The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Spring Fling and a Camera Phone

Auto settings are a great thing, until they auto-something you don't want them to do.

While everyone has been enjoying the latest fancy touch-screen phones for several years, for the past 5 I've been making do with the smart-phone's dim-witted cousin, paying way too much on an outdated tariff, so I finally got round to upgrading a couple of weeks ago.

Part of the attraction of the new Sony Xperia XA1 was the 23 mega-pixel camera built into it, which is pretty much the same size as my professional DSLR. I know the lens, sensor and general quality was never going to be as good as my Canon 7D mk 2, but it’s an awful lot more convenient to carry around with me when I’m not doing a professional photo shoot.

But in many ways it's like having to learn a new way of photography. All my understanding of adjusting apertures, shutter speeds and ISO to get the effects I want under different lighting is redundant, as I have to rely on the auto settings.

Under good lighting conditions, the auto settings are not bad at all, but in low-light they panic and slow the shutter speed right down. The consequence of this is the very act of pressing the camera symbol on the screen causes enough wobble to ensure the photo ends up blurred.

Despite being a professional photographer, I feel like a complete amateur again.

Where’s a tech-savvy teenager when you need one?

This past weekend was Spring Fling – an event across SW Scotland where around 95 artists and makers open their studios to the public. Maggie’s been doing it most of the past decade.

I took part myself for 5 years, then decided not to last year and instead went round various studios with my daughter, Meg. That was so enjoyable I decided to do the same thing again this year. But instead of taking my camera with me I thought I would just use my phone, as it would force me to get to grips with it.

I love the life and lines of Jennifer Watt's scultptures

A camera phone is never going to do justice to Amanda Simmons' amazing glass creations

The aroma of melted beeswax is never captured by a camera at Maggie's studio

I managed a handful of not-out-of-focus-but-not-particularly-inspiring photos and placed them on that other social media site, but in the end the the most popular photo of all – by about 5,000% was a selfie I took of me and Meg having a mocha between studio visits.

Still not in complete focus, but no one except me seems to care

Suddenly I understand why everyone is posting selfies all the time – it has nothing to do with the quality of the camera or the photography – it’s the equivalent of a hello and a wave to your friends.

It’s only taken 10 years and a new phone to realise it...


viji suresh said...

Very beautiful write up.. I am a terrible photographer but I always love to click photos nevertheless. Enjoy your new camera, I happened to see this mobile and the camera clarity is so good. The sculptures, glass works are good and yes, if only a photograph can capture the smells won't it be terrific? One day someone might invent something like it. A century back who would have thought landing on the moon possible :)

Kim Ayres said...

Viji - under good lighting conditions the camera's not bad. In fact in most cases it produces stuff that is fine for a photo on the web. However, if you wanted to print the images up large, I'm not convinced the quality is there :)

Pat said...

As you go deeper into technology I am shrinking away. It complicates my life and makes me feel stupid and inadequate. Not grumbling just stating a fact. At least I managed a couple of photos on FB.
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoy the fruits of your labour. Especially the selfie.

viji suresh said...

Mobile photos are casual. Definitely not print worthy. I agree

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - I certainly feel more stupid with it as I get older. I see my son embrace new technology in the same way I did when I was his age - it's all new and exciting. However, I'm aware that as the years pass I become increasingly of the view that I'd rather not waste whatever time I have left trying to figure out how to operate something that isn't doing what I want it to. Give it another 30 years and I'm sure I'll give up completely :)

Viji - part of the problem is I have lost the ability to take snapshots since becoming a professional photographer. Instead of being happy with taking a quick shot that loosely represents the place or occurrence, I'm always trying to create a good shot that is well composed and has a strong narrative quality to it, and that's not always possible. So instead of a quick happy snap, I end up overthinking it and getting frustrated... :)

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