karlo

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I noticed this article regarding winter photography.

https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/tips-techniques/nature-landscapes/tips-for-winter-photography/#

The key areas the writer discusses are:

Exposure: I have a Lumia with full-manual capabilities. The iPhone 5s I have been playing with has no such capability.

Filters: Are there filters for smartphones, or can software filters replace a real filter? Anyone have comparisons?

Focus: Though my Lumia has manual focus option, it is still, on occasion, difficult either way, manual or auto.

Shutter Speed: Glad I have that, but the iPhone doesn't

Cold Weather and Batteries: So frustrating. Maybe stick a toe-warmer to the back of the phone?

Cold Weather and Moisture: I only considered condensation to be a problem if it got on the lenses, inside or out. Never thought about what happens to the electronics. At least its a lot easier to put a smartphone into a self-sealing bag, as the writer suggests, than a DSLR.

Wildlife: Focusing on the eye; that's going to be tough with a smartphone. Or, maybe not. I recall reading somewhere that newer phone cameras can be programmed to focus on the eye.

The article's writer assumes a DSLR. I'd be interested in knowing what tricks and tips and equipment recommendations you all have, particularly with phone cameras and other sport-cameras, like a GoPro.
 

DaveM

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Karlo, thanks for posting this. I started my "ski photography" several years ago, carrying a small Nikon S630 "point-and-shoot" camera in a pants leg pocket, with a brightly-colored lanyard tying the camera to a belt loop. The latter idea was provided to me by someone in a REI store - he said it prevents camera-loss during rock climbing. Well, it allows retrieval from snow, too. I do carry a DSLR in my backpack, while skiing. I still occasionally bring the S630. Keep it in the outer pants pocket - this works for me. It's just warm enough not to freeze, while avoiding moisture condensation. I bring an iPhone in a Lifeproof(TM) brand protective case; the iPhone is kept in an inner jacket pocket and taken out for a couple of simple photos or short videos. If the "HDR" feature activates, then that will help with the photos. I haven't bought an "action-cam" like GoPro(TM) or Garmin(TM), etc., yet. Cellphones aren't great for photo or video, in my opinion - they're OK. A properly used DSLR, or your Lumia(TM), should get some great photos. Set the automated or cellphone camera into Sport mode, if available, to get faster-speed shots.
My best advice, I think, is to just experiment and [mentally] note what you get. It will become intuitive, and the results will improve. A nice thing about digital is that you can examine and then, having learned, delete the mistakes; please remember to have a good chuckle about the "botches", too. I hope this helps.
 

cantunamunch

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Exposure: I have a Lumia with full-manual capabilities. The iPhone 5s I have been playing with has no such capability.

....

Shutter Speed: Glad I have that, but the iPhone doesn't
Eh, have you thought about moving up beyond the native iOS camera app to something like VSCO?

https://iphonephotographyschool.com/best-camera-app-for-iphone/

Addresses most of the issues you cite, including focus spot, exposure spot and so forth.
 

Tricia

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@patmoore used to share some fantastic tips for taking winter photos with a smart phone.
Here is one of his recent youtube videos.
 

SSSdave

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DR-3tracks.jpg


Outside my hi tech career, I've been a serious landscape and nature photographer for decades, including film only era. The last 3 years I've only used my modest moto g smartphone for imagery and videos while skiing because it is pocket sized, functional in other ways (it's a phone too!), and am only interested in small web-sized images. Photography on ski slopes during most day hours is difficult due to often extreme contrast between bright white snow and much else. Expose for snow and all else is dark. Expose for subjects as skiers, and snow will be too bright and lose texture and form contrast.

Alternatively in overly cloudy flat light, shadowed, or stormy conditions, even the best software or advanced image processing may have limited ability to provide greater element contrast to make subjects usable. Flat light on snow is caused by light from myriad multiple directions when out of direct sunlight causing overlapping shadows on a snow surface and that may be from either diffuse cloud light or blue sky above. Only so much correction is possible with image sensors or in software so there is key wisdom in learning by experimenting how to recognize subjects within reasonable contrast range of sensors at usable illumination levels. And given the range of cameras and sensors one also needs to experiment taking images trial and error to learn what is possible with one's own camera and post processing software.

Generally sun lit snow landscapes will be less contrasty early and late on ski days. Also better form and definition will be angles to direct front lit conditions in order to include some shading especially the texture of snow while one should avoid usually contrasty back lit directions. And likewise, one will find one can shoot midwinter snowscapes over more daytime hours versus spring as the sun altitude even at noon is relatively low. Also towards mid day, thin high clouds can nicely decrease peak brightness on snow surfaces while filling in illumination of shadows. But the optimal range is narrow as too much cloud and such may become too flat without contrast. Also we are all aware of how miserable flat light can be in wide open treeless alpine elevations while skiing nearby lines close to tall conifers offers better visibility. Likewise our camera digital sensors record poorly or better just as our eyes so learn to trust what your eyes see as high or low contrast subjects. If a subject looks wonderfully illuminated, it may well turn our so.

