Now that I have retired (well almost) I have more time to explore interests that previously were off-limits due to a lack of time. One of those is photography. In the past, I have had a variety of cameras from simple point and shoots to 35mm SLRs to cameraphones, but as the saying goes “The best camera is the one you have with you”.

What is the Problem?

I’ve felt for a while that my pictures weren’t as good as I’d like them to be. I’d look at other pictures and feel that they ‘popped’ more. Generally, I was happy with the composition of mine but they were missing some magic. Much of the issue, I suspect, is that I’ve got myself into very much a point-and-shoot state of mind when stopping and putting more thought into a shot would be a good idea.

Anyway, I decided that I would book myself onto a course specifically for iPhone and, in the end, I did two. The issue was, of course, that saying I wanted to make my pictures ‘pop’ with additional magic didn’t give the course instructor much to go on!

The first course was 1:1 with a professional photographer. We met in a local town and we walked through finding interesting places to take pictures. At each stopping point, we looked at a different aspect of photography, such as lighting, different lenses and settings and took a picture that made use of that knowledge. It was slightly difficult to get the lighting right on such an overcast day but we got some interesting results. For the final hour, we went to a local cafe and looked at post-processing pictures using the Apple Photos app.

The second course was run at the local Apple store and was free. This was a small group of four people gathered around a big screen at a table at the back of the store. An Apple expert then went through how to get the best out of the iPhone camera and, again, some post-processing.

Interestingly I learned different things on each course and has given me different techniques to try and apply in my photo-taking. For example, on the first course, I learned about using portrait mode for things other than portraits of people and how to adjust the results at a later date. On the second, I learned about holding the camera upside down to get the lenses closer to the ground and creating blurred motion shots with the long exposure setting on live photos.

What’s Next?

Phil, the instructor on the first course, suggested that I book out time to spend a day dedicated to taking pictures. I felt that without direction that wasn’t going to be the most productive use of time for me. Then, a friend introduced me to a series of books called “52 Assignments” which gives you, as the name suggests one photo theme to do a week which was just the focus I needed. There are several themes in the series such as Street Photography, Travel and Black and White but the most promising for me looks to be the one specifically for iPhone photography.

I have also dusted off a couple of “pro” camera apps that I already had and that give you greater control than the stock app allows. This will be the next step after actually taking more pictures.

Both courses have equipped me with more ideas and confidence for going out and taking better pictures which is what I needed.

The Results

Here are some recent examples taken post the courses. You can view more on this page which I will be updating semi-regularly.

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