Mobile photography – gear, apps and processing

Taken with: iPhone 5s, Pocket Tripod, AvgCamPro app | Processed with Snapseed & VSCO

I’ve been enjoying mobile photography lately. I still carry 13kg of ‘real’ camera gear around with me a lot, but I really like the simplicity of walking around with a smart phone and taking snaps. I thought I would share a post which shows the gear I use to take images on my mobile, and also the apps I use to process those images. I also share a video where I am processing an image taken on my phone so you can see some of these apps in use and follow along with my workflow.

First up – the video. Here’s me processing an image on my iPhone.

Processing a Long Exposure iPhone image from Mike Murphy on Vimeo.

…and now a little more about my gear and the apps I use.

iPhone 5s
I’m thinking of an upgrade when the iPhone 7 comes out, but this is still an excellent smart phone with a decent enough camera in it. More importantly, I always have it on me.

Pocket Tripod ($20)
A very handy credit card sized tripod which I carry around in my wallet. Though I can shoot some images by hand, I do need to use a tripod for my ‘long exposure’ images (more on this in the app section).

The new Universal Pocket Tripod on the scene in the Faroe Islands; AvgCamPro is capturing a long exposure on the iPhone

Edit: The Pocket Tripod is back on Kickstarter, this time it’s universal with the ability to adapt to pretty much any phone size – with or without a case. Check it out – Pocket Tripod on Kickstarter.

Moment lenses ($100 per lens)
An 18mm and a 60mm lens which can be attached to the front of my phone. I don’t often use the 60mm one but do make good use of the wide angle lens. Decent quality, and very small and light so I can also fit these into my pocket to walk around with. They also have a macro lens available.

18mm lens from Moment attached to my iPhone 5s, stabilised with the Pocket Tripod v1; on the scene in Bosnia

That’s it for gear. Nice and straightforward :)

Taking the shot
iPhone native camera app
I still use this app a lot as it’s easy to get to from the lock screen and means I can quickly grab an image with minimal effort; I use the other apps below if something ‘more’ than a basic shot is required.

AvgCamPro (£0.79)
I use this app to create a fake long exposure. The app takes a series of images over a set time period and blends the images together; this gives the appearance of clouds moving, or indeed water not moving, and is what I use for a lot of my images.

Sample images:

Capture silky water from within a waterfall

Capture the motion of moving objects

ProCamera (£3.99 + in app puchases)
A recent addition to my app suite, I use this for HDR or low light images

Sample HDR:

Taken with ProCamera app, saved as black and white directly from within app

Original non-HDR version saved by ProCamera at the same time

Lapse It (1.99)
A simple to use time lapse app

Sample time lapse (you’ll need to press play):

A video posted by Michael Murphy (@murphyz) on

Processing the shot
Snapseed (Free)
A great app, and probably my ‘go to’ for image editing. It’s got some powerful features for mobile editing, my favourite being that you can selectively adjust areas of your images and also it allows for dodging and burning.

SKRWT (£1.49)
Perfect for straightening up the perspective in your image.

Facetune (£2.99)
I use this for warping my image should I need to straighten something up that can’t be done within SKRWT

Retouch (£1.49)
This is like the spot heal brush in Photoshop, you can get rid of unwanted items within the shot by intelligent healing or by cloning

VSCO (Free + in app purchases)
A set of filters and tweaking tools that I will often run on the final image prior to posting

Enlight (£2.99)
I use this for some simple changes when I don’t need the features of Snapseed

Anticrop (£0.79)
An awareness fill tool that will add to the image you have taken; doesn’t work on all images but is great for those where it does and where you need a little bit of extra sky in the scene, for example.

Publishing the shot
Instagram (Free)
I don’t think any explanation is necessary for this app. I can be found under @murphyz so go ahead and add me :)

Here are a few more images showing on the scene shots, out of camera images and then the final processed shots.

Image 1:
On scene

Out of camera (phone) & used as final image

Image 2:
On scene

Out of camera (phone)

Final image

Image 3:
On scene

Out of camera (phone)

Final image

Posted in murphyz, video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misty morning at Angkor Wat

Misty morning at Angkor Wat

If you ever visit the Angkor Complex in Cambodia, may I suggest that you stick on a pair of headphones and wander around attempting to find areas where there are less people. It was by doing this that I felt an appreciation for what I was seeing before me, and though a group of people taking selfies were just around the corner, the music helped to imagine I was there alone, even if this was only for a brief moment.

