This post is gonna be a little different than most.
I got a new camera the other day–a Lytro Illum (pronounced like the first five letters of “Illuminate”). It was perfect timing because I had a photoshoot planned with Tess that day.
The Illum is a light field camera, which means that instead of just recording the colors of light hitting the sensor, it also uses some fancy microlenses over the sensor to record the direction the light was coming from. The result of this is that the files it produces have a whole extra level of depth information in them, which lets me refocus and (to a small extent) change the perspective of photos after taking them. Mildly cool if I’m going to print still images, but if you’re printing still images, you’re doing it wrong.
Click the above picture. Then move your mouse around. Click the background, then click on Tess’ pretty face to change focus around. Neat, huh? This was my very first shot with the Illum.
This thing is going to require some effort to really get good at. It’s not the same as regular photography–you really need to structure things so you have interesting stuff in foreground, background, and middle. That’s something GOOD to do in a regular photo, but it’s not 100% REQUIRED for it to be a great photo.
Also, wheee, the technology is still in its infancy and there’s some weird little bugs and quirks. Like the fact that the upper left corner of this shot looks like there’s some sort of frosted glass over there. I’m guessing that the sky clipped in all of Red, Green, Blue, and Depth channels, so the software just took a guess at where that white blob was.
I’ve always had a pretty simple mantra with my photography–Robert Capa’s “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.
With the Lytro, it’s more like “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough, far enough, and exactly far enough, or maybe you didn’t line up your focal planes correctly, and also you’ve got all of your other normal photography issues to worry about too. Maybe…maybe you should just go have a nap instead?”
I’m gonna keep trying with this, though. Both because I dropped six hundred bucks (used!) on one of these, and because it really does give you a whole new way of doing photography in a way that most other pieces of gear don’t. I really hope Lytro doesn’t go out of business.