Trading My DSLR For A Smartphone

wp-1471229621006.jpgThis past weekend, we went to B’s aunt’s house to see some family that was in town.  In previous years, this would mean that I would grab my DSLR and spend much of the time snapping photos. For the third time, though, we went on a trip and either didn’t take the DSLR with us or took it but didn’t use it at all. This isn’t to say that I didn’t take any photos.  On the contrary, I took a ton of photos during our trips. The difference is that I used my smartphone instead of my DSLR.

Now, to some I know this might seem like heresy. A good DSLR camera can easily produce better photos than a smartphone’s camera. It can handle different light conditions and can allow you to change many settings to produce the best photo. DSLR photos tend to be higher resolution and can be printed into bigger sizes. So the DSLR would seem to be the better camera for the job in every case, right?

Well, not quite.

First off, there’s the weight factor. DSLR cameras are pretty heavy. If you add in some extra equipment (lenses, extra batteries, memory cards, etc.), a DSLR can really weight you down. The smartphone, on the other hand, is extremely light and portable. Not to mention that you’re likely going to have it on you anyway.

What about printing photos, though? It’s true that DSLR photos can make better prints at larger sizes, but nowadays we rarely print any of our photos. We mostly post them online or text/e-mail them to people. This is extremely easy with a smartphone. Simply click on the share icon and select the app you want to use to share the photo with. You can even send it to an image editing app first to crop the image, add a watermark, or combine multiple photos. With a DSLR, on the other hand, you need to offload the photos to a computer before you can upload or send them. Unfortunately, most times, you won’t have a computer with you so your “on-the-go” photo share will turn into a “I’ll share it later.”

Then there’s the problem of taking my camera to the pool. With a DSLR, I’d either wind up sitting on the side of the pool snapping photos or would need to place my bulky, obvious camera bag on the side hoping that someone didn’t take it. With my smartphone, though, I bought a waterproof case last year when we were going on our cruise. It keeps my phone dry even if it’s underwater. What’s more, I can use the touchscreen and even take photos with the case on. Sure, the touchscreen doesn’t work underwater, but I can set the timer, submerge my phone, and wind up with an underwater photo.


Yes, there are waterproof cases for DSLR cameras, but they can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The one I bought for under $20 works perfectly for my smartphone.

I’m sure my DSLR will still get a workout. I might still take it with us when we next go to Disney World, for example. Still, more and more I find myself relying on my smartphone instead of on a dedicated camera.

Do you still use a stand-alone camera (either point and shoot or DSLR)? Or have your photo taking habits shifted to smartphone-only?

A Quick Post About An Exhausting Weekend – Caption This Cat

This weekend was an exhausting one.  We went to B’s aunt’s house by the lake every day where we swam in the pool, played on the beach, went out on a boat, had fun with our relatives, and ate a lot of food.  This weekend was also mentally exhausting because my mother rushed to the ER with severe stomach pains and nausea.  After thinking it might be appendicitis, the actual cause was determined to be gall stones.  Luckily, she passed them.  Not-so-luckily, once a gall bladder starts making gall stones, it will just make more of them and they can be fatal.  So her gall bladder had to come out.  Surgery was scheduled, she was operated on, and – after a day – she was allowed to go home.

Though I took a ton of photos over the weekend, I was physically and mentally wiped out at the end of each night and just climbed into bed.  Sunday night, I finally got the chance to look them through.  Still, though, I might need awhile to process through them and see what will get posted.

Until I do, here’s one I knew I wanted to post.  It’s of Aunt S’s new cat, Oliver.  The kids had fun playing with him and his other kitten sibling during our time there.  The kitten really loved chasing laser pointers and playing with toys.  Oliver even let me pick him up.



But this photo was my favorite.  I caught Oliver mid-meow and this expression was priceless.


I feel like this should have a witty caption, but my brain is still too tired to come up with one.  So I’m leaving it up to you.

What would you caption this photo?

Why I Might Leave Instagram and How They Can Save The Situation

intagram_trashI really like Instagram.  It makes it easy to upload photos on the go, share them with all of my followers, and get social feedback via likes and comments.  Unfortunately, recent events are leading a lot people to close their accounts.  I’ve got to admit, I’m considering closing mine as well.

In a recent change to their Terms of Service, Instagram has declared that:

  1. Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here:
  2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

The "non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free" portion of the first part is pretty standard.  This just means that when you upload a photo to Instagram, they can display it without worrying about you suing them.  The next part is a little troubling though.  "Transferable" and "sub-licensable" means that they can take the permission you’ve granted them and give it to someone else.

Alone, this might be worrisome, but wouldn’t lead to a mass exodus.  The second part, however, means that Instagram could take the photos you are posting and the name you are posting under and sell them to a company to use in ads.  Furthermore, the money that Instagram gets from the ads would remain with Instagram.  They wouldn’t share it at all with the people who took and posted the photos.

