Twenty-twelve, my second daughter was born so even more of my mobile photos are filled with pictures of the kids to embarrass them with in the future; crying baby face, bath-time soapy hair, singing along with the My Little Pony theme song in the car.
I used the iPhone 4S [wikipedia.org] all year, having gotten it at the end of 2011, the 8 mega-pixel camera was a definite step up from the 5 mega-pixel camera of the iPhone 4 and even more over my old iPhone 3GS’es 3 mega-pixel camera!
As I said last time, in good light the iPhone 4S took very good photos. Low light was still an issue, has been up to this day, night mode on the newer iPhones just over does the noise reduction, the photos look good on the iPhone screen but not when viewed on your computer or TV. But photos taken in even halfway decent light look great. It still makes a big difference if you can set the phone on something to keep it stable though.
The first photo I chose for 2012 is a photo where I had a stable surface to set the phone on when taking the shot. And this photo is actually one of the sharpest mobile photos I’ve ever taken, just a random snail in my condo:
Next up two shots of the housing blocks across the street from me, one in full daylight and one in late afternoon golden sunlight. Both look great:
Next we have a couple of lower light shots that worked well, though you can see the graininess if you look. First, a shot taken in Changi Airport while waiting for a late night flight. This figurine was clipped to my work bag for years. At some point I lost him, not sure where. He was seriously beat up even in 2012:
Last two: Escalators at Paragon shopping mall on Orchard Road here in Singapore and looking up at an art installation in Millenia Walk shopping mall’s main atrium.
Most of my interesting snapshots for 2011 are from in and around Suntec City [sunteccity.com.sg]. I started working at an office in Suntec in 2010 and have been there ever since… though I mostly work from home since the COVID-19 lock-down and at this point I don’t have any plans to go back to the office day-in and day-out. Once in a while to meet people is enough.
My oldest daughter started day care in Suntec in 2011. I would pick her up at 6 each day and we would wait for my wife to pick us both up. next to large koi pond at Suntec. The first photos I chose for 2011 is from one afternoon while we waited. Next to the koi pond there was a restaurant with a red neon sign and on this particular day it was quite dark at 6, cloudy but not yet storming. At 6PM the outdoor lights in Singapore are not on (most are on automatic timers from about 7PM to 7AM, being very close to the equator the day is almost exactly 12 hours long, shifting less than 15 minutes (see here [weatherspark.com]). The dark clouds and lack of streetlights allowed the neon red to turn the pond into pool of glowing red blood:
I always wanted to get that shot with my DSLR but the few times I went back there was too much sunlight or white lights from the streetlights. I never got lucky and the koi pond is long gone now, a victim of renovation.
A few months after my daughter started daycare we had to change centers as the one in Suntec close. They arranged an offer to transfer all the students who wanted to another center in Millenia Walk [milleniawalk.com] just next door. So for the next few years I walked over the Millenia most days. Millenia has a bunch of sculptures around it and one in particular I had to pass by every day. It’s a tall spiral of stacked square marble by Philip Johnson [wikipedia.org] and it’s positioned in such a way that it catches the late sun during the golden hour. I took many photos of it over the years that my daughters were in day care in Millenia Walk. This is one of the best:
Given the time of day, 6PM and it being a weekday (Wednesday the internet tells me) the next photo was probably also taken when I was walking over to Millenia:
Then, in October, the iPhone 4S [wikipedia.org] was released. And a serious jump in camera quality, from 3 megapixel to 8 megapixel. 8 megapixels is a respectable digital camera, you can actually print photos at this resolution out as standard size photos and they look good. All assuming you had good light, but at this point the iPhone entered an era where it was as good as a mass market point-and-shoot. And since other phones had even better cameras by now this was really the end of the dedicated point-and-shoot as a viable product. You can still get them ten years on but now there are only a few models to choose from. Back in 2010, 2011 there were dozens and they were quite popular. Yet another gadget the smartphone subsumed.
