Smartphone(ography?)

Over the last 12 months my photographic interests have shifted considerably and whilst stills photography is still a primary interest (it needs to be as I’m 650+ days into the 365 Challenge) my main interests these days are Audio-Visual, instant photography and exploring what can be done with my iPhone.

I recently joined a smartphone photography group run by the UPP through which I hope to see a range of work each month produced by other enthusiast photographers using smartphones. I am particularly interested to see how people interpret the world around them through the medium of what is essentially a point and shoot camera albeit one with a built-in darkroom and special effects studio!  I see a lot of smartphone images every day on the internet but these will be from a small group of people who would classify themselves as enthusiast photographers and I’m wondering if they will therefore approach things differently.

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Candid: iPhone XR + Hipstamatic app

Purchasing the Huawei P20 Pro smartphone earlier in the year persuaded me of the potential for smartphone photography and whilst I sold the phone within a few months it was in no way a reflection of the built-in camera, which is superb, but simply that I couldn’t get on with the Android software that powered the other functions of the handset (text messages, internet browsing, checking emails … oh and making phone calls).

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Huawei P20 Pro – this printed at A3 beautifully

I have a small album of smartphone images on my Flickr account which I shall be adding to over time. I’m only just starting to realise the full potential of this creative tool though. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and my prolonged spells of being confined to barracks over the last couple of months have at least given me the opportunity to play, to experiment and also research the options. I have settled on a few key Apps for my use, figuring that getting to know a few pieces of software well will in the long run produce better results than a nodding acquaintance with a whole store-full of Apps.

STOP!
STOP!

My go-to App therefore for any post-production is Snapseed. I believe that smartphone photography should mean exactly that, all the stages of the process completed on the smartphone, in my case these days an iPhone XR which I believe is the current entry-level iPhone. Therefore I shoot with the iPhone, post-process with Snapseed on the phone and then upload to social media or the cloud from where I can grab images for Flickr if I so desire. I use Instagram too (link is to one of my three IG accounts) and always post to that account from my iPhone. I’m not impressed by the Flickr App on my phone however so prefer to upload those from my desktop.

Piece Hall, Halifax: iPhone + Hipstamatic via Instagram. The logo applied in Snapseed

Capturing the images is done either using the phone’s native camera or with the Hipstamatic App. Which of these I use at any given time depends largely on the intended purpose and to some degree on how I feel. Pictures of the grandsons for example are largely for family consumption so I use the native camera. This is not set in stone though and a recent exception were a few images of Zac (see first image above) which were captured for my 365 and I chose to use Hipstamatic for the effect created by the John S “lens” and Rock “film”.

At present these two Apps do pretty much everything I need so I am concentrating on learning how to use them rather than diluting my efforts chasing loads of other Apps. The one thing that would make Snapseed the perfect post-production tool on my phone would be more sophisticated black & white conversion options or at least a range of B&W presets. I’m still looking in to other options but at present am converting images with the very basic tool within Snapseed and then tweaking with the regular fine-tuning tools. I’d appreciate being able to quickly replicate particular looks however which is where presets are so useful.

Zac (double exposure)
Double exposure in-phone: iPhone XR Hipstamatic (John S + Blanko)
Finishing touches (including logo) in Snapseed

Interestingly I choose never to use presets within Photoshop or Lightroom when processing images from my Fuji cameras yet I am starting to see them as key components of smartphone photography. Horses for courses?

There will be more on this topic in coming months I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m finding that by using two mediums (instant and smartphone) that are not technically “perfect” I am more likely to experiment – is this something that others find?

2 thoughts on “Smartphone(ography?)”

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