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Smart Phone Cameras Have Brought Photography to Our Everyday Lives
By David L. Brown

Since George Eastman introduced his Kodak roll film camera, photography has been available to everyone. Through the 20th Century, family events and vacation trips were routinely recorded on film using equipment ranging from simple box cameras to Leica and Nikon models.

This photograph of Double Arch in the golden light of late afternoon was made with a smart phone camera.

But if the camera played an important role back then, today it has become an integral part of every phase of our lives. There are cameras everywhere, including most notably in the smart phones that we carry in our pockets.

Starting last year, I have been giving a PowerPoint talk to tour groups that come to visit the Mighty Five national parks of Utah. At the end of my presentation, I ask for a show of hands by those who use a camera and those who use their phones. In groups of about 35 people, usually only a couple have cameras. All the rest use their smart phones to make pictures.

And it’s no wonder, for the mini-cameras built into our phones are little short of amazing. I have a pro model SLR camera, and yet in most cases when I need to document something to post on Facebook or some other purpose, I reach for my phone.

One reason is due to convenience, because the phone is always with me, ready to make pictures. My present model smart phone even has three cameras, one for wide angle, one for normal and one for telephoto pictures.

As the sun was setting, the sky turned vivid red. It was a fleeting moment, but thanks to the camera in my phone I was able to capture it.

But there’s more to it than that, for the little cameras make surprisingly good images. With a little care, they can be successfully enlarged to make big prints. In fact, at Moab Printworks, LLC, we have successfully made killer prints as large as 36x54 inches from smart phone images.

The accompanying picture of Double Arch is an example, made using my iPhone camera. I was leading a photo tour and not carrying my heavy bag of equipment when the light turned golden. The phone picture could easily be made into a large gallery print.

The other example of a red sky and butte, also made with my iPhone, shows how important it is to have a camera in your pocket. This brilliant red color appeared just at sunset and for a very brief time. By the time I could have gone to my van to pull out an SLR and tripod and set it up, the magic would have already been gone. It was a matter of seconds to make the picture with my phone.

Smart phones have an amazing ability to capture images even in dark conditions. When I tried to take a picture of the night sky using my iPhone 12, hand-held in the dark, I was surprised to see that the stars of the constellation Sagittarius were clearly captured, and the hazy clouds of the Milky Way could be seen. The quality was not great, but it did capture the essence of the night sky.

Smart phones can not only make great still pictures, but also record 4K ultra high-definition video. This is broadcast quality and smart phones are used to produce many of the videos seen on YouTube and other sites. Growing numbers of creators use their phones to produce visual blogs, or “vlogs”.

Truly the camera has become a ubiquitous force in modern life.

As you might conclude, landscape photography can be challenging. But when patience and planning are applied, truly amazing photographs can result. If you have a picture you are particularly happy with and want to share it, give me a call at 435-210-8158. And be sure to mention you read about Printworks in Moab Happenings


David L. Brown is a landscape photographer who has led photo tours from his base in Moab since 2015, now as Printworks Photo Tours. His fine art prints can be seen at Printworks Gallery, 1105 S. Hwy. 191. He invites you to visit or call at 435-355-0121.

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