Photography,Phone Tips And A Simple Lifestyle Inspiration.

Went with my israeli buddies, Barak and Yaniv, to a short thanksgiving weekend trip on southern california coast to surf and have some good times. It was absolutely spontaneous and with no final destination. just to go out, change the environment from busy city scapes to nature and ocean as we know, landscape and to clean the mind with a fresh salty breeze. we drove down the coast from LA to Mexico Boarder/San Diego and enjoyed a big swell (6-8 feets).

When im outside surfing, i’m in a different world. I’m recharging my mentality and my creativity. Only a surfer can know the feeling of sitting, waiting and wishing for a nice set and good upcoming wave to ride on. the adrenalin, the excitement, the other surfers that never get bored, the dolphins and the seagulls, the sea weed and the clear water, the off shore wind and the California blessed sun.

I took on myself a personal project to document and to take a large footage of lifestyle and surfing videos to create a short abstract video. surfing through my eyes. eventually i began my photography from surfing photography and from understanding the meaning of capturing moments and 1/2000th of a second. just to freeze it.

Rincon, 2011. © Benjo Arwas. Canon 50D, 300mm F2.8 IS.

As well, during the trip, of course i photographed a bit with my phone (which i love the simpleness of the things) and some film. bellow I’m going to talk a bit about lighting-timing of shooting, composition, moments and phone photography. how more simple can it be?!

The Short Film: Surf As Abstract.

I’m influenced mostly by nature and the ocean. surfing is my sport and when im sitting outside i’m disconnecting and cleaning my brain. During this trip i took on myself a personal project to document a moment in a lifestyle of a surfer to showcase my feeling of traveling all the time, going outside, the environment, the sand and the wind, the massive wind and the silence. I took a big footage and then gave it to my talented brother, Roy (The Arwas Productions) to take care on my post-production as always.

Hope you’ll enjoy it and will feel the same way i do.

Lighting – Timing: 2 Moments before Sunset.

I’m addicted to film and B&W. the tonality, the contrast and in my case, it doesnt even have to be SHARP focus. i’m catching a moment, even in real life, some moments are blurred and not clear and sharp. thats how i see my photography and overall art.

I had 1 roll of film to use on my MAMIYA RZ67, it was a pretty rare film – “ROLLEI INFRARED 400”. B&W of course. i just got out of the water in OCEANSIDE PIER, North from SD and ran to my car to bring my precious film camera. i love the 6X7 format, it’s just make everything looks real. i was hanging out on the beach during sunset exactly 10 minutes before pitch black, while waiting for Barak to come out from the water, because i wanted to take a few portraits of him. in the mean while, i tried to look and search for some attractions for my eyes and heart. 2 moments before sunset, i felt that it was like a whole life time(!!!). People running on the beach, kids playing in the water, surfers, groups are reunite, the pier is FULL with people, photographers catching the sunset, painter sketching the lines of the pier, the waves are perfect and in the middle of the winter, the weather is just sweet. no words to explain. the reflections that the low tide created were like a black glass underneath my objects, just perfect.

Girl playing in the low tide © Benjo Arwas

Photographer sealing the sunset. © Benjo Arwas

Surfers freezing running back to the cars © Benjo Arwas

After capturing all this beauty of the life around the pier, 2 sec before sunset i saw my friend Barak running out from the freezing water towards me and i began to take a portraits of him on the beach. literally, almost night. i opened the aperture to F2.8, metered the ambient and got 1/8th slow slow slow shutter speed on ISO 400 (using my 110mm lens (equivalence to 50mm on 35mm format) and began to place him on my sensor . I’m happy with the results and actually lucky that i nailed it clear and appropriate.

Barak © Benjo Arwas

With all the lifestyle © Benjo Arwas

End of day © Benjo Arwas

My conclusions are pretty clear as you see. Photography never ends, be at the right place, at the right time and look around you. have a clear vision and know the technique. it’s not obvious to photograph a person in low-light, 1/8th of a second, F2.8 with a massive film camera, but everything is possible if you really want and if your’e fighting for it.

I’m inspired by this kind of stuff, and even that it’s not fashion or beauty. it’s a moment.

If ill not capture it, nobody else will do.

PHONE Photography tips during trips:

So now days everyone have smart phone. some have more sophisticated and others have less, but eventually it can take photos and even GOOD photos in a resolution that you can print it on your wall, if you’re using the correct settings on your phone.

When you receiving a phone and using your’e regular camera, it’s nice. but it’s like having a 10,000$ camera and not knowing anything about photoshop,darkroom,dodge/burn and color management and to shoot on JPG.

My point is that we have tools, some of them are free and some of them are cost 0.99$( ridiculous). I’m using Android so i’m more limited than the IPHONE people, but eventually it doesn’t matter…it’s like Canon vs Nikon, and we will not go through that right now (Canon wins, period).


when you shooting with your phone it’s obviously easier than pick-up the camera up and shoot. If your’e smart enough and you know the effect that your’e going to use and how it will be turn out it’s much easier “to paint” the next photo, by vision (as photography should be). trying different angles, design and put everything in place to make it look neat and great. sometime you don’t need to work hard, just a bit taste in design can bring you a wonderful image.

Surfboard, Vignette app © Benjo Arwas

The surfboard wasn’t mine or my friends, i actually haven’t seen the surfer at all. the board was just there. the light was mid-day and the color palate was perfect…brown,red,white,blue. i knew that i want to use this effect, put all the lines together and “click” i got a great image, already printed 13X13 for Paul ,my girlfriend father.

Stuck in traffic © Benjo Arwas

Middle of traffic in California, casual, just seeing the lines, color palate, idea and raising up my phone to put it all together like a function. for me and many others it’s a memory from a disaster moment when we stuck in traffic but for others it might be great image that sealing a moment, design and lines.

Sunset with the phone can be sometime better than camera. any explanations?

Typical, maybe boring california lifestyle image. but again, lines, palms, design, waves, sunset, colors. all together can bring you into a perfect function of imaginary. and it’s all with your phone. it’s all placed there, you just need to raise your head and to look for it.


My favorite photography apps on my phone are:

Vignette: as you seen in the above images my number one app that you can actually customize all the possible effects by your self and save in hi-res (5mp!!!!), as well easy to share. you must try it to understand. attaching examples bellow from the trip:

left to right: Yaniv, Benjo(ME), Barak @ Blacks, San Diego

Oceanside Pier © Benjo Arwas

Camera 360: a really great camera app, my second favorite after Vignette, here you can have more “modern effects” as HDR and color manipulations etc. less the Film feeling but more digital photography in-phone. as well the most attractive thing here is that you can split the image from 2-6 images in the same one. for people who love design and putting images next to each other in a layout, it’s a great approach!

Sunset with Camera 360, HDR Effect

Desgin and layout. Blacks, SD.

Retro Camera: great app that supplies all the retro effects,polaroid,color or B&W, square,framed,cross processed, dust, etc. really gives you to miss the film proccess. as well the shutter sound is pretty cool. i don’t really have examples, but still recommending it.

Probably each of you guys have his one favorite and workflow, as i maintained before, like Nikon vs Canon (obviously Canon). Will really appreciate if you’ll comment and suggest your’e favorite App for IPhone/Droid, maybe there is something that i should try out?
Really hope that you find this post helpful and inspiring. I believe in sharing the creations. eventually the world is ours and we must share all his fruits and sides. in a good or a bad way. There was not any special lighting techniques on this trip. all natural. As i said, the right angle at the right time, at the right place.
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about the post and if you have any additional subjects that you want to share with me and others.

2 thoughts on “Photography,Phone Tips And A Simple Lifestyle Inspiration.

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