I only have one photo from 2011 taken with the 4S to share. Taken at work during a conference call. A long time hobby of mine, during long conference calls, was to play with Buckyballs! (Note that the original (?) Buckyballs no longer exist due to a long running issue around safety in the US and a lawsuit back in 2012, but I’ll always call them Buckyballs. There are a number of companies still selling Neodymium Magnetic Toys [wikipedia.org], check out Zen Magnets [zenmagnets.com], you can see some of the amazing things people build in their gallery). Here’s a shot looking down a tube of Buckyballs:
Before we end 2011, I’ve got one more. I don’t do a lot of overt manipulation of most of my photos. I adjust the white balance, play with the exposure and curves, add a vignette, etc. but I don’t “photoshop” them for the most part. However, I do play around with more drastic editing some times, and on my phone I have an app called Camera+ [camera.plus] (they are on Camera+2 now, but this photo was edited with the original). Here is one photo that I messed with in Camera+ as it was not a good photo, but I was able to get something cool out if it after adding a bunch of filters and such:
This was taken at the old Suntec Convention Center, the enterance off of Beach Road, before the MRT station was built and before the Suntec renovations in 2012-2014. There was some sort of power outage that day creating dramatic shadows as people came into the Convention Center on a sunny day.
A new decade. But, ehm, same iPhone 3GS I ended 2009 [confusion.cc] with. The 3GS actually took some decent photos in 2010. Decent enough that I have actually uploaded some of them to my Flickr [flickr.com]. So here we go, my best mobile photos of 2010.
First up, two related photos. I have a enduring fascination for taking photos straight up at interesting ceilings. Too often people don’t look up unless they are told to. So maybe it’s the unexpected perspective or the fact that I don’t see many photos of ceilings but I have taken a lot over the years. Here are two from Singapore, old and modern.
The old, is the dome of the National Museum of Singapore [nationalmuseum.sg], with it’s blue and white stained glass windows:
The modern, is the glass cone ceiling of Wheelock Place on Orchard Road:
Enough architecture, now for some nature. Colorful, if dying, nature in the form of a fern leaf someone on a sidewalk in Singapore. Mostly leaves come in two colors in Singapore – Green or Brown, for a few week a year, if we have a good dry season, you can see yellow leaves but for most of the year it’s just Green or Brown. The fern leaf is unusually colorful.
Next up, more nature, but not from Singapore, this sunset was taken in Woburn, Massachusetts in the US. On a trip for a job, I was walking back to my hotel from dinner. You don’t get many dramatic sunsets in Singapore, we don’t get the low angle that the more northerly or southerly latitudes do, so I noticed that sunset every day in Woburn.
And I’ll leave it at that. Next stop 2011.
We started the iPhone era in 2008, camera quality went backwards, as discussed [confusion.cc] last time. I spent most of 2009 with the iPhone 3G so the photos are not great. Also, and most importantly, the vast majority of my mobile phone photos —and a lot of videos— are of my daughter, born in mid-2008. I gave up on the Sony camcorder I purchased to take lots of videos of her because it was too damn much work to edit them into something that I could watch on the TV or phone. The videos on the iPhone were small but they got used a lot more.
So, anyway, what photos do I have that are not of my wife or daughter or other people I know? Not much. Out of the 425 photos in my archive from 2009, fully 80% of of people. Not leaving much to choose my “best photos” from, but here you go.
First up, two shots, for side-by-side comparison of the weather on two days from my desk, ignore the reflection of the office lights:
Next a random shot of tree leaves… looking up against a cloudy sky for a silhouette effect. I like the trees in Singapore that grow up and spread a single layer of leaves over a vast area, like what we called “Rain Trees” in videos of the African Savanna. I’m guessing it’s not the same tree but same shape when you see them from afar. The single layer of leaves means you get to see this intricate pattern against the sky. This is not the best example, not is the photo high quality, even for the iPhone 3G camera as it was taken handheld so thing are a bit blurry. You could get better photos by setting the phone on a stable surface, but c’est la vie.
Here is a better example of what the iPhone 3G’s camera could do. I guess the light was better, as it’s a lot less blurry this time. The subject is… interesting. I assume I took it to show someone and have a laugh. For those not familiar, it is common in Southeast Asia to get take away drinks, hot and cold, in plastic bags with little plastic straps to hold on or hang on things. You see people carry them whenever you are near a food court of local coffee shop, you see them hanging from nobs and levers on trucks and taxis. And, once in a while, you see them left hanging from random fence posts or tree branches. They look like tree has a colostomy bags to me:
OK, one more. This is the only one taken on the better camera of the iPhone 3GS [wikipedia.org] I got when it was released in Singapore in late 2009. A bit Big Brother this cluster of cameras in Raffles place:
Time marches on…And technology gets better. While the iPhone was released in the US in 2007 the rest of us had to wait for the 3G or even 3Gs (unless you got a very overpriced parallel import) so I entered 2008 as I ended 2007 with my Sony Ericsson, the Z610i [wikipedia.org]. But, it did not last long, in the first month of 2008 I got a Nokia N95 [wikipedia.0rg] (actually the N95-2 or N95 8GB version, the black one).
