Category: Photography

iPhotography II

Creativity Thrives on Constraints

Dreamy photo of a desolated jetty. iPhone photo by Mihaela Limberea.
The jetty at our nearby beach, a misty November day.

This post is about creativity, constraints and making do with what you have.

I had forgotten how dark it gets in this country after years of living in Switzerland. Last year doesn’t really count as re-acclimatization to Scandinavian darkness as we moved in at the end of October, had plenty of things to manage because of the move, and then went to Australia mid-December.

Darkness is so oppressive now; it feels like we’re living in a perpetual twilight zone. Even at noon, there’s not enough light to take decent photos. Outside, that is.

Dark mood photo of a man at the ned of a jetty. iPhone photo by Mihaela Limberea.
My husband agreed to model for this one. It doesn’t happen often.

I use to go for a walk at noon, to get some fresh air and daylight. Especially daylight. I always preach creativity thrives on constraints, and so I’m forcing myself to find something to photograph during my walks. Sometimes I bring my Canon 5D if there’s enough light to give it a try; otherwise, I always have my iPhone.

On some overcast days, this really becomes an exercise in creativity as the whole world seems to be blanketed in 50 shades of gray (pun intended).

The salvation then is in post-processing. I like to keep things simple. The photos above were taken with an iPhone and processed quickly with Snapseed. That’s it; it took me only a couple of minutes. No masterworks, I’m the first to admit. But much better looking than the original photos.

And since creativity thrives on constraints, I’m considering doing a 365 project, when you take and post one photo a day, every day, for a whole year. January 1st is around the corner, a good date to start a 365 project, don’t you think? It should be fun.


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.

To read more posts on photography, click here.



iPhotography

Take Awesome Photos With Your Phone

Windshield seen from the interior of the car when the car is in the car wash. Black and white phone photo by Mihaela Limberea.

You don’t need an expensive camera or a fantastic subject to take awesome phone photos.

A window seen from the interior of the car when the car is in the car wash. Phone photo by Mihaela Limberea.

These are the only things you need:

1) A camera with you at all times. This is very likely your phone. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one that you have with you. And…

An abstract photo representing a car windshield seen from the interior of the car when the car is in the car wash. Phone photo by Mihaela Limberea.

2) An open mind. If you expect to take photos only when you found a “nice” subject, you’ll end up with banal photos.

A window seen from the interior of the car when the car is in the car wash. Phone photo by Mihaela Limberea.

Be open and learn to see, really see, what’s right in front of you, without any preconceptions. As Thoreau said, The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

I’ve taken all these images with an iPhone while in the car wash. No fancy camera, no “beautiful” subject. Just the beauty of the everyday. Look for it.


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.

To read more posts on photography, click here.



How To Take Better Photos With Your Phone

Anse Victorin beach on Fregate Island in the Seychelles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Anse Victorin beach on Fregate Island in Seychelles.

Continuing the theme from my previous post on mobile phone photography, I wanted to show more photos taken with an iPhone and share a few tips to help you take better photos with your phone.

A beach sign warning "Strong currents" on Anse Victorin beach on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Anse Victorin beach. The current was strong indeed.

These are some of our vacation shots from Fregate Island (Seychelles) in the summer of 2018; they are all taken with an iPhone. Considering how the world looks like today, Covid-19 et al., I’m grateful for all experiences we’ve had; it’s something to hold on to these days. I’m sure we’ll be able to travel the world and only worry about photo quality at some time in the future. Maybe not in 2021. But in 2022? We need to keep dreaming about better days.

Marina beach on Fregate Island in Seychelles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Marina beach
Anse Victorin beach on Fregate Island in Seychelles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Anse Victorin beach

All photos in this post are taken with an iPhone X and the only processing is using the phone’s auto-enhance function i.e. what most people would do with their images. No filters, no post-processing. No expensive, heavy camera, tripods, or filters.

Villa, palms trees and infinity pool in on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Our villa, photobombed by a bird.
An infinity pool with view over the sea and palm trees on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
The beach bar on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
The beach bar

In full light, there’s hardly any need for further processing unless you’ve taken a fancy to one filter or another. Just point and shoot.


Some tips for taking better photos with your phone

  • Try shooting in the morning or late afternoon for a milder light. You may have heard about “the golden hour”; this will make any photo pop.
  • Wait for a passing cloud to take photos if you have to shoot in the harsh midday light.
  • Position yourself so that you have the sun at your back. Be careful when shooting portraits, though. If you have the sun at your back, it means that people will very likely squint (if you’re quick) or close their eyes as they’ll face the light. What you can do to avoid “The Others“-like portraits is to position your subjects with their backs to the sun. As you’ll be shooting against the light, you’ll need to use the flash to lighten up their faces.
  • Use available natural light. Avoid using the flash (except for the above scenario). Flash creates a cold, unnatural light with heavy contrasts, and the result is unflattering photos.
  • Set the focus right. Phone cameras automatically set focus on the foreground, but this may not always be where you want it to focus. To make sure the intended subject of your photo is in focus, tap lightly on the screen. This will set the focus on that spot.
  • Don’t use the zoom; move closer to the subject instead. Zooming in makes the photo appear pixelated or blurry.

