The Reluctant Photographer: When Hi-Tech Meets Lo-Tech

A couple weekends ago, I travelled to the Franklin Museum with my middle school for an educational field trip. Anyone who has visited there knows that a view downward from near the top of the grand stairwell offers an impressive vantage point overlooking the museum’s Foucault pendulum.The hypnotic sway of this scientific instrument displays observable evidence of our Earth’s rotation. I took a moment to peer over the rail in a frustrating, futile attempt at photographing Foucault’s famous device with my iPhone 4S.

Foucault pendulum Franklin Museum Franklin Museum Photo

How many times have we composed the perfect image in our viewfinder only to find ourselves thwarted by improperly wound film, the end of a roll (those twentieth century legacy camera models of course), a wayward finger blocking the image, or a passerby ruining the perfect moment, etc.? After straining a bit to get the perfect angle I felt the need to back off. Even though my device is insured with AppleCare, I felt very near the brink of having it plummet three stories to the tile floor below, possibly picked up by a passerby ready to piece it together for nefarious purposes of hacking my data. iPhones are extremely slippery to the touch and provide a much more awkward grasp than with a true DSLR model. People who know me understand that I seldom am able to acquire an optimum hands-free comfortable moment so the image remains in my mind’s eye only. Which leads to my observation about the frustrations posed by today’s technologies…

That is, how many times have we felt frustrated by ways in which hi-tech comes to be undermined by the absence of a key piece of lo-tech? Consider the inescapable submerged automobile with electric windows that won’t open without a simple hardware store hammer to smash the window. The office copier that scans, enlarges, reduces, staples, collates, but malfunctions often enough to subvert its true mission, that of making quick, clean copies. What this fast paced world needs is a phone case with a sturdy, comfortable, simple but functional wrist strap, or neck lanyard even. Cameras used to come with them, as did circa 1960s transistor radios and walking canes. In fact I used to own a pair of crutches with wrist straps at the end of the handles.

An interesting company called Ozaki makes innovative products for smartphones, iPods and iPads. However, they don’t yet seem to provide a means to order directly from the company and the lanyard (which screws in securely into the tripod connector) is available separately from the case itself, which does allow for color mixing. Similarly, it’d be nice to have a more streamlined method to keeping our tech toys charged. Battery designs seem to have improved over the years but so have sophisticated mobile operating systems, thus requiring still more power.  Another company offers the JuiceTank iPhone case, featuring an attached flip-down electric cord prong that lets the user plug the phone right into a wall outlet without the need for the charging cable, plug adapter or charging dock. Pretty nifty so long as the AC outlet isn’t like one of those models at the base of a lamp running directly adjacent to the table or floor. Combining both these gadgets could result in the greatest invention since the Tupperware Corkscrew!

Lastly, for your viewing pleasure, here is one funky picture that I managed to click (and photo edit a bit) from the comfort of our school bus as we rode over the bridge on our way back to South Jersey:

Philadelphia from the bridge

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