When I was in Egypt with the family, and not getting into trouble for flying the quadcopter, we got a great tour around the Sphinx by one of their top experts. The challenge was then to do something a bit different from the average photo of such a well know creation…
A few years ago I took the family on an around-the-world trip to study world religions. One of the three Muslim countries we visited was here in Egypt. The others were Oman and Qatar. Anyway, we visited a lot of mosques, and it was really cool for the kids to hear the call to prayer and see many of the traditions.
If you head over to my Kit.com, you’ll see I’m constantly updating it with everything from books to gadgets to photography gear. I hope you find something cool in there you just can’t live without!
Daily Photo – The Sphinx Across Time
While in Egypt, we were lucky enough to get up close and personal with the mighty Sphinx himself! It was pretty crazy standing there… right in front of one of the most iconic places on Earth. It wasn’t quite as big as I expected, but it was still very impressive. I even managed to do a Facebook Live from this location while an Egyptologist showed us around… and even showed us a secret tunnel underneath.
Here’s a video we first released to Passport Members about a year ago or so, but I wanted to share it with everyone. It’s sort of a little behind-the-scenes video of a gentleman singing in this very mosque.
Daily Photo – Mosque in Cairo
What a beautiful mosque, eh? I didn’t visit the middle east much until the last five years ago, but I really enjoy shooting inside mosques. The variety between them is amazing. It does often require getting special permission, but that is not so difficult to get. Everyone inside the mosques has been quite nice as well. In this one, I was with my wife and two daughters the whole time as well.
It doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone or an Android there are a few things you can do to get your mobile photography to the next level. All of the photos included with the tips were taken with my Google Pixel phone. I normally shoot with a big Hasselblad camera, but sometimes all I have with me is my phone. I’ve come up with some great tricks to make them look as surprising and incredible as possible.
1) Don’t hit that big circle on the screen to take the photo. Use the Vol Up button on the side! One, when you jab the screen with your finger, you’re causing camera-shake and it will make your photo more blurry. Two, using the volume up button allows you to hold the camera much more steady with one or two hands.
This was taken an underground Turkish bath in Budapest, Hungary. This is Olya, my crazy Russian videographer, who traveled through Europe with us to make some inspirational and tutorial videos.
2) Experiment with the mobile app Snapseed! It’s free and available for Android and iOS. This is, by far, the best app for editing your photos on your phone. There are many tools in there and many different filters. One great thing about Snapseed is you can layer many different filters together to really give your photo a unique look. People will wonder how you did it!
Here’s a fun family photo from a few months ago when we rode camels near the pyramids in Egypt. I used Snapseed filters to give it this “look.”
3) Take some cheeky street photos. If you’re like me, as you walk around the streets, you often see interesting people, crazy outfits, or just kooky things you find interesting. It can sometimes be embarrassing to blatantly aim your phone at these things, so get used to using the Volume Up button to take the photos. On the Pixel phone, for example, I can turn on the camera by double-clicking the power button. Then I move my finger to volume-up to take the photo. Your horizon will probably be off, but you can fix that later.
Here’s a cheeky street photo I took in Budapest, Hungary. This is my assistant Tane. He’s not posing; this is literally how he looks all the time.
4) Try combining your phone with an iPad or tablet to edit your photos to the next level. Professional photographers know that a photo reads differently on a larger screen. Next time you’re at a coffee shop, why not zap your photo over to your tablet (via Google Photos or Airdrop), then use Snapseed to edit it there. A good photo always looks better bigger on a tablet, so don’t feel like you’re forced to use that tiny little screen.
This a photo I took in Aruba. I was jogging on the beach, and of course I had my mobile phone with me. I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly, and there’s no way I would go on a jog and carry a Hasselblad! But it’s nice to always have the phone with me and take a ton of photos, picking out the best after I sit down to relax.
Near my home on the south island of New Zealand, there is this amazing place to watch the sunset called Lake Hayes. I forgot my big Hasselblad camera, so all I had was my phone. There’s a saying that the Best Camera is the one you have with you!
Here’s a panorama of three different photos I took while on a walk here near my home in New Zealand. Since I have an Android, I use Google photos. One great thing about Google Photos is there’s a little AI assistant that will “gift” you a panorama if it senses you took a lot of photos close together.
This is a pretty good tip for most places, but it’s a good idea to get a private guide. I don’t like the “big tours” where you’re on a bus with a bunch of other people. You can get a fairly reasonable rate for a private tour for just you, your family, or your friends. On the plus side, you usually get to hear a lot more history and get into smaller places where the big tours are not allowed. TripAdvisor is a good place to find private tour guides… that’s how I got into this place below in Cairo!
Daily Photo – Egyptian Islamic Chandelier
Here’s one of my new favorite tricks inside mosques or catherdrals or museums or anything with a cool ceiling. It’s a bit of a ropey trick and it only works half the time. You’ll have to make sure it’s not too crowded… Anyway, set the camera flat on the ground with a wide-angle lens. Set up for a 2-second timer, click it, then run away! You gotta get pretty far to get outside the frame… It’s hard to line up too, so sometimes I’m a few degrees off the orthogonal, so you’ll have to rotate later on in post-processing.
Here is another great Netflix suggestion: Abstract! It’s all about designers from various disciplines. I just finished episode 4 which was about a Danish architect… all are recommended! I wish I could make “playlists” on Netflix… I wonder if they are working on that?
Daily Photo – Lamps in Cairo Bazaar
Here’s one of many lamp stores I visited with my family in Cairo. Of course, my daughters just HAD to have a lamp, and it was quite a selection process. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but little girls can be both incredibly decisive and indecisive at the same time. I was trying to figure out what kind of behaviors to reinforce so that they become more decisive as they get older, but I am probably doing the wrong thing and encouraging indecisiveness! 🙂
Look at all those pretzels! If you are watching how I made this photo (from a single RAW file) in the “Passport” below, you’ll see how I asked this guy if he had any low-carb pretzels. I got a very strange look in return… By the way, a few of those lamps on the left side ended up back at our home in New Zealand thanks to my little girls! 🙂