I got the N95 via work, a test phone we no longer needed, one of the perks of working in the mobile content business. It was very cool phone, one of my favorite of the pre-iPhone era. The first Nokia I liked after the iconic 3310 [wikipedia.org] or my original 1997 252N [nokiamuseum.info]. The N95 did suffer from some “Symbian bloat” and the “why do they move every function around on every new phone” issue that Nokia had with Symbian. In short Nokia had a habit of re-arranging everything on the Symbian 60 UI every new phone just to confuse loyal Nokia users and over the years the Symbian 60 got more and more bloated. Coming from the Sony Ericsson world where the same OS had slowly evolved from the T616, through the Z800i to the Z610i it was a shock. The best thing about the N95 though was the camera. And that’s what we are here to rant about.
The rear camera on the N95 was 5 megapixels. That’s half the megapixels on the Canon 40D [wikipeida.org] that came out the same year, that I took lots of photos with.
But anyway… on with the photos from the N95. The vast majority of the photos are snapshots of my oldest daughter, born in July 2008. Including a lot taken in the minutes and hours after she was born. But we are not sharing photos of people so…
First up, a night shot! From a trip to Kuala Lumpur for work, the Patronas Towers all lit up. Edited in light room as the raw photo had a lot of noise and tried to up the dark sky so much it was like snow from an old TV.
Next up to shots of flowers on the grounds of Parkview Square [wikipedia.org] in Singapore, where I worked at the time:
There is also this shot of rainwater on the marble outside of Parkview Square:
And then there is this awesome shot of Parkview Square, also known as “the Batman building” or “the Gotham building”:
In August 2008, I got a JesusPhone [confusion.cc] via work again. I had to pay for it, but work was able to get a few iPhones a couple of days after it launched officially in Singapore through their corporate plan. The truth though is the iPhone camera was a step down from the Nokia N95. I would be a few years before the iPhone camera was up-to-date with other mobiles. So, I don’t have any photos from the iPhone in 2008 I would consider as part of my “best” mobile photos of the year given that I spend the first 8 months using the much better N95…
I started 2007 with the same Sony Ericsson Z800i [wikipedia.org], that I got back in June of 2005. But it died in late February or early March of 2007 (my last Z800i photos is dated February 25th, but the first with the next handset is from March 11th). I replaced the Z800i with a another Sony Ericsson, the Z610i [wikipedia.org], a more curvy, more shiny flip phone. The camera got a bit better, taking photos at 1600×1200 pixels versus the Z800i’s 1280×1024.
2007 was a bit of a barren years as far as mobile photos goes. In total I have a couple of dozen photos and most of those are of coworkers or family, so I’m not sharing them. I did pick out three from what little remains after excluding portraits.
First up is this looking up shot taken, I think, at Ministry of Sound during it’s short life in Singapore. It seems I have had a fascination with taking “looking up at lamps” [confusion.cc] shots for a long time.
And another abstract shot, no doubt also from clubbing… Never point a laser at your camera processor. At least that’s what they say. You can get some spiffy photos out of it if you do:
Finally something different, a non-abstract shot taken in Moscow, on a work trip:
I was working on a project with the Russian mobile operator, Beeline and on the way to their office the first morning after I arrived I passed this sign, which I believe is pointing to their office building I was working it, just down the road. Fun fact: I got deported from Russia [confusion.cc] on that trip…
Well, that’s it for 2007.
2006 was a big year for me, I got married at the end of the year, I changed jobs here in Singapore (which was big as it meant no automatic repatriation, any going back to the US would be on my own dime and, um, I’m still here). But for mobile phones it was a dull year, at least for me. I got the Sony Ericsson Z800i [wikipedia.org] in 2005 and kept it all of 2006. And somehow I don’t have a lot of photos from my phone for 2006. But anyway… here are three photos from what I have that I will call “My Best Mobile Photos of 2006”:
First is a shot taken, I think, from a car. Judging by what I think are reflections (about halfway up the left side) and the fact that it’s shot up at a strange angle catching the stoplight and street lamp pole.
Next is a another sky shot. This time a rainbow. Probably also taken from a car.
And lastly, a shot of a good night out with the team from the office.
I started 2005 using the same Sony Ericsson K700i I took my best 2004 mobile phtos [confusion.cc] with. I used it for the first half of the year, and the only photo worth sharing during that time that is not a portrait is another panorama:
The photo stitching is much better in this one, as the camera was sitting on the table when I took all the photos, I just had to rotate it for each shot. So maybe, just maybe, the software was good and the photos in that shot of the Singapore CBD skyline I shared from 2004 were really not level.
