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I’ve been experimenting with a different approach to photography over the last few months. Instead of picking rare opportunities to haul around my professional (make that heavy) camera, I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with my iPhone. I always have it with me, and though I shoot far too much, it also allows me to quickly choose, edit and share. I’ve been pleased with the surprisingly good photographs it produces, but there are certain benefits it provides and constraints that it imposes.

First, the constraints. You are always shooting with a wide angle lens. With my other camera I prefer to shoot “zoomed in” almost all the time. The wide angle aspect increases the sense of distance and introduces a lot of distortion, especially around the edges, giving a “rounded” view of the world. It forces you to move closer to things you want to fill the frame, so you become more intimately involved with your subject. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it tends to make you see the “big picture” more often and capture the expansiveness of your environment. There is very little in the way of control or adjustment, so I find myself shooting more, hoping to capture something interesting, and then editing rather ruthlessly the large number of unusable or uninteresting images. And in the end you can’t shoot “raw” images, you can’t get caught up in the mechanics of perfecting your shots, and you have to settle for lesser quality. This sometimes matters less to me when images are mostly designed for social sharing or as reference for further art projects.

As I write this, I realize that many of these same constraints also have benefits, but there are things I just plain like about shooting from my phone. Shooting and sharing more liberally has encouraged me to shoot more. After all, I have hundreds of thousands of images on my computer that nobody (often including myself) have ever seen, and that of course, seems pointless. I like the immediate, spontaneous and often rough quality of so many of the photos I take. I like the freedom to experiment and play. I like the ability to take unusual images like panoramas that capture almost 360º around you (often with strange distortions), and I like that I capture so many images that otherwise would be lost.

Which brings me to this collection of photographs. A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from Calgary, when I noticed some spectacular clouds beginning to gather. By the time I was half-way home I had to stop and start taking photos. And then again ten minutes later. And then again. And again.

It was the tried but true cliché – sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. True, people probably wondered what the fool was doing standing by the side of the road spinning in a circle with phone in hand. True, at one point I was buffeted by winds that made it difficult to get a steady shot and almost blew the camera right out of my hand. And true, it probably took me twice as long to get home as it usually does. But what, after all, is the rush?

(And who else thinks these might make some pretty great paintings?)

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