The latest iPhone’s ability to simulate bokeh - a lovely effect you can get with larger cameras and careful attention to settings - has people excited about smartphones replacing DSLRs … While that may be the effect, something much larger is going on.
What excites me most about photography is getting away from the tiny window we view nature from.. we only see light in a narrow range from 0.4 to 0.7 microns and witness events over a limited size range and time scale. Furthermore our brains only process an extremely filtered view… you can say the same for our dozen or so other senses. But we’re ace at building instruments that break these boundaries .. in some sense a photography of nature. I see the detectors at CERN as cameras of sort and the same can be said for microscopes, telescopes, radio antenna, etc, etc. Amateurs outside of the sciences don’t do much with it yet - it is often expensive in money, time and imagination. Some of us play around with time and infrared sensing, some play with sound and others with scale .. but really powerful, mostly standardized, portable communication-enabled computational sensor platforms like the iPhone will change all of that.
I like to go into the woods with a couple of microscopes - one about 15x and the other 100x - to get a startling different view of nature. Now it is easy to attach an iPhone for even better images at less expense. I listen to bats by time shifting their calls and doing a bit of Fourier analysis - an external device with the iPhone doing the computation. As a teen I built telescopes, but now I rely on larger installations for my fix of the very old and very far exotica in the sky.
We’ll go beyond light and sound. Chemical sensing will become inexpensive and, critically, match the population distribution of people. You’ll have very inexpensive calibrated sensors to sniff and communicate with other local sensors to build and image of - for example - pollution. That will change attitudes. But change will go in a thousand directions and some will be exotic. Why not use the distributions of tens of thousands of the tiny camera sensors to detect the signature of cosmic rays, or accelerometers for earthquake early warning system … upwards and downwards the sky’s the limit.
It is still wonderful and necessary to revel in nature and humanity with our bare senses, but that can be enhanced. Perhaps it will encourage more of us, particularly kids, to play with the wonders around us.
Almost exactly five years ago I wrote a piece on my frustration with camera UX, but a brief glance at the future. It features my first attempt at digital photograph with a homebrew camera and a ferret named in honor of a nuclear disaster.
Just a trick this time. A neat variation on spaghetti is to make your sauce and, when it is almost done, put the dry or fresh pasta on top with just a bit of water - enough to cover it. Let as the water boils off the pasta cooks and steams a bit. The flavor can be richer than the traditional gallons of salty water method - different, but a change and you may even prefer it... I do for some sauces, not so much with others.. the point is experiment!