From The Outside: With Letellier Olivier

In this edition of From the Outside, Letellier Olivier a.k.a True UltRaNOL explains the process to his photography and how a Windows Phone helps him achieve his results. You can check out more of his work on his Flickr account right here. For other Windows Phone photographers, like Monsieur Olivier, you can check out the Windows Phone group on Flickr right here.

2012.02.28

If you ever tried to explain to somebody what is the purpose of your photography, you know that it’s very difficult to translate in proper words the reason why you have chosen a specific subject matter, an angle, and the overall meaning.

Although I received several Art degrees and I’m working as an animator for a French video game company, I’m no different than you. It’s still very hard for me to understand why I chose to take photography as a way to express myself. I can only guess that I like certain kinds of patterns, repetitions that I find in buildings or industrial design, and that I’m sensitive to the way light can sometimes hang from a statue or a car.

So instead of trying to explain “Why I am doing this?” I will give you some of my tips about how I use my Windows Phone as my day-to-day camera. I hope I will inspire you to take more photos with the device in your hands.

Do you know which is the best camera you could ever own?

It’s the one you always have with you.

That’s because your goal as a photographer is to take photos when you need to and without any prior preparation. It’s about spontaneity.

I’m far from being a real photographer. I’m just an enlightened enthusiast and like most, I have a DSLR camera (a very nice one by the way), but it’s not my main camera. Oh no, to be honest, it’s my phone. And it’s powered by Windows.

To be fair, I have discovered the interest of using a smartphone as a camera with the iPhone 3GS.

It was an epiphany for me. It offered a very lightweight solution to shot photos, and like many I soon became a heavy user of the infamous Hipstamatic/Instagram apps. Then one day, a friend of mine, who thought that my pictures were cool, told me that I was hiding behind these apps too much and wondered what my photos would look like without any hipster make up. It seemed it was time to grow up.

At the same time, I started feeling tired of all the Apple ecosystem/Itunes nightmare…and then the Lumia 800 crossed my path.

It was love at the first sight. Pure and unconditional love.

The sleek design, the huge screen and the gorgeous UI of Windows Phone 7.5; I was hooked.

I was looking for simplicity; something more straight and mature and it was all there.

As for the camera part, 3 specifications convinced me :
· The lens is a Carl Zeiss Tessar (one of the word’s best optical system manufacturer).
· The maximum photo resolution is 8 millions pixels (a huge boost compared to the iPhone 3GS).
· The “point and shoot” a.k.a. touch capture similar to the system found on some Panasonic Lumix cameras.

Me and my new wingman were about to do some cool stuff…

I like architecture and the unexpected, and since I’m lucky enough to live in the wonderful city of Paris, I know there is always something new waiting for me at the corner of every street; and I’m using my Windows Phone as my photographic weapon of choice.

These kinds of cameras generally use a wide angle lens. My Nokia Lumia 800’s lens has an angle of 28 mm. It’s really appropriate for my work. This kind of lens allows me to shoot tall and large buildings without having to step back too much. In a very dense and crowed city like Paris it can be a major asset.

2012.02.20

Taking pictures, is above all, about capturing light. Wisely choosing the time of day for your photographic adventure is crucial. I’m personally in love with the kind of light that dusk can create. This subtle shift between day and night, the red light of the sun that illuminates the top of the city during the summer evening, the long shadows which spread below on the street, always generates a very rich graphic atmosphere. It’s my perfect playground. All I need to do is wander in the streets, hunting for my next target, my Windows Phone ready to shoot.

Once again, my Lumia 800 fits my needs since it’s focal length offers an aperture of f/2.2 (a quick reminder: the closer the aperture to f/1, the more light your lens lets onto the sensor allowing your camera to shoot in darker areas. DSLRs are generally sold with a lens of f/3.2-5.4. The Lumia 800 can take photos with less light than them).

I like to try different angles and framing. You can change the meaning of a photo by playing with these two options and, for me, it’s the most interesting part of the process. Before finding the right angle, I need to experiment a lot. The Lumia 800 is compact, light and it’s fast: I can put it on the ground to play with the size of my subject and make it appear bigger, or use a small hole in a wall as a frame or try as many angles as possible until I reach the perfect spot. For me the main advantage of using a Windows Phone instead of a DSLR is freedom of movement.

It’s an ideal companion and it allows me to stay creative without the hassle of a much larger camera.

The last step is what you can consider post processing. I use Adobe Lightroom for the final fine tuning…with a caveat.

A lot of beginners make the common mistake and think that software solutions, like Lightroom or Photoshop, can turn a bad photo into a good one. They’re very wrong, and since I’m not so far from being a noob you have to understand that I learned this lesson the hard way.
Lightroom can only enhance a good photo and turn it into a stunning shot (if you are lucky) simply because there’s no magic in the software. It’s in the photographer. Whatever kind of camera you are using, the rules of composition, lightning and framing will never change.

For my part I only reframe (again), pushing the color one way or the other, and correcting the orientation if needed…and Tadaaaa ! A brand new photo is set to take off on the internet (Good luck to you little picture ! Make me famous…).

Just a quick, friendly advice if you want to take more photos or improve your technique: start a “365”. It may sound a little cheesy, specially since so many people are doing one, but it’s great way to kill the mighty beast that’s procrastination. It gives you a reason to do more photography and experiment with no restrains . Posting your work online will push you to reach a “quality threshold” and think more about what you’re producing. I‘m 33 photos away from the end of my own 365 project and my skills has dramatically improved.

Do it, you’ll see it’s a great adventure.

In conclusion I admit that so far my experience with my Windows Phone has been a brilliant one. It helped me push my work forward, and the overall software and general quality of the pictures it can produce has always satisfied me.

2012.04.10