This scene is very different to the chaotic one which look place an hour before, where hundreds of people gathered by the reflecting pool on the outskirts of the temple waiting for a sunrise. It was in this spot that I first felt somewhat peaceful here and was the first time I thought Cambodia was actually quite nice after all. I embraced this philosophy for the rest of my trip there and had a wonderful time.

Posted in Black & White, Cambodia | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St Peter’s

St Peter's

This seems to be quite a classic view of Rome…and though it didn’t feel like I had seen this view many times before my trip there, I have certainly seen it crop up a lot in the past month. I guess it’s always been popular, just not that recognisable to me before now.

Either way, St Peter’s Basilica is certainly a wonderful building and, like St Paul’s when in London, was something I found myself drawn to whenever I was out taking photos…attempting to get a glimpse of it or a nice composite with the dome in view.

For now you get a lovely sunset shot…the magnificent colours of which has been drowned out due to the use of long exposure…

Posted in Architecture, Europe, Rome | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moroccan Macaque

Moroccan Macaque

What better way to start off the new year than with a monkey.

While in Marrakech over Christmas I took a day trip out to the Cascades d’Ouzoud in the middle Atlas mountains. As the name suggests, the main attraction there was a lovely set of waterfalls, so it was a bonus when I saw the macaques who were lounging around, happily being fed by visitors.

As with those at the Jigokudani monkey park in Japan, they can be tricky to photograph sometimes due to their constant movement and the level of zoom/f-stop being used, but was happy to get at least this one which I thought came out rather nicely.

Hope everyone had a nice New Year’s night.

Posted in Marrakech | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Ben Youssef Madrasa

On my fourth and final trip into the souks of Marrakech I visited the former college of Ben Youssef Madrasa. I was very pleased by the fact I was able to navigate directly to it without having to reference a map or guide for directions. Though the souks seem to be a complete maze I was starting to get comfortable with navigating around the old town from a few of the main entrances and think I could quite quickly get used to how it all works. This didn’t stop me from being bothered by people attempting to get me to go to the tanneries, of course…and I lost count of how many times I was told some route was closed…when it wasn’t.

The college itself had a few nice features to grab photos of, though as always ‘another time’ would have led to a better chance to grab some snaps, ideally with less people of course, but also there is a sunken pool in the main court which had no water in it during my visit, which was a shame.

As I was taking a photo of this chamber a few people walked in front of me oblivious to the fact I was taking photos. However in this instance I didn’t mind so much as the girl you see here added to the image in many ways, and you can’t see her mother who is having her photo taken by the girl.

Posted in Marrakech | Tagged , , | Leave a comment



Ta Prohm in the Angkor Wat complex is a fascinating place. Though you may not recognise it by name, you have no doubt seen images of the temples overrun by nature which is reclaiming the land that was built upon many years ago; roots wind their way through stone, and trees grow carelessly within, around and on top of the man-made structures.

As I wandered around I found I found it quite difficult to capture the grandeur of the location and represent what I was seeing with what I was catching on the camera, and so I decided I needed to stop trying to focus on the bigger picture. Instead I switched out the 14mm for the 70-200mm and decided I would walk around attempting to find details instead.

I found myself in a stone corridor which was quite aesthetic, and which a few other people were taking selfies of each other in. Resisting the urge to switch back to my wider lens my eyes eventually found this leaf suspended in a web in part of a doorway. I climbed up a few pieces of stone at the end of the corridor until I was at the same level as the leaf, and zoomed in fully to 200mm to shoot it from afar.

It’s good sometimes just to take a step back and focus on the little things.

Posted in Cambodia, close-up, nature, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



The Trevi Fountain in Rome is quite magnificent, and was luckily one of the iconic sights in the eternal city which had completed the work it was having done to it and so was unimpeded by scaffold or hoarding (the same cannot be said for the Colosseum, or the Pantheon, or the Spanish Steps, or countless other locations).

Arriving here in the early hours of a Monday morning I was confident that I would have the location to myself, those working in Rome would be unlikely to stop and admire, and those who are visiting are generally sound asleep in their respective hotels during those early hours. I was happy to indeed have the location to myself, with a few street cleaners and one or two other people only turning up around 7am – all of which stayed behind my camera…which I thought was rather kind of them.

Posted in Architecture, Black & White, Europe, Rome, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment