7 episodes

Smartphones have made photography more accessible than ever. Mike James invites you into the Smartphone Photography Club to be part of our education community. If you are a photo enthusiast wanting to become more creative and confident using your existing mobile device, this is the podcast for you.

Smartphone Photography Clu‪b‬ Mike James

    • Visual Arts
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Smartphones have made photography more accessible than ever. Mike James invites you into the Smartphone Photography Club to be part of our education community. If you are a photo enthusiast wanting to become more creative and confident using your existing mobile device, this is the podcast for you.

    #7: Adding a watermark

    #7: Adding a watermark

    In this episode, I will share a couple of techniques to add a watermark to your photo on your actual smartphone. Firstly, why would some photo enthusiasts like to do this? There are two main reasons; protection of copyright and ownership. The other is visual marketing to let the viewer's know who the photographer was.

    On social media, I am noticing more photo curation accounts than creatives now. Some will actually ask for a watermark-free version of your photo. I have even seen some add their Instagram account logo on your photo! The old line of giving you free publicity does not go down well - especially when there is no attribution. If you have had this happen to you, that someone grows their following through your photo, you do feel violated.

    A watermark is typically a semi-transparent identifiable image or text in the bottom right corner. Some creatives like to even place a text watermark alongside existing lines inside the image. A re-posted photo with consent and a watermark can be effective and free marketing. On the negative side of adding a watermark, they can be distracting and reduce the effectiveness of your photo composition.

    The laws around copyright differ in countries. In Australia, there is no system of registration for copyright protection. You do not need registration, publication, a copyright notice, or any other procedure. Protection is free and automatic. This is where I say, this episode/video/blog is not intended for advice and you should seek your own!

    The two apps that I mention are Adobe Photoshop Mix (iOS and Android) and iWatermark (iOS only). Any app that allows you to add a photo on top of another photo (layers) will do the job. Make sure your watermark has a transparent background and saved as a PNG file format. My preference is to use the iWatermark app. You can save the watermark as a preset and a couple of taps of the screen and you are finished.

    My thoughts - I do not add a watermark to my photos. I do add EXIF data to my images using Adobe Lightroom. This is hidden information embedded inside the photo that can be retrieved. Although there are also apps out there that can delete and even replace EXIF data! That data is also stripped when uploaded to most social media platforms. If it helps to reassure you, photos shared on social media platforms are compressed. This makes it impractical to print a wall-sized photo.

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    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy

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    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh

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    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC

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    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/3gv9JuC

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    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail

    Passionate - Creative - Curious

    - Mike

    • 10 min
    #6 - When to convert to a black & white photo

    #6 - When to convert to a black & white photo

    In this episode, I talk about how to identify a black and white photo opportunity. Converting an image to black and white removes attention away from any colours and forces us to notice and focus our attention on shades, textures, lines and tones.

    Sometimes converting a random photo to black and white can produce a surprisingly great result. Many use the conversion of black and white to hide imperfections in their photo. An example is a noisy night photo containing a lot of grain and grittiness (salt and pepper) artifacts. A black and white version of the photo can make those imperfections look like film grain. Converting to back and white should not be used as a get out of jail free card.

    I love black and white photos. Shooting black and white using the smartphone Live filter helped me tremendously in starting to see the light that everyone talks about. As you point the phone at a scene, you do not need to guess what it will look like as a black and white photo, because you can see the result in real-time on the screen.

    In the YouTube version of this podcast, you will see the two example photos, where I talk you through the thinking process and why I shot and converted them to black and white. One is a London underground station with some amazing lighting. The second is my son looking out of a window with some amazing textures on the flyscreen.

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    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy

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    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh 

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    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC

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    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/2ZX6feN

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    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail 

    Passionate - Creative - Curious

    - Mike

    • 10 min
    #5: 3 Steps to creating a WOW photo

    #5: 3 Steps to creating a WOW photo

    The transition from taking a snapshot and recording a moment in time to capture a WOW photo can be attributed to how you:


    Identifying a photographic opportunity and recognising your intention
    Set up the photo - pre-planning the photo capture
    Photo editing - enhance the viewer's experience after the photo

    In this episode, I concentrate on three easy to implement steps to dramatically improve the way you set up the photo. To make certain your photos stand out and give your audience the ‘WOW’ factor, there are three elements to consider:


    Grab your viewer’s immediate attention;
    Clearly communicate the subject or story;
    Demonstrate strong composition techniques.



    1. Grab your viewer’s attention
    Technical elements of a photo can instantly grab our attention:


    Bright and vivid colour
    Contrast - black and white
    Very sharp incredible detail
    Extreme close-up
    A dominant colour
    Different angle or perspective
    Upside down photo
    Strong emotional connection



    2. Clearly communicate the subject or story

    Photography is an art form, capturing light, colour and movement in an attempt to tell a story for immediate enjoyment, communication or future recollection.

    To effectively tell a story – you need to be conscious of what you are trying to communicate. Why did you pull the smartphone out of your handbag or pocket?

    Is it a message, a mood, an emotion, an idea or a combination of any of these? What I love about photography is that the viewers can interpret your image differently based on their own experiences and memories.


    3. Strong composition
    The composition of the photo is how the main subject and other elements in the image interact with each other.  Effective composition can guide the viewer through your photo and ensure they focus on the correct element/s. Knowing how we interpret a typical scene will help us to create an image that is easily understood and increase viewer engagement.

    Sounds very manipulative - doesn't it?

    These considerations will make a big difference to capture a WOW photo.

