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Saturday, 11 November 2017


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It's been a beast of a week - this made it a lot better, thank you and all the amazing folks featured here.

Delightful stuff!

(My resistance is crumbling....)

I can imagine a TOP digital phone annual book of the best photographs taken by such. I'm much more impressed by this than I imagined I might be, and I can understand just how much work this would be. Good job!

Bravo to all the participants, and to you Mike, for such an excellent article. Another classic, I think.

Clearly the "rubber propeller" in the Petronio photo is caused by that dark UFO captured at the right edge of the image. Don't believe anything about rolling shutters, this is obviously a distortion of space-time.

A great post Mike, and interesting pictures. This Baker's Dozen idea looks to have great potential, so long as you can find a burnout-proof way of doing it.

The rubber prop effects have to do with rolling shutter ... here's a video.


You could make older phone cameras do this even at low shutter speeds because the CCDs did not read off all at once, but rather in a scanline sort of fashion. That was cool.

Unrelatedly I've had some interesting effects with my newer iPhones if the phone gets jostled at just the right time when taking a picture. Everything is "sharp", but wavy. Like in this shot.


This issue happens because the CCD can actually move w.r.t to the lens in various ways, and I must have knocked the phone slightly when I hit the button to take the picture. Crazy.

This comment, of course, is just way to back door a shot of mine into this page since I didn't make the cut. 😃

The rubber propeller is simply a rolling shutter effect.

I really enjoyed them, thanks. Just shows you don't need the most expensive gear to take a great photo. Wonderful.

I was expecting to be able to say "Great pictures in spite of being taken on a phone". But instead I need to just say "Great pictures"! Or even "Great pictures, and the phone was just the right tool to make them so"! Just the inspiration I needed to get out and experiment more.

Thanks Mike for the "baker's dozens" "exhibits". What a wide range of ideas and images so far for the "dozens"! I think you have a gift as a curator! Will you soon be opening the "Finger Lakes photo gallery"?

Next up: The story behind the monkey selfie, and other critter tales.


"The Monkey Stays in the Picture", interview with David Slater at "This American Life": https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/631/so-a-monkey-and-a-horse-walk-into-a-bar?act=1#play

"Nature photographer David Slater went to Indonesia. While he was there, he got some stunning photos of monkeys. What he couldn't imagine was that he'd end up being sued, for copyright infringement, by one of the monkeys. Producer Dana Chivvis tells the story. (29 minutes) Episode Available Sunday 7PM Central"

David Slater: http://www.djsphotography.co.uk/

Uplifting selection—thanks!

Good choices as a round-up of the best of what people are doing with their camera phones today.

Strikes me that these images are about the joy of photography. Wonderful.

That beach photo looks like Cannon Beach, Oregon, to me. (There is no Nikkon Beach, Oregon -- FYI).

An interesting—and inspiring—set of photographs. Not just because they are smart phone photographs—but because they are interesting and inspiring photographs.

Mike, well done. I have been arguing with my photo club that we do an smart phone competition. I take pictures with mine, but for ordinary things like a menu to share or dinner at a special restaurant, not fine art work. This post has inspired me to use my phone for real images not just mundane images of stupid things. Have another one of these call for images, and I will share an image. Great piece. Eric

Enjoying this new feature. Bravo/a to all.

The Family of Man, now lovingly photographed by the family!

Mike, you knocked this one out of the park!

What a fantastic collection of photos. I think it should end the whole "is an iPhone a proper camera?" debates.

Oh and I'd totally buy a print of Rick Forgo's photo. It's magnificent.

Gotta love the opening poppy shot. It is a very colorful extreme DoF shot—we don't need no stinkin' bokeh ;-) If you are ever in the area the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve is well worth visiting!! http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627

As a tie-in to the previous Joni Mitchell post, a columnist in the late lamented Los Angeles Harold Examiner once said they are paving paradise in the Antelope Valley. A reference to a line in Big Yellow Taxi.

