The benefits of photographing the same thing, every day

One of the great joys of photography and videography is going to new places, capturing it and sharing with others.

But what’s helped me the most as a photographer is not all the different locations I’ve traveled, but where I go every day.

Taking pictures of the same thing might sound boring, but it is the most helpful way to hone your eye and your skills.

Light changes, shadows shift, weather is different, there are different people doing different things. Seeing the same streets, buildings and trees is never really the same. Actively looking for a new way to capture the places and things you’ve seen countless times helps train your eye.

When I lived in Lansing, Michigan, I walked past the State Capitol every day to and from work. It’s a beautiful building that anyone who visits will take many pictures of.

Seeing it multiple times a day, I challenged myself to notice something new every time. I would start seeing how the light, weather and other factors would effect certain parts of the building. I would look at different ways of framing the the photo and if I'd see something cool one day, I would rememebr it when the sky or light was just right.

Here’s a gallery of my favorite photos over the couple of years I live there.

Out front of the Capitol building there is a statue of Governor Austin Blair, who served during the Civil War. Something about the statue always stuck out to me and I grabbed some of my favorite shots of the Capitol area with the statue in it.

In Kalamazoo, I’ve been doing the same thing. I got for a walk every night through my neighborhood, Bronson Park and the downtown mall. I normally listen to an audiobook and always have my iPhone with me.

When I'm going on my walk, I ask questions like these: How can I take a different picture of the same thing but make it different? What is unique about today? How could this change with the changing of the light.

Do this for a couple months at a place you frequent. It can be your back yard, a sidewalk you take to lunch, or a trail you frequent in the woods. Start thinking about

This type of exercise will help when you are in a new situation to notice things to make beautiful and compelling photos and videos.

Waiting to buy the new iPhone XS

I’m writing this at 3:57 a.m. as the dust settles on Apple preorders. I thought I was going to have a new iPhone preordered — but, I don’t. Payment issues using the iOS app.

But I think it all happened for the best.

I thought I would need to review this new phone right away to give my take on how it stacks up.

And maybe some day I will.

But that’s not what Pocket Camera is all about at its core.

I want to help get better photos and videos with the phone you have with you, not the phone you need to buy or add ons to make it better.

And right now, there’s not a clear and compelling argument for how much “better” the iPhone XS’ camera actually is. We’ll have to wait to see what the reviewers say.

I’ve never been a person to buy the new phone right when it comes out. There’s something really special about being able to use a device for an extended period of time.

Photographers I know don’t go out and buy every new camera and lens when it’s released. You can capture beautiful images and videos with a wide range of devices. We shouldn’t have to feel like we need the latest and greatest to do so.

Spending $1,000-$1,400 a year for a new phone and camera is a lot of change, especially when it’s not clear exactly how much better the camera will be. So I’ll wait.

I’ll post updates and analyze what people are saying in their reviews about the new phones and might be able to test one out here and there. But for now, I’m going to take some of my own advice and be content with the very powerful and amazing camera I carry everywhere.

What I want in the new iPhone camera

We’re coming up on a new release of an iPhone on Tuesday. With every update, the camera gets better and better. There have been a ton of new iPhone rumors, but nothing about the new camera.

So what am I looking for in the new iPhones in terms of the camera. Since there have been so many leaks, my list of wants are tapered back a bit given what has been leaked (only two lenses). But here’s what I would like under the hood.

Bigger sensor

The image quality of the iPhone X is amazing, but things still fall apart as the amount of light decreases. A larger sensor would help in low light, and would increase the overall image quality. But there would need to be two larger sensors, with both the wide and telephoto lenses, so that might not be a realistic option. But an upgraded sensor would be great

Better portrait mode

Portrait mode was a huge addition to the iPhone 7 Plus with the release of iOS 10.1. Portrait mode is amazing how it emulates a low aperture and make images pop. It would be great (but unlikely for this release) to have a similar camera to the TrueDepth Camera set up as the front facing camera system used for FaceID. Portrait mode falls apart at times, especially when you are photographing something that is not a person. So any improvements in how it works would be welcome.

Portrait mode video

I would love to be able to record interviews with people in something that looks like Portrait Mode. That would require quite a bit of storage and computing power, but, dang, it would be a nice feature to have.

Better lens, high megapixels, etc

iPhone cameras have gotten better and better with each release. Any photographer would love to have a better lens, higher megapixels, etc.

What else?

Apple could announce something that’s not even on our radar on the next iPhone. The dual lenses are great — would a third one help out? An extreme telephoto lens? I’m looking forward to Apple’s event. Even if there’s not a major new announcement (on the scale of dual lenses), any upgrade should be welcome.

Should you upgrade? I’ll have an article when the new iPhone is released.

When do you share a photo? Great question on 40ish podcast

I had the pleasure to be on my friend Jason Valade’s podcast 40ish with a group of his lifelong friends earlier this week.

We talked about beer, the Kalamazoo Promise and, no surprise, mobile photography (hasn’t all photography been mobile?).

At the end of the episode, he asked all of us: when do you decide in a moment that you want to share a photo you just took?

It was an interesting question.

Something so unique about the camera on our smartphone is that it has built in internet and apps that allow us to publish as soon as we take a picture, or in the case of live videos, as we’re shooting.

For me, the bar is pretty low: if I see something that excites me or peaks my interest, I want to share it. Where I share it depends. There are so many options.

Usually, it goes on Instagram. I’m trying to post more to Micro.Blog. Occasionally Facebook. Need to get remember Twitter (I don’t really think of it as a photography platform).

But sometimes, as I mention on the episode, if I see something really beautiful and it makes me think of a friend or family member, I’ll send it to them, either first or exclusively.

And oftentimes, I forget to share (I often don’t like to post while walking or taking photos, like to do it after the fact). I go through the Camera Roll and see photos I forgot to share.

The bottom line: if it’s interesting to me, I think it will be interesting to other people and I share it out.

Check out the podcast — it’s a really good group of friends and it’s fun to talk — and in past episodes, listen — to them. Thanks guys!