History Repeats Itself

Two years ago, I was a happy TwitPic user.  I would take photos with my phone and send them to TwitPic to be posted online.  (I didn’t have a smartphone or data plan at this point.)  Then, TwitPic changed their Terms of Service to give them the right to sell posted photos to third parties without sharing the revenues with the users who posted the photos.

Sound familiar?

There was an exodus from TwitPic as people switched to YFrog and other services.  I, on the other hand, took a different route.  I used a combination of WordPress plugins to create my own photo posting area on my blog.

This worked well until I got a smartphone and Instagram came to Android.  These happened at about the same time and I was lured in.  I didn’t play with filters, but I liked the ease of taking a photo and posting it.  I also found that I liked the social feedback.  Comments and likes were easily administered and displayed.  So I began to use Instagram for all of my "on the go" photo postings.

Instagram’s Clarification

Now, Instagram had heard the uproar and has tried to clarify by saying "it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."  For the moment, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.  The new TOS doesn’t take effect until early January so they have until then to change their Terms of Service.

If they don’t change it in a favorable manner, however, I’m going to leave.  I don’t care if they say "we don’t plan on selling your photos" if their Terms of Service says "we can sell your photos any time we decide to do so."

How To Make This Into A Win

Now, I’m not going to begrudge Instagram making a profit.  I know that it costs money to run the service and they need to recoup this somehow.  And selling users’ photos is a clear path to revenue.  But this was the wrong way to go about it.  Were I to implement this, there would have been massive changes.

First of all, the service would be opt-in.  Not a single photo would be sold unless a user first decided that they wanted their photos to be available to be sold.  Secondly, marking your photos to be sold would just mean that you would get offers from companies.  A company would find your posted photo, decide they’d like to use it, and would make an offer to you via a channel Instagram would provide.  When the user and the company came to an agreement, Instagram would handle the payment.  Instagram would take a cut and the user would get the rest.  The company would then get the photo to use for the agreed upon purpose.

This system would allow photos to be monetized while still retaining user control over how their photos are used.  If anything, it would make their system more useful and might lead more people to post there hoping that their photos would lead to an offer.

Has Instagram’s new Terms of Service made you consider closing down your Instagram account?

Note: The trash can icon above is by hrum and is available from  I added the Instagram logo to it.

Aloha Friday: Bugged By Bugs

When I was a kid, I remember being very afraid of bugs.  If I was mowing the lawn and a dragonfly passed by me, I’d duck and run away.  If a spider crawled down the walls, I’d have to leave the room.  Don’t even ask me what I did if a bee flew my way.

At some point, though, I got over my fear of bugs.  I think it mainly is due to my love of photography, specifically macro photography.  Once I began looking at the world of small things through the lens of my camera, bugs went from scary creatures to avoid to fascinating subjects to photograph.

Years ago, B would roll her eyes and put up with me crouching over to take a very close photo of a weird bug.  Today, though, I think I’ve (partially) converted her.  When we saw a big, weird looking spider in our front yard, she didn’t even flinch as I asked for her camera.  (We were on our way out and mine was locked in the house.)  And so I took a photo.


Of course, half the fun is taking a photo.  The other half, is zooming in on the photo to see the details.  For example, just how hairy this spider is.


My, what hairy mandibles you have!

Now, if I could only identify what kind of spider this is.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Do you find bugs fascinating or creepy?

P.S. If you haven’t already, try out my Twitter applications: FollowerHQ and Rout.

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #161

Instagram Addiction

instagramSoon after we got our smart phones, Instagram came out for Androids.  I downloaded it immediately and tried it out.  I’ll admit that my first impression was poor.  I didn’t see the draw in taking small photos of things and putting filters on them.  After a few posted photos, I moved on.

Sometimes later, I decided to give Instagram another shot.  This time, I found I loved using it.  I still steer clear of the filters, preferring instead to show the photos as they are taken.  Still, it is a quick and easy way to share out photos.  I could have Instagram tweet out the photo and still keep a gallery of my photos for people to look at.

Granted, Instagram isn’t perfect.  For one thing, there’s no spell check within the app.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost sent out an update with a mistyped a word because there was no red squiggly line alerting me to the incorrectly spelled word(s).  Secondly, Instagram itself doesn’t have a gallery.  I can’t just tell people to go to to view all of my photos.  Even if you load up one of my Instagram photos, there’s no way, in a non-mobile browser, to click to see more photos by me.  This is the exact opposite problem that many websites have.  (Ignoring mobile browsers and crafting their site only for non-mobile visitors.)

Thankfully, there are a few sites that can load your Instagram photos in a gallery-like format.  I’m partial to Instagrid.  You can view my Instagram photos on Instagrid here:

Now that I’ve added that link to my header, I can easily direct people to my Instagram feed whether they have a smartphone or not.  So if you aren’t on Instagram, take a look at my photos from time to time.  If you are on Instagram, why not follow me?  Let me know your Instagram names in the comments and I might follow you as well.

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