If you could speak to your camera, your tripod, and drone, what would you say? Would you use this feature? The use of our voices to command our gear is going to become even more important in the future.
If you follow technology and like to know what’s going on, you might’ve tuned in to Google’s I/O conference that happened in the past week. It was a place and time for Google to showcase their development with AI and what the public can expect from them in the next year. Google Lens, which recognizes items the camera is facing, and the Google Assistant's use of voice are the highlights for me and got me thinking about how this can affect photography and shooting video.
Today, in the professional realm, photographers and videographers steer clear from the automatic settings. Light intensity is measured externally instead of having the camera doing it automatically, and your multiple exposures are assembled and layered in post, and you are not using the auto-merge function found in many consumer-based cameras.
But, with the mobile photography growth and the fact that the cameras these devices carry became so prevalent, it’s worth thinking about what makes them so great to use, and how these technologies can be incorporated with our professional gear.
Mobile Phones Have the Following Advantages Over Professional Camera Gear:
- It's always with you.
- The software makes for better analysis of the scene to improve on exposure across the whole image. It reduces clipping.
- You're able to edit images on the device, right after you've shot it, and you have many options with regards to the way you color grade and post-produce your images. You can use VSCO, Google’s Snapseed, or the phone’s default editing capabilities.
- You get built in storage, so there’s never the case of leaving home only to find your CF card is still in the dongle at home.
- If you’re using Google Pixel, your images are all automatically backed up to cloud, and the images are categorized and sorted using AI, location, face recognition, and other complex machine learning processes.
- Some phones have some fun GIFs and videos it edits together automatically, based on whether you used the live photo feature when taking the photos.
- The images are immediately shareable.
- The total workflow, the capture, editing, and sharing of a video or photo, is all on done on one device.
This is where we are now, but what if you could use the same technology and empower all the devices you use for your photography, and emulate this all-in-one effect that the mobile devices give us. Will you ever talk to your camera, drone, or even to your tripod if you could command it to do something for you?
This video shows what happened at Google's I/O conference a couple of days ago.
If You Could, What Would You Tell It to Do?
These are the commands I would love to give my camera, computer, software and photo gear:
- Camera, increase exposure by a third of a stop, and tripod, pan left until I say stop.
- I see highlights clipping, can you push the highs down in camera, and bring out the blacks in the shadows.
- Sound, can you sync up when video recording starts, so start recording as soon as I tell the camera to start filming.
- Export the last location’s photos to the external hard drive, and back up the total shoot to a Dropbox folder.
- Open the last images I shot in Adobe Bridge.
- Camera raw, increase contrast and open up the tones curve panel.
- Camera raw, apply the Color Grade preset I use most often.
- Show me what it would look like with my favorite black and white grade too and put them side by side.
- Photoshop show me what the photo looked like before I started color grading.
- Camera, I’m going out tomorrow, how many shots do I have left on the card, and how many shots before I need to replace the battery?
- Camera, can you keystone correct this image in-camera, please.
- Camera, shoot a time-lapse. I want it to be 10 seconds in length, and one shot every second. Keep the exposure level the same throughout, and tripod, pan slightly left on every shot fired.
- Share this selected image on Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr.
- Camera, keep focus on me, and tripod, keep me centered in the frame as I move.
- Camera, start recording and record the sound from the lapel mic.
- I’m walking with a gimbal now, stabilize the footage as much as possible.
- Photoshop, open up the three images as layers and align them correctly if needed.
- Lightroom, show me all the images I took during my trip to Vietnam.
These were some voice commands off the top of my head, and I'm sure you can certainly think of more. In my opinion, this is a new gap in the market and the company who gets this right will be very successful in the long-run.
On the Other Side
I can hear myself and many other photographers coming from the film days saying how bad photography will become a serious art form because of this. With the old cameras, you used to use the winder to wind back the film spool for the next shot, and settings were changed by turning physical knobs. There's a part of me that thinks it'll take so much away from photography where the tools we use are now not so tactile anymore, but rather a discussion we’re having with a robot.
On another note, how loud will the world become if we all spoke to our significant robots during our days at the studio, or how great will it really be when you command your device as someone next to you composes their shot of a rare monkey in the wild?
Photography is often done in silence, where you can get away from the noise and focus on what you’re seeing in the frame. But by looking at what Google is doing with regards to using your voice and it' AI, it’s only a matter of time before one of voice becoming part of our gear's features. And if one does it for their photographers, it’ll cause the others to follow suit and it becoming the norm.
This is only a prediction of what I think the big brand camera producers can do to give photography something new. If the technology Google is showcasing regarding voice and AI is integrated into photography and videography, I think it’ll change image making forever, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Do you think using your voice in photography can be good or bad for photography? Let us know what you would ask if you could in the comments.