The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Doubles as a Smartphone Shutter Release

If you own a Nintendo Switch and an Android smartphone, did you know that the two can be paired for photography? It turns out the Joy-Con controller can be used as a remote shutter release for triggering photos without having to touch your phone.

A Reddit user named Byotan recently shared this neat fact in this video showing the Joy-Con shutter release in action.

To do this yourself, you’ll first need to pair your Joy-Con with your Android phone over Bluetooth. Press and hold the Joy-Con’s “Sync” button until the light indicators on the side turn on. Next, open your phone’s Bluetooth menu and you should see a new Joy-Con entry. Select this entry to pair your phone with the Joy-Con.

Once the controller is paired, how you use it as a shutter release will vary depending on what device you have, and you may need to fiddle around to see what works for you (and if the left Joy-Con doesn’t work, try the right one, and vice versa).

9to5Google notes that on Google Pixel phones, you take a photo by tapping the “A” button, though whether or not this works may depend on what app you’re using. On Samsung smartphones, you can use the “X” and “Y” buttons to zoom in and out (in increments of 0.1x per press), and the “B” button is used to snap a photo.

Outside of camera apps, the “A” button should also act as a home button and the “Y” button should allow you to select the upper-left app on your home screen.

From what others are reporting online, whether or not this system works for you may be hit and miss. But if you’re in a jam and need a quick way to trigger some photos remotely (like if you’re taking a group photo with your phone on a tripod), you may want to try giving the Joy-Con a shot.


Image credits: Header illustration: phone stock photo licensed from Depositphotos and Joy-Con photo by Nintendo.

Lessons Learned on Making Something from ‘Nothing’ as a Photographer

One of the most constantly joyful aspects of photography is the ability of the medium to allow the creator to make something from nothing.

Nothing doesn’t mean forgetting and leaving the lens cap on but instead studying things that are not epic or poetic in a way that renders them aesthetically. I’ve seen beautiful photographs made of leaves, folds in newspapers, overflowing bins, and many other things we would otherwise pass by.

This idea that photography can visually elevate the mundane is nothing new, and plenty has been written and discussed about the ways this can be practiced. It is central to many genres, including street and still life, where the everyday can become larger than life. However, I am not so certain that the same can be achieved when it comes to telling a story in a way that accurately describes what happened when what happened wasn’t too interesting.

Sometimes the everyday is just the everyday, no more, no less. Sometimes you can put poetry and artistry into a photograph, but the story it tells does not become more interesting by association.

I recently spent some time in Bulgaria, which was necessary for me to transit onwards to work on a project in the United States. The decision to spend this time in Sofia, Bulgaria, was not directed by any specific project or goal beyond running down the clock before I was able to head onwards to the States, which left me without a narrative to guide my day-to-day routine there. I had just spent a very hectic summer focused on a number of documentary photographs, so to be thrown back into undirected street photography was a bit challenging.

I did not find it difficult to make interesting observations to photograph or to find “uninteresting” things to make interesting through photography, but what was difficult was the reconciliation that the story I would eventually be telling through these photographs was not an inherently interesting one.

Sofia is a beautiful city, although a lot was restricted due to pandemic safeguards, which left me to a simple daily exploration of the outdoors as I worked with whatever situations I happened across. Although I am happy with the collection of photographs I produced, they do not make for a riveting sequence in the way that some of my more energetic documentary stories with structure as simple as beginning, middle, and end, might.

The sequence I ultimately decided on for the body of work shot while there was roughly an outline of this daily routine, moving from point of interest to point of interest. There are a couple of vignettes highlighting the time I spent around the skate community, and the photographs I shot on Christmas day at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

This is not a substantial narrative and is closer to a collection of street photographs and personal journal than my more intimate documentary investigations. In this way, my publication, Transiting Bulgaria, very much feels like it is something from nothing. There is not a lot of groundbreaking introspection, not enough anecdotes for it to be a diary, not enough investment in any particular story beyond my own to consider it anything other than a document of a place at a particular time.

For some this is enough. Plenty of street photography publications seem content to simply present a highlight reel or portfolio style body of images, bound to the photographer more than to a story. I want to be able to say that this is enough to me, and in the case of Transiting Bulgaria, it almost has to be, to exist as a personal chapter which will either interest people or not but, without anything to really tie it together overall, with no ultimate point or conclusion to be found.

I am happy with the work, I really am – for a focused and dedicated amount of time I am proud to have produced the quantity and quality of work that I have, but my lesson was that I needed to accept that not all of my projects will be some decade-spanning feat or extreme deep dive into a culture.

