If I head out with the specific intention of making photographs then I will always take one or maybe two 35mm full frame cameras and a choice of lenses depending upon what I am hoping to achieve. I may also have with me a set of Lee filters and quite possibly a tripod. I have never been a huge fan of tripods but sometimes you just can’t be without one. Carrying this lot for several miles is not that much fun.Read more
A few weeks ago I posted this image of The Dunes at East Head in colour. You can view it here. I had a number of comments, for which I am always grateful. They all had one thing in common – they expressed a desire to see a black and white version. Well here it is and I am pleased with the result, so thanks everyone for the suggestion.
I guess my only disappointment is that it was taken using an iPhone – nothing wrong with camera phones these days but when I came to processing the photograph, I just wish I had been able to work on an 18MB RAW file from my Leica Monochrom. The flexibility, dynamic range and the depth of detail from a full frame file would have been a joy to have at my disposal.
When the forecast is right I shall return with the Leica but I always remember that any photograph is capturing a moment in time which will never be repeated – and that’s why this hobby has such an enduring interest, as no two photographs can ever be the same.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, but East Head on the West Sussex coast must be one of my favourite places. I am so fortunate to live nearby and I try not to take it for granted, which would be a very easy thing to do.
Strangely I rarely visit this location specifically to take photographs, as it is really dog walking territory. As a result most of my images taken here are opportunistic, and are often captured on my iPhone. This shot is just such an example. The clouds were wonderful and the sun lit the dunes in the foreground. The sands were rippled from the wind and luckily were pure; not a paw print in sight! The grasses too were bending in the wind and a lone figure below the patch of blue sky completes the scene. How lucky I am to have such a beautiful place on my doorstep.
I don’t regard myself as a street photographer but I do think of myself as an opportunist. With only my iPhone to hand, I was out and about and spotted the stark contrast between what I considered to be an interesting wall, with its mixture of windows and drain pipes, and the deep shadow cast by a building on my side of the road. I found it appealing but the missing ingredient was a person walking in front of the partly obscured window. I didn’t have to wait very long before a woman approached the scene, pulling a shopping trolley and with her head well wrapped in a head scarf. iPhone at the ready and the shot was taken.
The image was processed in Silver Efex Pro. I further accentuated the shadow, added some grain, and a border which I very rarely do, but I felt it suited this particular photograph.
An iPhone is a great street camera. Everyone these days seems to have a mobile phone in their hand on an almost permanent basis and if they aren’t looking at the screen, you know it will not be very long before they next do so. In essence they are totally unobtrusive and nobody knows you are taking a photograph with a smartphone because they are so prolific. They are virtually silent in operation and you could just as easily be texting your best friend and not taking a photograph at all.
So whilst for me a phone will never replace my camera, they do allow you to seize the moment when the opportunity presents itself.
Most photographers will be familiar with the saying – ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’. I can’t disagree with this adage but just how good are smartphones as a true photographic tool? Let me say rather swiftly that this is not intended to be a review of my recent upgrade from the iPhone5 to the iPhone 6S, but merely a selection of images and a few opinions of my own about the value of taking images with a mobile phone. I hope you will find my thoughts interesting.
The iPhone 6S now boasts a 12mp sensor, so it’s no wonder that the use of smartphones have stolen a huge number of sales from the compact camera market in recent years. (Click on this link to a page on Flickr which only confirms what most of us already know about the use of camera-phones). However I am all too aware that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily equal better quality pictures. The biggest factor is always going to be the person taking the shot, not the equipment being used, but that’s a topic for another day!
The four images in this post were all taken in the past few weeks whilst out and about walking our dog. I have never found it easy to multi task and keep one eye on the subject being photographed and the other eye on the dog, just in case he gets bored and runs off out of sight. So a quick shot is really all the time I have. The pictures have been imported into Lightroom from the iPhone 6S and then converted to black and white. Some limited post processing has been used to enhance each image if only to prove to myself what is possible with the jpeg files.
So what are my thoughts? Well the results are pretty remarkable all things considered. The iPhone 6S has coped well with some high contrast conditions and to a certain extent the files are flexible in post processing. There isn’t much detail in the shadows but it’s unquestionably a better performer than the iPhone 5. They are certainly good enough for posting on the web which is where the vast majority of images now end up. What I would say is that the quality deteriorates significantly when zooming in, so it’s arguably better to take a ‘full size’ image and then crop in post. Would I want to make an A4 or even an A3 size print? – I haven’t tried, it would be an interesting exercise but I doubt I would be happy with quality, however I might be pleasantly surprised.
I enjoy taking pictures on my phone but for now it will never replace any of the cameras I take so much pleasure in using. For me the camera-phone is the equivalent of an artist’s sketchbook. Something which is very portable and convenient to have with me at all times. Something I can use to make a visual record of a particular location. Something to inspire me and to think about when considering a return visit. A photographer’s sketchbook – most definitely yes, and a very good one at that. A replacement for my cameras with interchangeable lenses and the ability to shoot in RAW – no way, but still worth having with me at all times – if only to make the odd phone call!