When one decides to take a subject, just don't stop wherever and take a shot. Consider the light direction bothering to move around to the direction it looks best just with your eyes. Generally it is wise to underexpose a bit. If one's non-smartphone camera has a histogram function, learn to use it. Smartphone cameras will adjust peak exposure automatically and may further use HDR processes to further allow wider contrast subjects.

The above image was created with my moto g on January 24, 2017 at 10am after a couple feet of cold dry snow. Notice by looking at shadows cast by lift towers show even at 10am in January at the Sierra's latitude the sun well off to the right thus not front lit, was rather low at maybe 30 degrees altitude. Note how evenly all the snow surfaces exposed with considerable subtle texture. With fresh snow still covering much of the forest, those tree areas have considerably more character than they would have been if just green leaves. This light guy added a fourth bouncing powder track next to the 3 I laid down on this gentle slope that heavier skiers would only bog down in. Notice below how at 100% pixels (4160x3120 pixels) this modest hand held small crop from the image is well rendered including fine detail. Of course much always depends on one's camera settings and mode, the auto mode and defaults for which may be disappointing so experimentation has value.

DR-3tracks-cr.jpg


 
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Corgski

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Main advice with a cell phone camera - don't do it. The pictures may look great on a camera screen but the poorer quality becomes noticeable quickly on a large screen or when printing out. In bright light and overall good conditions and also depending on your requirements you may get away with it (see @SSSdave's pic above). But you are going to be very disappointed if you get what seems to be the perfect shot of your kid which you later try to crop and print out.
 

Fishbowl

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Any tips on maintaining battery life in the cold. My iPhone 6 lasts about 5 min when it’s close to freezing out, and that’s with a Lifeproof case?
 

SSSdave

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Any tips on maintaining battery life in the cold. My iPhone 6 lasts about 5 min when it’s close to freezing out, and that’s with a Lifeproof case?

I don't use a case with my moto g at all as many ski coats this era have zippered smartphone sized breast pockets. In any case, lithium batteries like other chemisty's age so your phone battery may simply have limited charge capacity now. If so you could supplement it with charging from a small lithium storage battery.
 

DaveM

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View attachment 60749

Outside my hi tech career, I've been a serious landscape and nature photographer for decades, including film only era. The last 3 years I've only used my modest moto g smartphone for imagery and videos while skiing because it is pocket sized, functional in other ways (it's a phone too!), and am only interested in small web-sized images. Photography on ski slopes during most day hours is difficult due to often extreme contrast between bright white snow and much else. Expose for snow and all else is dark. Expose for subjects as skiers, and snow will be too bright and lose texture and form contrast.

Alternatively in overly cloudy flat light, shadowed, or stormy conditions, even the best software or advanced image processing may have limited ability to provide greater element contrast to make subjects usable. Flat light on snow is caused by light from myriad multiple directions when out of direct sunlight causing overlapping shadows on a snow surface and that may be from either diffuse cloud light or blue sky above. Only so much correction is possible with image sensors or in software so there is key wisdom in learning by experimenting how to recognize subjects within reasonable contrast range of sensors at usable illumination levels. And given the range of cameras and sensors one also needs to experiment taking images trial and error to learn what is possible with one's own camera and post processing software.

Generally sun lit snow landscapes will be less contrasty early and late on ski days. Also better form and definition will be angles to direct front lit conditions in order to include some shading especially the texture of snow while one should avoid usually contrasty back lit directions. And likewise, one will find one can shoot midwinter snowscapes over more daytime hours versus spring as the sun altitude even at noon is relatively low. Also towards mid day, thin high clouds can nicely decrease peak brightness on snow surfaces while filling in illumination of shadows. But the optimal range is narrow as too much cloud and such may become too flat without contrast. Also we are all aware of how miserable flat light can be in wide open treeless alpine elevations while skiing nearby lines close to tall conifers offers better visibility. Likewise our camera digital sensors record poorly or better just as our eyes so learn to trust what your eyes see as high or low contrast subjects. If a subject looks wonderfully illuminated, it may well turn our so.

When one decides to take a subject, just don't stop wherever and take a shot. Consider the light direction bothering to move around to the direction it looks best just with your eyes. Generally it is wise to underexpose a bit. If one's non-smartphone camera has a histogram function, learn to use it. Smartphone cameras will adjust peak exposure automatically and may further use HDR processes to further allow wider contrast subjects.

