More street photography with the iPhone and VSCO Cam [Street]

"The best camera is the one you have with you".  Truer words have never been spoken, and I have to say that I'm loving the combination of my iPhone and VSCO Cam for street photography.  The day I forgot to bring my camera with me over my lunch break was one of the first times I thought "Know what? I'll just use my iPhone.  I have this pretty cool app that I can process the photos with, so why not?"  Man, this works.

The thing that gets me the most is when I carry my phone no one pays any attention to me.  They don't know I'm taking their photo at all, and if they do, they certainly don't let on.  

I was in a forum recently and mentioned the incredible burst-mode in the iPhone, and was surprised by the response that "That's why iPhone photos have no soul". I call bullshit. 

The truth is that using some basic stealth shooting techniques and making use of the wide angle lens, I'm getting very soulful results, in my humblest of opinions anyway.

Do you suppose people would be as loose and expressive if they knew I was taking their photo?  

The honest truth is that I'm not sure that I would have access like this with a full size camera.  I don't think people would let me in.  When I walk past them, finger on the trigger, I smile, say hello, and then I'm on my way.  I haven't been intrusive at all, and the expressions I get back are honest rather than posed. 

As for the app, VSCO Cam is brilliant.

The basic app is free, available for both Apple and Android devices.  You can take photos through the app, but sadly it disables the volume control as a shutter button and doesn't support burst mode.  Because of this I stick to the iPhone's camera app then import the images to VSCO Cam for editing.

The app comes with some number (I've forgotten how many) basic presets that give you a starting point for your photos, and they look great, not hipstagram-ish.  You can edit lots of global settings like exposure, contrast, shadows and sharpness to name a few.

 I went and bought the rest of the presets that didn't come with the free version, and it only cost me $7.  Once you get your head around the editing tools and find the filters you like to use the best, image creation becomes effortless.  I've actually filled up my iPhone's hard drive already, and need to make some more room very soon.

If you would like to see more of this kind of work, feel free to visit my "Grid" at  This is a small collection of the photos that I take and share using my iPhone and the VSCO Cam app.

More updates coming soon!

iPhone Photos, Apps, and an Intro to OKDOTHIS [iPhone]

If you have a smart phone, chances are that it has a camera.  In fact, one of the reasons I made the decision to switch to the iPhone was because of the camera. The old Motorola phone I traded in had a really crappy 5 megapixel sensor and the images sucked.  Now, I'm carrying around an 8 megapixel compact camera with me everywhere now, and I love it.  

The first photo I took with my brand spanking new iPhone 5s: a creepy mannequin at Old Navy.
I even went so far to leave my DSLR in the bag for my entire trip to New Brunswick over the holidays.  The camera in this phone does HDR, multiple aspect ratios, and you can download a plethora of free apps to make your images pop.  I'm pretty happy with what it does, and I'm confident that while it's not as high-quality as the 5D mark II, the simplicity and portability make it really functional in the real world.

Trees bent over under the weight of the ice in Quispamsis NB, shot with the HDR setting.
Public Gardens in downtown Halifax, shot with the HDR Setting.
My favourite app so far is VSCO Cam.  It's really simple, gives you a decent amount of editing control and lets you do film simulations that look really good. You can create an account, upload your photos to a VSCO Grid (here is mine) The VSCO team has not only developed the VSCO Cam, but also several sets of presets available for Lightroom, Photoshop etc.

Ornaments on a Christmas Tree, processed with VSCO Cam

Chandelier inside the Halifax Club on Hollis St, Edited with VSCO Cam
Dad's faithful companion Thor, getting overstimulated by the snowy walk in the woods.  Too many smells! Edited with VSCO Cam

My brother Scott, walking on top of the crust of ice.  If he went through it he'd be at least up to his knees in snow.  Edited with VSCO Cam

My grandmother's Seafood Chowder, made with the leftovers from New Years Eve.  Mmmmmm....  Edited with VSCO Cam
It's been said by many that the best camera you have is the one you have with you.  When you're out walking around and out of nowhere you see a bit of absolutely breathtaking light, a fantastic subject, or a moment in time you want to preserve, it's good to have a camera you can count on.  While the iPhone is brilliant, there are many other phones with excellent cameras.  I'm not trying to sell you on the iPhone, I'm trying to sell you on the idea that you should use your camera phone whenever you think about it. 

My cat Java, sitting on my lap while looking intently out the window and comforting me while I had a cold. I think this shot was edited with Snapseed.

In fact, one app that has really caught my attention is called OKDOTHIS.  It was created by photographer Jeremy Cowart and a crack team of software designers, and it is pretty brilliant.

Here's a rundown of how you might use the app:

You're bored. You are in the middle of town with nothing to do but take some pictures, but the ideas aren't flowing.  You're stuck in a rut.  What do you do?  Open up OKDOTHIS, and start looking for a "Do", or an idea for you to go shoot. You go shoot it, process it, add a filter if you want, and upload it to the OKDOTHIS Community.

You can also create "Do"s of your own, and watch as people find them and attempt to create their own interpretations of your ideas.  It's a great way to push yourself out of a creative rut and to try some new things you haven't before.  You can do it all from your smart phone, or you can upload photos from your computer as well.

While browsing the photos page, you can "OK" something (similar to liking it on facebook), leave a comment on the photo, attempt the "Do" yourself or share the image on social media.  There are many categories of "Do"s to browse, lots of photographers to connect with and a massive pool of ideas to work from.

You can find me on OKDOTHIS, my username is @timlingley.  I don't have a lot up there yet, but I plan to take the app with me everywhere and use it whenever I think to.  Hopefully I'll even come up with a few really cool ideas of my own to put in as "Do"s.  If you get time, check out this app.  I'm unsure of its availability on Android devices, but if you have an iWhatever, you should be able to get it.

Thanks for reading!  Go try OKDOTHIS!

EDIT: Thanks to Bryn Bodayle (@brynbodayle on twitter), I can share my profile here now:  Bryn's profile is at  Click on these links on a mobile device with the app installed and they should link directly to the user's account!