iPhone Photography Project 365

My new iPhone 11 Pro has arrived, and I am a start a new 365 photography project with my new walk-about camera. I have not tried a 365 photography project in a few years, and I thought to do one using the iPhone 11 Pro starting on the week it would be interesting. In my past 365 projects, I used multiple cameras - Nikon, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, iPad Pro, point-n-shoot. In one year, I, after I complete the project, I may do a "review" of what it was like shooting daily, every day with the iPhone 11 Pro.

At the end of my 365-day photograph project, by this time next year, I’ll have images, from which I’ll choose my best pictures and make a printed album.

I will continue using my other cameras - Fujifilm X-T2, Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II 35mm film camera, etc. - but for other projects1. At the end of my 365-day photograph project, by this time next year, I’ll have images, from which I’ll choose my best pictures and make a printed album.

I am kicking off my 365 iPhoneography project on the same day of the 12th Annual Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk.

  1. I am restarting my New Jersey Lighthouses project

Why iPhone 11 Pro?

I pre-ordered an iPhone 11 Pro this morning in green and immediately felt buyer's remorse. The purchase feels extravagant. Indeed, I could have gotten by a little longer with my iPhone 7 and its cracked screen. The screen protector I bought the last time I repaired the phone after a drop onto the parking lot floor keeps the glass from shredding my fingers and keeps the phone usable. But Phil Schiller is a masterful weaver of the Apple Reality Distortion Field (ARDF). I wanted the iPhone 11 Pro. I haven't felt this lust for an iPhone since the metal and glass iPhone 4. I still have mine in a box somewhere.

Part of that feeling that I "spent too much money" is probably because I purchased more iPhone Pro that I can use. My iPhone 7 has 128GB of storage, of which 63GB is free. I've had the iPhone 7 for over two years, enough time to fill the storage with apps, music, and photos. 128GB of storage was too much, but more than 64 GB was needed. Unfortunately, the iPhone 11 Pro comes in storage sizes with the same dilemma. The 64GB version may not be enough, but the 256GB version is undoubtedly too much. Does Apple do this on purpose?

My wife and I talked about it, and she will inherit our eldest child's iPhone 6S, an upgrade from her now end-of-life iPhone 5 SE. She's not happy about the larger-sized iPhones. The eldest child will take my iPhone 7 after the screen is repaired. It's not much of an upgrade from an iPhone 6S. Our youngest already has a newer iPhone 8, which we bought this spring as a college graduation gift. We expect to make only a few large Apple purchases for the next few years. That would help me reduce the sting of my purchase, but it was only by a little.

Most people use the word professional to mean something different than the dictionary definition. The phrase professional refers to someone whose primary source of income is derived from a specific activity. A professional carpenter makes money doing carpentry. A professional photographer makes money selling their photography services. Nowhere in the definition is the skill of the person pertinent. There are skilled professionals, and as anyone who has hired a lousy plumber knows, there are shitty professionals.

For some people, when they use the word professional, it is meant as a compliment. They see your art - your photography, painting, or bookshelf you made - and they say something ridiculous like, "This is professional work". I think they want to say, "Your craft is excellent". I wish they would say that so I don't have to say, "No. I don't do this for a living. This is a hobby".

Of course, others think that since professionals use specific tools, you must be a professional if you use that tool. People often see my Fujifilm X-T2 and comment, "I like your camera. I shoot a lot on my iPhone, but I want to get a professional camera like yours". There is no such thing as a professional camera like there is no such thing as a professional basketball shoe or a professional saw or hammer. But many companies make millions of dollars selling people on that notion.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Media Image Provided by Apple Co.

I am sure that there are people who make money using their iPhones. Some probably make money selling iPhone photos. But I think the Pro designation on this camera is just marketing signalling for "This is the best iPhone we make". It has nothing to do with professionalism.

The iPhone 11 is a capable, all-around iPhone. Apple started from there and suggests that if you want to go super deluxe, you can choose the more expensive and feature-packed iPhone 11 Pro. It's clever marketing.

So why did I decide I wanted an iPhone 11 Pro? Why not upgrade to an iPhone XR or XS, both available at reduced prices? The ARDF has convinced me that the cameras and computational photography features of the iPhone 11 Pro have value and are worth the expense. I hope to extract all of that value.

On many occasions, I have taken my Fujifilm X-T2 on a family outing for dinner or a field trip in Philadelphia or New York City and regretted it. The Fujifilm camera is excellent for a dedicated photography field trip. Still, it gets in the way, especially on a dining table, when out on personal trips, trips where a capable point-n-shoot camera, something small enough to get out of the way when not in use, would be a better fit.

The new wide-angle lenses have a field of view (FOV) of 120º, which in 35mm full-frame terms is about 13mm. That's wider than the wide end of my Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR, which at 16mm has an FOV of about 74º. The 120º FOV is excellent for capturing expansive city views of parks, pavilions, bridges, etc. I can imagine the cityscape and the bridges at DUMBO around golden hour, sunset, and blue hour. I need a pocket Manfrotto tripod and my iPhone 11 Pro minimalist smartphone photography kit. If the Night Mode feature and battery life are as good as Apple claims, the iPhone 11 Pro would be a tremendous day-trip walk-about camera kit for me.

The standard camera on the iPhone 11 Pro has a FOV of about 65º, which provides a 26mm full-frame equivalent FOV. That FOV is excellent for street photography and miniature group portraits, the kind you take when you are out with another couple at dinner or with your adult kids when you visit them on campus.

I take few self-portraits or portraits, but the 52mm full-frame FOV equivalent lens would be helpful for photos of my beer glass when I visit craft ale breweries. It almost matches the FOV of the traditional 35mm format nifty-fifty 50mm lens.

Yeah, that doesn't sound very sensible to me. But what I do now is weird. I bring my Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens to bars and craft ale taprooms to get shots for my Untappd check-ins. I am a regular at a few local places, and the breweries and several patrons know me as the guy with the "serious" camera. They only see me taking photos of beer glasses. I sometimes get weird looks from patrons who don't understand.

I have some ideas for using the "slow fire" - I hate the word already - feature. At the end of a recent movie, some actors were filmed in slow motion with water balloons bursting against their faces. That would be a cool thing to capture with the slow-fire feature. Also, there are little slow fires of my young nephews doing goofy things.

When my kids were younger, we would spend a day at Great Adventure. I recorded a lot of photos and videos on my iPhone from those and other trips. Then I stopped. Editing anything longer than just a few seconds on iMovie on the iPhone was challenging with the tiny UI controls and would drain the battery. I'll start doing more videos again. Maybe. I don't know.

Before the iPhone 11 Pro announcement, I had considered purchasing a second camera, a Fujifilm X100F, as a dual camera. It would be for those personal trips into Philly or "The City", where the Fujifilm X-T2 would be too cumbersome. But, the X100F is expensive, and I debated whether the purchase was prudent. The iPhone 11 Pro is also costly. But if it fits the "want" for a capable walk-about camera, perhaps I'll feel better about the purchase in time. I'll know in October when my phone is delivered.