All excellent pictures, but my best favorite is the rainy day picture; looks like a painting. I may try to copy the idea some time. If I succeed, I'll get a print made and hang it up. :-)

Lots of good work here! A few where using the phone actively helped (beyond just making sure a camera was present), quite a few where the phone doesn't seem to have hurt. And just a couple where I feel the photo is technically not up to snuff in ways that I think are because of the phone rather than a real camera. And that's still fine when the phone is what you have!

The rainbow ending at Stonehenge is a great moment! I was about to suggest it needed better post-processing to fulfill its promise -- except I just noticed the photographer of that one is 8 years old. So she can worry about that in a couple of years, or whenever she cares to, and certainly she should be really happy with seeing the possibility of the rainbow landing right there and paying attention until it did, and getting the picture.

I don't like what I think are the compromises from using the phone for Moon over Nubble -- but I haven't seen what the Canon would have done, so I might agree with the photographer after all.

The shot of Saturn about to be eclipsed by the moon is fascinating, and I have no idea how to score the phone's participation. The result is good, anyway, though in a way rather different from Hubble and modern space probe photos.

The leading macro shot and the night time street scene are my favorites here I think, the first exploiting the phone, the second certainly not compromised by using a phone -- perhaps some other excellent photo would have come from using different technology, but this photo has nothing to be ashamed of.

One of my photo students in a beginning digital photo class and I have had a coversation going on. Your Baker’s Dozen folded perfectly into that conversation. To wit my rumination..

“Now that I’ve gone back and looked at those Smartphone photos on Mike’s blog more, a question pops up in my head: are any of them really truly uniquely Smartphone photos? Meaning, are any of them photos that could not be achieved using a dSLR? Or a film camera for that matter. I’m not sure. I get that they were taken on Smartphones and to that extent could only be taken on those phones at those moments. But in similar situations, if most of these, or other, photographers had had their dSLR or fim SLRs, couldn't those same photos be made? Is there anything uniquely Smatrphone about them? (For example, it is hard to imagine most of Robert Frank’s photos in The Americans being taken with a view camera, or Ansel Adam’s Yosemite photographs taken with a half frame camera. Those photographs are uniquely tied to their format.)

I like several of these photographs, a lot. The National Guard one. The urban street night photo. The one of the drink with the young woman in it. And I could see how others would be favorites as well for others. But are any of them photos that could ONLY be made with a Smartphone?

I’ve always viewed photography as analogous to a huge mansion. In that mansion there are many rooms and areas, each of them representative of a different type/style/approach/philosophy/technique/gear/etc... of photography. They all claim their own area within the mansion of photography, but each shares the common language of photography, the visual uniqueness of a photograph. That language is photography, be it portrait, landscape, street, large format, Smartphone, whatever. They all share that common photographic language, despite different accents, dialects, approaches, etc...

You can see how your seemingly simple direct questions can lead to a real quagmire. But I’m happily willing to jump in there.”

Lens Culture has a series of photos. 16th Century Tube Passengers, by Matt Crabtree, taken, processed and sent by his phone. These excellent images should also help us to see phones as proper cameras.

Mike, you had to think of Galen Rowell's rainbow touching earth on the Potala when you saw Harriet Hitchins' photo. Have we just seen a certificate of reincarnation?

TFW when an 8 year-old has a better photo of Stonehenge than you.

Well done to Harriet, her father's doing a great job!

A fine photograph is a fine photograph. Remember that a Pulitzer Prize winning news photo was taken with a Box Brownie. "f/8 and be there" with modern technology.

Great stuff, well done to those featured and I'm sure hard work for your editing (in that not processing sense) skills. Mobile photography is something I do as a visual journal and it's becoming very tempting for me as a more serious platform. That DxO One is also looking tempting.

I'm still kinda doubtful that an iPhone is a proper camera. My LG G4 certainly is not.

But one can take useful photos, and even excellent photos, with equipment that is not "proper", that is significantly deficient. And weighing almost nothing, being thin enough to carry easily in a pocket, and being already with me are virtues that make putting up with the downsides of my particular phone camera worth while.