Instead, it’s about allowing these quieter editions to exist alongside those other works and accepting that these are as much a part of my work and life. The less-interesting bits in-between the high-energy sprints are healthy and allow me and my career to breathe in a natural, peaceful, way.


P.S. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Transiting Bulgaria, it is currently available to pre-order from my website at a reduced list price of £22 until the end of June, at which point pre-orders will be fulfilled.


About the author: Simon King is a London-based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work through his documentary collective, The New Exit Photography Group, and on Instagram.

Canon Might Be Planning Super Cheap Super Telephoto Lenses

A newly published patent suggests that Canon might be trying to bring a catadioptric optical system back to its camera lens lineup. If the “mirror lens” designs do materialize, we would likely see super telephoto lenses that are much smaller and cheaper than equivalent Canon lenses currently on the market.

Northlight Images spotted a Canon patent (US Patent 20210141240) titled “Optical System and Optical Apparatus” that was filed in October 2020 and published on May 13th, 2021.

“An optical system includes a first optical element having a first reflective surface concave toward an object side, a second optical element having a second reflective surface convex toward an image side, and a lens unit disposed between the first optical element and the second optical element,” Canon writes in the patent’s abstract. “Light from an object travels to an image plane through the first reflective surface and the second reflective surface in this order. A movable unit configured to move during image stabilizing includes at least one of the second optical element and the lens unit.”

The patent goes on to describe and show the designs of at least 5 mirror lenses (AKA cat or reflex lenses): a 400mm f/3.6, 800mm f/5, 1200mm f/8, 1200mm f/10.5, and 2000mm f/15. What’s unusual is that they all have image stabilization built in.

A Canon 400mm f/3.6 IS mirror less design.
A Canon 1200mm f/8 IS mirror lens design.
A Canon 2000mm f/15 IS mirror lens design.

“Has Canon decided it’s time for some catadioptric long lenses for the RF system?” Northlight Images writes. “Expect a chorus of disapproval from those who’ve never owned a cat lens.”

The mirrors used to bounce light forward and backward in a catadioptric lens allow lenses to be much shorter than more traditional lens designs, in which light only travels through the length of the lens. The second convex mirror multiplies the focal length up to 4 or 5 times, allowing for super telephoto lenses that are relatively compact.

“In a nutshell, a mirror lens is a compact telescope,” B&H writes. “Mirror lenses contain a series of angled circular mirrors that gather the light and, rather than transmit a focused image directly to the camera sensor (or film plane), reflect the incoming light back and forth, each time reflecting a narrower portion of the image until a highly magnified portion of the original image reaches the camera’s imaging sensor.”

Drawbacks of mirror lenses have historically included fixed apertures (due to the center of the lens being obstructed), low contrast, and donut bokeh (caused by the way light enters the lens through a ring along the outside).

An example of the classic “donut bokeh” from a mirror lens that was used to capture two out-of-focus Christmas lights. Photo by Hustvedt and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

It’s possible that Canon has invented clever ways to overcome one or more of these historical weaknesses.

If these lenses are being designed for the Canon RF ecosystem, an advantage the mirrorless cameras would have is that their viewfinders would not be darkened by the small apertures like the optical viewfinders on DSLRs would be.

Canon and Nikon both historically offered catadioptric lenses. Canon mirror lenses have included a Reflex 500mm f/8, 800mm f/3.8, 2000mm f/11, and 5200mm f/14 (one of which was listed for $45,000 on eBay in 2010). Nikon’s mirror lenses have carried Mirror-Nikkor and Reflex-Nikkor labels over the years.

These days, a number of smaller brands such as Samyang/Rokinon and Tokina continue to offer 3rd party reflex lenses.

The Samyang/Rokinon Reflex 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS for Sony E (left) and the Tokina SZX 400mm f/8 Reflex for Nikon F (right) are two cat/reflex/mirror lenses currently on the market.

Canon Rumors writes that based on the Canon roadmap it has, these mirror lenses could possibly end up in the hands of photographers.

“Interestingly, a Canon RF 1200mm f/8 appears on my Canon RF lens roadmap, Canon Rumors states. “This patent may actually be part of future consumer products. However, I do have it reported as an L lens, so we’ll have to wait and see on that one.”

Super telephoto Canon lenses have historically been large, heavy, and ultra expensive products geared toward photographers and businesses with very deep pockets. The Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS currently costs $13,000, and a used Canon 1200mm f/5.6L was listed for a whopping $180,000 back in 2015.

The releases of mirror lenses could allow the photography masses to try out ultra-long focal lengths — albeit with significantly more limitations — without breaking the bank.

