For any keen photographer, there is a hurdle to cross beyond what kit to buy, which skill to imrove or when best to capture a location or client. This is balancing your absolute obsession with all things camera, with your loved ones. There are loads of blogs out there on how to balance family and photography time, but there will almost certainly be a time when you're poring over settings and 'getting that shot from a different angle', leaving a loved one deserted of attention. So when my girlfriend arranged for us to attend the recent winter Taste of London I knew I probably ought to leave my camera at home. This was probably more upsetting than it should have been. I knew there would be top london chefs, such as Marcus Wareing, Sophie Michell and Tom Aikens producing amazing dishes to take shots of. I had also only just set up my twitter page and was keen to populate it with some shots from the day. But I also knew that this would be a nice day out to spend with my girlfriend, and spending all my time focussed on photography, again, wouldn't be fair.
So I hung up the DSLRs and set off to Tobacco Dock to focus on the food and drink on offer. But then it struck me, I'd spent so long worrying about which camera to take, without considering the one most of us now carry with us anywhere. Since I've owned decent cameras, I've shied away from using my smartphone for photography, but I'm well aware that an amazing collection of shots can be taken with nothing more than a smartphone. Perhaps there's some ingrained snobbery, or possibly the thought that legitimising smartphone photography puts the DSLR/hired photographer in danger somehow? Putting these dark introspections aside, I quickly started looking at taking a few snaps on the DLR to check out what the iPhone could do. They were ok, they weren't the most interesting of shots, but they were ok. I then remembered one of the useful tools of quick and easy iPhone photography - filters. When on holiday in Cambodia last year, our guide had been showing us shots he'd taken of sunrises over Angkor Wat, and they were impressive. he'd said that all of them had been taken on an iPhone. He was also a DSLR photographer, and was disappointed that none of his 'proper' shots came out as well. This of course, was because he lacked editing knowledge and equipment, whereas he was able to edit his phone shots in phone!
After playing around with the given presets on the standard Camera app, I recalled a friend mentioning enlight as a quick way of editing photos in phone. I quickly downlooaded this, and had a test edit on a couple of photos already in my camera. The fine adjustments seemed ok and I could roughly produce the look I was after, but the preset filters were actually quite good. I decided to give it a go, and took my first plunge into smartphone photography!
Duck Reuben (my girlfriend's dish of the day) shot on iPhone and edited with Enlight. I was pretty happy with the black and white presets in Enlight, and the display Club Gacon had created helped the overall composition. Mezcal Cured Salmon (my dish of the day) shot on iPhone and edited with Enlight. I felt the iPhone didn't perform as well here, and I was less happy with the colour from Enlight.
The taste festivals are a great day out if you've not tried them before, they're a chance for top restaurants and providers to market their wares and allow for the public to quickly sample lots of different cuisines and menu items. They run twice a year in London, allowing for quite different feels - the winter one being very Christmassy. The food on sample was phenomenal, with my girlfiend's and my favourite dishes shown here, the Duck Reben from Club Gascon and the Mezcal Cured Salmon from Pont St respectively.
I played around with the settings I could acheive through enlight, and was happy with the black and white presets, as seens above, but less so with the colour versions, even after more detailed tweaking. I perservered and continued playing with enlight whilst we moved through a substantial quantity of free booze. We moved through many free samples, and whether it was the effect they had or not I couldn't say, but I became less pleased with the shots I was producing. (A lesson to all budding wedding photographers - stay off the booze!).
Gin flowed very freely - I would very highly recommend the Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin. I remained sceptical of the colours coming from the iPhone and Enlight though... Many free wine samples from Premier Estate. I quite liked this shot, but was less happy with this balck and white preset. I was beginning to have doubts about Enlight.
I decided to shift things up somewhat. I knew that Adobe did a lightroom app which would connect with my normal workflow, but I had been resisting as I thought the quick and ready enlight would be more suited to the day. I relented and downloaded the app whilst watching the excellent Gizzi Erskine demonstrating a couple of dishes. Here the iPhone really couldn't compete with a full camera. In a large lecture, being further from the stage, with difficult lighting, the detail plummeted and the grain became overwhelming. I would love to demonstrate this, but my vanity led me to delete these immediately and stop taking photos until I could get closer to any action. I would have to revisit iPhones in a larger setting than snaps and products, but not that day. With lightroom downloaded, I had a quick re-edit of a couple of shots and felt immediately at home. I think this is the biggest take home lesson from the day - if you already use a system, and like it, keep within that system. It will make your life much easier, and you're likely to produce shots you're happier with. Clearly people agreed with me; I'd been sharing shots on twitter all day, and the most retweeted and engaged with shot was one from the end, where I had edited in lightroom.
The first edit in Lightroom, I was pretty happy with this, it was very dark in the catacombs, so there was always going to be some grain, but I think it pulled up well. Also, if you take nothing else from this blog post - you must try firespice ginger cider this Christmas! The presets were vey easy to apply and then adjust as always in Lightroom! The other massive find of the day was Bermondsey Tonic Water. Pretty niche at the moment, but click to see stockists.
We had a great time at the Taste Festival, I've been recommending to everyone I speak to since. It was a great opportunity to sample some prestigious fare, and some really interesting products we would otherwise never had heard of. On the photography front, I'm certainly not planning on selling the DSLR, but I'm happier knowing some of what my iPhone can do without turning every day into another photoshoot, which will hopefully go down well at home. I'd seer clear of enlight if you're already invested in Lightroom for your normal workflow, but it's still certainly a step up from basic feature on the camera app. I'd love to hear from your experience if I'm missing a trick, so please do get in touch or leave a comment below.
The most shared shot of the day, when I was probably at my least stable. I'd personally recommend the 15yo or the Cask Strength. The 18yo was far too drinkable for its price. The cask strength is harsher, but with incredible flavour.