iPhoneographers: Get Real, Or Get A Real Camera

Over the past few weeks, increasing throngs of people have approached me to smugly state that DSLRs are obsolete, citing recent projections in the cellphone industry. Even before that, I long lost track of all the times I’ve heard “Oh you’re a photographer? Yeah I just bought the latest iPhone/iPad/whatever and it takes great shots!” or “If you knew how to take pictures, you wouldn’t need all that. See?” as the speaker pulls out their phone and activates camera-mode…


Seriously guys, just stop. Even if the technology does get to where you think it will, it is far from being there now. And a cellphone will never be as good as a dedicated camera. You are insulting those who invest our valuable time (and however much money we can afford) into the art, and costing us by either ruining our shots, or refusing to buy our work because of the “my cellphone has a camera so if you can take that shot so can I” mentality.

I worked in an art gallery, and actually had an iPhoneographer compare a panorama composed of over 100 high-resolution photos to what his cellphone can do, saying “if that guy can sell his pics for that much, I am going to start selling mine!”  Even if you could theoretically take the same shot: did you?


My camera+600mm lens were like a beacon to iPhoneographers, who were quick to crowd in and start snapping away even though their phones could not “see” the koalas.

Do us (and the wildlife) a favour and accept that you will never get the same close-up of an animal or bird as someone with either a telephoto lens or “superzoom” camera, so stop running up to whatever we’re photographing and inevitably scaring it off. The photographer has probably spent much longer than you can even conceive trying to get the perfect shot, only to have you ruin it for nothing.


And stop piggybacking onto our work by crowding against us when you see our tripods set up, or purposely standing immediately in front of us to snap the same scene on your phone. I once had a woman repeatedly block me while photographing the sunrise on an otherwise empty beach, until I picked up my gear, marched straight into the ocean, and plopped it down. The look on her face was worth soaked shoes and pants.


And this makes a much better print than the back of someone’s head.

“The best camera is the one you always carry around!” iPhoneographers smugly declare. This is true to a point – indeed, DSLRs are bulky and many photographers (myself included) have a more compact unit we carry around for emergencies — but if you can make phone calls with your camera, it isn’t a camera and you are not a photographer.


You also look like an idiot.


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Travel Tips: The Backpacker (and how to avoid them)

Many species have been misrepresented over the years. The killer whale’s Latin name roughly means “Demon from the Depths of Hell”, and they were used as target practice until Moby Doll showed us otherwise. Wolves have been mercilessly hunted to extinction in some regions because they too were viewed as monsters. The thylacine was hunted to complete extinction on account of its alleged habit of eating chickens (even though this famous photo is believed by some to have been staged).

There is one subspecies I have personally lived among that I believe has an inaccurate reputation, and that is the backpacker. Often presented as an adventurous young person heroically traveling the world in search of new experiences, carrying only what they can put on their backs, backpackers are in fact noisy codependent alcoholics with short attention spans and little interest in anything that doesn’t satisfy their need to disturb everyone else around them.


To the backpacker, sitting quietly engaging in any solo activity such as reading a book is seen as a cry for help. Backpackers cannot fathom why anyone would want to be by themselves, let alone be QUIET! I came to suspect that the reason they are so noisy is to alert other backpackers to their presence to ensure they do not accidentally find themselves alone.

More times than I can count, backpackers would hear of my adventures with an expression somewhere between awe and disbelief, replying with some variation of “Oooh, I would love to go there but I have nobody to go with!” Many did not seem to understand my words when I suggested they go by themselves. As such, many spent their entire time abroad in the hostel, never venturing further than the nearest source of food, usually a pub where other backpackers were sure to be found.

Why someone would pay thousands of dollars to travel overseas just so they can sit around getting drunk is beyond me.

Kermit None Of My Business

On those rare times the backpacker does venture forth to see the sights, they are incapable of enjoying anything that they can’t get drunk with, take a good selfie with, or build a fire in. Ancient rainforest? Great place to sing crappy pop songs at the top of their lungs (I guess it was too quiet). National park with spectacular cliffside formations? “What do you mean I can’t build a fire here? This is boring!” Beautiful waterfall? “Time to get naked and ruin its natural beauty for everyone else!”

MIllaa Millaa Falls, taken while on tour with On The Wallaby (NOT recommended -- review forthcoming)

MIllaa Millaa Falls, taken while on tour with On The Wallaby (NOT recommended — review forthcoming)

Case in point: a natural cave had been “enhanced” with steps and seating carved into the rock.  My friend pondered why, so I explained how backpackers can’t enjoy anything natural without the aforementioned conditions. With eerily perfect timing a large group of German backpackers carrying a portable barbecue and several coolers came noisily up the steps, announcing their presence to everyone within a 10km radius.

So if you plan on traveling on a budget, take heed! Pay the extra few dollars for a proper tour that you are confident is not aimed at backpackers (watch this blog for reviews!), especially if you hope to see some nature on it. Consider alternatives to the hostel scene, such as AirBNB. If you must stay in a hostel, check reviews on tripadvisor for ones that backpackers claim “lacks atmosphere” or “is full of old people”, and make sure there is not an attached pub or you’ll never have a second alone to pee or get a wink of sleep in preparation for your own adventures… which is just how the backpackers prefer it.

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Vladimir Putin is a Hairless Cat

I recently heard a story about Vladimir Putin visiting the Primorsky Aquarium — a controversial yet once seemingly promising aquarium in the Russian Far East, plagued with delays due to embezzlement and allegedly shoddy construction — and effectively yelling at staff, demanding they finish building it already.  Although this is undoubtedly at least part fabrication, Putin has visited Primorsky, and has demonstrated that he doesn’t mess around when sh*t needs doing.  But with stories of more orcas being caught in Russia and sent… to where exactly? I started thinking about the larger article in there somewhere.

And then I found something *much* more noteworthy: apparently, people think Vladimir Putin looks like a hairless cat.  How did I not know this?  And now you do too.  You’re welcome.

(only the top two comparisons are my own, and I take no credit for any images posted below)

putin cat sweater

putin cat yawning













epa03257832 Two hairless Sphynx purebred cats are pictured at the Dog Show with Purebred Cats Show in Erfurt, Germany, 10 June 2012. About 17000 visitors attended the show featuring about 4000 breeds of dogs and pedigree cats. EPA/MICHAEL REICHEL
Because I started this blog post thinking about Russia’s cetaceans, I figured I ought to finish with something appropriate to that theme, especially since the Russian president may or may not be in command of an army of “spy dolphins”.


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