So what has long been rumored in the undercurrents of our fair city has come to frightful fruition — I have gone certifiably insane.

Even as I wrote the headline for this column I felt the cold sweat trepidation rise from my rising lunacy.

I am going on a vacation without a camera.

And I’m afraid.

I received my first camera for my 18th birthday as freshman in college. Since then, I am rarely seen without a black Nikon over my shoulder, and certainly never for any extended period of time.

A few years ago, I had similar feelings when I decided to tempt the fates and take only one camera and one lens to Jamaica. All the what-ifs of such a daring proposal crashed through my head, but I was delighted to return to Walla Walla with that Nikon D7000 and an 18-200mm zoom intact and a passel of very nice images for a local charity.

But this time, no Nikon at all!

Okay, the introduction is over and rather than worry you further, rest assured that I’m not headed for treatment. At least, not immediately. I will be shooting thousands of high-resolution images this vacation, just not with a bulky hunk of precision metal and optical glass.

I am joining this 21st century and shooting with my phone only. Scary!

Smartphones getting smarter

Cellphone camera technology has come a long way — I’ve just never trusted it. Played with it, but never trusted it.

Now my new phone has inspired me to take the risk and dive in.

It has a standard lens that is the equivalent of a 26mm, f1.6 lens, a “telephoto” equal to a 52mm, f2 and a super-wide of 13mm, f2.4. That’s an angle of view of 120 degrees!

All shoot images that are 12 megapixels. This is far short of my newer Nikon D850, but right in line with my older professional level D3s that I still use for about half my Union-Bulletin work

As I read the ins and outs of the phone’s imaging capabilities, I’m feeling less anxious.

It has:

  • Image stabilization
  • Depth of field control for better portraits
  • A remote control for said portraits and hands-free selfies (gotta have the selfies, right?)
  • A night mode for supposedly amazing low-light shooting
  • Time-lapse capability
  • 4K video with slow motion and easy image capture for still photos while shooting
  • And so many other bells and whistles that my head spins while I watch the training videos!

You never know until you try

All in all, I think my trepidation is being overtaken by excitement. I’m beginning to think that this old photo dog can learn some new tricks this vacation.

I’ll feel naked much of the time, but I think I might just learn to enjoy the lightness of Nikon-less travel.

Part 2 to come next month when I return and share my experience. I’ll be far from an expert, but should have some good info to share with you for your own phone camera shooting.

(If you have questions or ideas for future columns, please contact me at