iPhoneography for Natural Subjects

Gudrun Schulze Ebbinghoff
January 13, 2012



When I plan to photograph, I dutifully lug many pounds of camera equipment, especially if my intended subject is a wild animal (you know how heavy big glass can be).  So I'm happy to put it all down from time to time.  This is Mr. Murphy's cue to action.

Kootenay Lake Gudrun Ebbinghoff ©

I didn't make it back in time with a 'real' camera. Kootenay Lake.

I do, however, always have a camera at hand.  It took me a couple of years to discover it, but over the course of the last half year I have gained tremendous appreciation for it.  It's my iPhone; an older model too: the 3GS.  This 3.2 megapixel quick draw marvel generally resides in my pocket, providing me with helpful (photographic!) information like GPS coordinates, and the precise time and location of a sunset or moonrise anywhere in the world.  It's even capable of remote-releasing the shutters of some cameras.

I don't generally intend to take photographs with my phone, but you've heard that the best camera is the one you have at hand.  I have images that would only be memories had my silicone-ensconced umbilical cord to the world not been attached.  Internet groups and coffee table books already exist, brimming with beautiful images that might otherwise never have been made.

Fire by Gudrun Ebbinghoff ©

It's fun, too.  There are powerful and inexpensive apps like Nik Software's SnapSeed that can turn your image into art with a few quick swipes.

Sunflowers by Gudrun Ebbinghoff
The sunflowers on my first-grader's school playground.

The current 4S model has 8-megapixels.  Do you recall how many megapixels your first digital camera had?  My husband's shot 640x480 and saved files to a floppy disk!  In addition to a faster processor, the 4S also has an LED flash.  Autofocus (and tap-to-focus/expose) simply doesn't get easier, and images are all geotagged, so even if you don't use the image from your phone, you can make a reference shot for the images from your big cameras and add the information to the metadata later.  Add-on lenses are even available to give you telephoto capability from the built in 4mm up to 12x that focal length.

The biggest drawbacks?  The operating temperature is only down to freezing and it has a maximum operating altitude of 3000m -- not so good for the mountaineers -- but I happily snap through the summers when I have my family in tow as it can be real work to pull out the heavy equipment.   I really  enjoy adding these images to digital albums, and my kids love paging through the resulting books.

Her new BFF, well within operating specs.

And I now take photos when before I would never have thought to shoot.  This image of a storm over Canmore was shot while speeding by on the highway.  I wasn't driving.  I promise.

Canmore by Gudrun Ebbinghoff ©


I even have images I snapped with my phone that I quickly revisited with one of my SLRs yet I still prefer the phone image to my attempted recreation of it.

Reflection of clouds n a dredge pond by Gudrun Ebbinghoff ©

Six Foxtails - The reflection of clouds in a dredge pond turned upside down.

So don't discount the camera in your pocket.  While you may not capture the exact position of every whisker on the coyote's face as it leaps to catch a mouse, an aerial coyote can still make for an interesting image.

Gudrun Schulze Ebbinghoff portrait


BIO: With a background in neuroscience and anthropology, an interest in animal behaviour became an obvious outflow and my photographic passion.  What I love about photography is that while it can cover an aesthetic gamut, it has as its base a documentary reality that the scientist in me adores.  Regardless how an image is captured or manipulated, the essence of truth -- that what it is did exist or transpire -- remains, and I strive to capture that and make it compelling to view.

My current work includes stock and portrait/lifestyle for-hire photography.  I also create art for your walls and greeting cards to share. 

See more at www.wildlight.ca or find me on Facebook and Google.

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