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Spring a Surprise

It's a season of renewal and surprises.

March 20, 2024 Vernal Equinox :: Good Gear / Wildflowers

When the Bloodroots bloom, it's undeniably Spring.

This year, the ephemeral flowers and the calendar concur. That's uncommon because the Bloodroots are about two weeks early.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Native wildflowers like Bloodroot are early this year.

But early woodland wildflowers aren't the only surprise the season springs on me this year. A new smartphone that was on sale tops my list of unexpected delights.

It came in handy when Mary and I were admiring the first bloom in our wildflower garden. It seemed fitting that it would be the subject of my first photograph taken with the new camera phone.

I'm not much of a tech nerd. But when my old Samsung Galaxy S9 became dangerously outdated after Samsung ended their support and updates, it was time to retire it.

A Samsung Galaxy S24 has taken its place. We're still getting to know each other, but what I've learned so far makes me happy. The changes and improvements made over the last eight years are remarkable.

That's no surprise to most savvy smartphone owners, but like I said I'm not all that knowledgeable about cellular bells and whistles. And obviously, I'm not quick to adopt the latest technologies. Except this time.

I've set up my new phone's function preferences and the other communication tools we can't live without. Now I'm diving into the rabbit hole of its photography features.

I'm lucky my resident IT specialist (read: Wife) is smart, clever and patient. She'll steer me clear of any Mad Hatter matters that can consume way too much time and generate more frustrations. Did I mention I'm an impatient Luddite?

So it goes with the changing landscape of modern camera phones. As I slip deeper down the hole, I'll keep exploring those landscapes. And portraits and close ups and telephoto subjects. I hope I find Alice down there before the Queen of Hearts finds me.


SUBJECT: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

LOCATION: Our wildflower garden

CONDITIONS: Cool, calm, light overcast.

EQUIPMENT and SETTINGS: Samsung Galaxy S24's camera function; set to jpeg, Portrait mode, 12mp, 3x zoom

EXPOSURE: 1/120 sec @ f/2.4, ISO 40; 3.34mp image size

Modern camera-phone technology lets us advance our phone-photography skills from taking average snapshots to making creative photographs.

The first photograph I took with my new Samsung Galaxy S24 smartphone's camera surprised me in a good way. I chose the Portrait Mode to make a 12mp jpeg image. I used the optical 3x zoom, then I cropped it and created a pleasing photograph. Next time I'll try the Pro Mode at 50mp in the RAW format and with manual focus.

The Samsung AI tools allowed me to remove a few distractions with ease. Then I brought the photo into Adobe Photoshop. There I brightened and warmed it. The biggest change was using a cloning tool to fill in the empty spaces either side of the bloodroot's stem with portions of other leaves.

Then I opened the image in Topaz Photo AI where I removed noise, sharpened it and enlarged it. Then I made a copy and scaled it down to Instagram and Facebook size for posting on social media. Other than that, the sweet little flower is exactly how I saw it!

The new phone's marvelous conglomeration of technology will never replace my digital camera. But since it's with me a lot more than my camera gear is, I want to be familiar with all its best settings and functions. Because when it's time to capture a wild or not-so-wild moment, I won't want to miss it.

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