Tiny Details with Robert-Paul Jansen

I’ve always used the camera on my mobile phone to take the occasional photo, but that all changed in the beginning of 2010 when I started to take a lot of photos using my iPhone 3G. My new creative life was born.

I live in a very small village in the south of the Netherlands, where we are surrounded by nature. I started by taking photographs of this natural environment. At first, I simply took photos while walking the dogs, spotting a nice place to capture while driving in my car or walking in a city or forest with my wife and two sons. I have become more aware of the tiny, special details around me since the iPhone came into my life. That’s what I love about the iPhone camera. You always have a camera with you to capture those small miracles in the world around us.

The morning sun peeking out around the bend, the mist on a tree-lined path, a reflection on my favourite pond, or the cows grazing in a field of fog, these are the tiny details that make life beautiful and the discovery of these details, these moments, have given me joy. And these unpredictable moments won’t get lost when you have a camera with you all the time. Better yet, with an iPhone, you can share them immediately.

I have become more aware of the tiny, special details around me since the iPhone came into my life.

Every Sunday morning, just before sun rises, I leave to hunt for images.

Having two young kids I don’t have to worry about waking up too late. They make sure I wake up when it’s still dark. I’ll go straight to the back-room and peek outside. Rain? Not good, back to bed. Dry? Good! Here we go!

First the dogs. While going out with them I look at several things. Wind, clouds, light and sun. What are the conditions and what is the best place to go? Then I decide where I’m going that morning. Usually, 80% of the time, I go and make the same round. I think it’s about 5 km / 3miles, and it takes me through some fields, through a small forest, over a path next to river ‘de dommel,’ through a cow-field and some small ponds and right back home. Sometimes, it takes me twenty minutes and other times two hours. Sometimes I’ll have a dozen photos and sometimes over a hundred. And I see different things every single week. That’s the amazing thing. Seasons and weather really change our country every day.

Most of the time I use Camera+ and Hipstamatic to capture the photos. But occasionally I force myself to use another app like ProCamera, Lomora2 or 6×6. I recently bought the Mattebox app and can’t wait to try that one out next sunday. I choose the apps I want to use before I leave and open and close them so they can be called up at ease with a double tap of the home button.

Of course, the iPhone camera has it’s limitations. But those limitations have helped me to grow in photography.

I also use non-photography apps like Google Maps to see where I am exactly or I’ll drop a pin to remember a specific place. I usually make a screenshot of the maps screen or the Compass by pressing the on/off button and home button at the same time.  I use Simplenote to take notes or write down ideas for future photo-rides. Sometimes, it’s just better not take a photo and wait for the right moment. I’ll save a location and make a note as to when I think I should return. This could be on a day when the sun has turned or even another season when the leaves are back on the trees. And of course I use WeatherPro, where I can see the detailed weather forecast from hour to hour.

I always process the day’s photos in my bed, just before sleeping. I have no time to do it any other moment of the day with a very busy job as real estate developer and a young family with a house and garden. High on sleepiness I process some of the photos I think are best. I delete the photos I don’t like. At any given time, I have between 50 and 300 photos on my camera-roll. Sometimes I’ll wake up and I can’t remember which photos I processed or which apps I’ve used. So I look at those photos in the morning and review them. When I don’t like the processing I delete and re-process that night. Others will be uploaded to Instagram, Eye’em and Google+ for instance. The very best will go to my website and 500px.

I have about a dozen apps I use for processing on a daily basis including CrossProcess, Snapseed, CameraBag, Luminance, SwankoLab, ShakeItPhoto, Noir, Simply b&w, FilmLab, Instant110, Cameramatic, PROhdr and FilterStorm.

A lot of people wonder why I use an iPhone to shoot landscapes and nature photos. A DSLR has so many more possibilities with lenses, filters, shutter speeds and higher resolution photos. I’ve even heard this question from iPhone photographers who capture street photography. And the answer is the same as why they use it. I really just love taking photos with the iPhone. I have a DSLR (Sony SLT a55v) and use it as well, and love taking photos with it. But while the DSLR is only there when I go out taking photos specifically, the iPhone is in my pocket all the time, whether I’m with the family and the dogs, or whizzing around on my bike looking for photo opportunities. For me, it’s the perfect tool and image-making companion. And, of course, the iPhone makes it possible to make a photo, share it immediately, and get reactions from London, New York, Canada or Singapore within seconds.

Of course, the iPhone camera has it’s limitations. But those limitations have helped me to grow in photography. The camera I always have in my pocket has shown me more small miracles, more tiny details than I ever thought possible.

Robert-Paul Jansen

Robert-Paul was the lead judge of the landscape category for the 2011 Mobile Photo Awards
You can find him on TWITTER

10 Comments on “Tiny Details with Robert-Paul Jansen

  1. Wonderful job RP – the photos look beautiful as always and it’s a pleasure to get a little bit inside your process and creative motivation. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wonderful photos Robert-Paul ! I love reading how people live their Iphoneography experience. Yours is very similiar to mine. Thank you for sharing ! I will look for your website.
    Cheers from Canada !

  3. Nice read! I loved learning about your Sunday routine…so well-planned. I’ve always loved your landscapes.

  4. I very much enjoyed reading this, I can wholeheartedly identify with much of what was said. What Robert-Paul calls “tiny details” I’ve termed “small moments” in regards to my own photography. I find it both amazing and wonderful that through mobile photography so many have become present in their day to day lives and have learned to appreciate the wonder of small things.

  5. Wonderful article.

    Loved the bit “But while the DSLR is only there when I go out taking photos specifically, the iPhone is in my pocket all the time”. You have a sympathetic eye and your camera, whichever you may be holding at the time, is a conduit for some truly special images.

    Thanks for sharing.


  6. RP is a mobile photography legend, so this was very interesting to read. Your whole process is inspiring. Thanks for sharing Robert!

  7. I love hearing about your process for planning and taking pictures, and thanks too for sharing the apps you use. Your photographs are always elegant and well crafted. Lovely piece!

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About the MPA

The Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote the global phenomenon of mobile photography and art.  The awards are committed to presenting the art-form in galleries and exhibits. The MPA is the world's largest open gallery call and competition of its kind.
The Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote and celebrate mobile photography and art. With fine-art exhibits, competitions and open gallery calls, the MPA is the world's largest event of it's kind.