As with any patent, though, there’s no guarantee that the things described will ever show up in the real world, but this is definitely an interesting development from Canon that some photographers will be hoping and watching for.

DPReview TV: The best $4000 camera kits

Something terrible has happened to Chris and Jordan up in Calgary, and they need to buy a new camera kit priced under $4000 using their own money. Find out what cameras and lenses they chose.

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The Shabbiness of Beauty

The Shabbiness of Beauty

Moyra Davey

Moyra Davey dips into the archive of the late American artist Peter Hujar, threading her images together with his to create a photographic duet steeped in the quiet allure of the everyday.

“How to describe the effect of these photographs?” writes Moyra Davey on the pictures that the late American artist Peter Hujar took of the Hudson River in 1976. “The water seems embodied, we see faces—eyes and lips—and liquid takes on a velvety smoothness and viscosity that could almost be a solid. Each image seems to have its own personality, and we sense Hujar’s presence as well, a man standing on a pier, with all the connotations of that locale, looking out and taking in the river at his feet. I wonder if he knew when he took the pictures that the resulting images would be so sensual, so corporeal and unearthly at the same time.”

Davey writes these words at the end of The Shabbiness of Beauty, a newly published photobook, in which she delves into the image-archives of Hujar and edits his photographs into a new series together with her own.

Peter Hujar, ‘Wave, Sperlonga’, 1978 from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy The Peter Hujar Archive LLC

Davey has worked in two ways in this book—as photographer, and as curator of both her own and someone else’s vision. A someone she cannot talk with, since Hujar’s life was tragically cut short by an AIDS-related illness in 1987. What is most fascinating about this is how she works in the same way in both roles, moving intuitively—emotionally, even—through pictures by her own hand and by Hujar’s. You cannot tell which picture belongs to which artist until the index at the end, and even then it’s difficult to work out without going all the way back through and counting, because there are no page numbers either. In this way, and in many others, this is a book that requires time. It asks you to look again and again, and to see the images as one collection—to understand that the separate visions of two people are entwined here momentarily.

The Shabbiness of Beauty also has a third voice; that of poet and writer Eileen Myles, who opens the book with a text. Leaping back and forth between memories and decades, drawing from the present—with references to the pandemic—as well as the recent past and stuff that happened forever go, Myles pins Davey and Hujar’s images to personal associations, and to things that were happening during the time the writer spent with these pictures.

Spread from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

Like the images, the text periodically resituates us in New York too. Myles meanders through all sorts of topics—astrology, death, birthday parties—and writes on the artists’ star signs—Leo and Libra, respectively—referring to them subsequently as “the surgent woman and the sexy dead man.” Surgent. A strangely perfect word for Davey. What an incredible way to describe the way she’s designed this book to hit us; wave upon wave, with each new image seeming to crest and fold upon the one before it as we turn the pages.

To return to the water pictures that punctuate this book, Myles describes Hujar’s as darker. “I look at his oily dark surface, his haptic black sea, [and] I don’t think ‘immersive’ like Moyra’s,” the poet writes thoughtfully. In Hujar’s water pictures, darkness seems to ooze slowly, spreading almost imperceptibly outwards from the depths of the image, while Davey’s pictures have something of a quieter, rhythmic, more painterly quality. Each of them stir up something emotive, but it’s different things. Myles identifies rage in some of Hujar’s pictures and I agree. Rage tempered with tenderness was wrapped up in so much of what he did, and that can be seen in these pictures of water better than any others. “His sea puckers like knots in a tree,” writes Myles, and goes on to describe how the blur in Hujar’s pictures sucks the power out of movement and waves.

Moyra Davey, ‘Jane’, 1984, from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

There are several important recurring subjects and motifs in The Shabbiness of Beauty. Between the two archives, pictures of skin and water, animals and babies, and the occasional, filmic New York City scene emerge, at once formally symbiotic but also thematically incongruous in the way they are edited together. “I’ve long been familiar with Hujar’s work and chose images I knew I could be in conversation with, but I also tried as much as possible to select from amongst his lesser-known works, in particular ones that have rarely if ever been shown,” Davey writes. Once together, the pictures create new stories and sub-narratives, and they speak to each other throughout the pages.

Spread from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

It can be unsettling to enter an archive and know you have complete power over its contents. It’s the power to access history from new perspectives that is most daunting. How, for instance, does one do justice to someone else’s record of life or lived experience? How can you make sure you are keeping the voices of the past ever-present in your own retelling? The way that Davey entered this archive was without a pre-formed idea of what she wanted. Putting Hujar’s pictures first, she then shaped her own responses to fit. That’s the only way that she could have done this successfully when the other party is not around to be part of the discussion. Later, she says, she found herself working in his image too, trying to shoot subjects such as horses the way he did.

