Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated with my wife in downtown Austin. We got to catch my good friends in The Swamp Bats at Fado. Because it was a date night I opted to leave my cameras at home. Of course, since I'm a photographer and I have an iPhone...well, you know. A few photos got taken. This is actually unusual for me though. As much as phone photography has been all the rage for several years now, I have resisted. I've got this love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with smart phones. At best I've thought of them as a necessary evil these days. My pessimistic view of these prolific gadgets has not been conducive to using them for creative pursuits.
Several months back I got iPhone 6s Plus phones for my wife and I on a buy one get one free deal. Honestly, I haven't taken many pictures with it. I'd read that the camera in it is supposed to be crazy good but I still couldn't get used to idea of using it as a "serious" camera. One day recently I decided to play around with it and compared its images to my compact camera at the time, a Fujifilm X30. Now, I love Fujifilm's film simulations in their cameras and the X-T2 is my main digital camera workhorse. However, I was surprised to see how well the iPhone's images compared. In a lot of cases they exceeded the image quality (in my subjective view) of the X30! Suffice to say I no longer own a dedicated compact digital camera.
The neat thing about phone photography is that there are some really cool camera apps out there - apps that produce looks I like with minimal to no additional post processing. If you read my blog regularly you know I HATE post processing. I'm only just beginning to explore photography apps. Last night I used one called Blackie. This app produces some beautiful noir looking black and whites. I like that it functions as a camera app as well as post processing tool. I shot with it in camera mode last night and got some neat stuff.
Yes, there are some substantial limitations to photographing something like a live music performance in low light with a smart phone. You're not going to get the dynamic range and low light performance of much larger sensors in today's mirrorless and DSLR cameras. You need to be OK with some grain and motion blur. Those things are perfectly fine if the tool you are shooting with enables you to capture the moment. I shot differently with the phone than I typically do with my "real" cameras. I think the different perspective was a good thing. Here are some favorite snaps from the show. As always click the images for larger versions.