Smart Phone Workshop

As promised here’s a link to a PDF of the Smart Phone workshop that I am giving to a private client group in Toronto this afternoon._DSC7943

Smart Phone photography has some severe limits when it comes to flexibility and image quality but it has several overriding advantages. The big one is, of course, everybody these days are carrying a smart phone and every smart phone has a pretty decent camera built-in.

So what am I going to tell the group of smart phone photographers this afternoon?

First: Shoot more often. We get better by making mistakes and learning how to get better with the equipment we’re using. Whenever I bought a new camera I looked for opportunities to use it right away so I could figure out how it worked. It’s the same for smart phone photography. There’s more to it than just snapping selfies.

Second: Shoot closer by moving forward and don’t use the camera’s zoom control. Watch for messy backgrounds. Don’t be shy. Get so close you fill the frame._DSC0730

Third: Pay attention to the light that’s available. Whether natural or artificial there’s a lot a smart phone photographer can do with the light that lights the scene. Don’t use the built-in light in the cell phone. It’s too harsh a light.

Four: Consider adding external lenses if you’re getting serious and learn how to use simple photo editing software. They run from $75 for a set of three to $100 each for some really good ones that can provide super-wide, wide, telephone and macro effects.

Fifth: You don’t need to PhotoShop (at $800 or so) to edit your images (which are in standard JPG format) but you do need something (SnapSeed is pretty good and free) to crop, brighten, reduce noise and print your images.

Sixth, and most importantly, I am telling these folks that they absolutely must save their images somewhere else than just on their phones. External hard drive storage is relatively cheap ($75) as is online storage (ICloud, DropBox and bunch of others) which will keep your images safe. I have five levels of backup (computer hard drive, two mirrored external hard drives, two separate online gallery sites plus I’ll burn a DVD if the images are family treasures or commercial shots I want to protect.marion-3-thumb.jpg

Here’s more good news:

Everybody is developing new apps for smart phone photography. Every smart phone manufacturer is dedicated to improving their built-in cameras.

The future of smart phone photography is very bright indeed and I can see the day coming soon when for most photographers a smart phone will be all they need.

(BTW my images used here weren’t shot with a smart phone but they could have been and online you’d never know the difference. Print the images past 11″X17″ and the difference would be obvious.)


Smart Phone Photography

I’ve been working this week on a workshop I’m giving next week on Smart Phone Photography.

All of us have shot with our cell phones and sometimes the results are pretty good and every once in awhile they’re spectacular.FullSizeRender

With cell phones becoming better and better cameras as well, there’s a shrinking distance between them and most pocket digital cameras.

But there are some differences. Most cell phones don’t have manual controls (although there are some software programs that can go manual) and that means photographers need to focus on other aspects of photography.

For example, there’s no better camera than a smart phone camera for learning things like composition and how to shoot for maximum impact.

The good news is there are lots of photo editing software packages that really work well on cell phone images. Along with that there are a bunch of different lens kits you can add.

I’ll be posting a PDF of the workshop and I’m available to give it at your photo club or business group in the Greater Toronto Area.

It’s Workshop Season

Really enjoyed last night’s talk by Ethan Meleg on his life as a landscape photographer. Ethan took my wife Marion and I along with a dozen other photographers on a three-day adventure into Algonquin Park back in 2011 and had a ball. (That’s my sunrise photo below.) The talk took place at the Oakville Camera Club.algonquin-fall-2009-524

So last night was a bit of old home week.

Then this morning, my email in-box had this invitation from Andrew McLachlan‘s Frogs Of The World shoot coming Saturday, March 5 at Reptilia in Vaughan, Ontario (just north of Toronto).frogs-of-the-world-workshop2

I don’t know Andrew but a quick trip to his blog and website show that this guy is pretty good and really how often do you get to shoot photos of exotic frogs.

BTW the Oakville Camera Club has several workshops for members (and non-members too) scheduled for later this season. Check it out.


Street Photography For Better Travel Shots

Yes that’s the topic of tonight’s talk at the Oakville Camera Club.P6031217-1

When I was a working pro shooting for daily and weekly newspapers I shot two or three rolls of film almost daily for a decade. That’s a great way of getting pretty good, pretty fast.

Now that I’m retired there aren’t daily opportunities to shoot photos. So in this talk I’m offering the members of the OCC some ideas about how to find things to shoot on the street so that you can hone your shooting skills and end up taking way better images on your next vacation.

Here’s a PDF of the presentation…Enjoy and join your local camera club.

Oakville Camera Club

Capture Oakville

One of my favourite jobs of the year is shooting the annual Capture Oakville photo competition.Capture Oakville005

The Oakville Camera Club puts on Capture Oakville and this year several hundred attendees including Mayor Rob Burton and his wife Wendy attended.

This is a great celebration of photography and all the photos were terrific. Winners were announced and prizes awarded but even better is the exhibit will remain at the Queen Elizabeth Cultural Centre for some weeks so go have a look for yourself.Capture Oakville039

On a shooting note: the gallery at the Centre is lit with a variety of lights burning at a variety of different temperatures. The only way to shoot such an event with this kind of unpredictable lighting is to shoot RAW and fix in post.

This means that most of the photos I show have been hand-done.

A long process for sure but when you’re asked to do your club a favour this is the only way to go. Here’s a shot of the winners and the Capture Oakville 2015 committee.Capture Oakville112

Who Was Alexandra Boulat?

In a wonderful two-page feature article in today’s Globe and Mail, Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a professor at the University of Toronto, tells about Alexandra Boulat a world-class award-winning photographer of the Yugoslav Civil War. (National Geographic photo)boulat_main

Why do some photojournalists leave home and put themselves in enormous danger?

That has always been a question in the mind of those of us who wonder at what it would take to be a conflict photographer.

For those of us blessed to have been news photographers some time in our lives we realize our own domestic efforts just pale beside the work of these masters.

And so many conflict photographers, we have discovered, we’re in conflict with themselves and their own lives and yet they lived to document the lives and deaths of others.

Read today’s story in the Globe and Mail and be amazed by the wonder of it all.