Hold the phone

Most people probably think that if you pit a cellphone camera against a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera that it would be no contest; the DSLR would win hands down. While in some cases that may be true, cellphone cameras and the photos produced by them have advanced enough to warrant their own merit.

24 readers sent in 77 photos that ran the gamut from portraits to landscapes to still lifes and more. The quality of the entries proved that it’s not the camera that takes a good picture, but the person using it. Here are some of the best examples.


Darrin Denison of Stockton sent in a photo that used new technology to showcase a blast from the past. He used an iPhone to photograph an old Contax rangefinder camera that his late uncle Herb Works bought in France in the 1940s and was recently given to Denison by his aunt Shirley Works. Denison used beautiful window light to create a warm and nostalgic feeling of days of a much simpler time in photography.


In the not-to-distant past some people may not have thought of their phones as creative tools but Instagram changed all that. Through the photo sharing app, different filters and effects can be added to a cellphone photo to help impart a feeling or mood to the picture.

Luis Rodriguez of Stockton photographed this lonely, apparently fire-damaged tree along Airport Way in south Stockton with a HTC wildfire S phone. He then converted it to black and white through Instagram, which eliminated the distractions of color and emphasized the desolate beauty of the scene.


If some photos are better in black and white then there are others that are all about color. Eva Fujii of Stockton used a Samsung Galaxy S2 cellphone to take photos of rainbow-hued crayons used for “bridge rubbings” on her daughter’s field trip to the Cosumnes Nature Reserve in Galt.


One of the most common mistakes that people make when taking pictures is that they don’t get close enough. This seem especially true with cellphone cameras. But it wasn’t a problem for Judi Howell of Stockton. She got in close, very close to her grandson Sammie Howell to get a tight shot of his innocent 13-month-old face.


Many people use their cellphone cameras for their travel and vacation photos but not John Varelas of Stockton. He ventured not further than his own backyard to capture a colorful photo of a hoverfly buzzing over a daisy in his garden with an iPhone5.


Sometimes what’s elevates a photograph over a mere picture is how the photographer sees the scene differently, how he/she makes some different out of the ordinary.

Holly Stone of Lodi watched as her husband used a leaf blower to remove leaves from the roof of their house. Instead of just photographing him with her iPhone 3Gs, she turned around to take a photo of flying leaves debris, which to me, looked like a reverse night sky of dark celestial bodies against a light-colored sky.


Dave Skinner of Stockton is an experienced DSLR user and admits he was out of his comfort zone when he used an iPod Touch 4 to photograph some water plants at the Cosumnes Wildlife Preserve near Thornton. But he came away with an elegant composition that is a study in contrasting shapes and colors.


As always there is a gallery of all of the entries at recordnet.com. Stay tuned next Monday for a new Readers Photo Challenge assignment.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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