Today I'm pleased to present featured mobile photographer Paul Moore. When I first saw Paul's work, I just assumed he was a traditional photographer shooting with a DSLR. I was pleasantly surprised to find out he was using only an iPhone to capture the vast landscapes and beautiful portraits that grace his online galleries.
Paul: My name is Paul Moore. I live in a town called Tullamore in the midlands of Ireland with my wife, Karen and my three children, Sean, Conor and Caoimhe.
How did you get started in mobile photography?
Paul: I got my first iPhone (the iPhone 3Gs) towards the end of 2009. I rarely used the camera for the first few months as I thought that with a 3.2MP sensor it would be more or less useless. It was only when I found one of the early photo editing apps, an app called Photogene, that I started to experiment with the camera. I could use Photogene to try and make up for the inadequacies of the camera. I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and then to my current phone, the iPhone 4s. I have experimented with hundreds of editing apps over the years but have cut the list that I use regularly down to less than ten. I love the fact that I can take and edit photos and post to various social sites all with the one device. The technology has certainly come a long way.
|Bath Night © Paul Moore|
|Rainy Daze © Paul Moore|
Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
Paul: I don’t have a traditional background in photography. I grew up in a house where my father, a music teacher, worked from home. He was also a very accomplished amateur photographer and filmmaker. An interest in the arts was actively encouraged. I was surrounded by cameras from an early age but music was my main interest. As it slowly dawned on me that I would never be a musician, my attention moved more towards the visual arts, cinema in particular. I even attempted to write a few screenplays. Turns out I am not a writer either. When I finally discovered mobile photography, I had spent many years watching movies from all over the world and this has had a major influence in the look that I try to achieve with my photographs.
|Fly By © Paul Moore|
|Wild Horses © Paul Moore|
Your photos are AMAZING - some of the best I've seen as far as quality and clarity. Do you use the native camera to capture your photos or a specialty photo app like Camera+ or PureShot?
Paul: I have a few camera apps but more often than not I use the native iPhone camera. This is mainly because it can be accessed from the lock screen and I can get shots that I might otherwise miss trying to find one of the more specialist camera apps. I do use ProCamera 7 and 645 PRO but these are only useful in particular situations. Having taken thousands of photos over the last few years, I have come to realize that the most important thing you need to take a good photo with an iPhone is good light. I try to take all my photos in natural daylight. Although I might edit some shots later to look like night time scenes. Some of the newer iPhones have better sensors for taking photos in low light but as I still have the 4s, I have to be very conscious of the available light and how best to use it. Also I never ever ever use the zoom feature. It is more than useless. If I need to get closer to the subject I use my legs.
|Haunted House © Paul Moore|
|Lough Corrib © Paul Moore|
Who or what inspires you?
Paul: The majority of my photos are either landscapes or photos of my kids. They are my main inspirations. As I live in Ireland, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible countryside. There are many very scenic locations within a few minutes' drive of my home. At the moment I am really enjoying capturing shots of my kids enjoying their various adventures as they explore each location I bring them to. My other major influence has been my interest in cinema. I try to give my photos a cinematic feel by using (or in a lot of cases overusing) apps to achieve this. I tend to favor the landscape format over the square format favored by Instagram.
|Son of Gladiator © Paul Moore|
|A Winter Stroll © Paul Moore|
Do you shoot with an end in mind, or just capture images along your day-to-day travels and edit later?
Paul: Most of the time I will just keep shooting whatever catches my eye. I will photograph a particular scene or subject from numerous different angles and distances. Then when I get a moment, I will review what I have shot and start earmarking shots for editing. When I started off I definitely shot first and edited later but have learned that no amount of editing will make a bad shot into a good one. Now I will have more of an idea of what I want to achieve when I go to a particular place. Particularly if I have been there before. If I am going to visit a location I haven’t been to before, I will have a quick look at Google images to see what other photographers have shot there and try to get a sense of the lay of the land and come up with a few ideas before I get there.
|Breaking Free © Paul Moore|
|Serene Surfers Survey the Sea at Sunset © Paul Moore|
I never thought of Googling a location to see what other photographers captured. Do you just enter the location name and search images?
