Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunset on a Samsung S3

A week ago (as I write this) was my wedding anniversary (19 years). To celebrate, Joanna and I decided to order pizza and go somewhere to sit and watch the sun set. We've had a pretty terrible summer this year, but it just happened to be a nice evening, so we wanted to be outside enjoying the evening as much as possible.

Cheeky Seagull. Samsung S3 camera phone
We wanted to eat the pizza while it was still hot, so didn't want to travel far. I decided to drive to the Blaketown tiphead, a popular spot for spending an evening watching the sea roll in along the Grey River.

As we sat in the car and ate pizza, a seagull perched itself on the bonnet of the car and watched our every more. It seemed the most interested in my bread roll - which I was more than happy to share with him since it had been baked solid!

Because this was a social outing, and not a recreational one, I didn't have my camera with me :-(  But, of course, I did have my phone. So I was able to get a shot of the cheeky seagull, with the reflection of the brown paper bag that contained the bread roll clearly visible in the lower right of the photo.

Blaketown Sunset Reflection. Samsung S3 camera phone
While we watched the waves crashing around the rocks on the Cobden side of the tiphead, behind us, on the Blaketown side, things were starting to get colourful. The waves were taking on a golden yellow colour, and a quick glance behind us explained why. For the above image I literally opened the car door, stood up and took a shot of the golden sky behind us. The reflection is the sunset reflecting off the roof of the car.

Cobden Tiphead from Blaketown. Samsung S3 camera phone
This is the view we were concentrating on as the sunset was developing behind us. You can see the waves crashing against the Cobden tiphead (very mesmerising). It was high tide, so many of the crashing waves were so big they were spraying over the top of the rocks. The sky has a slight orange hue to it, but nothing like what was happening 180 degrees west.

Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
Pivot 180 from the position that the Cobden Tiphead photo was taken, and this was the other side of the coin - a glorious sunset over Blaketown. We haven't had many of these this summer, but fortunately for my wife and I, we had decided to go out on the right night. Unfortunately, I didn't have a 'real' camera with me :-(

Blaketown Tiphead Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
I'm not one of these 'The best camera is the one you have with you" disciples. What a load of rubbish. I get the gist of the idea, but I don't believe it. The 'best' camera I have, unfortunately, was the one I'd left at home that night :-) And so I had to 'make do' with a smartphone camera. And that is really how I look at these images. I like them as photos, they captured something of the scene I saw in front of me, but they are second-rate images compared with what I could have captured with the OM-D EM-5 MkII. And that's just how it is.

Blaketown Tiphead Golden Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
The S3 camera is a decent performer at about 8MP, although it is obviously a very small chip, and doesn't have a huge dynamic range. The above image is ok, but has some blocked shadows and blown highlights. Without shooting in RAW, there's really not much else I could do. The phone itself has a very basic +/- exposure slider, which only seemed to 'approximate' some exposure compensation either way. Again it's ok, but a photo I would have much rather shot in RAW to pull out as much dynamic range as possible.

Under a Blood Orange Sky. Samsung S3 camera phone.
When you use the zoom function on the S3 (a digital zoom), things go from bad to worse. Most people are aware that a 'digital' zoom isn't really zooming anything - it's just enlarging the pixels to make the image appear bigger. Trouble is, when you enlarge already very small pixels, you just start to get digital mush. And that's really what I got with the above image. I'd be lucky if I could print a passable 6x4" print from it. The native (unzoomed) files are better, probably resulting in a passable 5x7" or maybe 8x10" print if you didn't look too close. But I could almost guarantee that they would 'look' digital.

Breaking Wave - Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
So I'm unhappy with all the images -right? Well no, not really. Sure, I wish I had taken them on a 'better' camera. And yes, I would rather they were taken in a raw format to pull more detail out in post. But I still think they are lovely images - and a wonderful souvenir of a great night out with my wife. In fact, I love the above image - Breaking Wave-Blaketown Sunset. It's one of the best images I've shot in a long while (IMHO).

There are some people who carry around a 5D Mk3 with them everywhere they go, so that the 'camera they have with them' just happens to be the best camera they own. That never has been, and never will be, me. I like to turn photography off occasionally. Sometimes I'm in photography mode, other times I'm not. Sure, there have been moments in my life when I've regretted not having a camera on me (less and less now we all have smart phones). But I'm also enough of a realist to understand that some moments will (and should) pass us by without being recorded for posterity. I HATE going to an event and seeing thousands of people glued to their phones instead of enjoying the moment. It just doesn't make sense to me. Put your phone in you damn pocket (or better still leave it at home) and just enjoy the damn concert for crying out loud!

The Blue Hour - Blaketown Sunset. Samsung S3 camera phone
 I suppose I could 'upgrade' to a better phone with a better camera - but that's not really the point. As capable as they are, I don't want to take photos with a cellphone - at least not as my primary means of taking a photo. Phones are still (for me at least) primarily for texting and making calls. And cameras are for taking photos. Sometimes, however, beggars can't be choosers. And the only camera you will have on you, just happens to be in a phone. So be it...

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