Day One with the Lytro camera

My initial reaction to the Lytro: cool!

My blue Lytro camera arrived this afternoon at about 4:00 p.m. I had been out on a photo assignment most of the day, photographing a man and his collection of rare books. It was a fruitful photographic day in every sense of the word.

It’s always fun to get new stuff! This is the Lytro box.

I opened the Lytro package, and found a box smaller than I had expected. The camera itself is about 2/3 as big as I had come to expect. Even when I saw the photos of the (very hip) young people holding their Lytro cameras, I didn’t get the size right. It’s very small.

The packaging is excellent, it was similar to opening the box in which an iPhone arrives. Classy printing, classy packaging, and classy industrial design all describe the Lytro.

…and this is my Lytro camera. It’s a little smaller than I had imagined it to be – which is good. Its industrial design is superb, and its “feel” is excellent. It takes just a few minutes to figure it out, and a few more minutes to upload and enjoy the photos.

I took a handful of photos right out of the box, and plugged the camera into the computer with the supplied USB cable. In seconds, the software installer appeared on my screen (it was downloaded from the Lytro site), and in a couple of minutes I was up and running, transferring my Lytro photos from the camera to the computer.

Then I set up a table with an overhead soft box and a strobe light to take photos of the product, and ultimately to test the Lytro on “product shot” with some wine bottles.

My Lytro test shots were taken on my dining room table, illuminated by a Paul C. Buff Einstein strobe flash – modeling light only.

My initial experience with the camera is very positive. The photos it takes are good. The ability to focus after the fact is valuable, but I am not seeing the dramatic results that one sees when visiting the Lytro web site. I think I need to push it harder, making images with more depth by putting the camera closer to the fist subject, and farther from the last subject.

I discovered a method for WordPress blogging software that will allow me to post my Lytro images here in “Living Picture” mode so that you can click on them to see the focus change. Try this one:

…and here is one of my test shots. It’s a  “Living Picture” so you can click on it here and there, and it will jump into focus where you click.

My photos, so far, suffer from being dull. I need to make them more dramatic, which is to say I need to make a greater distance between my foreground and my background. I’m thinking too much like a still photographer, and I need to learn how to be a Lytro photo.

I’ll post more here soon. This is, after all, Day Two.

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is a Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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