With the recent innovation of the smartphone1 cameras makes taking quality photos a single tap away, and people have come up with creative ways to be produce great pictures (myself not in the exception). At one point I felt like I wouldn’t be needing standalone cameras (digital, compact, etc) anymore because the iPhone could take photos as good.
Everything just works with a click of a button, and you can tap anywhere to focus and voila! It’s that magical. Built-in camera apps on smartphones nowadays have completely eliminated the process of choosing ISO, aperture size and exposure time—making a seamless experience in taking photos. With third-party apps (iOS), you can even do slightly more such as pinpointing exposure areas while maintaining focus—a clever feature I would admit.
Why the iPhone is so successful is because Apple made it so easy for people to use. With the f/2.8 wide aperture fitted into the camera system, the iPhone not only able to take great photos in low light condition, but also with a nice “bokeh”, which is usually, but not always, taken as a means of quality measure of photographs for many.
When Instagram became a hit, it catalysed many people into taking mobile photography seriously, or “iPhoneography” for some may call it. It’s probably the next best thing that has ever happened to the history of photography, and it’s quite addictive too.
Instagram’s quick filters are pretty neat as well, which give instant results with just a few taps. It’s all fun and easy.
I do enjoy the work of several people that I follow. It’s amazing what they can do with their iPhones.
But I’m all against uploading photos taken using other devices that do not run Instagram app especially those taken from mid to high-end cameras. Although there is no written rule that does not allow such action, those photos are just too good to be among the community—beats the purpose of Instagram in the first place, which is being instant.
Epiphany on Photography
Then it hit me. With all this automatic processes done in the background, and with all the amazing photos taken from the iPhone, do they actually make better photographers? I remember my mentor once advised me not to go into career involving automation because the only people that benefit and acquire the skills are the ones who wrote, designed and invented the automated program itself, less on the people who actually utilize it.
This changed my whole perspective on using iPhone as a means of serious photography.
With my recent acquisition of the Fujifilm X100 (it’s only been two weeks today!), I’m actually going back to the basics of photography, training my eyes to be more responsive to how much light is available so I can adjust the camera settings accordingly—one example how learning things the hard way can be as rewarding.
I’m hoping that in the coming months I will know the in and out of the camera—what it can and cannot do—and learn how to creatively overcome its limitations.
My take on mobile photography is that I would do it for the sake of ease to share and most definitely for the fun of it—not something that I would take too seriously, at least not anymore. It’s for taking pictures of my lunch food, coffee drinks, things I love, things I hate, the wish-I-had-my-camera-with-me moments, cats (of course) and everyday ongoings.
1 I may sound completely biased towards the iPhone but I really couldn’t comment much on the other smartphones because I’ve never really tested their camera systems as extensively as the iPhone’s.