In London with an iPhone

As you can probably guess, I love to take pictures.  I love everything about it.  I like seeing new places. I like seeing old places in a new way.  I love to share the photos I've taken.  I love the gear and the toys.  Another thing I love is London.  Yeah, the one in England.  I've been there a few times and love it more each time I'm there.  I love the history, the culture, the architecture, the people and so much more.  It's just so classy.  When I'm there I want to eat bangers, wear a scarf and a hat, drink a scotch in a bar surrounded by rich, dark wood and ride a lift up to my room to use the loo (if you don't speak English, that means take the elevator up to my room to pee).  A few weeks ago I found out that I was going to London and Stockholm for work and immediately, I was pretty excited.  I was going to get to go to London for the first time since I've been obsessed, uh, I mean "into" photography.  The idea of being able to get up early and stroll the street of London taking photos made me giddy.  

The small size, interchangeable lens and good quality make this a great travel camera when space is an issue.

So we arrived in the early afternoon the day before we had work responsibilities, so I immediately wrangled the troops to start walking the streets, with my goal to take some great pictures.  Now because this was a work trip and I knew I wouldn't have a lot of free time and I didn't want to bother everybody else with my gear, I decided to take my Lumix GX-1 micro four thirds camera instead of my Canon 5D.  Now this camera doesn't take photos of the same quality as my Canon, but I didn't want to lug a lot of equipment around, so this was a great alternative.  It still has interchangeable lenses, so you have a lot of freedom, but all three of the lenses I brought probably weigh less than one of my Canon lenses.  I also brought two 16GB memory cards and two batteries.  I brought two batteries cause that way I'd always have one charged, and when one ran out I could just switch it with the other... always being ready to shoot (remember this statement... it's important to the story).  

So, I'm in the hotel room, freshly cleaned up from the long flight and ready to hit the streets.  I grabbed my camera bag with the gear I mentioned above and met the team outside.  "Where do we want to go," someone asked. "I don't care... let's just start walking" I said.  We crossed the street and I came upon my first red phone box.  For the record, I always thought these things were called phone booths, but I was quickly corrected by a local and told "they're a phone box, dummy!"  I took my camera off my shoulder to start shooting.  It wouldn't turn on.  Turned it off and on and no luck.  The battery was dead.  Okay, I'm a dummy, I didn't charge the battery before my trip.  Now I'm on the streets of London with a dead camera battery.  NEVER FEAR, I have a  backup!  Remember what I said.  It's important to ALWAYS carry a backup.  You never know when you'll have a situation like this.  So with an "I got this" smile on my face, I reached into my bag to pull out that spare.  Put that sucker in and got ready to start shooting.  Nothing.  Crickets.  Actually, not even crickets, cause they would at least make a chirping noise.  I had silence.  Because the backup battery wasn't changed either!!!  I know, I'm a total dummy-head.  No better way to make you look like a complete photography doofus in front of your friends then showing up with two dead batteries!  So that was it.  We only had this afternoon for free time, and i knew this was going to be my only opportunity to take shots of the city.  Charging the battery would take at least an hour and that was an hour I didn't have.  So, I put the camera back in my bag, reached into my pocket and took out my iPhone.  Yep, that's all I had now, so that was what I was going to use.  You've head the expression that the best camera is the one you have with you?  Well, it's true.  At this moment the iPhone was the best camera in the world.  Now let's be honest, the iPhone takes good photos, but you certainly don't get the control or quality you get with a more traditional camera.  You can't really control ISO, aperture or shutter speed.  You can't blow up the photos large either, but for now it was what I had, so it was going to work.  

Below are some of my favorite photos from England... all taken with my iPhone.  So enjoy the photos and when you're done, go CHARGE YOUR CAMERA BATTERIES!!!  Believe me, it's the kind of mistake that I'll only make once.  Maybe twice, but probably once.

There was no way that not having my camera with me was going to prevent me from snapping a photo of THE red phone box.  I call it a phone booth, but I was quickly corrected by locals.  Kinda funny that I took the pic of the classic old phone box with my cell phone.

Flowers... that is all.

Even with your cell phone, don't forget about b&w shots.  Black and white looks just as cool on your cell phone pics as it does on your regular camera.

What is this?  A phone booth?  NO, it's a phone box... I told you... you weren't listening.  Let's try again.  What's this?  A phone box?  Good.

This photo was taking with my phone as it was getting late in the day, so there's a lot of "noise" because the phone turns up the ISO in the dark and there's nothing you can do about it.  That's okay.  A good picture is a good picture and a little noise never hurt anybody.  You can always remove it in Lightroom or Photoshop, but in this image I kinda like it.  Helps give it that old-timey feel.

If you don't have a red phone box to shoot... shoot the red double decker bus!

Sometime to make a regular photo a little more interesting, it helps to not shoot it straight on and level.  In this case, I've seen this shot of Big Ben about a hundred million times, so I tried a different take on it.

You don't always have to shoot the entire subject when you're taking pictures.  Sometimes part of the subject can be just as, if not more interesting.

I love shooting the locals when I travel.  This wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but heck, I only had my iPhone with me and in fact, I kinda like how it turned out.

Even when shooting pictures with a cell phone, being out at the golden hour makes a huge difference. That warm, soft glow only comes from being out at the right time.