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The Coolest Photo My iPhone Never Took

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Alex Wild over at Compound Eye is quick to point out with his Thrifty Thursday posts that great photos can be taken with relatively inexpensive equipment… IF you know what you’re doing. Here’s a great case in point:

A few nights ago, I was strolling along a pedestrian mall in Boulder, CO with some friends. A small crowd was gathered tight around something that was not your average street performance. It was a 6-foot tall telescope, manned by a circus performer who spends his off-time traveling the country sharing his love of the sky. (For the record, he wasn’t dressed in a cat suit or sequinned from head to toe – we only found out about the circus gig after chatting him up for a bit.) The scope was trained on the moon and for all the time I spend looking at beautiful things, I have to say my heart stopped. The image was so big, so clear, I felt like I was seeing the moon for the first time. I fell in love. And then I fell off the stepping stool.

moon photo

This is what I saw through the telescope. Can you believe this was taken with a cell phone?! Image © Olga Heifets

Then Broadway Brian, as he referred to himself, mentioned that we could hold our phones up to the eyepiece and snap a pic for posterity. Or Facebook. Whatever. And so I did. And wouldn’t ya know it? I totally flubbed.

iPhone moon pic

My overexposed attempt. Wanh!

I’ve thought about it, anguished over my inferior picture, and I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1. Live in the moment. Remember with your brain, not your phone. (This only applies as long as you fumbled your chance to create the world’s coolest trophy photo)
2. Rather than blow all your pocket change on a fancy-pants camera, blow it on a photography expedition to Belize instead. Learn from the best, young grasshoppers!

Broadway Brian

Whattup, Broadway Brian! Look for him on the Pearl St. Mall this winter in Boulder, CO. And bring your mad photog skillz...

Special thanks to Olga Heifets for permission to post her ridonkulous moon photo. And a big shout-out to her aging T-Mobile myTouch 4G… even if it gets thrown to the curb tomorrow, it will have exited with dignity and a big, fat “thhhbhbhbhttttbbbtbtthththb” to the iPhone.

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Glendon Mellow 11:07 pm 02/20/2013

    Wow! What a stunning shot!

    One of the best tricks I’ve learned with my iPhone (and I’m certainly no photographer) is to tap the screen: not only where you want to focus, but to control the light and exposure. My experience sharing this is limited but a surprising number of my friends don’t know about this trick.

    (Did anyone record you falling off the stool?!)

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  2. 2. Kalliopi Monoyios in reply to Kalliopi Monoyios 9:08 am 02/21/2013

    Genius! I’m sure I would have figured that out in three years when my then-seven year old was fooling around with my phone and getting even cooler photos – ha! Thanks for sparing me the wait!

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  3. 3. moonlandingday 3:22 pm 02/21/2013

    Absolutely amazing. It only takes a few seconds every night to look up and realize how small we really are. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. 4. Poppa beer 3:25 am 02/22/2013

    Tell me more about tapping the screen. What benefits can I expect ? Focus Glare Clarity or what…….please

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