These days, I’ve found a resurgence of interest with photography. At work, there have been on-going talks about putting up a sort of camera / photo club, and while I’d been without such an affiliation since at least 2010, I wasn’t exactly too enthused with the idea. The one and only club I ever joined was with a club dedicated to the Nikon D40 and we were called Team D40, and we all met on the forums of the now defunct Digital Photographer Philippines. I’m still a little on the fence with the office club thing, but since my name was already on the roster (not my idea) I guess I can go along for the ride when I feel like it.
I’d almost always done all of my shooting either alone, or with a very small group of people, which were either composed of people from the abovementioned club or my like minded friends. I dabbled with many styles of photography, but one of my main points of interest is street photography.
This is where my lone wolf (as a fellow here in the office put it) behavior kicks in. See, I firmly believe that a big buncha people with cameras to their eyes will have an effect on the environment they move it. As soon as people spot such a group taking photos, their movements can become unnatural, and I love taking in the rawness of a scene and capturing it on film or digital sensor.
Nowadays, despite my still prevalent preference for film photography, I started openly embracing a medium that I once relegated to the trash bin in terms of photography – the smartphone.
I’d always believed in using gadgets for a singular purpose that it is purposely made for. This partly is the reason why I own different kinds and brands of cameras and lenses, along with why I still prefer listening to music using a dedicated player. However for the past few years, I have begun embracing the convenience that a smartphone offers. It plays music, it takes photos, it allows me to communicate with people via text or the internet and even allows me to kill time playing games. It took me a good long while though to start “embracing” the fact that a smartphone can be used to take good photos.
My previous phones (Cherry Mobile) had been fairly good with the above mentioned things, but things came to a head when my beloved Flare X started dying on me. With me doing a lot of stuff at work that often needs me to be reachable, along with the fact that part of what I do revolves with training people and its accompanying chores, my wife and I decided it was time to get a new phone. My plan was to go the inexpensive route and get another Cherry and I was eyeing another Flare variant. My wife however was not having any of it – she wanted me to get a better, branded phone. I balked at the idea because for one, I don’t like paying what I think to be heaps for a mobile phone, my logic being that it’s still just a phone and as long as it can call and txt, I’m cool. She says that “you get what you pay for” and it struck me – while my Flare X did have nice specs to it (2015) it had become obsolete fairly quickly, and it honestly wasn’t too exceptional apart from the price point. She had always been an adamant Sony Xperia user and she was keen to turn me on to the brand, or any other better known brand as long as I don’t go back cheaping out on another Cherry.
After some thinking and considering how much I was willing to spend, we decided to get an Xperia XA1 Plus. Specs wise, it was decent because my main consideration would be RAM and processor speed so I can enjoy playing my games. I forgot the fact that it has a camera, and a fairly good one at that. After some days teething around with my new phone, and discovering its camera’s potential, I found that I can take good photos with it. The Flare had a 12MP main camera compared to the 23MP unit in the XA1 Plus. Their displays and sensor quality are, goddamnit, worlds apart.
I guess it is unfair to compare the two head on given the fact that the Flare X is a 2015 model compared to the XA1 Plus which was released in 2017. Anyways, I felt like I had gone from riding a bicycle to riding a sport bike.
It took me a little while to admit to myself that a phone can take good photos, and as the days wore on, I felt like I was loving my new phone more for its camera than anything else. This is partly why I have begun seeing a resurgence of interest with taking photos on the street because now I can take photos wherever I am, and I don’t even need to whip out a camera and put it to my eyes.
The photos below are samples off my phone and totally unedited mostly on its “superior” auto mode.
Given the above images, it’s not hard to see the potential that could be tapped using my phone’s camera. I’m still learning the ropes of “really” using it to take photos and I have also gone ahead (at the suggestion of some friends) and downloaded a mobile version of the famed Lightroom.
It’s a pretty handy app, and I figure that some editing here and there really is the way to go with digital photography. I used to shun the idea of post processing – partly because I didn’t have something to learn and do it with. However, with the advent of more powerful phones and apps ported from the pc to mobile, it had now become easier than ever to take photos, edit then upload from one’s phone. All I ever I did for effects or editing was via Instagram, which is cool when viewed via the app but not quite so if one will enlarge or possibly print it.
Here are some recently taken photos from my phone and edited LR – note that most of these have actually been uploaded and treated with pretty much the same style in Instagram. Interestingly, these photos were taken using the manual mode (haha) of my phone camera.
I was never one to really edit or retouch photos so much, but now that I’m trying this, I can see how with some light work, a photo can be made better. If you’re looking to take photos with your phone and do some editing, forget doing it on Instagram or something – get Lightroom instead!
So far, I think I am still pretty much a beginner with regard to editing stuff, and taking photos with my mobile phone. I’m actually half thinking of sharing what I will know and discover on the topic with the office camera club. But for now, I am enjoying the fact that I am back taking photos on the street. If you’ll notice, I am such a sucker for the classic street photography aesthetic of it being mostly in black and white.
Older dogs certainly can learn new tricks.
Ah c’est la vie.
* if you want to check me out on Instagram where I am most active nowadays, feel free to follow me @dreamlessworld.
** if you found my photos via Google or something and would like to save and use them, sure you can but at least credit me or link back to this blog.
*** i’m not a paid Adobe nor Sony aparatchik