The Creative Smartphone: week one – Nov 23

Here’s a short recap of what we covered in our first week of the Creative Smartphone course, delivered in collaboration with Craven Arts. It also includes a video of the American photographer Stephen Shore talking about seeing photographically.

Follow up info

Thanks for all joining the course and participating so enthusiastically. First up, there were a couple of Android technical points I said I’d look into:

  • Very small app icons that were difficult to see. Please check your settings using this Samsung guide – the screen layout is through an invisible grid – if you have too many squares, things are squeezed to fit the limited space. Link to article.
  • I also came across an article on how to activate the ‘Pro Mode’ on Android, which gives access to more functionality. It may not be necessary and is potentially overwhelming on a small phone. But here’s the link.

Practice (‘homework’)

It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that’s what it amounts to. I haven’t found any shortcuts, and I’ve been looking for a long time.

– Chet Atkins (guitarist)
  • Smartphone basics – we spent time going through the controls on smartphones. Not knobs and dials but less familiar finger touches, drags and pinches. We also looked at adjustments to settings. Becoming fluent in these moves stops them from distracting from seeing and photographing. Play when you are not taking photos – could be something to do while waiting in a queue or having a coffee break.
  • Snapseed app toolkit – Snapseed is remarkable as it is like a professional photo editing app but free. It takes time to become familiar with the tools and their uses. With the photos you take this week, play with Snapseed – push the adjustments to extremes of + and – and just observe the effect. If you press and hold the image, a before adjustments snapshot is revealed.
  • Seeing photographically – we began to explore this and it is perhaps the most important and difficult aspect to master. Making a good photograph is an art so there is no single right approach; there is always an ‘it depends’. If you can make time this week, watch the video below of legendary photographer Stephen Shore talking about ‘seeing’. Listen to how he talks about different ways of seeing for different purposes. Also, his photographs will offer you a different perspective to what is popularly thought of as ‘landscape’ photography.
  • Link for shared photo gallery – please see the email for the gallery link for uploading your 5 selected photos. Remember, there is no wrong or right image – just something you think interesting or have learned something from.

Stephen Shore on Seeing


Create – one click at a time

Photography is the easiest and hardest of arts. It is simple to make a thoughtless image but organising what you see into an interesting photograph without the benefit of a blank canvas is difficult. You’ll only master it with practice and time – but the equipment you need is always with you in your smartphone!

See you next week for landscape. If you’d like to receive a free monthly newsletter from SnappedPixel, please see here.

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