Interview With iPhone7

When iPhone7 joined I was very curios about the photos that would follow. The user name stated, quite clearly, what camera was being used. And I couldn't help but think that this limitation would hinder the photos presented. Boy, was a I wrong. A quick look at his profile will show you the quality and professionalism of the photos presented. So how are these photos shot? What does he do to make this "camera" work so well. I asked him. - Tom Ens

Tell me about yourself.
I am retired from the Army with 26 years of service and four tours in Afghanistan. I currently work with the Department of Veteran Affairs as a mental health therapist. I provide counseling services to combat veterans who are suffering with PTSD, Clinical Depression and other trauma issues. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Master Social Worker.

Photo of the Month
Sunset over French Broad River by iPhone7
When did you first start shooting photos?
I first started shooting photos in high school as the school photographer. In those days I shot Tri X film of sporting events and school clubs for the yearbook. I stopped shooting when I went to college and took very few pictures initially while in the Army. I started shooting again in Afghanistan in order to document certain aspects of military missions. I used a cheap digital camera until it got run over by an MRAP. That is when I started using an iPhone and have been using one ever since.

What are the benefits of using an iPhone?
The benefits of using an iPhone are many. I always have it with me and it is so handy when a scene or event pops up and I can quickly capture the moment. I recently upgraded to an iPhone7 strictly for the camera. The quality is amazing. While it cannot compete with the digital cameras used here on FAR, it can often hold it's own.

And disadvantages?
There are disadvantages to be sure. It can be very frustrating to simply "Not be able to get the shot". The spot metering makes it difficult and often impossible to truly capture the scene. Especially sun sets and ocean scenes. Either the sky is correct and the foreground is too dark or vice versa. The zoom capabilities of the iPhone are often a deal breaker as "I just can't get there from here". Those are times I wish I had a long lens.

Holding the camera to your eye, it almost becomes an extension of your body. While using an iPhone I find it...awkward. How to you overcome that?

Something Larger Than Ourself by iPhone7
Actually Tom, I find the case to be just the opposite. When I see a scene, it's entirety jumps out at me. With the iPhone I can look at the screen and the actual scene at the same time. Taking it All in, I can then move the camera back and forth, left, right, up, down, zoom in and out very quickly to capture the "feel" of the scene. I am not tied to or restricted by a small viewfinder view. An example is the ocean sunset scenes. I position my self in the right place, focus on the area to be captured, and then watch over the top of the camera for the right waves to approach. When I see one coming, I use burst mode to capture the entire sequence as the wave splashes against the rocks. In a burst of 25 - 30 shots, often I get lucky and get 2-3 keepers. I think I posted one recently. I do the same for action events, starting the burst just before the event and ending when the event is over. I think the more photos I shoot the luckier I get.

You can't change the lense though
I previously mentioned that being unable to change lenses is a distinct disadvantage. I lose more shots that way. Also being unable to shoot a longer exposure, 1/2 - 1 second for flowing water for example is very frustrating at times. I have missed so many "Real Keepers" because of that limitation.

I suppose that is why I prefer to stay with the iPhone. The built in limitations make me work very hard to get the shot. It makes it such a challenge and I realize now that it is the effort that is needed that makes it just that much more satisfying. I have to get very creative in order to attempt to compete here on FAR. Actually I think a digital camera makes it too easy. I do own one and it is just not as challenging to get good shots.