More Examples of Phone Photos To Inspire You

Beach and flowers on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

Using the Portrait mode: good background blur, perfectly fine photo.

A coconut on the beach, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
A coconut tree in the making

Choosing the Portrait mode in your camera app gives your photos a nice background blur. It was meant for shooting portraits, but you can do so much more with it. Try it!

Beach panorama on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

Using the Panorama mode – not bad! The horizon is slightly uneven (maybe the photographer wasn’t fully awake, maybe it’s the camera, who knows?), but the photo is acceptable, considering the alternative. I.e., carry a heavy camera to the beach, and do a lot of post-processing on your computer, stitching together the panorama. Did you try creating a panorama on your phone?

A blonde woman seen from her back and holding a camera at Anse Victorin beach on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

One of the rare shots with me in it. You know, the shoemaker’s children …luckily, not a bad hair day! Tips: taking photos of other people taking photos is always fun.

Hornet ghost crab on the sand, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Close up of a hornet ghost crab on the sand, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Horned ghost crab
A close up of a Aldabra giant tortoise on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
James the Aldabra giant tortoise.
Fairy tern chick sitting on a tree branch on Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
 Fairy tern chick
Fairy terns in flight, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
 Fairy terns in flight
A close up of a Wright's skink, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Wright’s skink

Some animal photos. The last one, the skink, would have been better with a blurred background (using the portrait mode), but animals usually don’t wait until you set up your camera. Shoot it, or you lose it.  Overall, not bad considering animals rarely pose and are always on the move.

Sunset on the beach, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Sundown over an infinity pool and palm trees, Fregate Island. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

And lastly, two photos in low light – taken at 6am and 6pm. All phone cameras struggle on these conditions of course. But in this size for a photo album, Facebook or Instagram they are perfectly fine.


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.

To read more posts on photography, click here.



Why Buying An Expensive Camera Doesn’t (Always) Matter

A recent contest for mobile phone photos made me think about the old discussion about photo gear. ”What camera do you use?” is a question I get pretty often; it seems that many people still think that great equipment equals good photographs.  While it is true that a DSLR camera does have more ”horsepower” than a mobile phone, a good camera does not a photographer make. As Thoreau reminds us, what’s important is not what you look at but what you see.

I have chosen three photographs here, all taken with an iPhone, where the difference is made by ”seeing” the potential of what’s right in front of you, not by having a good camera.


1) The image above was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus in a Nespresso shop while my husband and I were waiting for our turn to be served. It’s a lamp in the shop that nobody paid any attention to. My husband was mystified as to what exactly I was shooting; he couldn’t ”see” what that lamp could become. The only processing done on the iPhone image was converting it to black and white using the Snapseed app and then doing some slight editing such as highlights and contrast. And voilà, you now have a great black and white abstract photograph instead of an ordinary lamp in a shop.

2) This one was taken with an iPhone 7 Plus and depicts the roof of the Menara airport in Marrakesh. Again, minimal editing, the same as above, converting to B&W in Snapseed.

This is how the actual roof looked like. 

For more context, a quick shot of the airport (mobile phone photo).

3) And this a photo of a skyscraper in Tokyo, taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, and converted to black and white in Snapseed. The composition would have been helped if taken in portrait mode, but you get the point.


As you can see in these examples, there’s more to good photography than the photo gear. You need to train your eye to really “see” beyond the ordinary. As always, practice makes perfect.

I’ll post some more phone photos in a future post, and you’ll see that you don’t need an expensive camera to take good photographs. Use the camera you have and learn to see, really see; that’ll get you far.


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.



The Sea! The Sea!

The sea and beach strawn with sea shells at Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

The Sea! The Sea!

The beach strawn with sea shells at Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
Sea sheels at Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
Close up of the beach at Noordwijk, The Netherlands, a wave and sea shells.
Sea shells on a sandy beach at Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

Photos taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.



Cultivate The Habit Of Zest

Shadows of leaves over a parking sport in black and white. www.limberea.com
Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Cultivate the habit of zest. Purposefully seek out the beauty in the seemingly trivial. Especially in the trivial. The colors and shapes of the foods you eat. The shadows a vase makes on your table. The interesting faces of the people on the bus with you. – Karen Salmansohn

I snapped the image above with my iPhone (remember, the best camera is the one that you have with you) on my daily walk. A play of light and shadows, tree branches over a parking spot.

I’d make this the first rule of photography: always bring the camera; and your attention.