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When I first got a cell phone way back when, I thought it was silly that the phone had a camera. What a lousy camera, I thought. How useless! Why would I want to shoot anything with a phone? Oh, how things change.

iPhone apps brought me back to photography. I was tired of my Diana cameras, tired of shooting pinholes, tired of setting up and tearing down my kitchen darkroom every time I wanted to print, unwilling to lug around a 35mm camera, and my little digital Pentax had died. I stopped shooting for a long time, frustrated, in a rut, unmotivated, irritable about it all. And then I discovered, eons after everyone else, the fun of apps. I started shooting again using Old Camera, Instagram and RetroCamera, shooting every day, and it yanked me out of my photographic funk. Now I’m back in my darkroom, and back to shooting with all kinds of cameras in all kinds of ways.

I especially like Old Camera, which is supposed to simulate platinum prints and other historic processes. I’m not sure it succeeds, but it gives my photos a bit of an old-fashioned air and because the phone isn’t a “serious” camera, there’s no inhibition; I shoot casually, playfully, constantly. I still travel and shoot with other cameras, but I like the toylike feeling of the phone. Here are a few favorite shots from our recent trip to the west coast.

Part of Vancouver’s Downtown skyline at dusk. What a pretty city.

My early morning walk along the sea wall on English Bay at low tide. Look at those giant trees! There’s  a tiny runner on the lower right to show the scale.

I like the little piles of stones randomly arranged along the shoreline. This group looks like cormorants waiting for their dinner. After I took this picture, two river otters paddled by, chirping to one another.

After three days in Vancouver, we drove towards Seattle and hopped on the Edmonds Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula.

Our first night was in Forks, in this sweet little cabin tucked into the trees.

The next day was my favorite, into the deep, dark rain forests. Well, okay, it was uncharacteristically sunny. Still, spooky and serene at the same time.

Based on these photos, I can’t wait to develop my film. Our second and last night on the Peninsula was at Lake Quinault. This was the sunset view at dinner.

Then it was off to Tacoma and Seattle, back to Vancouver, and home to New York.

I’d love to discover more apps, especially ones that imitate historic processes. Do you have any favorites?