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh 

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/2ZX6feN

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail 

    Passionate - Creative - Curious

    - Mike

    • 13 min
    #4 Capture floating levitation photos the easy way

    #4 Capture floating levitation photos the easy way

    In this episode, I talk you through an easy way of taking fun, creating floating, levitation photos on any camera. The tip is using fishing line. Most of the time, you will not even have to remove the near-invisible line from the photo in editing. If you do, I recommend using the Retouch app by Adva-Soft. Connecting the fishing line to the ceiling using a low adhesive clip allows you the versatility of adjusting the line length the achieve the desired height of the floating object.  Surreal levitation photos exemplify the creative process. This is a fun activity to attempt yourself if are stuck at home in lockdown, isolation or just do not have the option to continue capturing the photos you normally enjoy. Without any boundaries, you can get as creative as you want.  You can also try the supported method. This is where you capture two photos: one of the background and another of the subject supported. In post-processing, you can 'stack' the photos and remove the supporting elements of the second photo revealing the original background. This technique is called double exposure and masking. Apps that I recommend to achieve this on your smartphone is Adobe Mix. If you have an iPhone, I like the extra masking tools inside another app named Superimpose X. Be prepared for a little frustration using the timer or remote shutter to get that perfectly timed floating object. Keep persisting though, as this is a really fun project. ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 

    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy 

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    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh  

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 

    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC 

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 

    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/2ZX6feN 

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 

    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail  

    Passionate - Creative - Curious 

    - Mike

    • 12 min
    #3: Backing up your smartphone photos

    #3: Backing up your smartphone photos

    I share my process for backing up my family and photography photos. Choosing the right back up strategy is a personal preference. You will need to weigh up the risks, convenience and costs. Do you archive/backup to the cloud, to the C drive on your computer, an external hard drive and do you do a combination of these?

    Do you have an old phone full of photos sitting in your drawer?

    There are some free options to archive and backup your photos, like Google Photos - that is about to change. Some options will save a reduced file resolution size, are difficult to synchronise across devices or download as a zip folder when you want to access them online.

    Personally, my family, travel and experience photos are extremely important to me. I do want to take any risks. I have all our devices backed up on the iCloud, then synchronised to an external hard drive on our PC. As an extra layer of protection, I then have the external hard drive backed up in the cloud using a service called Backblaze.

    My photography and business photos are mostly captured using the Adobe Lightroom camera feature. This stores all the photos locally on my iPhone separate from the personal photos in the Photos app (camera roll). Having a lower risk threshold, I am happy to offload these manually by sharing them directly on the iPhone into a Microsoft OneDrive folder in the cloud. This makes me much more selective about what I backup. I like One Drive because the photos are saved in full resolution for any future editing. Adobe subscription will be a fantastic choice for many. Your photos are automatically synchronised across all devices, including your PC or Mac.

    Other options, include Dropbox and OneDrive apps that will automatically upload to the cloud as soon as your smartphone is plugged into power and connected to WiFi. This is very convenient when travelling and staying in accommodation with WiFi.

    In this episode, I do not tell what you need to be using. I do not even show in the YouTube video how to use the tools available. The options all have pros/cons and the interface and pricing structures change regularly. Do your homework and consider what level of multi-layer protection you need for your photos.

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh 

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/2ZX6feN

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail 

    Passionate - Creative - Curious

    - Mike

    • 12 min
    #2 Capture a subject 9 different ways to discover your creativity

    #2 Capture a subject 9 different ways to discover your creativity

    One of the biggest challenges we face as photo enthusiasts is the self-belief that we are not creative enough. Is that you? Did you miss out on that creative gene that everyone else seems to have? I believed that for so long myself. My dad and sister can pick up and play any instrument and are excellent illustrators. My stick figures are barely recognisable and I cannot even play the kazoo.

    Working in a technical field of photography for 20 years, there was no scope for creativity. I believed that was my strength and I was one of those technical types. I discussed this in more detail in episode one.

    Surveying our wonderful Facebook group, the two top obstacles to reaching your desires were photo composition and creativity. Have you found yourself in a location and just standing there thinking I do not know what to capture. That is covered in the 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge (Link below).

    We all scroll through our social media feeds and are inspired by amazing photos such as National Geographic. The majority of accounts now on Instagram for example are curated photos from a number of sources. Some of those photos take months to prepare, setup and execute.

    Creativity starts by learning some basic design and visual communication concepts and principles. The key to an engaging, interesting photo is learning what attracts, holds and controls the viewer's attention. This knowledge is far better than a smartphone upgrade!

    In this episode, I share how to take a mundane, simple subject and push yourself to capture nine interesting photos. You can start with different angles, perspectives, lighting and the inclusion of props. etc.

    This activity is not about the end result. It is about getting out there and pushing yourself to try new things and most importantly experiment. After a while, we all end up in a creativity rut, where we get bored with our own photos. This is a great exercise to come back to on a regular basis as it is quick easy to do.

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Take the Photo Creativity Challenge: This 14-Day Photo Creativity Challenge is the key to quickly unleash your photo creativity through simple processes, so you can confidently capture interesting photos anytime in any location bit.ly/3aBXPhy

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Tutorials: Practical, jargon-free articles on the photo set up, capture and photo editing techniques bit.ly/2ZGgILh

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Accessories: Struman Optics lens accessories bit.ly/3gv9JuC

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Community: Join our amazing Smartphone Photography Club (FB group) to participating in photo themes, share techniques and tips. bit.ly/2ZX6feN

    ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

    Email List: Stay up to date on the latest articles and tutorials bit.ly/sptemail

    Passionate - Creative - Curious

    - Mike

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

OttowayPhil ,

Smartphone photography training

Hi Mike,

Have recently signed up for your 14 day challenge, podcast and Facebook community. I’m keen to learn how to get more out of my smartphone. I am very impressed with what I have seen so far and your experience and patience. Looking forward to learning more and taking far better photos.

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