Rob Irving explores the use of capturing images with your smart phone, very quickly we have become used to being able to capture great, but sometimes throw-away images.  It was only a few short years ago on January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549, and Airbus A320-214 ditched in the Hudson River off midtown Manhattan, New York without loss of life. iPhone owner and Twitter user Janis Krums was on one of the New York commuter ferries diverted to pick up the stranded airline passengers. He used his mobile phone to take a snap of the downed plane, and uploaded it to TwitPic. At that moment Krums’ photo joined the ranks of those iconic images that marked the turning point when the image industry realized that the new medium, our smart phone, could also deliver dramatic news worthy images.

The media has seemingly never been so full of imagery, which naturally is because the media has never been as diverse and vast as it is today. What the image does, the reason for its incorporation, is simply to ‘arrest the attention’ of the viewer, entice them if you will to stop and pay specific attention, to the blog, advert, article, etc it has been placed against.

Really clever images however do more than just that, in a glance actually telling the full story (a picture paints a thousand words…….).

And of course, this increased exposure to the image has the ramification of elevating its importance and power to us, and in doing so increasingly turning us on to The Photograph and Photography in general.

Smart phone cameras too are very much part of this whole process through opening so many people’s eyes to photography, and why not, unobtrusive and always on our persons they are capable of capturing, under many circumstances, very good images indeed, which we can go on to instantly publish ourselves through the multitude of available social networks.

The industry watch dogs cite the increasing use of the smart phone camera as the reason for the massive increase in DSLR sales over the last year, i.e. smart phones have turned people on to photography, but such cameras certainly have their limits, both technically and creatively, and people are demanding more…

I love my iPhone camera, it’s always in my pocket and takes acceptable images (for web) though I have spent £0.69p on the ‘645 Pro’ camera App to give me a little bit more control over my picture taking. It helps, but only up to a point. Under good lighting conditions, but also with close-ups, these phones are reasonably good, but I would say that as a photographer who appreciates the creative influences of the Aperture within the photographic process, my biggest issue with smart-phone cameras would be their understandably fixed aperture in conjunction with the small physical dimensions of the ‘chip’, which essentially means that one can’t selectively focus an image – fore and background both always remain in focus. Also the chip has a narrow dynamic range, there is little detail in the under and over aspects of a given image, and whilst on the chip, it’s appalling in low light conditions with ugly grain.

But anyhow, I have a very good DSLR with a fabulous array of lenses for when I wish to take a proper picture, but at other times my iphone will certainly do it for me… especially as I recognise its limits and would never ask it to do what it can’t!

The images accompanying this were shot on a recent trip to Thailand, essentially taken when my DSLR camera for whatever reason wasn’t the convenient option.

This is a subject that we are sure to return to, no more so than the fact that the quality of smart phone cameras will continue to evolve and produce higher resolution imagery, but never more so than that age old adage of always carrying a camera with you so you never miss the shot – now there is no excuse!!

Two heads are better than one – or perhaps two cameras are…..

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