I am rapidly realizing my own world is changing. I have no requirement for a cell phone. None of my rapidly diminishing circle of friends (they are all expiring or have expired) have such a device.
And the other item I am lacking aside from a cell phone is the "spark" required to recognize there is a photo to be taken,
by whatever device is at hand.

Strange eh?

Mike, only you can decide if the time it takes you to deal with this "Baker's Dozen" thing is worth it. But I find the result, particularly including the discussion, very good indeed, and I hope you continue it at some interval (like, at least monthly).

Unless you're doing a lot of work I don't see (even between the lines), we're being pretty good about treating the artists respectfully, too. (I did find myself revising what I wrote while thinking about how it would look to the artists I was commenting on. Maybe I did that well enough; at least, you posted it :-). )

Such an excellent selection you made Mike! Makes me want to try shooting more with my aging S4. If only it were easier to hold and use for photos. I'm always dropping the darned thing.

What? No cat pictures?

Ernest Zarate makes an interesting point: Many of these photos could certainly have been made with a DSLR. In the case of my photo, the quality might have been marginally better (less compression, better dynamic range). But I did not have a DSLR with me, and the iPhone image is “good enough” -- even for large print reproduction. Perhaps more important, the fact that I used an iPhone allowed me to post the photo to social media within seconds of shooting it.

The power of immediacy, coupled with “good enough," should not be underestimated.

My normal workflow is to shoot NEFs with a Nikon D750, import them to Lightroom for a bit of post-processing (black level, highlight recovery, clarity), export as JPGs and upload. On this particular day, such a workflow would have meant the image wouldn't have been published until after midnight. And yesterday’s news is a non-starter in our current media climate. By using an iPhone, I was able to push the photo in real time — HAPPENING NOW — and it quickly garnered nearly 100,000 “reach” on my unit’s little ol’ Facebook Page. From there, it was picked up by larger Facebook sites and, eventually, national news media — all before I would have been able to post the photo using old-school methods.

The traditional camera companies are doomed unless they can figure out a way to add a single button to their cameras -- “Post to Social Media.” Otherwise, the iPhone’s “good enough” image quality and immediacy of distribution will continue to encroach on old workflows to the point that they become irrelevant. Much as MP3s and other compressed music formats destroyed the dominance of superior but cumbersome technologies (Red Book CD, SACD), so too will social media-enabled cameras wipe out old-school DSLRs for all but the most dedicated photographers. Convenience trumps all.

Wow smartphones have really gone too far, that aircraft photo looks like it was taken from a very expensive DSLR

Love your work Mike!
Please keep it up, where feasible. Perhaps a narrowing of criteria would help to reduce the number of images & effort on your behalf for a future dozen. Or maybe try a different presentation format for those you want to use but didn't make the first cut - as a vain hope that one of mine may make another cut :)

One item about a telephone based camera...
the mobile telephone is not intrusive as a camera might be. With a camera the object (if it's a humanoid) knows a photograph is being taken, not so or at least not as readily with a telephone based camera.

Am I making sense and, in a similar vein, you have $600.00 to spend on a new digital camera. Do you purchase a telephone which may well do as substitute camera or do you purchase a "camera" knowing it does not have telephone capabilities?

I love this new feature

Love the Stonehenge-Photo. It confirms a Point of view I have since many years: Kids make excellent photos. Often with every camera setting at auto or Default, but: who cares? Clearly, they want to show us something, never mind technical issues. How about a bakers dozen of photos taken by photographers not older than, say, 12?

Dale Greer is correct in his comment and he describes the situations perfectly.

As for my poppy photo, I certainly would have been able to get a similar photo if I had had my DSLR, my tripod and a remote with me.

However, I did not even know my brother was driving to the poppy fields until we got there. We were supposed to be on a grocery run for my sister-in-law when he took what he said was a minor detour.

The winds that day were gusting around 25 to 30 MPH. The only camera I had with me was my cellphone. I sat down in the sand and braced my arm on my knees and waited for a pause in the wind. After several minutes, the wind backed off and I grabbed the shot.

