As I quoted in a prior post about travel apps, “the best camera is the one you that’s with you.”
You may be tempted to bring your DSLR to Tokyo, and I definitely recommend it! However, mobile cameras have improved dramatically over the years. Given how many great tools exist to help you take beautiful, professional-looking photos with just a phone, it’s a good opportunity to travel lighter.
This tools in this list are my favorites, and they may vary from others’ preferences. However, I’ll explain why I chose each item, below, and you can decide for yourself.
8x or 12x Telephoto Lens Attachment The photos are from Photojojo andGizmodo, where this kit costs upwards of $35. However, you can get the same on eBay for ~$12. (And yes it is actually the same — they’re Chinese-made, plastic lenses.)
You can google image search 8x telephoto lens for iPhone to see how it actually photographs. Although you won’t get a clear picture like you would with a real telephoto lens, it is fantastic for far-away shots. The edge-warping/fading is pretty subtle and gives the shots a charming, analogue feel.
It comes with a tripod (semi-optional; explained below), a lens wiper, and a plain, black case that the lens screws into. You might want to Deco the case! (But make sure you sand it, first — otherwise your deco won’t hold).
The lens itself is the only extra thing you need to carry on you (if your put the case on your phone), and it’s perfectly-sized for a small bag or pocket.
I know some people say you should ask for a photo, but let’s be honest: street photographers often want candid shots (not smile-and-pose), and telephoto lenses are a great way to get them.
Telephoto lenses usually require a tripod for stability, and the iPhone version is no exception. But don’t overload yourself with iPhone accessories! Une Bobine kills two birds with one stone: it’s a phone charger and tripod.
It requires a little gravitational understanding and common sense to get this thing to actually hold your phone up, but it does the job well. Also, it’s easy to coil flat to fit inside a bag, or even (carefully) around a bag strap).
Wide / Macro Lens I got mine from Photojojo ($20) because it came with a cute & useful phone-strap pouch, but that’s no longer available. You can likely source the lens from eBay for a lower cost.
Both lenses take awesome photos. The Wide is great for photographing small-but-not-macro objects with a narrow depth-of-field effect. If you get a similar phone-strap for this tiny lens, it’s super-easy to bring along and doesn’t require an extra case. (You can also double-up and stick the Wide / Macro’s magnetic attachment ring to your telephoto case! It works perfectly and doesn’t create extra vignetting).
Check out Photojojo’s page to see more photographs taken the macro & wide lens, as well as the #photojojomacro and #photojojowideangle tags on Flickr and Instagram.
ProCamera 7 $2.99. As discussed in a prior post, this is my favorite camera app for multiple reasons, including functionality and interface design.
Snapseed Free! Also reviewed in the Travel App post, Snapseed is an invaluable photo editor with a huge range of editing options, so your photos won’t look like every other canned-filter-instapic.
LINE Camera Free! And a third (and last!) that’s also from the Travel App list — LINE Camera is great for editing, but even better for ridiculous, Purikura-style effects, makeup, frames, and stickers.
Big Lens $99. For those times you want to fake or enhance a DOF effect. Used sparingly and appropriately, this app can actually produce some great imagery. It has a nice filter set, as well. I’ve compared a few DOF apps, and this one was my favorite, by far.
Adobe Photoshop Express Free! A very light version of photoshop’s capabilities, but good for more simple/traditional editing (white balance, etc.). It’s great as a supplement to Snapseed.
FaceTune $2.99. Although I’m not a fan of the filter set/options in this app, it is surprisingly good at doing what it says it does: portrait editing (and other, non-facial adjustments, too). I was definitely skeptical going in — it reminded me of those 90’s photo-editing effects that let you squeegee your face into a spiral for some reason — but the tools in this app are actually capable of subtle effects. Not sure if it’s completely worth $3 (unless you’re very vain ;D), but recommending it anyway since it’s a great re-touching app.
Moldiv Free! For collaging photos together and creating dyptichs. It has a lovely interface, lots of options, and thousands of glowing reviews.
Flickr Free! If you got this far in the post, you can probably tell I’m not an Instagrammer. (Although there’s some nice photos on Instagram and it’s a good way to share, it’s a bit too gimmicky for me.) Call me a photo-snob, but I prefer Flickr for many reasons — most of all because I don’t want to be confined to a goddamn square for every photo.
In addition to including most of the usual Flickr functions, app allows you to upload photos right from your phone, which is awesome.
Roads of Kiarostami - directed by Abbas Kiarostami (2006)
Abbas Kiarostami is a renowned Iranian artist and filmmaker who isn’t afraid to take risks. After gaining fame from a series of complex, multi-character films, he devoted himself to a stark minimalist philosophy. By ignoring narrative, editing and sometimes even camera movement, Kiarostami asks the viewer if s/he dares to really see.
Roads of Kiarostami is a short experimental film that poses exactly that question. Putting together the elements of photography, poetry and classical music into film, Kiarostami employs the bare image of the road to invoke the slippery nature of visuality and memory.
If willing, the viewer is lulled through beautiful poetry and random sounds of nature into a surreal, hypnotic world of simultaneous clarity and nostalgia. As Slant Magazine observes:
[Kiarostami’s work] asks how little you can present and still come away with a drama. And what you realise, watching, is that the choice to open one’s eyes and then keep them open is one of the most dramatic choices that a human being can make.