Lots of young kids — and some not-so-young kids — make tea-stained treasure maps: maps that are “antiqued” by coating them with tea. So this is a tea-stained map for the 21st century.
Yes, that’s Google Maps on an iPhone, and it really is sitting in a cup of tea.
I knew this would be a difficult one to shoot. The tea would have to be kept hot in order to capture the steam on camera. The phone would have to somehow not die before the shoot was done. The backlit screen would have to be clear enough to read the map in the photo.
I started by buying an iPhone and having it waterproofed with an invisible, microscopic coating by Liquipel. I purchased a couple tea cups and glued bits of metal type in the bottom of them to hold the phone in place. I put the phone in the cups to test its position, but I didn’t put it in liquid before the photo shoot, because I had no way of knowing if it would survive.
On the day of the shoot, I made about twenty cups of Earl Grey, replacing the tea between every shot to keep it hot. I took the phone out of the tea and put it in a bag of rice, in the freezer, between each shot. Still, we had some interesting problems.
The iPhone seemed to interpret the heat and/or wetness as finger touches, and began doing things — opening apps, scrolling through menus, launching voice control — as soon as it touched the tea. Each time, we had only a second or two to snap a picture before the screen changed. Once, it even warned us that it was getting too hot to operate and had to shut down.
Surprisingly, when we decided to try for one last shot, we had time to shoot about twenty photos before preemptively pulling it out. In the end, the iPhone actually survived and still works.
The photo I chose for the poster was one of the first shots we took. The pattern of the rising steam, the narrow depth of field, and the rich colors make it work very well. Considering I was half expecting the phone to die completely before we could get a single photo, I’m very pleased with the way this one turned out.
The Perks of Print #2: TEA-STAINED MAPS.
Photography by Hub Willson Photography
The Perks of Print. Copyright © 2012 by Joshua Langman. All rights reserved.