Phoneography Challenge: Macro Mobile Photography

10 June 2013


1. Lock on Mill Gate, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

1.Padlock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

4. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

4. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

5. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

5. Bike Lock, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

Let me know which you prefer and why.


Gracie (, Polly ( and I began the iPhoneography Monday Challenge in February. Last Monday we had a re-launch that made the challenge open to everyone who uses their Smartphones as their lens–exclusively, experimentally, frequently, occasionally, or back-up. Check here for the re-launch post. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. Please use the current badge until a new one is created.

Most objects can be reduced to a mere semblance of themselves: bits, fragments, slices, or slivers. Enlarge those parts, and they make what we see or barely see instantly grow in proportion and scale. They make the familiar unfamiliar or even more familiar.

Sometimes the hint of the whole can give enough clue to discern its identity. Or the object looses itself entirely. To squeeze the essence from a scene or portrait is one variation, but to make the abstract from the real into something left or right of center.

Macro photography distills for the viewer what cannot be seen by the naked eye. It zooms and enlarges. Or  expands and stretches in size into another viable image. Insects are perfect examples.

Macro Photography with iPhone, Google images

Macro Photography with iPhone, Google images

To accomplish a strong image is difficult with a DSLR much less a camera phone. But with patience it can be done.

The first challenge is finding the subject that can be turned into a macroscopic image. What will retain its vitality when a portion is parceled and given new treatment?

Yesterday I took a long stroll through downtown, which is two cities in one: residential area and university. This duo flows into and out of each other.

Because the campus is seemingly everywhere, bicycles are a major source of transportation. And so bike racks reign throughout the visual landscape. Suddenly their proliferation was more obvious than usual.

Bike safety is a huge topic, which is slightly calmed by our extensive bike route system (created in the 1970s). Bicycles are a high-value commodity, and theft is somewhat controlled by the various choices of bike locks.

Locks themselves appeared in the Arab world at least 1,000 years ago. After some alterations their technology stayed the course. Either key it (padlock) or swirl the dial (combination lock).

As I spied on rack after rack of bikes, cables, chains, and locks, the combination lock was definitely more prevalent. Its popularity makes perfect sense. Who needs another key to carry?

In the Lens section are some examples of combination and key locks. The first was from a photo shoot weeks ago, and shows the standard padlock.

The other photographs are from my meanderings on campus. Each provided a small tease about the character of the owner. Or the intention of the owner. Some were heavy-duty, and others were basic protection. Bike and lock choice did not always seem compatible, giving me the impetus to do a wider search on another day (my own qualitative study).

These age-old inventions have changed little, and remain embedded in our day-to-day living. Locks abound, which is a ripe topic for discussion about the human condition and the evolution of culture and society.

Tip of the Week: Click here for some macro photography tips. While the article focuses on the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, the suggestions can be adapted to any Smartphone. Most important is keeping the phone as still as possible, providing adequate lighting, and improving chances for success by selection of an app that works best with your in-phone camera. Happy shooting.

Here are other entries:

Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. The following is a reminder of the weekly schedule and themes for upcoming challenges.  

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black-and-White

4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

This entry was posted in Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Phoneography Challenge: Macro Mobile Photography

  1. cindy knoke says:

    So creative and interesting!

  2. Stunning vintage images!

  3. thirdeyemom says:

    Love 1 and 5! Really amazing how much detail there is!

  4. Thanks for the re-start on your weekly Phoneographic Monday Challenge. Now that I’m packing an iPhone5, I think I’ll join the fun. Here’s a bottle of bubbly I think you’ll enjoy:

  5. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Hi Sally,

    Your first photo is my favorite. I like the textures on the lock and the rust on the chain.

    My entry this week is a bit of a twist on your topic. I hope you don’t mind:

  6. Geoff says:

    I like the first one … I’m partial to the tensions set up between metallic strength and corrosion … nice set all round though 🙂

  7. Pingback: What lies behind, what lies within the green facade |

  8. Gallivanta says:

    I find it fascinating that with a few well chosen macro photos you almost have an essay on , as you call it, the human condition and the evolution and culture of a society. Now here is something to ponder; this is maybe what would happen if you put big photos of eyes to watch over bikes!

  9. munchow says:

    A great idea for a subject. And you have captured some lovely images. My favourite is the third one. It’s more abstract, has a tighter composition and then I like the colour tones. Very nice.

  10. Su Leslie says:

    Great photos; I particularly like the first one. It has so much strength. I can imagine it as an opening image in a movie. Here’s my take on the macro theme

  11. araneus1 says:

    really difficult to choose but number 4 gets the nod

  12. Pingback: Phoneography Monday: Macro | "I dwell in possibility..."

  13. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge: Macro | Gracie Binoya Photography

  14. Sally, I really like your idea to feature locks today. My image is also from a walk around a school campus but this one is an Elementary school and the fun, colorful playground textures caught my eye.

  15. Pingback: Phoneography Monday: Macro 6-10 | Northwest Frame of Mind

  16. Melanee says:

    Particularly love the first one because of the effect and the texture. Here is mine for the week.

  17. My favorite is number 5. The red cable looks like a sinuous snake, beautiful but deadly.

  18. I think I like the padlock best. Something very antiquey (is that a word?) about it. I was wondering if you ever use the Camera+ app that’s used in your tip of the week above.

  19. Angeline M says:

    I really like the look of that first lock, the old feel to it. Good post and challenge today, thanks.
    Here is my entry that I’ve just posted

  20. Pingback: We are family | Completely Disappear

  21. Pingback: Colorful Bark (7 Photos) | On the Streets of San Francisco

  22. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge: Macro Mobile Photography | AngelineM's Blog

  23. "Occam Blade" says:

    #1 as I could almost feel the textures of the lock and chain….nice work!

  24. Parallel to your endeavor is Cindy Taylor’s continuing series of mystery photographs:

  25. Love the padlock, I will say this again, I just can’t believe the photos you create with your iPhone, my phone could do nothing like this. Great job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s