The best camera you have

Heads Up!

This article is several years old now, and much has happened since then, so please keep that in mind while reading it.

Before any outing or session you will have carefully planned and thought about which lenses to back to frame the shot you are envisaging. Maybe the ultra-wide lens and 2 stop soft edge ND for that sunrise shot at the lake, with the hills in the background and over-exaggerating the shoreline.  Or your old, manual 135mm lens, two wireless speedlites with octopods and stands for a portrait session because it gives you softer skin tones and smooth bokeh. Whatever your speciality will be I‘m sure if I named a scenario you would have an instant idea what kit you‘d want to take and have on you.

But there will also be those situations where you will be out and about, enjoying time with friends and family on a small walk through the fields, an amble through town or stroll along the beach. Or on your own following the river as it meanders along. You get the idea. The last thing on your mind, for once, is photography, when the sky opens up and rays of sunshine pour forth, transforming the scene into an explosion of colours, contrasts and light. Or there is this genuine and candid moment with your friends child, standing in-front of you on the path, her cuddly toy in hand and a smile starting to grow on her face.

What to do now? You have nothing on you, filters and speedlites are all at home, next to your camera and lenses. It‘s the kind of situation where you would quite happily give half an arm or leg (at least temporarily) to have all there and then. Maybe you should have just brought it all with you, keeping and active eye out for composition and light, being constantly distracted and unable to enjoy the relaxing time with or without your friends and family.

But I want to argue that that is not a solution. Why jeopardise that time and interaction for a potential shot, that might or might not occur? Why risk the enjoyment of the moment with constant vigilance and anticipation? No, surely that is not the solution.

However, you will probably have one camera already on you, and it won‘t be too unlikely that you are holding it in hand as you are reading this. Yes, I‘m referring to that smartphone camera of yours. Try and remember the last time you have left the house without it. It might have well been the day you went to buy your first smartphone. This will be the one camera that‘s always by your side. Sure, you use it for a few snaps here and there, mainly for a quick share on Facebook or WhatsApp. But nothing serious, I mean, yes, it‘s just an ok quality and you can zoom and crop a bit, the dynamic range and built-in HDR function works well enough. But lets be honest, which „serious“ photographer has ever though of shooting some serious photos on your smartphone?

Well, I have. There have been many situations like the above, with amazing light and candid moments, and all I had on my was my iPhone. So what is one to do other than whip it out and start shooting? Of course my approach wasn‘t and couldn‘t be the same as if I had my proper kit with me. There are restrictions and limitations I have to work with and around. But, and I think that even if some of you might have made it this far in the process and taken some images, this is where it stops for most people. Shot taken, caption written and ready to upload. But why treat these shots from a £800 phone any different from the ones from your £2000 DSLR? Why not go and take them through some sort of processing software, like SnapSeed or Lightroom Mobile directly on your phone, or copy them to your computer and run them through your normal process in Lightroom, Photoshop, CaptureOne, or whatever else you use? Surely, if you‘ve taken some serious shots then they deserve the same serious treatment as any other serious shot you take. And lets be honest, it‘s unlikely to be viewed on any bigger screen than the one you‘re holding right now anyway.


You can see Philipp's amazing shot on flickr

Philipp Staudacher

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