I'd only had my new cellphone for a few months. For that day and at that moment, had I not had my cell with me, THAT photograph would not have been made.

I now carry my cell everywhere. I can't always carry my camera equipment. That day I became a firm believer in "the camera you have with you at the time is the best camera".

I very much enjoyed all of the photos Mike chose for this Baker's Dozen. In fact I loved all of them and would some day like to see all that were submitted. I am honored to have been one of those selected.

Thank You.

RE: Dale's comment about a 'post to social media button': I use the wifi on my cameras in exactly this way. On my X-pro2, I have one of the Fn buttons assigned to turn on the wifi; I can hit the button, open the app, and have a photo on my phone in 30 seconds. Then I can edit it in PS mobile, and post, just like I do with phone camera photos.

I can see this getting better over time, especially if Apple opens up their AirDrop functionality; devices create ad-hoc networks on the fly to share files seamlessly.

A+ to the curator for style and content. And for effort? A++!

The iPhone (and compact point& shoot) favor the accidental photograph much more than do "real" cameras. And I much prefer to be an accidental photographer.

One of the best explanations (with clear graphical examples in moving GIFs plus a good helping of math) is here


and here


Ernest Zarate, a good question - "But are any of them photos that could ONLY be made with a Smartphone?"

Backing up - I added large format to get smooth gradients, the grainlessness of contact printing, and great resolution; medium format (two versions) for easier darkroom work with some large format qualities; SX-70 for its unique manipulative properties; and I continued using 35 because of a beloved semi-fisheye lens I'd had since it was introduced in '69.

Digital (retiring film cameras) offered the easiest and most comprehensive darkroom prep (via image processing - Photoshop), and panoramas that suit my style, both from later assembly of multiple images (including large numbers of exposures), but also when made in-camera with 2 or 3 exposures, that offered new qualities.

My phone has a different, continuous kind of in-camera panorama mode that introduced a different option and greater vertical height. It also makes possible the other conveniences noted in comments. In other words, to answer the question, I find considerable overlap among all of the recording options, but for a unique quality (not the most important, I think, for most people), it would be the phone's panorama mode signature. You might then ask whether I need (or want) a separate camera.

The answer is that the camera I use generally responds more quickly but also can capture images up to 216x away, which I estimate as a focal length of about 2300mm, as well as quite sharp 1 to 1 macro images. The phone is faster and easier to use for field-type macro closeups, however, and with an accessory lens can go 4x closer.

None of this, I should add, has caused any regret for the time and effort of using older technologies.

Examples of my older work is online at the indicated website; newer work is on Facebook in "Albums" including "Poços Panoramas" and "Timeline."

RE: Matt’s comment about the Fuji X-Pro2 having decent WiFi/social media connectivity, I’m glad to hear at least one camera company has this sorted out. Olympus has a workable system too, but it chews through camera batteries and requires a deep dive into the Byzantine menu and re-pairing with the phone every time you power-cycle WiFi. Nikon, meanwhile, offers SnapBridge, which I can only describe as a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.

As Thom Hogan writes:

"SnapBridge is now almost two years old as a Nikon initiative, and it’s nine-months old in terms of being out in the wild. Any new features? Nope. Fixed the major problems? Nope. Lots of iterative updates? Nope. Nikon is trying to use old school tech product cycles in a world that lives on last night’s build. And tomorrow it will live on tonight’s build. Nikon’s still trying to get last year’s build to work.

"Moreover, as I've written before: the Japanese companies are letting down some of their best and closest customers. One of my pro photojournalism friends asked me the other day why the pro video cameras now had cellular options that allowed them send video live to their stations/networks but that the still cameras were still struggling to get Wi-Fi working right. The answer? Tokyo is asleep at the wheel. Despite being yelled at several times in the past decade about it. It's criminal that Canon and Nikon don't have clear and flexible solutions for photojournalists and sports shooters yet. Solutions that don't require an IP staff to set up and maintain, that allow both selective and mass uploads, that understand differed and temporarily broken connections, that don't break on OS updates, and that provide options to the photographer that don't require them to change their workflow."


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