Moving on. At some point in 2005 I got a new phone, one that I loved, I think it was the best phone on the market at the time and I can’t understand why it was not more popular. The Sony Ericsson Z800i. A flip phone with a rotating 1.3 megapixel camera, a step up from the K700i’s 640×480 (with an “extrapolation mode” which output photos at 1280×960). The Z800i output photos at 1280×1024, which isn’t much bigger than the K700i’s extrapolation mode but they look much better:
There are still a serious lack of actual good photos in my library. Focus was an issue, on both the K700i and the Z800i. Also, action was an issue, even the slightest movement is blurred.
I actually went through two Z800i’s, as shortly after I got it my wife —now wife, then girlfriend— sent my new phone for a ride through the washing machine. One night after drinking I left it in my pocket and she decided do to the laundry early in the morning due to the smell of smoke and alcohol on the cloths. At the time I was living in a shared corporate flat and I didn’t even know the phone when through the wash, I found it on the table in the living room and just assumed I left it there. But when I tried to turn it on it was dead. I spent the afternoon waiting in Wisma Atria to see a Sony Ericsson agent to get it fixed, since it was nearly brand new. After waiting for my number to come up it took the agent all of 2 minutes to tell me the damage was not covered by the warranty as it was water damage. Apparently there is a little white square of material on the battery that turns blue when exposed to water. At first I couldn’t figure out how the phone got “submerged” and argued that it could only have been sweat or a splash from normal usage, I had not dropped it in water. I was only when we got home and my co-worker cum roommate told me he found the phone in the washing machine when he went to do his laundry that we managed to piece the story together.
So I had to buy a new phone… I don’t remember how much it cost but I do remember it being painful and my wife being surprise I did not get angry with her. C’est la vie.
Anyway, here are a couple of more photos for the Z8ooi that I can count as my best mobile phone photos of 2005. First a photo of the US flag from my hotel room in Washington DC on a trip back in July of 2005 to attend a wedding:
And… then there is this:
That’s my killer rabbit that used to look down on my cube in the office in Virginia wearing a hat I got at a St. Paddy’s day pub bash in 2002 in England. I gave the rabbit away to a coworker, and the hat eventually got trashed. C’est la vie.
I have embarked on a mission to cleanup my mobile phone photo library. As long as I’ve been taking photos with my mobile I have been ignoring them after I back them up. These days I back them up to Lightroom and I have even managed to find and imported photos from before I used Lightroom into my Lightroom library. There are a few gaps but I have a long mission ahead.
My library of mobile phone photos goes back as far as 29 September 2004. There are a couple of shots of people I was working with at the time, which I won’t post, and then this gem:
That’s the Alkaff Bridge [wikipedia.org] over the Singapore River, just down the quay from the hotel I was living in (The Gallery Hotel, no longer there) in September 2004. Having arrived from the US on, as I recall, September 4th (thought looking back at my 2004 post here on Confusion I seem to have left the US on August 30th [confusion.cc]… I know you skip a day and I took a crazy long, multi-stopover route, but it does not seem to add up, maybe I left well after midnight, I can’t remember.)
In any case, that photo was taken on a SonyEricsson K700i [wikipedia.org]. I’m sure I should have photos that were taken on even older photos, specifically the T610 [wikipedia.org] but it seems those are lost to time, so the K700i are my oldest. They are mostly crap photos, but there are some fun shots of people I worked with.
For some reason about half of the photos from the K700i are 1280×960 while others are only 640×480.
But the K700i did have a fun panorama function built in. I made a few attempts but it wasn’t always so good at handling my inherent inability to keep the camera level from one shot to the next (a problem I have with my DSLR too). These buildings look like they are drunk or auditioning for Inception or Dr. Strange a few years early:
So I really don’t have any good mobile phone photos from 2004, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I plan to post a few mobile phone ph0tos for each year as I continue my cleanup. We’ll see how much the phones and my ability to use them advanced. Not sure what year I’ll stop at. I started using Lightroom mobile to take photos on my phone sometime in 2017 so that’s a logical place to stop… let’s see if I can get that far.
As a final aside, the photo of Alkaff bridge was taken on the night of September 29th. According to Confusion [confusion.cc] I visited the Chinese Gardens to view the lanterns setup for the Mid-autumn festival with some colleagues. But I don’t have any photo, or DSLR photos of that night…