Recently, I have blogged about travels in Japan, and in one post, to a popular tourist site in Nara, Japan. I left my DSLR behind – armed only with my iPhone 4S and my Canon S95 compact camera.
There were obvious advantages and disadvantages. The convenience was great. So, too, was the feeling of just being one of the crowd, without a bulky camera and a massive lens. The disadvantage is that the iPhone was limited in what it can do. But I also discovered something I hadn’t really considered before. It’s not a rocket-science discovery and it’s not even something new. It just hit home TO ME like never before.
My youngest daughter, a 22 year old “Facebook Blogger,” was with us in Japan. She would take a picture with her iPhone and then have her pictures up on the social web almost immediately. For me, the process would involve waiting until later in the day, importing RAW shots into IPad and editing (or even longer if I did so in Lightroom on a computer) and THEN sharing on Facebook, Google + and Twitter. Then even later, when I got home from my trip, I would re-import all the pictures into Lightroom and do the more serious editing. I actually found myself thinking “Gee, I’m getting scooped on this story by my own daughter!” Silly! But it did emphasize the immediacy for her and the delay for me.
My daughter uses her pictures as a “springboard” to social. I guess I do that too, but for me there is also the motive of advertising myself as a photographer. But where it really struck home for me is that my IPhone is good enough – and using my iPhone in conjunction with whatever else gives me the freedom to post now and edit later.
From here on out I will not think of it as an “either or” but as a “both and”. I will continue to work the location as I always would have with my DSLR, but also take a shot or two with my iPhone. I can post those shots immediately if I want to – as sort of a “Gary was here” statement. And later I can post links to the edited camera shots I worked on using Lightroom ; the best of both worlds. This epiphany also means that I won’t try to make my iPhone do the work of my DSLR. I think that’s what I tried to do at the Buddhist Temple in Nara, Japan and it was frustrating. By the way, if you have geo-tagging turned on and have data access, or are willing to geo-tag later, the “I was here” idea is even more crisp.
This picture is a non-DSLR shot of downtown Nara, Japan. Whereas my DSLR could have really got a great DOF on a high aperture of f22, I was able to approximate DOF because of the leading lines in the photo drawing the eye down the street.
In summary, my iPhone gives me immediate access to shots and frees me up to enjoy social interaction with my pictures, as well as save the serious editing for later. This is not to say iPhone photography is second to DSLR photography. But it is to say that you just have to understand what your iPhone can and can’t do and work within the parameters you have.
BTW, I also think the Nara street shot is interesting because of the absence of people. Nara was once the capital of Japan and it’s a big tourist draw. With the Buddhist temple, Deer Park, Museum and all the Cherry blossoms in bloom, it was very packed. But somehow, in this shot, it’s like all the people disappeared just long enough to make it look relatively quiet!