Mobile Masterpieces - Iceland with the Fuji X-T2 & iPhone 7

A last minute 2.5 day trip to the wonders of Iceland and a new found love for a completely mobile workflow.

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I'll try and keep this brief.

The introduction of full resolution image transfer from camera to smart phone over wireless technology has been a revelation for my ability to share images.

You see I tend to sit on photographs which live on my desktop or laptop computer. I flit around between folders and trips and edit images on a whim. I believe this is because I have very little specific purpose for them, I don't shoot to deadlines of publications often. So I spend my time on trips, transfer my images and then just edit as and when I feel a desire to share something.

Along comes Instagram Stories .......

Lets face it Instagram is my biggest audience platform and the outlet where I find the most enjoyment interacting with people about images, places and lots of other random things. Instagram stories has opened up the ability to share more than 1 image a day.

Instagram stories now gave me a motivation to share images I'd taken on a specific day. Not just comparable iPhone photographs but edited version of my 'proper camera' shots with all that gorgeous bokeh and sharpness and contrast. It's brought Instragram back to being more 'instant' in my view, allowing me to share immediate experiences.

My camera gear for the trip

For this trip I took the Fuji X-T2 and the 16-55mm weather sealed F2.8 lens (what more do you want) and the 50-140mm F2.8 Zoom lens (i love a bit of zoomy). The only other lens I used was the 14mm f2.8 lens for some aurora shooting. Having the precision manual focus and wider angle was a life saver in the dark and cold to capture some incredible northern lights over Kirkjufell.

This setup is a great balance of high quality images and convenience but you know what, I think I could have got away with just the XF18-135 zoom lens and the 14mm had push come to shove and still been happy with the results. Given the hassle we had getting hand luggage through the airport I would consider this for a future short trip. Or I could have taken the 18-55 tiny zoom and the 55-200 long zoom for another compromise between the two. Anyway enough Fuji gear geeking.

The perfect Mobile Editing Setup

In order to show your work at it's best you need a fast and easy setup for editing camera shots on your mobile that doesn't crush JPG files to bits. I feel I have found this with the Fuji X-T2, iPhone 7 and VSCOCam app.

Basically I rock about shooting all day with my X-T2 set to shoot JPG & RAW (crucial to have JPG copy for transfer). I set the JPG to a medium (12mp) size and then transfer that at full resolution to the iPhone using Fuji's own apps. You can of course shoot (and then transfer) the full 24mp resolution JPG however I do find that to be just a little frustrating for speed given it's file size.

This is where I have to give a shout out to the incredible quality of the Fuji JPG files. Yes not all camera manufacturers can produce such brilliant JPG images with their own film effects and amazing detail. I know this because I only have to compare the JPG from the same trip between the Fuji X-T2 and my DJI Mavic Pro drone for example where the JPG images produced are much more grainy, smudgy and the like. I still edit the Mavic Pro JPG's but you can tell which is which (and not just because ones a couple of hundred metres in the air). I tend to use the Fuji Chrome film effect on my JPG images from the X-T2.

After the images are transferred to my phone (usually about 20 of so shots from a good day), I import them to the VSCOCam app and then delete the originals (space saving). I have found the iPhone 7 to be a big step up in terms of speed and using the iCloud storage options for photos I don't really have to worry about space but it's good practice not to have duplicated edited and unedited images anyway.

Using the VSCOCam App

If I could help improve everyone's mobile phone photography in any way it would be to get them to install and use the VSCOCam app and filters. It's not perfect but it is simple and creates some beautiful image edits which perfectly fit the style of photography I enjoy. I won't make this a full tutorial but I'd definitely say to download it, get the free presets and use say the preset F2 then experiment with the Contrast Slider (I often put this up to 5+) and the white balance, shadow and highlight tones etc to create beautiful edits.

Landscape photography is all about the editing process. Don't listen to anyone who tells you images must be natural and as shot. A digital image is in no way natural, it's a current best efforts to utilise digital technology to capture light and in every situation the resulting file is just 1 and 0's that form a basis for you to create your own style. So edit away folks.

Once you find a style of edit you like, copy and paste it across your shots from a location or across the whole day. See what works and what doesn't but try and find a consistent edit for a single shoot. You will appreciate that later when sharing or producing a book of images for example where you need individuals shots to look great in a collection.

Once you have edited them, save them down to the camera roll at full resolution and you can delete them from VSCOCam app (I usually leave the odd one in as a base for copying edits if I like the results).

So there we have it. Take a great camera, fast phone and great photo editing app and you can see the results below from a quick nip around Iceland on the same day they were shot without lugging about a laptop.

I feel these images are high enough quality to represent this trip. If I was a travel photographer producing on the go content for brands etc I feel this is the future to streamline the process and save dragging a laptop around but still reflect my own style of shooting.

There are of course other mobile editing apps, such as the Lightroom Mobile, Snapseed etc but I love the look and feel of the VSCOCam images. The only missing piece of the puzzle are some of the selective adjustments to correct dust spots, or work in certain areas of high contrast images. So far though I always find I can produce results I love and this allows me to share me enjoyment and experiences quicker.

The Results

So here they are, let me know what you think to the shots and edits below. Ask me anything is you need more help of advice to get this kind of setup.