Shooting Mobile - Photography Tip #7

All the photographs in this blog were taken recently on my iPhone 5. I have been shooting on the iPhone since the second release of the phone, before filters.  

There are no filters on any of these photographs and no digital darkroom manipulation, other than what's noted. No matter what I'm using to take a photograph - mobile device, digital SLR or film camera - I shoot what catches my eye. Then I focus on the available light, my composition and angles. The process is very quick for me, seconds if it's something that is moving (aerials, people, animals) and no more than a minute if I'm shooting something that's inert (warehouse, butts, hoof and footprints). The Dough photograph was inert, except the baker (who I wanted in a certain place) and a customer that was flailing around in front of the display.

2/22/15 New York From Above 1

2/22/15 New York From Above 1

2/22/15 New York From Above 2

2/22/15 New York From Above 2

When shooting out the window of an airplane, put the phone against the window. Keep the top edge (with the camera lens) on the window and angle the bottom or sides of the phone up and down to decide on your composition. Then make sure there is no glare or reflections showing up on the screen. For these photos, I added a small amount of contrast in photoshop.

2/22/15 New York From Above 3

2/22/15 New York From Above 3

2/22/15 New York From Above 4

2/22/15 New York From Above 4

I came off the elevator of this floor for a meeting and the first words out of my mouth were "I have to shoot this space." I was immediately attracted to the amazing natural light coming in from all the windows. And then there was the perspective created by the columns, and the pipes and slats on the ceiling leading to the rectangular window at the end of the building. I converted the photograph to black and white. There was very little color in the photograph to begin with - just a slight brownish tint to the floor and ceiling, and the horizontal cord crossing the ceiling was red.

2/24/15 Empty Warehouse Building - Brooklyn

2/24/15 Empty Warehouse Building - Brooklyn

I stretched out a window (very safely) to capture the last snowfall of the year (hopefully). I waited until this woman with the red umbrella came into the frame and her stride was full to indicate that she was moving. I converted the photograph to black and white in photoshop and brought the color back into then the umbrella by masking. The photograph was naturally almost black and white, other than muted earthy colors on some of the buildings.

3/5/15 Snow Day NYC

3/5/15 Snow Day NYC

The only reason the Pumpkin and Daffy photograph elevates itself above a 'pet shot' is the composition and angle. I didn't pose this photo but the moment I saw it I had to shoot it. Pumpkin created it. When I saw it I knew it had to be shot from above. Pumpkin was awake but kindly remained still when I asked her to 'stay'. So I have to give her the credit for the staging of her pose and Daffy's. Picture-perfect.

The mounds of filthy snow and ice on the sidewalks in the neighborhood really grossed me out. Even more so when I saw all the cigarette butts scattered on this and other mounds. I have no idea how the butts got there. They all looked fresh but I can't imagine there was a marathon smoke-out on the sidewalk. It's my unsolved puzzle.

3/6/15 Daffy Pumpkin

3/6/15 Daffy Pumpkin

3/11/15 Butts NYC

3/11/15 Butts NYC

This is Dough on W 19th St and 5th Ave. The store should be called Delicious Deadly Doughnuts. They are freshly made and addictive. I wanted to take a picture of them in hopes that looking at the photo might be satisfying enough. Photographically, I wanted to capture the patterned rows of the doughnuts while including workspace with the baker. I waited until she facing away. And I like how the rows of doughnuts in the foreground lead the viewer's eyes to the baker in the background. All of these things go through my brain when I'm shooting. The more you practice, the more the decisions become second-nature.

3/12/15 Dough NYC

3/12/15 Dough NYC

On this photograph the shadows caught my eye first, but it was the hoof prints that made me stop and take the picture. As I was framing it I chose to not center hoof prints, but to center the bold tire tracks that frame the hoof and footprints. When I opened it in photoshop, I was happy to see the detail in the texture of sand were visible.

 
3/13/15 Hoof and Footprints, Central Park

3/13/15 Hoof and Footprints, Central Park

 

My advice to anyone shooting with mobile devices (and other cameras for that matter) is:

  1. Pay attention to the light and shadows, its quality and how it falls on what you're shooting
  2. Take your time composing each shot (until it becomes second-nature)
  3. Experiment by trying different angles - up, down and sideways
  4. Find the feeling and story in what you're shooting
  5. Find your voice
  6. Practice
  7. Stop using (or at least overusing) filters and trickery...learn to take really good pictures before you mask a not so great photo with filters

I hope this post is helpful. Please remember that photography is a creative endeavor and therefore very subjective.