Nature Phone: Bluebird at 400mm?

Eastern Bluebird: Kennebunk Maine USA — Not a great photo, but an interesting photo in that it was taken with my iPhone, through a double glazed door, on an overcast day. Continuing my experiments with iPhone nature photography. How about birds and wildlife…generally the realm of long telephoto lenses? I bought 2 add-on telephoto lenses and I will do a comparison at some point. This is the best I have done (though, as above, not under ideal conditions) with the better of the two…the Sirui 400mm telephoto on my iPhone SE 2020. While it is not obvious in wide angle, macro, or portrait shots, the limitations of the tiny sensor in the SE become very, well, limiting when attempting a telephoto close up. Unless you use a tripod, (which kind of, in my opinion, defeats the whole purpose of using your compact phone) your natural instinct will be to increase shutter speed for a steadier shot, at the cost of pushing up the phone’s ISO setting…while you can not do that in the stock camera app, it can be done with any number of specialized camera apps. My experiments have demonstrated, however, that shooting at anything much over the base level 20 ISO will not yield satisfying results, at least with the iPhone SE. Action mode on one of the apps uses shutter speeds in the 1/6000th range, great for eliminating motion blur, but any detail is lost in the mushy, grainy, blotchy image quality, at ISO 640. Very disappointing. I have gotten better results just letting the camera choose both ISO and shutter speed and shooting a burst of photos from a monopod. The image above was taken in “live” mode on the iPhone, and then selected as the sharpest of the 15 or so frames the phone captured when I touched the shutter button. I am still experimenting. And, of course, while auto focus still works quite well through the 400mm telephoto, you do have to pre-focus the lens manually to get as close to correct focus as is visually possible. It is a juggling act, trying to focus, and shooting off a few shots with the volume buttons or by tapping the screen, and still holding the phone, even on a monopod, still enough to have any hope of a clear shot. With practice, however, it can be done, more or less. I am still hoping for a bright sunny day when I can get beyond the glass door and results that might be even better. iPhone SE 2020 with Sirui 400mm telephoto add-on lens, using a monopod, Auto Live Mode. ISO 32 @ f1.8 @ 1/121th (chosen by the phone’s camera app).

Always Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — sometimes I get the deck door open, even in winter, for some unobstructed shots of the feeder birds. The double glazing always just slightly diminishes the the amount of detail you can see in the image. This is an unfiltered view. Sony Rx10iv at 550mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1250 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation.

Red Squirrel revisited

Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — another look at destructive captain of cute…the Red Squirrel that visited our deck a few days ago. I have not seen it since so maybe it was just out scouting for territory on that particularly warm February day. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Taken through double glazed glass. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation.

Nature Phone: Pond along the road

One of my favorite views around home. I never feel totally safe stoping here as the traffic on Rt. 9 is zipping by constantly, but some days it is just worth hthe risk. 🙂 iPhone SE 2020 with Sirui 18mm wide angle lens. Standard Camera app. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. .

Nature Phone: Mousam Marsh

Ever since borrowing a ZEISS 18mm equivalent lens for a trip to Europe many years ago, I have enjoyed the ultra-wide, not too wide, and definitely not fisheye, view of the 18mm. So, of course, one of my motivations for exploring photography with iPhone was the existence of many 18mm equivalent wide-angle clip on lenses. I have two, one of the ubiquitous cheap ones I bought as an example of the kind in a full lens kit for under $30, and then my Sirui which is rated among the best. Combined with in-camera (or in-phone) HDR the results are pleasing…if not comparable to my 18mm lens set on the Sony a6500. But then I did expect large sensor performance from the tiny phone sensor. This is the marsh down by the mouth of the Mousam River a few miles from my house. iPhone SE 2020 with Sirui 18mm lens. Vivid HDR extension in ProCamera. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Red Squirrel. Trick or treat?

Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I know Red Squirrels are not good neighbors…ounce for ounce one of the most potentially destructive of creatures, at least as far as human property goes, but I have to admit to still liking to see them in the yard. They are just so cute, and mischievous with it…it is hard not to enjoy them…at least while they are not actively undermining the foundations or eating their way into the attic. This one was out for an early forage in the 40 degree weather yesterday and spent a half hour or so in our yard and on our deck among the feeders, cleaning up spilled seed and trying just about every way it could think of to get into the feeders…without success so far, but I have my eye on it. Sony Rx10iv at 189mm equivalent. Taken through double glazed deck doors. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 640 @ f4 @ 1/400th.

Goldfinch meditation

American Goldfinch: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — something about this shot of the Goldfinch on the perch near our feeders makes me thoughtful…puts me in the meditative mode. Perhaps it is the slightly grainy, paint like quality that the high ISO produces…perhaps it is the interesting bokeh…the light and shadow behind the bird. Perhaps it is slightly hooded look in the eye and the stillness of the bird. Whatever it is it makes me feel peaceful and relaxed, and loosens the hold of self on me. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. +1 EV exposure compensation. Taken through double pane window glass. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Nature Phone: Calla Lily

Continuing with my adventure into phone photography, yesterday I was experimenting with the Sirui 60mm add-on portrait/short telephoto lens…mostly to see how it would work for dragonflies, butterflies, and flowers. This is Carol’s Valentine’s Day Calla Lily, by the light of a north window on a subdued day, using the Vivid HDR extension in the ProCamera app (but set to a “natural” rendering, not vivid). I am liking this lens on the iPhone SE. 🙂 My experimentation so far has convinced me that the Sirui lenses work better without a case on the phone…or as I have, you can modify the case so the area around the camera is bare. ProCamera gives me all the controls I am used to on my Sony. The only thing it lacks is user defined shooting modes (presets), so I am still looking at other photo apps. ProCamera also has extensive editing features…but I am finding it easier to AirDrop the photos to my iPad Pro where I can see them closer to full size and work on them in Polarr. iPhone SE 2020, Sirui 60mm lens, ProCamera Vivid HDR. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Nature Phone

Today marks a new photography adventure for me. I have decided to explore just how far you can push a phone camera in nature photography. This is my first attempt at serious phone photography with my modest iPhone SE 2020 and a Surui 18mm equivalent clip on lens. I used the ProCamera app to shoot and then process in HDR. I have a couple more Surui lenses to play with, and a small 50mm spotting scope for phonescoping on its way. We will see how this goes. This the forest across the road from our yard after Friday’s gentle snow. This new adventure needs a title, since I plan to chronicle my experiences on the web and maybe in at least an ebook. After long pondering, I think maybe “Nature Phone” will do. 🙂

Meal worm for lunch

Black-capped Chickadee: Kennebunk, Maine, USA. — this chickadee is about to carry off its prize from the mealworm feeder. I was experimenting with program shift to increase depth of field on these close shots…with at least some success. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications…but program shifted to f6.3 @ 1/200th @ ISO 800. +1 EV exposure compensation. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.