iPhoneographer of the Day – Daniel Berman | Reservoir_Dan

One of my favorite subjects is today’s featured iArtist forte.  Dan’s mastery of color justifies the beauty in nature which is captured in a fantastical and whimsical fashion. Dan is a rising star among iPhoneographers and his vision surpasses the horizon.

Without further ado…

(Mother’s Day of Invention)

Q: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Toronto – I now live in a little town west of the city with my wife and three little boys. For the past 15 years I have run my own company as an independent producer of documentaries, music specials and nature programming for TV. I don’t have hobbies per se, more a set of rotating obsessions. I’m lucky in the sense that my biggest, longest lasting obsession also happens to be how I make a living. 

Q: What does iPhoneography mean to you?
A: iphoneography has really helped my pursuit of personal creativity. For the first time I feel like I’ve been able to capture in a tangible way the fantasy world in my mind’s eye. The colors, the shapes, the light. The iphone has been an important tool me for me and iPhoneography an immensely satisfying artistic outlet. It has also been a catalyst for me to pursue artistic endeavors in other fields and mediums.

(A Slow Fog)

Q: How did you get into iPhoneography?
A: I really just started taking pictures and fussing around with some apps. One day I posted a pic on twitter and noticed all the other people posting too. I learned a lot real quick from looking, thinking, trying, chatting and posting.

Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: I have no formal training. Working with video has given me a point of reference for sure. Although I have no formal training for that either. I try to be a quick learner when it comes to my rotating obsessions.

Q: Can you recall the first iphoto you took that made you go WOW I really got something here!?(be sure to include the photo if you answer this)
A: I was using TiltShiftGen and PhotoFX – and I was blown away at just how much better this very mediocre picture could look with some “apping.” I’m not saying it’s a brilliant picture but you should have seen it before. The ability of the apps to facilitate artistic expression was revealed to me at that moment. With a little work, trial and error, I made a simple picture have a little extra glow. I liked that feeling.

(Mill Pond II)

Q: By the looks of it, it seems as though nature and objects are your main focus in subjects. I’m right in saying this? Whats are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: The reason I left Toronto for a small town close to the countryside is because I’m happiest when I see and feel the land around me. It sounds basic: I’m far less inspired on a daily basis by the city and more inspired by clouds, trees, birds, water, sun, grass, flowers, fields, rocks, animals, views, horizons and hills. That isn’t to say I don’t like cities. Just not everyday. So, yes my photo subjects are representative of what I perceive to be interesting or beautiful. I confess, that in my pictures, I seek beauty more than truth. 

Q: What makes your hometown special to capture through your iPhone?
A: The town itself is quiet. I find little to shoot until I drive 5 minutes into the countryside and the hills of the Niagara Escarpment. There I find much of what interests me as a photographer. 

(At a Stand-Still)

Q: Who or what are your artistic influences?
A: My biggest influences as a photographer would mostly be artists in other fields, people of singular vision no matter what it is they do: Bob Dylan, Thelonious Monk, Jerry Garcia, John Prine, Paul Newman, Billie Holliday, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Spalding Gray, Woody Allen, Gord Downie, Levon Helm, Phillip Roth, Bill Frisell, Raymond Carver, Lightin’ Hopkins, Bessie Smith, Ernest Hemingway, Woody Guthrie, Jack Kerouac, Mordecai Richler, Mark Rothko, Jimi Hendrix, Michelangelo Antonioni…Is that too many? A photographer whose work I admire deeply is Jim Marshall. 

Q: What has been some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
A: I don’t actually see any challenges with the iPhone camera. It’s a fixed lens with a small sensor and a crappy jpeg engine. It has a touch-to- focus/exposure feature and the 3GS has a decent macro. That’s pretty much it. So if you know that going in don’t push it. 

Q: How would you describe the style of your iphotos?
A: My photos are often over-saturated representations of where I would like to be if I could be anywhere. I guess I’m a bit of a fantasy-naturalist.

Q: How long does it take you to post process an image to something you deem is worth sharing? 
A: I take anywhere from 5 minutes to…until it’s done. It really depends. I post one picture everyday and some days are better than others, though that has less to do with processing than having a good shot. Most of the time I know what app I want to use for a given picture. If I end up trying a ton of different stuff it probably means the picture isn’t very good in the first place. 


(Tangled Up In Green)

Q: The use of color in your work is fantastic. Why choose to use such vibrant colors rather than B&W? 
A: Thanks for the compliment – I’ve also been told that my color choices are ruining my otherwise fine compositions. You know what they say, you can’t fool all the people all the time. But I do use B+W when I think the picture warrants the effect, here are 2 examples…
…you’re right though most of my images are in color. Part of the reason is that these pictures have no commodity master. In other words, they don’t have to conform to any standard of acceptability for a given application. I wouldn’t be using these sometimes fantastical, exaggerated colors if I were to shoot a wedding, or be commissioned to shoot a baseball game for a newspaper. These are my pictures though, without boundaries, and the colors and tones are a part of how I see the world. 

Q: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? Which one do you currently use the most often?
A: Camerabag, PhotoFX, Tiltshift, Perfectlyclr, CameraTan and ProHDR. I use these all regularly – I experiment with other apps and occasionally use them but these are my staples.

Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: First off, I want to thank you Edgar for initiating this fine series of posts with iphoneographers. iPhoneography is a unique medium – you can shoot, process and post on one device from virtually anywhere. Folks like Robert Paul, Max Berkowitz, Keith Weaver, Mauro Ballabeni – these people and many, many others are producing brilliant, artistic work with this device. I suspect such features will become standard in the next several years. This may be remembered as the golden age. Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr are modern day salons for the greatest realtime photographic exhibition in history and I’m just glad to be a part of it.


(Must I Paint You a Picture)


For more on Dan check out these links:

Tumblr: ReservoirDan

Twitter: Reservoir_Dan

Thank you Daniel for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic.tumblr.com and the iPhoneogenic Facebook Page. I am honored to have you on my blog.

Thank You!

All images shown here are copyrighted property of Daniel Berman, please contact Dan for copyright privileges.

© 2010 iPhoneogenic

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