In Practice: Photography Vol. II

Photography may be the most saturated market in the world. Everybody and their mother fancies themselves as a photographer, so to differentiate myself from the masses, I’m practicing taking photos that can’t be taken on run-of-the-mill digital cameras or smartphones.

Where is it that modern day point-and-shoot photography comes short?

Night photography is the most definitive example of this. I took thousands of pictures with my smartphones prior to buying my first DSLR, and I don’t have a single quality photo from taking pictures in low-light situations.

The problem with smartphone cameras is that they have few workarounds for creating a visible picture in a dark situation.

First, they can use flash, but because the light is traveling in the same direction as the focus of the picture, it destroys any shadows on the subject which reduces contrast and distorts the final image.

Second, they can increase their sensor’s sensitivity to light, but this leads to ‘noise’ (grainy texture in the image) which never looks good in a photo.

Smartphones don’t have the range of manual options that higher-end DSLRs contain, so your final images are being determined by a small computer chip that doesn’t have the ability to adjust for many variables.

As I’m based out of a tiny acreage in the middle of nowhere in Norway (and since it’s just coming into Winter meaning there are only 4 hours of daylight), the night photography has been a dream. It may be cold, but I’ve been able to work on optimizing my camera settings to capture the stars, the moon, and even the Northern Lights.

I’m still far from ever turning a profit in photography, but I’ve been able to use my own images rather than stock photos in many situations which have saved me a not inconsiderable sum of money.

Here are some examples of photos you just can’t take with a smartphone.

Photography with the moon against the night sky.

Moon with all the little details

House under the stars

A little house underneath the stars.

Aurora in Norway

A small glimpse of the Northern Lights


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Robert works part of the year as an international tour guide in Asia with Life Before Work Travel . When he's not getting paid to travel the world he's out in the field taking photos, on his laptop creating new sites, or sitting in the gutter petting stray dogs.