Paul: Yeah. This is only something I have started doing recently. If you are heading somewhere you have never been before you won't know what landmarks to look out for. I went to Glendalough recently on a day trip and the night before I went I just did a quick search on Google for 'Images of Glendalough'. It meant when I got there I knew what I should be on the look out for. Very useful when you know you will only have a limited time in a particular place.
|Exploring the Big House © Paul Moore|
Do you have any tips for keeping the iPhone steady as you shoot?
Paul: This is an important consideration, particularly in low light. I don't use a tripod or any other attachment. Normally I just use both hands to hold the phone steady but if I am shooting in really low light or in windy conditions I might use something like a nearby fencepost or tree for additional support.
|Feather Light © Paul Moore|
Please share a bit about your editing process - do you have a specific workflow? What are some of your favorite apps for editing?
Paul: As I said, I shoot first and edit later. Sometimes much later. My normal process (but not always) is as follows. Once I select a photo for editing, the first thing I do is crop it to the dimensions that I want in PhotoToaster. Next I will use the Retouch tool in Handy Photo to remove any distractions from the photo. Sometimes I will add elements to the photos using Juxtaposer or Alien Sky. I will always do this before I add any filters or mess around with the tones, contrast etc. By adding the filters at the end it helps blend the added elements into the photo and make it look more natural. This isn’t always successful but works in most cases. I use PhotoToaster or Snapseed for adjusting tones, brightness, contrast etc. And I use Mextures or Distressed FX to apply filters - and add birds. A new app that I have discovered that I love is Tadaa SLR. It simulates the depth of field effect that you get using a DSLR but is not possible with an iPhone. When used properly it can produce great results. My only issue with it is that it doesn’t save the edited image in full resolution.
|Admiring Bluebells © Paul Moore|
I love the image "Smoky Jazz Club" - is there a story behind that one?
Paul: That photo has been one of the most popular photos I have taken this year. A friend of mine is in a band called Glimmermen. He asked me would I try and get a few shots of the band for their website and some promotional material. They were shooting a video for their new single in an old building in Dublin and asked me to come along to get the shots. This is a perfect example of using the available light. Dave, the trumpet player with the band, was standing off to one side practicing for his set ups when I noticed one of the studio lights was creating a perfect shadow on the old whitewashed brick wall behind him. I fired off a few quick shots and this one with the high hat at the bottom was my favorite. It really reminded me of jazz club scenes in old Hollywood movies for some reason. I used PhotoToaster to crop it into the square format and convert it to black and white. PhotoToaster also has some textured filters. One is a cloud effect filter. I added this to create a smoky atmosphere and that was it. A very simple minimalist shot.
|Smoky Jazz Club © Paul Moore|
Have you ever exhibited your work? If not, any plans to do so?
Paul: I have had photos displayed at exhibitions all over the world but this was always as part of an overall showcase of iPhone photography. I haven’t had a show of my own yet, but I have been approached about doing one. Up to recently I didn’t think that what I was doing was good enough for a solo show, but I am slowly becoming more confident in my abilities and feel that by the end of this year I might have enough good shots for a show. So I’ll think about it then.
|Ghost Story © Paul Moore|
What advice do you have for people just starting out with mobile photography?
Paul: My main recommendation would be to keep taking photos at every available opportunity. Practice makes perfect. The beauty of digital photography is that it costs nothing to take photos. It’s not like in the good old days when you were limited to a particular number of shots per roll of film. Shoot a scene from multiple angles. You are rarely going to get the perfect shot first time Also, stand back from your subject. It’s far easier to crop a photo later than to try and replace a missing head. Light is very important so make sure your scene is lit properly. Poorly lit shots from an iPhone will result in very noisy photos. As I said earlier no amount of apping will turn a bad photo into a good one. I have tried this many times in the past but it just doesn’t work. Only when you are happy with a shot should you consider apping it. Try to limit yourself to a few apps and develop a style based on these apps. There are a bewildering selection of apps available that do many different things. Experiment with apps to find the ones you like. Try to stay away from the likes of Instagram filters as they have been used to death and are far too recognizable.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Paul: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in my work and giving me a chance to give a small insight into my mobile photography.
|Look at That for a Sunset © Paul Moore|
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