Beautiful evening light on the Apple iPhone 12 mini

Great light on an evening walk

I took a walk after work the other day, the first time I had poked my head outside all day, and was pleased to find excellent golden light. I made a number of photos on that walk with my phone.

My new Apple iPhone 12 mini

I had recently upgraded my phone to the new Apple iPhone 12 mini. My iPhone 6s no longer held a charge all day, even after I replaced the battery early in 2020. Also, thanks to Apple’s planned obsolescence, my phone had taken its last major iOS update. In time, the apps I use would stop updating, and some would stop working.

A small rant: I was happy with my 6s. It did everything I need from a pocketable Internet device. I did not want a new phone. Apple’s latest iPhone features are interesting, to be sure, but I don’t need them.

I briefly considered chucking it all and getting a Google Pixel, a capable Android phone at a reasonable price. I also considered buying an iPhone SE, which has the same basic body as my 6s with up-to-date innards at a not unreasonable price. But then my carrier offered me a surprising sum to trade in my well-used old phone on any iPhone 12.

That brought the iPhone 12 mini into play. I dislike large phones — my one gripe with my 6s was its size. It took up my whole front pocket and could not be used entirely one-handed. The 12 mini is noticeably smaller than my 6s (though larger than my old iPhone 5) and is more comfortable to carry and use. It’s also less expensive than the full-sized 12 and the plus-sized 12 Pro.

Great light on an evening walk

But back to my walk. Whenever I unexpectedly come upon something lovely, I’m always grateful to have my iPhone in my pocket. All three of my iPhones have had smashingly good cameras — not perfect, but what camera is? As long as you have at least decent light and don’t mind its wide-angle ways, you can get the photograph.

Great light on an evening walk

You can pinch the screen to zoom the iPhone camera, but it’s a digital zoom. At phone screen sizes the zoomed images look all right, but at larger sizes fine details can be lost. I haven’t used my iPhone 12 mini enough to be sure, but it might yield better zoomed photos than any of my previous iPhones. The camera app now shows how much you’ve zoomed; this photo is at about 2x.

Great light on an evening walk

Here’s the same scene at 1x.

Great light on an evening walk

The iPhone 12 mini has a second camera with an even wider lens. The camera app shows it as “0.5x.” I’m sure this camera is most useful to photograph large groups of people. It’s hard to tell what the subject is in this photo, but at least the sky is dramatic.

Great light on an evening walk

I’m confident I could have made equally good photos with my 11-year-old Canon S95, and probably even better photos with my wife’s newer Sony RX-100. But neither of those compact cameras are as pocketable as my iPhone.

Great light on an evening walk

This photo has color that reminds me a little of classic Kodak color film. The iPhone 12 did a pretty good job of capturing the details of the branches.

Great light on an evening walk

Apple has improved its cameras, sometimes massively, with each generation of iPhone. I expect my 12 mini to get shots my 6s used to struggle with, especially in low light.

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I didn’t know a vacation could be this good. During our two weeks in Ireland, we explored exciting places, experienced stunning beauty, and met charming family. And Margaret and I found rest for our spirits and shared an experience that would serve as a touchstone for our new marriage.

Our last day in Ireland came. As evening fell, we decided to stroll Dublin’s streets one more time.

Dublin at golden hour

The light was delicious, golden. I got out my camera.

Dublin at golden hour

We followed streets that had become familiar to us even in our few days in this city.

Dublin at golden hour

But cast in this delicious light, we saw them anew.

Dublin at golden hour

As we walked and talked, we reflected on how fortunate we had been to have been gifted this trip, and to have been able to unplug from our lives for two solid weeks. We talked of our best memories and our favorite adventures. We wished we could have just one more day.

Dublin at golden hour

But wrapping our trip on this note, in this light, was pretty terrific.

Canon PowerShot S95

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Photography, Travel

A golden end to a golden honeymoon

Our Irish honeymoon ended on a golden evening in Dublin.


Golden bricks

Golden bricks
Apple iPhone 5

Camera Reviews

Another Pentax ME

The dumbest thing happened to my Pentax ME. The cap that holds the winding lever on unscrewed itself and disappeared.

That part turned out to be impossible to find, so I bought a battered body for parts. But then I couldn’t get that cap off it. The body seemed to work okay, so I just started using it.

But after shooting a few rolls I began to doubt the meter’s accuracy. So I started prowling eBay for another body, and soon enough I found a good one for just $16 shipped. Woot!

Pentax ME

Unlike my first ME, this one is stamped Asahi Opt. Co. Japan, meaning it was made in the land of the rising sun. I’m guessing that later MEs were made in China, and my first ME was among them. Pentax was known to sometimes shift production to China late in a camera’s run; it did that most famously with the seminal K1000.

Pentax ME

The ME is an aperture-priority camera: you set the aperture, and the ME chooses a shutter speed for right exposure. It has no manual mode, except for a 1/100 sec shutter setting meant to be used with a flash. I favor aperture-priority shooting, and I love the ME’s small size and relative light weight (for being a mostly metal camera). And with bodies being available for a pittance, I hardly worry about theft or damage. And so the Pentax ME has been my go-to camera for years.

I hadn’t shot my 28mm f/2.8 Pentax-M lens in ages, so I clipped it to this ME and loaded a roll of Fujicolor 200. As the sun set one unusually warm evening as winter faded, I walked along the main road outside my subdivision with this ME in my hands. I just love the rich tones the low sun created in this photograph.

Eastern Star Church

Whatever this is sits on the corner at the nearest crossroads. This property is a large, lush cemetery. The setting sun really warmed up the stone of which this is made.

On the corner

I faced the setting sun for this photo. One minute earlier and I could have captured the sun peeking through those trees; timing is everything. But doesn’t that 28mm lens deliver wonderful sharpness? I cropped this square to get rid of a bunch of church parking lot at the bottom of this shot.

Sunset in old suburbia

I spent an hour one Sunday afternoon walking with this ME through New Augusta, a mostly hidden, nearly forgotten former town in northwest Indianapolis. It lurks behind two very busy roads, 71st Street and Georgetown Road. A few houses from the 1800s front 71st Street, this Queen Anne the most conspicuous of them, but that’s the only clue anything is here. I’ll bet New Augusta’s residents think their town is Indy’s best-kept secret.

New Augusta house 3

I’ve shot New Augusta’s Salem Lutheran Church a number of times, but never before with a lens wide enough to get it all in. Still, I had to lie on my side in the road to make it work. I’m sure I was quite a sight.

Salem Lutheran

Here’s a closeup of the church’s red-orange doors.

Red church door

New Augusta was built in the 1850s to take advantage of this rail line. Somebody keeps its unused little depot fixed up and fresh.

New Augusta depot

To see more photos from my various Pentax MEs, see my Pentax ME gallery.

A Pentax ME was among the first cameras I shot after ending my Year of the Nikon F2 last year. I’d never had any complaints about the ME’s handling before, but compared to the F2 everything about the ME feels a little looser and rougher. There’s nothing wrong with the ME’s feel and handling; it’s just not as refined as a pro camera. And so whenever anybody asks me about getting started with film SLRs I direct them to the Pentax ME and the wonderful 50mm f/2 Pentax-M lens. You can buy them on eBay any day of the week for under $50. Just try that with any classic Nikon SLR body and lens.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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