Spread from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

At some point in the second half of the book, a letter that Hujar sent to the artist David Wojnarowicz on New Year’s Day 1984 is reproduced. In it, Hujar writes as if chatting, his language colloquial and meandering. He writes about the social scene in New York, the work he is making, and at the end, he tells two anecdotes about animals he saw on TV. One about dogs, the other about fish. It gives an insight into the sorts of things he thought about, and the sorts of things that stayed with him and had an impact, however small. Following this letter, there is a flurry of pictures of bodies and dogs, interspersed with each other.

There are many pictures of animals in The Shabbiness of Beauty, taken by both Hujar and Davey. “In a way the total picture of our time is the abstract sum total of the awareness of all the creatures who love in it. No matter what power chooses to do,” says Myles. Davey sees this just as Hujar did, and what their consistent and considered photographing of animals really shows us is a shared interest in all sorts of existences. It’s about noticing details, little moments, the way the light falls, but it’s also about bearing witness to experiences other than our own and showing them with dignity.

Peter Hujar, ‘Colt with Mother, Italy’, 1978, from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy The Peter Hujar Archive LLC

“Everyone agrees Hujar was unrivaled when it came to photographing animals,” Davey writes. “His horses and cows and dogs peer into the lens as though hypnotized, sometimes in pairs, and there is an immobility to these images that is truly novel, as animals don’t hold still, except for Hujar.” Earlier, Myles writes, “Peter’s horse speaks for the shabbiness of beauty,” shaping words around the title of the book. Both Hujar and Davey are artists interested in the everyday, and the radiant possibility of it. It’s the eccentric little details of all lives that speak to them, the shabbier the better.

When Davey says that each of Hujar’s images seems to have its own personality, what she is really doing is offering us as viewers a way to see images that have a life beyond their creator—impactful and resonant as much today as they were when they were taken, but still shot through with the presence of the person who pressed the shutter. As if to confirm this, it becomes more obvious who took which picture in the book the more time you spend with it. Dialogue and waves of conversation and shared interests are at the heart of The Shabbiness of Beauty, but it retains two distinct voices throughout, neither ever lost to the other. Their styles merge together but there’s also still a productive friction throughout the edit too.

Moyra Davey, ‘Cisco (Landscape)’, 2019, from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

“I keep thinking about the living woman and the dead man,” writes Myles. Me too, I think, as I flick through the pages for yet another time. I’ve always had a lump in my throat when looking at Hujar’s work. That has at least a little to do with understanding the life he lived, political and poetic, and understanding the world he moved through —the way New York was the centre of the world for him—but it is so much more than that too. It’s being able to truly feel when looking at his pictures. It’s his acute ability to have always been able to capture the ineffable. “That’s Peter. Haptic. I’m thinking of smell too, a palpable kind of photography,” Myles continues. It’s all about sensation with his pictures, in the end. Pictures that speak to our senses, enliven them, enrage them.

Spread from ‘The Shabbiness of Beauty’ by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist and MACK

After spending time with this book, it becomes clear that Davey’s pictures, in their own ways, have this effect too. These artists lived in different worlds, and yet here they are together, both showing their ability to move their audiences with the smallest of details. In the end, writes Myles, “it is so unimportant to nail the exact spot in someone’s mortality when they took these pictures.” Some of us are lucky enough to receive large chunks of life in which to leave our mark, the poet says, and some of us have much less time, like Hujar, but none of that matters really. It’s far more about the whole shape of a life and a vision, isn’t it? And about making work that considers both the impressions we can leave on the world, and the ones the world can leave on us. The Shabbiness of Beauty is a quietly profound book, and seeing one artist growing through their admiration of another is truly a special thing to witness.

The Shabbiness of Beauty
by Moyra Davey & Peter Hujar
Publisher: MACK
ISBN: 978-1-913620-20-2

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The Mothman Prophecies, Scarface, They Won’t Believe Me: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

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She Dies Tomorrow: An Interview With Cinematographer Jay Keitel

She Dies Tomorrow has been celebrated for its unsettling sensibilities and unorthodox filmmaking techniques. Independent Spirit Award-nominated cinematographer Jay Keitel’s work on the film is one of the main factors in the film’s moody success. I recently had the chance to ask Keitel a series of questions about his approach to filmmaking on She Dies Tomorrow.

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