Monday and all day Tuesday melted away much of the accumulation. But Tuesday evening, you could see grass again in many places.

I lead off with one of my favorites in the batch, a shot of the backside of the Garfield Park Arts Center "peeking" out from under the stately trees silhouetted in the foreground. Actually, I took several from around this vantage point, and I liked them all. I also make monochrome conversions of all the pictures, as I've been in a black-and-white mood lately. The color version of this is just fine; but I like the mood conveyed by the b/w conversion.

Above and below: In honor of March Madness ... horizontal and vertical orientations of a familiar Hoosier vista. This is from the snow-covered asphalt court alongside the Burrello Family Center.

Above, the Burrello Family Center; below, the stump that once held the statue of the park's namesake, President James Garfield. For more background on that (the story goes back to 2008), click on the link in this sentence.

Above and below: Snow-laden branches on bushes lining the perimeter of the parking lot outside the Burrello Family Center.

Above: Looking west and slightly north, from the Burrello Family Center parking lot.

Above: Bean Creek, as it passes east of the Garfield Park Arts Center under the Conservatory Drive bridge. 

Above and below: The MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts amphitheater ... and the snow-covered landscaping in front of it.

Above: Stairs leading from Conservatory Drive to the elevated rim flanking Garfield Drive and the adjacent neighborhood.

Above: Had to include this remarkable ghost-like light flare, which almost looks like a massive umbrella around the street light. This was taken with available light (no flash).

Above and next three below: Variations of the shot leading off the post, featuring the back (Pagoda Drive) side of the Garfield Park Arts Center.

Above: One of my favorite trees in the park, the one I call "tree hugger." The unusual bark formation on the right side, when covered with snow as shown above, looks like a creature hugging the tree. This is one shot in which I used flash, and those laser-like lines are driving snowflakes refracting the light.

Above: A shot in the neighborhood. I didn't like the color and slight chromatic aberration in the upper right corner, so I decided to use the monochrome conversion. 

Above and below: Southern Avenue, near Allen Avenue, looking east (above) and west (below).