Alien Skies of Rome by iPhone7
Do you edit your photos?
Yes I do after photo editing. I use Smart Photo Editor. Again, this program is limited in what it can do, and cannot compete with the more expensive and extensive programs. I think it is the same idea as using the iPhone. It takes a lot of effort to compete with the Big Boys on FAR. So every photo becomes a challenge and that seems to bring out the creative side of me. As an old Army veteran, getting to my soft and creative side is not always easy ; )
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PeglegDeb: This was a wonderful idea on Tom's part Steve......interviewing you like this really gives some insight into the who, what and how's of using an iPhone to take photos....and, of course, he went right to the top of the pile when it comes to iPhone images. Enjoyed reading this a lot! May 12, 2017 at 4:16PM
meg119: This is a great interview and I have admired his work for some time now. I have used my Droid on occasion when I didn't have my Cannon with me but an opportunity for a great shot appeared. The clarity of today's phone cameras is amazing and you can get great shots. May 12, 2017 at 5:23PM
eileen0204: This interview is an excellent way for FAR members to actually see what goes on from the shot to the thought behind that shot. His photos are superior to lots of photos here, including my own in some cases. Excellent job!! May 13, 2017 at 5:25PM
stringbean: Thanks for this in depth interview Steve! Since the iPhone is so readily available and you always have it with you, tips for using your iPhone are very valuable. Since your photography is so good you inspire the rest of us to try to take better photos with our iPhones. If there's one things Steve has taught us on FAR is that you don't have to have the expensive camera equipment and expense editing software to have fabulous photography. Don't you find that sometimes when limitations are placed on you that that's when you become the most creative. I enjoyed reading this interview very much and always enjoy seeing what photo Steve will post next. Stringbean May 13, 2017 at 5:48PM
Envision: Thank you Steve for your service in the armed forces and your ongoing support and assistance to veterans. I have enjoyed learning more about you and your creative thought process. I am always amazed by your beautiful photography. May 14, 2017 at 9:42AM
SCHATZLING: What can I say that has not already been said? I read each comment and I agree with each and every one of them most sincerely. It is as if I could take all of their comments and place them in my comment box and just say "I second that comment!". I appreciate you Tom interviewing Steve. It helps us get to know a little bit more about the person behind "their" camera and/or paint brush. Maybe Tom could interview a member once every quarter (every three months). I admire Steve for many reasons and one of them is his photography skills and things he does decide to capture and two that he is a veteran and all that encompensates both while being an active soldier and now as a non active soldier but still active with his fellows. Thank you both....Tom for deciding to do this interview and Steve for agreeing to do it. I have learned a lot today. May 15, 2017 at 3:46PM
Mama Mia1: I have always admired his photography and hope to learn how to work with my iPhone in
a more easy and friendly way.
May 16, 2017 at 11:08AM
Alveria: Interesting and informative interview. I enjoyed it. May 17, 2017 at 7:05PM
Sange: I am Blessed and Humbled to know you behind these Far walls. This was a fine idea for Tom to interview you so others can "meet" the man behind the cellphone. know how I feel about you and your need to share it here.
~Sandra May 18, 2017 at 9:39AM
iPhone7: I thank You Tom for the opportunity. You did a great job in the write up. May 18, 2017 at 10:37AM
iPhone7: Thanks to all of you: My FAR Friends. May 18, 2017 at 10:38AM
suffolkbrian: This is a very good interview and have admired your photos steve on here,you certainly seem to get the best out of your phone and quality is really good,creative words as well as photos...brian May 24, 2017 at 1:56PM
btowngirl: Ironic that he says sunsets are hard to capture well, but he just won a sunrise/sunset contest! He is truly the master of his device. Maybe that's the secret - keep it simple and know it thoroughly. I also relate to him in that I use only a simple editing program, not the better ones, and try to keep up with some of the "pros" on the site. May 30, 2017 at 12:40PM
nature rules: What a nice effort on Tom's part, Steve. I have enjoyed reading every word of your responses to his questions. I have always seen your iPhone as an extension of your heart and soul. Your photos depict not only amazing captures and inspire admiration for your knowledge with your iPhone camera..but stir emotions from me as a viewer. Your interest in photography at a young age has mixed with your intellect and has given us stunning photos from a modern and common tool that many carry in their pocket. It is a pleasure to share this site with you! Kudos!! June 2, 2017 at 7:49AM
El-mundo: I swear by my now outdated (hopefully soon to upgrade) iPhone SE (basically a 5), but this does restrict me even more as it's not as good as the 7's camera - however I have surprised myself with sticking to basics and using very basic software to try and keep a natural feel to pictures and I massively respect Mr "iphone7" and his skill as it is indistinguishable in certain pictures from that taken with a 4 figure priced camera. I also like the "culture" surrounding it and being part of a minority of photographers, and when you do get that shot - the joy and pride is overwhelming! Keep up the good work dude. June 12, 2017 at 1:25AM
Dick Lee Shia: I enjoyed reading this interview Steve!

Thanks for sharing us your skills & techniques in using a gadget with limited capabilities--but you've achieved better results with it!
Who would have ever thought that those award winning shots were captured by just the small lens of an iPhone7

Well, I won't be on this site had not because of this iPad I won from Pepsi 4 summers ago!
I've never imagined posting "straight from an iPad" shots at first, but there was one generous artist who paid for my premier membership and encouraged me not just to do reviews but post photos as well...
I will be forever indebted to potodream for changing my life when she inspired me to join this site!

The rest, as they say, is history...

Thanks for the inspiration, friendship & support Steve!

June 20, 2017 at 1:55PM