Last weekend I was lucky enough to be chosen by Three to get to grips with two of the newest phones (or life accessories) on the market for a stroll around London with a group of other bloggers. Our task for the day was to put the cameras on the new iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to the test. They obviously chose the iPhone because of its general popularity, with fans always clamouring to get the latest one on the day it comes out. The Samsung is the next in the line of Galaxy phones but today was all about testing the cameras on a “Photowalk”, so the Galaxy S9 Plus edition was chosen for its slightly better camera spec than the standard Galaxy S9.
We met up at Bermondsey station where we were handed our phones. I started off with the S9 Plus and although I’m an Android user, it did feel slightly odd trying to get to grips with it. I’d had the Samsung Galaxy S3 years ago but moved away after that and never really looked back.
Our first stop of the day was Maltby Street Market. Although I’ve lived in south London all my life and I love food, it was somewhere I’d never heard of so I was excited to get there and explore.
We were accompanied by photographer Rob Percy who was great at giving us photography tips as well as suggestions for apps, and photography equipment to help with our shots. He told us about capturing the light and the rule of thirds, and he asked us questions about each of our blogs and what we photograph most often. As a travel blogger in London, a lot of my shots tend to be landscapes and images of still objects but a few of the parenting bloggers there had the added challenge of snapping their fast-moving children!
Our task was simple, to get some great photos of the many different foods on offer at the market – as with all the other photos on this post, the images have not been edited or filtered. Maltby Street Market is set in a lane in Bermondsey beside a set of railway arches which have all been repurposed as businesses or fixed restaurants. It was absolutely buzzing with a load of sweet and savoury stalls from countries around the world.
We set off and had around 20 minutes to approach some of the stall owners and chefs to ask if we could take photos of their great looking (and smelling) food. Luckily everyone there was really nice when I asked about taking photos. I couldn’t tag them all on Instagram as they wanted – partly because I took so many pictures (some not so great), but also as I didn’t log into all my social media feeds on the S9 Plus.
The Samsung was great for photography professionals letting you customise a lot of the features as you would on a normal camera in “Pro mode”. I’m no expert though so that might be why some of my pictures aren’t the best. The “Food Mode” was good for taking photos of food obviously but also quite decent for portraits or focusing on objects (like plants). There was also a “Live Focus Mode” which will automatically blur out the background of your picture and you can slide to adjust this.
It was hard to resist eating all the free samples and stopping to play with all the dogs at the market but I met up with the rest of the group to have a quick debrief and discuss which photos we got and how we were finding both the phones.
We then walked towards Tower Bridge and I wanted to reward myself after resisting spending all my cash at the market. We were having lunch at the Dickens Inn at St Katharine Dock, another area of London that I’ve heard about and seen lots of Instagram photos of, but had never actually visited. Although we knew lunch was close, we couldn’t help but stop and take photos looking down Tower Bridge and also along the docks with its sculptures and the many boats docked in the marina.
The Dickens Inn is an 18th-Century wooden-fronted building spread over a few floors. It also has some balconies draped in loads of colourful flowers which obviously had to become the focal point for some of our pics. I can imagine it being super popular in the summer, but London’s April heatwave had disappeared.
We sat down to lunch and although I went for the Ultimate Burger with its beef patty, cheese, bacon and pulled pork, I must admit I had a bit of food envy seeing some of the fish and chips that the other bloggers had. It was good to properly chat with fellow bloggers over lunch and afterwards it was time for those of us that wanted to swap to move onto our second phone of the day.
It was time for me to pick up the iPhone X. Having an iPhone as my work phone meant I *kind of* knew what I was doing. Compared to the Samsung camera it was as simple as point and shoot with no real options for anything fancy. This is where Rob’s recommendation of the Adobe Lightroom App would come in handy for smartening up the images – but I’m still yet to download it.
There was a new and improved portrait mode on the iPhone with a few different settings to focus on your face while blurring the background. I played about with a few selfies but couldn’t really get a shot that didn’t look airbrushed to the max. 🤳
This might be what some people like but if I’m taking my own picture I want it to still look like me! It was also a bit odd trying to get to grips with not having a home button on the phone.
The task was to take photos of London so I focused on that while we walked along from Tower Bridge by the Thames and past what used to be Billingsgate fish market. We also passed a few points where you could see classic London buildings shadowed by new modern offices and towers.
After growing up in Southwark, I’ve always loved Southwark Cathedral where we used to go for end of term church services at primary school. I could see it wedged between two buildings on the riverbank opposite during the walk. There were also great views of The Shard at various points on the Photowalk too. Once we walked across Southwark Bridge, I saw a great vantage point for shots of other buildings through the railings and gaps. This allowed for some nice creative photographs – although I was pining for the Samsung back! 🙂
There was a little bit of a rain shower that had been threatening to come down for most of the day (hence the grey skies in most of my photos) but we continued along the Southbank towards the Tate Modern. We even passed these really cool little houses right on the riverfront of The Thames, which I hadn’t ever noticed before.
When we got to the Millennium Bridge we discovered a giant rainbow-shaped object which turned out to be a swirly poo! It was actually a bit of guerilla marketing from Three which made me wonder if we’d been sent along this route intentionally? You can check out the campaign for the #Puggerfly and #GoBinge here.
When the rain started we took shelter in the Tate Modern café and sent ourselves over the last of our photos for the day before (grudgingly) returning all our phones. Both the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 are now available on Three.
Thanks to Three for a great day out and also to Rob and Kellee for taking us all on the tour and also giving us loads of photography tips and recommendations. I really enjoyed having a day out in London without needing to rush to be somewhere.
Do you ever just take a day to walk around and take pictures?
~ J ~