Milky Way – Attempt 1

When I sold my Canon gear I knew that going all iPhone with my photography would have its challenges. And boy, does it ever. One of my goals with iPhoneography is to get a shot of the Milky Way. I knew there was hope in achieving it because I saw a post about it online. It was done with an Android phone, the One+ One, by a chap named Ian Norman.

There was one advantage for Norman using an Android phone. He had the luxury of being able to make his captures in RAW file format, plus he had an app that would allow him to expose with an ISO setting of 3200; the iPhone 6s has a maximum ISO setting of 2000. That make a big difference when shooting the Milky Way.

I tried a couple of apps with my first outing. Knowing that Slow Shutter Cam has a Bulb setting, I went to it first. As soon as I initiated the exposure, the screen, which shows a live view of the exposure, had a strange grid of what looked like focus points possibly (I really don’t know what they were) and the noise was like nothing I’ve seen before. The image was completely unrecognizable. I knew then and there that Slow Shutter wasn’t going to be the answer.

Next up was Camera+. I’ve had great success with it shooting at night but with the ISO dialled down to the unheard-of 0.01 that it’s capable of doing. My night shots are pretty much noise free. Well, of course this wasn’t going to work of any type of astrophotography so I tried a shot at the highest ISO setting of 2000 for 30 seconds, but no luck. The image was just overblown to a white screen. I was beat. I knew it wasn’t happening that night.

I don’t regret getting rid of my Canon even after this catastrophic failure. I now know that the iPhone 6s just simply cannot get a shot of the Milky Way with anything I have onboard. I won’t give up though. And I may never get one with the 6s, but I still get a new camera, er, iPhone every two years so who knows, maybe the sensor in the next one will have the capability. Oh, and I know flat out that the quality of any type of night time sky shot I’m able to muster up isn’t going to be publish worthy. I just want to able to do it.

I was going to end this post with the previous paragraph but I don’t want to leave without posting some kind of photo so I thought I’d post one of the local shoreline. This is the type of shooting I’ve been doing more of lately and have had good success with. This was with Camera+ at ISO 2 for 15 seconds. Further editing was done in Photos on the Mac including the Intensify extension from Macphun Software.

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East Shore Boat Launch

A Bold Move – Why I Sold My Canon Gear

Sometimes people do the craziest things. I tend to be a pretty conservative fellow — you know, err on the side of caution, that sort of thing. But recently I made a decision that will, in a small way, change my life. Well, the photography side of my life at least. I have decided to become an iPhone only photographer, or an all out iPhoneographer.

I’ve had some sort of Canon DSLR for that past thirteen years and have enjoyed them immensely. My Canons have been great tools for capturing some pretty nice photos and there are much better cameras out there than the ones I’ve owned but I have also been having a lot of fun taking pictures with my iPhone, and the challenges that come with it.

You might say taking photos with an iPhone couldn’t be any easier. I mean really, you just point… and click, or tap, and voila, you have the shot, right?

 

Edited with Polarr Photo Editor

This photo was in a gallery exhibition

Well, let me tell you, if you’ve never tried to get a really good photo with an iPhone, it isn’t that easy. Sure, it isn’t rocket science, but getting a shot that has the potential to be confused for a DSLR image has its challenges and using an iPhone has its limitations.

Speaking of limitations, some of you reading this might be thinking I’m off my rocker for leaving the DSLR scene with all of its possibilities to a very limited one in that of the iPhone. I knew that full well going into this. And believe me, this isn’t a spur of the moment decision. I have been mulling over this for probably two years now. I was just waiting to see if that “ah ha” moment would ever come to push me over the edge of uncertainty. That moment has been manifesting itself in a few different ways over those two years.

I began this thought process when the iPhone started to get good at taking photos. For me that started in October of 2013 when the iPhone 5s was released. The technology in that thing was very cool. It was the first iPhone that, when you tripped the shutter, would take a series of four images almost simultaneously, instantly analyze them and give you the sharpest one. I was impressed, but what impressed me more was the quality of the photos I was taking. And no, I realize they aren’t DSLR photos, I get that. But for images produced from a PHONE, they were pretty good. The continuing evolution of iPhone cameras kept increasing my faith in them as something I could use exclusively. The increase from 8 MP to 12 in the 6s was all but the icing on the cake for me and since I get a new iPhone every two years, I’m very excited to see what the 2017 model will have. Oh, and that’s a good point too. I get a new camera every other year!

Digging deeper into why I took this plunge, there are my reasons for taking photos in the first place. I’m not a professional so I don’t make a living doing photography. I don’t often print my photos, although I’m a firm believer that it helps to improve one’s photos. For the type of photography I do, I really don’t need a fancy full frame DSLR and big, expensive, top quality lenses. My memories and my works of art are generally reserved for my own menagerie of pixels stored on a hard drive both at home and abroad (my backups), and the ones I deem worthy are shared for you and anyone else who cares to take a look at them on a small handful of online portals. A good friend of mine once referred to me as a “social media” photographer, which is arguable, but I prefer to be called a “photographer,” just like anyone else who creates photos with a camera.

With an iPhone I can explore various types of photography all on the same device, and a versatile arsenal of apps allows me to do things like instant HDR, black and white, or even an upside down view camera style of photography just to name a few. It’s like having a darkroom right in my pocket. The limitations of the iPhone with regard to taking photos is, in my opinion, balanced quite nicely with the ever expanding possibilities for creating art provided by the thousands of people who create the apps available to us.

I spoke earlier about not needing expensive lenses and such. I don’t. But I have acquired a set of lenses that I can attach to my iPhone to expand my photographic experience. Again, the quality is not like that of my Canon stuff but I’m ok with it. The close up work I can do with the macro lens was probably the final deciding factor for making my switch to iPhoneography. I never did own a macro lens for my Canon so I hadn’t experienced the world up close but I’m loving it, and this little kit of lenses cost less for all five than the cheapest of Canon lenses.

 

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Taken with a 10x Macro lens.

I could go on and on about what I like about iPhoneography but I’m sure a lot of those who began reading this have already moved on. If you are still here, thank you for your interest. I want to close by saying that I hope my peers don’t think any less of me as a photographer. I still know the craft. I’ll still help those in need whenever I can, and I will still learn from other photographers just as I have for most of my life. I know there will be times when I won’t be able to do what my peers are doing in their photography, but that’s okay, I’ve already accepted that. Currently I have two goals for my iPhoneography. Well, okay, one goal and one dream. The goal is to capture an image of the milky way. The dream? Well, it’s a long shot, but my dream is to be featured in the Apple World Gallery where, if selected, one of my images will occupy billboards around the world and be printed on the back cover of thousands of magazines. The goal is more likely to happen than the dream but hey, there’s nothing wrong with “shooting for the stars” now, is there?