The above image was created with my moto g on January 24, 2017 at 10am after a couple feet of cold dry snow. Notice by looking at shadows cast by lift towers show even at 10am in January at the Sierra's latitude the sun well off to the right thus not front lit, was rather low at maybe 30 degrees altitude. Note how evenly all the snow surfaces exposed with considerable subtle texture. With fresh snow still covering much of the forest, those tree areas have considerably more character than they would have been if just green leaves. This light guy added a fourth bouncing powder track next to the 3 I laid down on this gentle slope that heavier skiers would only bog down in. Notice below how at 100% pixels (4160x3120 pixels) this modest hand held small crop from the image is well rendered including fine detail. Of course much always depends on one's camera settings and mode, the auto mode and defaults for which may be disappointing so experimentation has value.

View attachment 60750
SSSDave, thank you very much.
 
Thread Starter
TS
karlo

karlo

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Any tips on maintaining battery life in the cold. My iPhone 6 lasts about 5 min when it’s close to freezing out, and that’s with a Lifeproof case?

I don't use a case with my moto g at all as many ski coats this era have zippered smartphone sized breast pockets. In any case, lithium batteries like other chemisty's age so your phone battery may simply have limited charge capacity now. If so you could supplement it with charging from a small lithium storage battery.
What do you think about affixing a toe warmer? I suppose it depends on where the battery is? Also, I don't know what temperature they get to. I put an iPhone against a car air vent, one that was throwing out hot air to great the car, and it shut down with a notice that it exceeded some temperature.
 

SSSdave

life is short precious ...don't waste it
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What do you think about affixing a toe warmer? I suppose it depends on where the battery is? Also, I don't know what temperature they get to. I put an iPhone against a car air vent, one that was throwing out hot air to great the car, and it shut down with a notice that it exceeded some temperature.

Excellent idea. On cold days, I use chemical warming packs like Hothands atop my socks inside my Lange boots and they would certainly help a cold smartphone while not making them anywhere close too too warm.

Well designed Smartphones with lithium-ion batteries ought to be able to run fine for hours though with reduced capacity at moderately cold temperatures down to ice freezing levels. The issue with the electronic hardware design is with adequate dynamic range of the voltage regulation circuit that converts discharging lowering battery voltage during use to smartphone operational voltage levels. And would expect Apple's design is high end thus an issue is more likely due to an aging battery.
 

Corgski

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What do you think about affixing a toe warmer? I suppose it depends on where the battery is? Also, I don't know what temperature they get to. I put an iPhone against a car air vent, one that was throwing out hot air to great the car, and it shut down with a notice that it exceeded some temperature.
I just put the phone in a pocket with a hand warmer, worked well so far. They really do not get that hot as they need to be safe against your skin. Hot air is generally hotter than one realizes because it takes time for the heat to transfer to your skin, one reason why you can put a bare hand in a 400F oven for a short time without getting burnt.

Edit: Just tested a hand warmer under 70F conditions, max I could get it up to was just below 140F.
 
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Fishbowl

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What do you think about affixing a toe warmer? I suppose it depends on where the battery is? Also, I don't know what temperature they get to. I put an iPhone against a car air vent, one that was throwing out hot air to great the car, and it shut down with a notice that it exceeded some temperature.
I usually put my phone in my cloth goggle bag with a hand or toe warmer, and then put it in my jacket breast pocket. It does a great job keeping the phone warm, but, once out in the cold air, I may get five minutes before the battery is dead. I have had the phone for a few years, so maybe Dave is right in that the battery is just getting old and intolerant to temperature changes.
 
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karlo

karlo

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Eh, have you thought about moving up beyond the native iOS camera app to something like VSCO?
https://iphonephotographyschool.com/best-camera-app-for-iphone/
.
@patmoore used to share some fantastic tips for taking winter photos with a smart phone.
Here is one of his recent youtube videos.
The above image was created with my moto g
I posted this

https://www.pugski.com/posts/297888/

taken with an iPhone 5S. Using 5S, Cropped, color edited with “Vivid” to make the snow whiter, and darkened for contrast. Here is the original. Any post editing suggestions and examples? Click to access full image.

8596D15F-5C59-4E0E-AB06-814B9F8602AB.jpeg
 

DaveM

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I usually put my phone in my cloth goggle bag with a hand or toe warmer, and then put it in my jacket breast pocket. It does a great job keeping the phone warm, but, once out in the cold air, I may get five minutes before the battery is dead. I have had the phone for a few years, so maybe Dave is right in that the battery is just getting old and intolerant to temperature changes.
I think sssDave is correct. I keep my iPhone 8 either (1) in a pocket inside my ski jacket or (2) in a front-pocket on my hiking/ski pants. However, I typically keep the cellphone "off", until I want to either call or take a photo [or video] with it. Choice (2) I've done in temperatures in the 20's F, from what I remember. I keep my DSLR in a backpack, typically resting on an extra clothing layer within the pack. That's worked at temperatures down to 10 F, as I recall.
 
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