Tag Archives: mobile phone camera

Don’t Push Too Hard

Let us be realistic. Photography is a difficult art to master. Not only are we limited by individual skills, we are also limited by time, subject and tools. It’s not like music where the only limitation is in the musician. In photography knowing when to stop is very important.

Time. We only have 24 hours in a day. Unless you are a paid pro, you will have to juggle photography with your day job. It really pains me when I see a beautiful sunset outside of my office window. I feel bad watching a glorious sunrise inside an airport terminal. You just have to let it pass and hope that you’ll be at the right time and place “next time”.

Subject. How many times have you wished you could move a tree or a huge rock even just a tiny bit for the perfect composition? Or bring a mountain closer? Or move the sun a few inches to the right for symmetry? Or wish the model was taller, skinnier, etc…? Painters are lucky because they could create and arrange their subjects however they want, the trade-off of course is we get to finish our work in a fraction of a second what would take them days or months to complete theirs.

Tools. Among artists, photographers are one of the most ill-equiped. Cameras that can’t capture the dynamic range of a scene. Lenses that are too heavy and too slow. You name it. And yet photographers have the most expensive tools. A photographer spends so much time and money circumventing tool limitations. A good musician or painter seldom complains about his tools but a good photographer simply learns NOT to bother at all.

Your lens isn’t sharp, so shoot at smaller apertures. It is not fast enough, so use a tripod or choose a different subject. Camera sensor is too noisy, then shoot when there is enough light or convert to black and white and use grain to spice up the photo.

I find it funny that people complain about sharpness and shallow depth of field when their shots are not even properly composed.

My point is, there will always be severe tool limitations. Realize that you just have to do something else instead of complaining. You can’t shoot sports or go birding with your 18-55mm f4-5.6 kit lens. Those who do, carry bazookas. Concentrate instead on what you can do with whatever tool you have. Find inspiration. Look for photos that you like that were captured using a similar set of lenses and see if you can come up with a better photo. If you can’t even take a decent shot with your kit then no camera or lens can make you capture better pictures.

Inspiration. That is the best cure against gear acquisition syndrome.

So stop complaining, go out and do wonders with your camera.

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Why Lomobilography

Photography is my most serious hobby to date. Even more serious than my music although I have only been taking serious photos for barely a year. I have spent so much more money in such a short time than all of my musical instruments and gadgets combined. I have spent more time doing photography than any hobby I have been into. And yet I have earned, moneywise, nothing. Nada, zip, naught, zilch.

What’s driving me to keep on shooting? In one word: FUN! It is also so much more satisfying than anything I have done before. It would have taken me 5 years practicing the guitar to arrive at what I can accomplish with a camera right now. Ok, granting that my guitar skills are just average even after more than 17 years of on and off playing, but still…

The key words here are FUN and HOBBY. It’s when something starts becoming a chore that enthusiasm begins to fade.

I’m no pro. I can’t possibly shoot a thousand frames a day. Not with my day job. No. I would be lucky if 10% of the shots I take are worthy of posting on Flickr. At this rate, there’s no way I could make a living from this expensive hobby.

Enter Lomobilography. It’s fun. It is so much more forgiving than my usual shots. I don’t need a perfect exposure and composition before I click the shutter. I’m not saying it’s crap photography (craptography). Far from it. I still think about proper composition and consider whether a subject is interesting enough. That is why this is a bit different to common lomography. In my next post I shall expound on the similarities and differences of lomobilography and lomography.

Photography is a new-found hobby that I want to pursue as long as I’m physically capable. To keep my enthusiasm at high levels I want it to be fun. Lomobilography is fun.

LOMObilography

LOMObilography, simply put, is lomography using mobile phones. I did a google search for this “word” and it returned only two results (as of 20100131) so it looks like this idea isn’t very common yet. It’s not unknown though and a quick search on Flickr would give you hundreds of retro-looking photos that were taken with mobile phones.

This photography style is based on the popular lomography technique which started with a cheap Russian camera that produced oversaturated photos with terrible vignetting. For references, please visit the wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lomography, and the commercial website: http://lomography.com/.

Lomography is commonly achieved by using cheap/toy film cameras. The effect can also be achieved with digital cameras plus a bit of post processing and/or plug-ins, but some fanatics consider this as faking and therefore unacceptable.

For me, lomography has three essential components: 1) the camera and film; 2) the effect; but most importantly, 3) the fun factor.

If I can achieve something similar even if I had to bypass one aspect of the technique then I think it is worthwhile doing. Cheap analog cameras can be easily replaced with mobile phones with built-in cameras. The idea here is “cheap camera”. A mobile phone can do it. The lomo effect can be achieved using free photo editing software such as GIMP (http://www.gimp.org). The fun factor is up to you.

The best camera is the one that is with you. My mobile phone is always with me so I think that part is already covered. I got apps that help me achieve this retro effect from within my phone so I got that covered as well. I wouldn’t have started this if it ain’t fun so let’s get the ball rolling.