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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Phonecam photos aspire to art
Dot.life - where technology meets life, every Monday
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent

Festival goers, Henry Reichhold
People react well to camera phones
You may be proud of the photos that you have snapped with your funky camera phone, but it is a fair bet that Henry Reichhold has you beat.

The London-based photo-digital artist is using Nokia 7600 and 7610 camera phones to create huge panoramic images of events and places.

Using the phones to snap a series of images and then stitching them together with software, he's produced stunning landscapes of London seen during both day and night.

He's also done large-scale images of a bingo hall, cinema goers at the Imax in London and a series of nightclubs.

Cityscape

Now he's been commissioned by Nokia to produce similar panoramic collages of several music festivals this summer.

Printed camera phone panorama, Henry Reichhold
The completed panoramas can be huge prints
He has already snapped some shots at the Homelands and Finsbury Park festivals and will be doing the same at Reading.

The images and collages produced will be shown off by Nokia at the Photokina exhibition to be held in Cologne in October.

Londoners may have seen his work displayed on Tower Bridge and Hungerford Bridge - an installation which was hard to miss as it was an image about 300 feet long.

"They certainly seem to be getting bigger," he said.

Dotty about dots

His interest in using low-resolution camera phones stems from the post-graduate study he did at Warwick University on pointillism - a school of painting that builds up an image using tiny dots.

Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, AP
Seurat: Inspired camera phone art
Georges-Pierre Seurat is the best known exponent of the technique.

"I've always liked to be able to see pixels," said Mr Reichhold, "I'm very interested in low resolution images because they look very different to traditional images."

"They have softer, rounded edges," he said, "and a quality all their own."

This interest made camera phones the ideal medium for him to use.

He also likes the immediacy possessed by pictures snapped with a camera phone and said this meant images gave a real feel of what was happening at an event.

Shooting lots of images on a camera phone presents its own problem, particularly if it involves a lot of people and action.

The time it took a phone to recover every time an image was snapped also has an impact on what they could usefully be used to capture, he said.

Snappy art

"It can be a lengthy or frustrating process particularly if you are shooting people," he said. "Luck has a lot to do with it."

The good news is that people are generally much happier to be snapped with a camera phone than they would with a more traditional camera.

Festival goer, Henry Reichhold
Image for festival collage
Snapping with phone cameras is something that has really taken off, he said. At all the festivals he's been to people are happily snapping with a handset.

Once he has the images he loads them on to his Mac at home and spends time making them look more painterly before stitching them together into a whole.

Increasingly photos snapped with camera phones are turning up in galleries and being shown off as art.

Last weekend the Sent phonecam art project opened in Los Angeles.

On display alongside images captured by 25 invited artists, movie makers and celebrities will be snaps taken and sent in by members of the public.

"This is something that the public has really embraced," said Mr Reichhold.


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