iPhoneographer of the Day – Matt Brock

Matt Brock mainly focuses his iPhoneography on atmospheric images of London and beyond.

Matt in his own words…

(Funfair)

EC: Where are you from? Tell me about yourself?
MB: I’ve lived in London for over 15 years. I enjoy going to clubs, exhibitions and galleries. I love films and books. Aside from photography, I write and produce my own music, and I work in computing.

EC: How did you get into iPhoneography?
MB: I took up photography about 25 years ago. Originally I would only have a camera on me when I was on holiday or out for a planned walk. In recent years, however, I’ve become more interested in being able to take photos at any time, not just when you happen to have your dedicated camera with you. I became an enthusiastic iPhoneographer because of the sheer speed and ease with which you can take photographs with the iPhone, and because the camera is available at all times. I love the possibilities which arise when you always have a camera with you.

EC: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?
MB: The photo ‘Primrose Hill’ was one of the first photos I took, edited and uploaded with my old iPhone 3G. This was a photo I wouldn’t have taken normally because I didn’t have a dedicated camera with me at the time. When I saw that I had created a nice, atmospheric photo with my iPhone I was very pleased. When friends told me they liked it I knew I had discovered something special.

(Primrose Hill)

EC: Do you have any formal training regarding traditional photography?
MB: None at all.

EC: What about your hometown is so special that it makes you want to capture it through your iPhone?
MB: The huge variety of things to see and do in London is very inspiring generally and particularly for photography. I also spend a lot of time exploring new parts of London, particularly the parts other people don’t know about, and many of my photos are taken during these explorations.

(Oxford Street)

EC: Who or what are your artistic influences?
MB: Firstly, the many talented members of the iPhoneography community who are generally very keen to share examples and tips. I am also inspired by paintings, photographs, films and music. Sometimes I want a photo to tell a story or to raise a question, but I’m also interested in creating moods, emotions and atmospheres in my photographs. I like to take the emotional content from events which have happened to me, or things which I have seen, and channel that into my photographs. Of course, the apps we use are wonderful for enhancing – or even completely changing – the mood and atmosphere of a photography.

EC: What have been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
MB: I’m sure many photographers, including some of my friends, would be appalled by this, but I actually love the simplicity and restrictiveness of the iPhone camera. I often find it very tiresome changing lenses and then trying to work out the correct shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. By the time you’ve done all that, the subject has usually changed or disappeared altogether. And much of the time this is pointless anyway because you can set an SLR to fully automatic and often get results that are as good as, or better than, the results you get from doing things manually (although I appreciate this is certainly not always the case). iPhoneography takes this simplicity one step further and makes it possible to point and shoot to capture the subject as quickly and effectively as possible at all times. To me that is the real essence of photography. It’s a very earthy approach which is all about attaining the real spirit of the photograph and not about fiddling with settings and hardware. Having said that, I’m enjoying the option of being able to choose where to focus the camera on the iPhone 4, but to be honest I don’t even use that all that often.

(London Wetland Centre)

EC: Has your work been published before, if so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?
MB: I’ve used Blurb to make a book of iPhone photographs which I took with my iPhone 3G, which is available at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1526782/. I don’t make any money from this, it’s just there so that friends, family, or anyone else, can order a book of my photos if they’d like to. I also discovered recently that I’m one of the finalists in the i.Phoneography contest at http://www.iphoneography.eu/, which means that my photo will be published in their book of the exhibition. This is very surprising, but also very pleasing!

EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag? What app(s) do you currently use the most often?
MB: There are many wonderful photo apps for iPhone. I have too many of them to list them all, but some I currently use regularly are Pro HDR, BlurFX, Photo fx, Iris, TiltShift Generator, Plastic Bullet, and (last but not least) CameraBag.

(Corridor to Heaven)

EC: Do you mind telling us how you have created a piece from start to finish?

MB: Sure

Step 1:

I was out for a walk round Regent’s Park and decided to take some photos of the mosque because the sun was illuminating it nicely. This was the one I was most pleased with. I took this photo using Pro HDR in auto mode. Sometimes I used the manual mode in Pro HDR, but auto worked fine for this one. The HDR helps to reduce shadows whilst adding a slightly unearthly quality to the photo:

Step 2:

I used Photogene to slightly straighten the photo. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I hadn’t done this, but I think it helps to improve the balance of the photo very slightly:

Step 3:

I used the Perfectly Clear app to add sharpness and vibrancy. I don’t use this app all that often, but I think it’s a useful thing to have. It definitely improved the photo in this case and added a certain intensity and ‘edge’:

Step 4:

I used TiltShift Generator to add some tilt-shift/blur and vignetting. I set the blur to radiate out from a horizontal line level with the centre of the mosque, as the mosque is the main subject in the photo and I wanted to draw the eye to this point:

Step 5:

I used Photo fx to change the colours and add atmosphere. I went for a two strip film lab filter to make the colours a bit ‘retro’, gritty and hyperreal, then I used the coral strip graduated filter to make the colours richer:

Step 6:

To finish the photo off, it seemed like it needed a bit more brightness and contrast, so I loaded it into Iris and raised the shadows then increased the brightness and contrast a bit. I decided the photo would benefit from a bit more vignetting so I added some of that too:

I decided I was happy with the balance between the colours at this point. I felt I’d got the light about right without anything disappearing into shadow or looking overexposed. I was happy with the balance between blur and sharpness leading the eye into the subject, and the photo generally seemed to have the right sort of mood and atmosphere – a rather otherworldly quality combined with a slightly edgy, gritty feel which I thought worked well.

EC: What other thoughts would you like to share?
MB: I’ve just set up a group for iPhoneographers in London, and http://www.flickr.com/groups/londoniphoneography/ is the address for the Flickr group. We’re looking for some more London-based iPhoneographers to join and help make the group as interesting and exciting as possible.

I’m grateful to the developers of my favorite apps for producing the amazing tools we all depend on, and also to the online iPhoneography community which is incredibly friendly and supportive, and I often feel bad because I don’t have the time to interact with people in the community as much as I’d like.

(Watching the sun set over London)

Thank you Matt for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic, the iPhoneogenic Facebook Page, and on Twitter @iPhone0genic. I’m honored to have you on my blog.

For more on Matt check out these links:

Tumblr: http://iphoneography.mattbrock.co.uk/
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_brock/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/microbrock/
WordPress blog: http://blog.mattbrock.co.uk/

All images shown here are copyrighted property of Matt Brock, please contact Matt for copyright privileges.

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