Smartphone Photography

I love taking pictures. I have an expensive Canon T3i Digital SLR camera and I do still use it, but the percentage of pictures I take with my smartphone continues to grow. My current phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5, Jim has a Samsung Note 3, and I just gotta show you some of the pictures we’ve taken this month!  Below each picture I’ve written a note about the phone’s feature that is being used.

We’ve been in some beautiful places this month, starting with a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida; then a visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens during a Chihuly glass exhibit, and an evening at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, also in Denver. When we left Denver we traveled thru the Rocky Mountains; we hiked by Sundance in Utah, slept at a winery in Idaho, and headed to the Pacific Northwest. We stayed at a Thousand Trails park by the San Juan Islands and took some ferry rides, parked in a friend’s driveway on the Olympic peninsula and visited the Olympic National Park. And we took pictures of it all. Here are just a few taken with our smartphones.

Leaving Fort Lauderdale
Even though the phone is in “Airplane Mode” it can still take a picture!
Denver Botanic Gardens with Chihuly Glass exhibit
This picture demonstrates the Samsung’s ability to use both the front and rear-facing lens at the same time. It’s called “Dual-Camera.” I call it PIP for picture in picture.
We're Excited!
I love the ability to take “Selfie’s”  No need to grab a passerby and ask them to take your picture!
We listen to this radio show every week. 8,498 other people joined us to watch it live at Red Rocks today!
Memories are more than scenery. I just put the tickets in my lap and snapped a picture with the phone.
Jim playing with pip on his phone's camera
You need to look close to see this one … click on the picture to enlarge it … Jim used the Dual Camera feature to put our faces on the jumbo screen to the right of the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, outside of Denver
Here’s another one you’ll want to click on to see the whole thing. It’s using the Panorama feature on the Samsung phone. It does such a great job. This is also Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver.
I-70 west thru Rocky Mountains
The Samsung Galaxy S5 can focus very fast, and snap the picture just as fast so it’s great for taking pictures on the road.
Utah State sign, near Dinosaur Nat'l Monument
I like taking pictures of State Signs, but you gotta be quick. This phone is.
Another reason for a selfie – taking a picture of our “recording studio” before our weekly show.
Panorama (w Galaxy S5)  of Jordanelle Park
Another picture taken with the Panorama feature. I dare you to find any stitch lines!
In Kennewick, WA
With a smartphone and that big viewing screen, you can hold the phone down low and still see what you’re shooting.
Pavilion at Jordanelle State Park
The HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting allows you to see detail in the shadows without overexposing the sky.
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A special setting called “Selective Focus” lets you take one picture and later decide whether to focus on the near object

Not sure if you can see this in the little photo, but this one has the tree and the mountains in focus. The previous picture had the foreground, the thistel in focus. I only took ONE picture!

View from Deception Pass bridge on Whidbey Island, Washington state
Just snapped this picture while driving over the Deception pass bridge. Could not have taken this photo unless the Samsung Galaxy S5 was fast!
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Another Panorama, click it to enlarge.
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The HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting allows you to see detail in the shadows without overexposing the sunny areas.
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How did I ever live without selfies?
Rialto Beach at sunset taken with the HDR setting turned OFF. No detail in the shadows.
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Rialto Beach at sunset taken with the HDR setting turned ON. See the detail in the shadows? And, still good color in the sky.

Just a note to the professional photographers out there – I’m not suggesting that these pictures would be good enough for you! I am not a professional photographer, I’m just a traveler who likes to have lots of pictures for memories, and I want them to be as easy to take as possible. I also never print. These pictures might make decent 5X7 prints, but probably nothing larger. I view my pictures on the web, on a computer, and often just on the little screen of the smartphone. These look great there!  I did take my Canon camera to Rialto beach and took a couple of photos with the telephoto (300mm) lens that could never be captured with the smartphone:

Group of kids posing for a special shot on the beach - I just happened to look their way at the right time with the telephoto lens

These rocks were way in the distance, needing the Big Lens!

In case any of you reading this will be attending the FMCA Convention in Redmond, OR during August … we will be teaching our short smartphone photography workshop. You need to come to our table in the Convention info center before the rally begins to register for the class. See the Rally Program for further details.

We will also cover many of these photo-taking techniques in our weekly web-broadcast show about using smartphones and tablets. Check it out at, and Follow us on our Google+ page to be informed of each new episode.