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How I use my Camera Phone

Ok I will get this bit out of the way first, I wouldn’t use a camera phone for producing publishable images, I just do not think that their quality is there just yet but in the case of some models, I am in fact, to be totally honest, quite impressed. I say that cautiously of course.

I can always recall someone telling me many years ago, when I was getting into photography that a good photographer, could get away with using anything to take a good picture. I believed it then and I still believe it now to hold true. I have come across some great work and have been stunned to learn for example, that it had been taken using a throw away camera from Boots.

So where do camera phones fit in? Do I use mine? What one do I use? Is it of any real use?

I recently upgraded my Vodafone contract and got my hands on a Nokia N95 8GB for the simple reason that it has a great feature set and a 5MP camera, currently one of the best of its kind on the market. In short I love the phone. Its many features are all of great use to me and it has become an invaluable tool amongst my camera kit which extends well beyond the obvious tools, such as the bodies and lenses that I own.

Photographers need to be able to plan their shoots as meticulously as possible. I will often make a note of the places that I find at any time of day, that I feel are worth coming back to one day to explore their potential. In the first instance, I make a note of these discoveries on my N95’s notebook facility. This can later be synced with Outlook when I get home and the notes can then be further fleshed out. Sometimes I use the GPS map facility to record positions using my current latitude and longtitude position, in order to annotate the map. Currently this cannot be synced with anything, which is a pity…. but I have digressed a little that’s get back to the case in point – The built in camera.

In my previous post, all of the attached photos were taken with the N95 which proves its ability to produce images of a good enough quality for website use. However in terms of providing my stock library, it does fall way too short but that doesn’t matter, as I use it for a different purpose – As I shall now explain….

Over the weekend we visited one or two places in Dorset that really impressed me in terms of their potential but I didn’t have my DSLR system on me. One of them was Boscombe Pier, which featured in my last post, you may have seen some of the images and I reproduce one or two of them here to illustrate:

[image title=”Boscombe Pier has recently been refurbished” size=”medium” id=”922″ align=”none” linkto=”viewer” ] [image title=”Fishing on Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth” size=”medium” id=”915″ align=”none” linkto=”viewer” ]

As you can see the light was very harsh, it was hazy out to sea but the potential can be seen. I decided that I would make a trip back there one winter afternoon and stick around till twilight to take a series of photos. The lights come on at a certain time too and that would be worth waiting around for. I was also able to ascertain that the Western side would be the better side, as on the Eastern side, too many off-shore objects would be distracting. Not to mention the sunset period would only work from the Western side of the Pier! This would lead nicely onto Twilight, even if I stayed in the same spot for the duration which I probably would.

I was taking some photos of the location in order to work out some ideas for positions and viewpoints on the day I return. These little images can then go back home with me and I can sync these too with my PC. I can then study them at my leisure to make some firm decisions on when to come back, as in time of year, time of day and even the sort of weather I would prefer. It helps me make these decisions and to get a feel for the place that I perhaps wouldn’t form otherwise.

Lets take a closer look at the full length shot of the pier:

  • Currently its very busy because its a Saturday afternoon and everyone has come out to enjoy the gorgeous weather – Come back mid week in winter at a later stage in the day and it will be quieter, possibly deserted. One or two people wouldn’t be an issue, as I would be using long exposures and they would “ghost out” an effect I love anyway.
  • I would also be more careful of the panels down the middle, avoiding to stand by the doorway I did on this occasion.
  • The shadows would be subtler later in the day, maybe not there at all but I would like a little bit of shadow to throw some extra geometry into the mix.
  • The sky would be more subtle and maybe very interesting with some great cloud formations and tones.
  • At some point those lights will come on for certain and this would most likely be twilight – That would be worth waiting for.
  • So as you can see I have been critiquing my own snapshot which now enables me to straight back there on a given day, to get the very best out of the location as I can
  • Resulting in a very well thought out and saleable shot.

This just shows that a camera phone is a useful tool to have and plus the fact, its the only camera I ALWAYS carry around with me in my pocket – Its a damn good Mp3 player too and images can even be posted directly to Flickr from it.

A new model has just been released, called the N96, so you may, if interested check that one out too, as it comes with 16GB of space and it is also 5MP. Will Camera phones improve as the technology develops? We now have 24MP DSLRs on the horizon, does this mean there could be a 10MP Nokia around the corner? We live in exciting times…..

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