Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do I need to carry a sketchbook when I have an iPhone?

I'm packing to leave for Paris on the weekend. I have made my 'Perfect Journal' and am finally the owner of an iPhone 3GS. Both of these will slide into my shoulder bag and accompany me everywhere. Each has it's uses... but doesn't the iPhone win? (if there was a competition).

My iPhone is my new favourite thing. I will take a photo (at the very least) every where I go and these will be geotagged. T will be carrying a supa-dupa camera (it's his passion) and will be taking his own photos. My geotagged photos will assist him in identifying where he took his photos as he sifts through what will be thousands of shots when he gets back.

My iPhone will tell me where I am. We have a month in Paris and we are by nature wanderers. Last time we were there (which was also our first time) we frequently tossed up whether to go to ___ which is what we planned, or keep wandering because it was beautiful right where we were. (That's the thing about Paris, EVERYTHING is beautiful. You don't really have to see 'the sites' because what you are looking at every second is beautiful.)

The downside of being a wanderer is that you don't really know exactly where you are at any given time. We would get back to our apartment and find we had been just near ___ and not known, missed it completely. So our dilemma became whether to go purposefully back through our wandered territory, or go somewhere new. New always won of course, so there were things we missed. This time we will be able to wander AND to know where we are. But not only that, my iPhone will give us access to our Google Map.

We have created our own Google Map with place markers on it of all the places we would like to go "if we end up near there." We haven't put our must-see's on it, just the addresses of little shops, restaurants, markets and streets that we have read about or been told about. You know, you hear about a place and think "That sounds perfect! I must go there" and when you check the map it is way out to billy-o and it doesn't really warrant a full blown excursion just for the 'cute little ceramic shop'. But should we wander that way, we won't miss it this time!

And then there are the applications. It really is the 'apps' that makes the iPhone a winner over and above other smart phones. I have my translator app, the plan and tour app for the Palace of Versailles, lots of other travel apps. Then there are the photography apps. I was worried about the quality of the 3mpx camera, I would have like more, but the quality is surprisingly good and the sheer fun and pleasure the apps bring to taking photos is quite exhilarating. (I took these photos of my sketchbook with my iPhone!)

Oh and I can use it as a phone too. And email. And blogging and flickr and Facebook and twitter etc etc. Or listen to music. Or play games. (I wouldn't of course. I'd draw in my sketchbook instead!) So, my sexy little piece of hardware reduces the number of things I carry quite substantially; phone, camera, ipod, gps, guide book(s) and maps at the very least. And it weighs less than my ipod alone does.

My sketchbook, on the other hand, does the exact opposite. It creates more things I need to carry. I need my pens, my watercolours, water brushes, blotting paper, tissues to clean up with, glue, (and if the world was a different place) scissors or a knife; lucky I don't carry pencils and erasers any more.

The photos I intend to take are different from the ones T will take. They will be shots of patterns, details and reference shots for paintings I intend to do when I come back. I can get a lot of these shots taken in the time it takes to do a single sketch. It was the time it takes to do the sketches that surprised me last time. When you have the possibility of fitting in seeing Place Vendome this afternoon versus finishing the sketch you are doing in Place des Voges instead it actually gets a little stressful. We didn't see Place Vendome last time. It is on our list (and the Google Map) for this time.

This is part of the reason I wanted to stay for so long this time. To ease the pressure around the time it takes to sit and draw and see and experience and even wander. I don't know if we will actually have time to see everything on our list even with a month! But if I didn't take my sketchbook, if I only took my iPhone we could get around it all. I could paint from the photos I take and those photos would take me right back to the spot... or would they?

And I think that is the real difference between my sketchbook and my iPhone. When I look back through my sketchbooks I am truly transported back to that exact moment. I can see, hear, smell it all again. Vividly. When I flip back through my photos of last time I find myself thinking "where was that?"

I'll carry them both. I'll let you know who wins. I suspect there actually won't be a winner, that it will be more of a truce. But I'll let you know.
ps. This time I made my perfect travel journal out of a book with the all-time perfect title. Guess how long I'm going to be in Paris!? I filled it with my favourite paper - all the one kind this time because that is how I wanted it to be. It also has some pages from an old Paris Guide Book scattered throughout. I had another Paris book with beautiful illustrations in it that I was also going to incorporate. The book is in poor condition so a prime candidate for rebinding however I discovered it is a reasonably valuable book and a first edition. I couldn't bring myself to pull it apart. It has an elastic closer and a ribbon place marker, some loose sheets of blotting paper, but that is all this time. I wanted a simple version of my usual rebound journal this time. I love it. It IS perfect!


Amanda said...

Hope you have a lovely time in Paris. I totally agree about the iPhone - don't know how I ever managed without one before. But be warned! Data roaming charges outside your home country can be horrendous! We've just got back from France and our call carrier charged £3 per meg. If you're going to be using Google maps, checking email etc while away you could face a big bill.

Jan Allsopp said...

Thanks Amanda. I am going to buy a local sim card with data when I get there. I've been told it is a lot cheaper that way. All I need now is to know how to ask for it!

Walter said...

Great plans! I love how dedicated you are to your art process. Your phone is in good hands.

Jan Allsopp said...

Thank you Walter. You inspire me too!

Jo Horswill said...

IPhones are good :)
Paris is a dream, have a wonderful trip Jan.

Cath from chunkychooky said...

Oh Jan, I am so excited for you!!! its going to be brilliant! Have a fantastic time- you were missed by me and Kylie at the inaugral sew and sew but we will keep you in the loop, I will be thinking of you when I see effiel towers and croissants!