Every July 14th, France celebrates Bastille day with much fanfare, in a three pronged event: military parades in the morning, fireworks in the evening, and louts destroying stuff in between, which appears to have become a new low IQ way of life in France (some people have a picnic, others burn motobikes, the thrills of variety).
I rarely partake in any of the phases.
Not in the fighting because, being of even lower mental ability than those having fun throwing stones at shopkeepers and cops, I might get mixed up and start chucking stuff at the inventors of that new popular sport.
Not in the display of admiration at our army, because, let’s face it, I cowardly wish those years of soviet-gorilla breast-thomping were behind us. Diane Fossey needn’t worry, apparently the worldwide population is on the rise. More and more of the most brutal males seem to be occupying the highest positions among humans, these days, and to have found pristine human females to mate with.
In fact, it fills me (not) with national pride to know that that blindly belligerent baboon Trump got the idea of militarizing Independance day from France. With the big clock at 2 minutes to midnight, this makes me soo happy. Although, it does help that this year’s main parade, in Paris, was largely about european collaboration.
Not in fireworks because I’m a lazy old git. The driving, the parking, the crowds, the wait. I mean, a good book in bed … right?
Two things made me change my mind, this year. No, make that three, there was promise of ice cream. But, really, make that one, because my wife said we were going and she’s the boss. Oh, I’m confused, now. And the ice cream shop was so crowed we didn’t go. The humanity.
So, were was I?
Oh yes, two photographic reasons.
One: my daughter had pulled out the Sony NEX-5r I bought her all those years ago. After years of using phones, seeing her dabble in traditional camerafare was elating. Her pictures follow.
Two: we were going to Aubagne. A small town with an impressive show (relative to the size of the population). And, most importantly, an immersive show where the fireworks launch barely 30 meters from you so you feel inside the display rather than watching it from a distance. The shattered eardrums, the howling kids and the many, many burns on our skins (and in some eyes) are a small price to pay for the excitement.
Well, that’s how I see it. DS reader and contributor Pascal R was with us that evening and received glowing ambers in his eye, so his assessment of the fun/pain ratio might be somewhat different.
Anyhoo. We’re there. And – wait for it – I forgot my SD card, so the X1D is basically an expensive scoliosis inductor in my bag. Shame. During my discrovery of that camera, a loaner from Hassy, exactly one year prior, it had produced some really lovely images.
Out comes Zung, Philippe’s pet name for my Galaxy S9 phone. All the photographs above are made with it. All those below are from my daughter with the Sony NEX-5r and kit 16-55 zoom.
The contrast between the two is interesting.
I’m having a lot of fun with the phone. Point, tap the zone of interest, click. There is quite a lot of lag so, after a short adaptation period, the procedure actually becomes even more interesting. Because I have to anticipate, I follow a rising rocket, having seen the effect of a previous one, and compose on a background of fading light and smoke. Actually quite fascinating.
But when you compare image quality, the differences become a recent phone and a relatively ancient camera become quite obvious.
The photograph below is a great example. The explosion in the top-right corner looks gorgeous in that NEX shot. It illuminates the puffy clouds of recent bands and the smoky background of more ancient ones, the diffuse remnants of defunct stars of the show.
You’ll have to excuse the astronomical(ly poor) lyrical waxing here. But the show did feel a lot like the photographs in an astro-inspired coffee-table book. Globular clusters with a planetary nebula in the center. Colliding galaxies. Diffuse nebula lit by young stars. Supernovas. Absorption nebulas. Even Star Wars lightspeed startrails (it’s real, I saw it on TV).
But yes, there’s a big difference in rendering. The Sony feel so much more painterly. The drapes of smoke are so much nicer to look at. The sense of 3D is so much more compelling, too. Even in a purely abstract composition, the sense of presence is far greater with the little (gem of a) camera.
That being written and, as always, there’s room for both. Every format bring a different shooting experience and a different look to the light table (rememer those, silver foxes? I used to love them so much).
The main difference is that it will only take a phone-sized print to show the limitations of my photographs, whereas some of my daughter’s would probably sing happily up to A3.
Still, it was great to experience the two in the same conditions (and if Pascal R sends along some FF variants, I’ll add them below for a triple whammy).
It’s fair to say that the shooting procedure with the phone, which will no doubt go down in artistic history as anticipative composition, made me rediscover fireworks. Yum?
Addendum: Pascal R has just sent in these photographs made with a Sony A7r2 and Olympus Zuiko 50/2 macro lens. So now, you can see the results from 3 different formats 🙂
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