June 2018 – This month we’re happy to feature an exclusive interview with pro photographer Charles Mauzy who’s using a smartphone and HDR techniques to product superior images, proving again: it’s the photographer not the equipment! We follow with some great new smartphone instructional videos from Apple and a set of great landscape lighting instruction articles for any camera platform. We take a dive into timeless composition by a nonagenarian who just won’t quit shooting and we end with one killer eruption of a photo. Let’s get going.
Charles Mauzy has shot large format natural history images for major publications (Atlantic, Audubon, Forbes, Life, National Geographic & National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek and more) as well as advertising and annual report images for Fortune 500 corporations (Boeing, DuPont, Ford, Kodak, Nike and many more). He’s got the chops. And, of course, he’s used the best equipment available throughout his career. Now he’s making fabulous images using smart phone cameras and HDR processing. His work drives home the old saying that it’s the photographer, not the equipment that produces great art. We caught up with Mauzy recently and he tells us about his new work.
PIN: Charles, why are you focusing your photography on food now?
CM: My passion (recently) has been exploring and demonstrating the capabilities of the modern mobile phone as a valid capture device. The key subject areas I have been actively exploring are food & beverages, travel and florals. These were initially selected given the degree they represented most people’s use of phone-captured photos in social media and in preserving personal memories. I am a wretched people photographer, so I went with the complimentary categories where my core skills could be successfully applied.
CM: I am now using the iPhone 8 and 10 primarily. I have also shot extensively with a number of android and windows based devices in the past but selected the iPhone 8 as my primary device to simplify how many devices I was carrying to test. One of the strengths of the phone camera is the degree of spontaneity it enables for most folks – it is the camera they always carry. Trying to shoot a subject on multiple devices worked against that spontaneity and became a hindrance to the various projects I was working on. In the case of documenting life’s interesting moments I normally only had one chance to capture the image, so I selected one device and concentrated on that. One of the big advantages of the Apple ecosystem is the large variety of applications available to the phone photographer. This includes a wide array of HDR applications as well as those that can be used to artfully manipulate and simply play with a phone photographers images. Many of the best applications I have found come out for the Apple platform first so that was also a big influence on my choice of the one phone camera I am now using.
CM: The gap between the sensors and lens combinations we can utilize in any modern DSLR and what manufacturers can fit into today’s phone designs is huge; but that is not a creativity-killing limitation, nor does it really hinder the use of the phone camera in a multitude of everyday & artistic applications. That said, a number of photo tools become almost essential for doing the kind of look and quality I was trying to achieve using the capabilities and technology in the highest quality phones. HDR quickly became a critical piece of my digital workflow largely due to the wide dynamic range of scenes that centered on glassware, ceramics, polished metals, liquids and the typically challenging lighting conditions in restaurants and most homes.
PIN: There is a slightly surreal, soft look to your images. Can you tell us how you achieved the look?
CM: I started to use soft focus and what we used to call glamor-glow techniques and applications while working on a series of wine images. My early work was all about sharp, but one phone camera I started to test had a lens with significant spherical aberration and the results were very intriguing. The manufacturer was willing to replace the phone, but I was so taken with the resulting images I kept it. It really took me back to early work using the Diana camera manufactured in Hong Kong. The slightly dreamy soft look was perfect for the mood I was trying to create around the romance of wine and teas. Using the mobile phone in combination with HDR and various soft focus applications gave me exactly the look I wanted.
PIN: What’s next for you?
CM: I am now starting to explore the viability of creating a “stock” image collection for use in web-based advertising & editorial markets. This is a bit of a full-circle journey back to when I first started in the stock photography industry at its earliest days. While business models that can succeed in contemporary image stock markets no longer make a lot of sense financially it could create an exciting new resource for creative professionals and further extend the art and practice of digital mobile phone photography.
Yes, yes: you’ve heard it before. The best camera is the one you have with you. Now, the latest smartphone’s image quality is rubbing elbows with DSLR image quality. We have a sneaking suspicion that you could use a little more info on how to wield your smartphone camera like a pro. Apple produces wonderful smartphone instructional videos that should provide just the knowledge boost you need to create the image that you envisioned: we learned something too. Apple updates these short, high-quality videos regularly. dpReview has collected the four most recent videos on a single web page. They cover shooting in back light, slo-mo video, panorama and quick bursts. They’re worth checking out
Experience the videos HERE
Good composition and the latest equipment seldom supercede great light. It’s the light passing through your lens that creates the memorable image. As HDR photographers, we pay special attention to dynamic range but do we worry as much about the color and direction of light that we’re capturing? These two articles in Outdoor Photographer by Russ Burden give you a concise set of dramatic light conditions that will help your photos to stand out.
Landscape Light Part 1 HERE
Landscape Light Part 2 HERE
Did you ever wonder if you’d ever be too old to make meaningful photographs? Did you ever wonder if your photographs would be relevant a generation after they were made? The answer doesn’t have to be negative to either question and proof points are the photographs of Vivian Cherry. Cherry created the bulk of her work in 1940s and 1950s New York City. She still lives there today. Her masterful composition and Cartier-Bresson-like capture of the moment tell you that these photos are for the ages. Viewing her work reminds you that having an open mind and just plain getting out there will produce memorable photos.
It took Mexican photographer Sergio Tapiro fifteen years and over 300,000 photographs to reach his technical level. This nice article shows how Tapiro noticed that the Volcán de Colima volcano near his home would become active. In the image the volcano is erupting, spewing lava and throwing gases into the atmosphere. He set up 7 to 8 miles away and started making eight second exposures. Who knew that during one of those exposures there would be a lightning bolt. You have to see it.
Check out the story behind the Tapiro’s volcano image HERE