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Of phones and photographs

Have cell phone, will capture

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished 8 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - August 2023
Gosling, Egyptian goose chick, photo: RGT, 2023

Was a time I considered myself a photographer. Two Pentax manual SLR bodies, four lenses, lens hood, filters, tripod, camera bag, rolls of Kodachrome, Fujichrome, Ilford monochrome. A keen eye and a willingness to try out new things.

Like most amateur photographers I lacked any kind of formal training. I read Amateur Photographer (UK) magazine and kept the back copies for years after but this was when I was a young boy and long before I ever owned a decent camera. This came later, and later still I learnt darkroom skills by making use of the facilities of a nearby art school. I didn't do a bad job either and still have many of my prints from that time.

These days I don't have any kind of camera equipment other than my cell phone, which is many years out of date, not the latest model. I use it a lot to take snapshots when I am out and about and some of these snaps illustrate my vocal stories, articles and fiction. Why not? If David Hockney can use an I-phone to paint pictures for an exhibition, why can't I use one to illustrate my Vocal stories?

As a 35mm photographer for so many years, I yearned for the time when digital photography would be good enough to use alongside film photography. That era has of course now been and gone. Do digital photographers need the same skillset as film photographers? More to the point, can a person use a phone to produce good quality work?

The answer to that final question is a resounding 'YES', assuming the quality of the equipment matches the required quality of the end product, and assuming the photographer has sufficient skill to get the right shot. What skills does a photographer need? Well, I said I lacked formal training in photography so I can't answer that. Instead, I asked my AI buddy.

This is the answer it generated:

This is how I use ChatGPT: AI: Your new writing buddy?

Taking these points one by one I would say:

  • Technical skills: How hard is it to point and shoot a phone? I know there are fancy new modern phones with lots of bells and whistles but mine isn't one of them. It is the I-phone equivalent of the Kodak Instamatic. I point it, I frame the shot, I take a few variations. I download and edit when needed.
  • Interpersonal skills: I like to think I have those. I am 63 years old, have worked in business, finance, publishing, arti, public service and (not least) a prison. That's what it says on my resumé. And you don't need interpersonal skills to take a picture of a landscape.
  • Creativity and vision: Hope so, at least enough to create a vision of a decent photograph. You be the judge, though, please see below.
  • Attention to detail: Again, I think so.
  • Flexibility: Gotta be one of my main attributes.

How to take good I-phone photos

What's the secret of a good I-phone photo? I would say that, assuming a basic phone camera, you need to consider the following:

  • Don't use zoom, unless it is a really fancy, optical zoom setup. If not, when you zoom your picture, the camera crops into a small portion of the digital image to make the subject look larger. This result in a loss of resolution and therefore photo quality. You also increase the chances of blurring the image, as you would with any telephoto or zoom lens. This is caused by the exaggerated movement if you are focusing on a small and distant area for your shot. If you can't get as close to your subject as you need to, snap the picture anyway then and crop it later, at your leisure.
  • Look at the whole picture you are going to take, holding the screen away from you, so that you can see all the detail. What's in the foreground, what's in the background and what's in the middle ground?
  • For a static shot, try different points of view. A landscape, for instance, often benefits from features like tree branches to help provide a frame for the photo. On the other hand, overuse can look very clichéd.
  • For an action shot, point then click several times, so that you can choose from multiple frames.

How true is any of the the above? You be the judge. Please consider the featured image of each of the following Vocal stories in the context of their use: each a featured image to illustrate one of my Vocal stories. Please let me know if you think they are, or are not, fit for that purpose:

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

O ~ 0 ~ o

Looking at these photographs, I would suggest there is good attention to detail, good composition and, more to the point, good cropping of the resulting image.

This is the key when trying to take photos with a phone. It's all down to the way that you crop the final image.

Thanks for reading


how toart

About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (13)

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  • Daphsam2 months ago

    iPhone photography can be just as good as my Cannon. Thank you for sharing.

  • Andrea Corwin 5 months ago

    I enjoyed this! I am walking around or driving and snapping with my iPhone. I don’t have software for editing which is on the to-do list. We also have digital cameras. I like how you added your photos from other stories which linked the stories. I agree with Dave below - one has to see the beauty first, than take the photo. Some of my stories have my photos and some have unsplashed or other ones.

  • Dave Wettlaufer5 months ago

    My pleasure, but you did give me an idea for an article that I will post your address on it. Cheers

  • Dave Wettlaufer5 months ago

    My background is the same as your opening comment; however, a camera is just a machine. The skill, the sharpness of the eye of the person holding it, is the key. You have to point it in the right direction and, at the right moment. All cameras come a long way to make a novice look good, but you have to train yourself to see beauty in this strange world, and many are lacking that.. good article. 😀 By the way you did well with your cellphone/camera. 👍

  • Abdullah6 months ago

    Thanks for your tips

  • Excellent and Deserved Top Story, We are featuring this in the Vocal Social Society Community Adventure on Facebook and would love for you to join us there

  • Torsten Vogler6 months ago

    Hello Raymond G. Taylor! It sounds like you had a passion for photography and dedicated yourself to learning and improving your skills. Owning multiple cameras, lenses, and accessories shows your dedication to your art. It's great that you had the self-motivation and desire to try new things, even without formal training. Inspiration for new photos can be found here as there are many quality photos like yours. Reading photo magazines and using the art school darkroom were smart ways to expand my knowledge and experience. Keeping your prints of that time shows that you value the memories and the work you created. Overall, it seems that your journey as a photographer started from childhood and continued to develop over time with dedication and perseverance.

  • Very good

  • Dana Stewart8 months ago

    I learned a few things. Good photography, especially love the photo of the church. Congrats on Top Story!

  • L.C. Schäfer8 months ago

    Sone good tips here! I do have a fancy DSLR camera but honestly I mostly use my phone these days.

  • Oooo, thank you so much for these amazing tips! I gotta try them out!

  • Lamar Wiggins8 months ago

    Great article. It taught me a few things. If I was asked what the skill set requirements were to be considered a photographer, I wouldn't have come up with near the amount you got from the AI answer. I agree that phones take great pictures. I've had a couple turned into wall art and they look great. I never thought about taking rapid shots when trying to capture action. It makes sense because its action and you might miss something that happens within the next second. Thanks again, Ray. You always give me something to think about.

  • Mark Graham8 months ago

    Good work and loved the pictures. One thing I wrote a review for a piece of classic literature and it was rejected here on Vocal for the reason said it was AI generated. I really still do not know how to do this kind of writing.

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