Pixel XL & Pixel 3 XL: The Accidental Photographer

Taken in July 2018 with my Pixel XL

I have always been intrigued by photography even though I never pursued it besides taking photos during vacation or taking a few thousand pictures of corn plants while getting my Masters degree in electrical engineering at the University of Kansas.

Seeing the reviews of the Pixel XL camera in 2016, I knew I had to get one. I figured if the Pixel XL had a good quality camera, I could really get into taking pictures in my “retirement”.

Guess what? It did, and I did.

As the title of this blog states, I consider myself an “accidental photographer”, as I surely am not, and will never claim to be a Photographer. I am simply a geek with a really cool phone who occasionally gets a lucky picture. Unlike a Photographer who works really hard and plans well (check out Dave Morrow’s web site….wow!). I just stumble across an opportunity, pull out my phone, snap, and hope for the best.

Leaving Costco one evening

Rule #1: Take your phone with you everywhere, but, especially on walks, hikes, runs, bike rides, etc. You never know when inspiration will strike.

I always thought that a good, or great, photographer, required that special something I called an eye. The eye, I thought, was something that a person was born with. Well……I may have been wrong (the first time!) about that because over the past few years snapping Pixel XL photos, I actually think I may be developing an eye. Surprise, surprise! Maybe practice does make perfect. 😉

Rule #2: If you see it…..take the picture…..because in a few seconds, it will be gone.

I actually think I have found another niche to fall into (other than videoconferencing, telecommuting, coworking, and reading), and and I’m liking it: A smartphone accidental photographer who is walking around, enjoying nature, shooting an occasional picture, and, maybe, getting a photo that is worthy of posting on Instagram, or including it in a Google Photos book for the family.

The pictures I have taken over the years, thanks to the Pixel XL and Pixel 3 XL are: Pictures that will last a lifetime. Pictures I would have never gotten before smartphones with cameras. Pictures that are, to me, priceless.

Blaze getting out of the pool
Blaze on a walk Dec 9, 2018 Pixel 3 XL

I almost always take the pictures in landscape mode, 16×9, as I like taking in all that I can on the sides of the picture (if I need to crop it, I use Snapseed on my Pixel 3 XL), and 16×9 fits nicely on our HDTV when I Chromecast it so Lori can see the photos. Oh, and, Instagram reduces horizontal better than vertical. As such, my Pixel 3 XL is set up for 8.3 megapixels, 16×9. But….a higher resolution would be nice, Google. 😉

The Pixel 3 XL may not have the best physical camera hardware, but, it sure does have, in my opinion, the most advanced software to run that camera and to process the pictures on the market. THAT, again in my opinion, is what makes the Pixel 3 XL stand-out among smartphone cameras. Software rules!

Below are a few more snaps…..enjoy.

Here is a Pixel 3 XL shot using Night Sight. Notice how sharp and clean it looks. Wow!

Taken on movie night at the Mall in Tracy using “Night Sight” mode on my Pixel 3 XL

Here is a shot using “Top Shot” just before Blaze jumps up to bark at a person walking on the sidewalk. The phone automatically captured pics before and after the jump.

Don’t miss it…..take the shot, Mike

“Pete” the Peacock

Sometimes, I take my time and set up a shot….just like a real Photographer. 🙂

Park near Villalovoz Elementary
Tracy Library

Rule #3: Have fun!


In 2019 the technology exists for anyone to take amazing photographs whenever the opportunity arises.

The next time YOU experience a photographic moment….pull out your phone and snap (hopefully, everyone will survive your snap).

You may have saved a precious memory in an instant.

Geek on!

Tracy Hills and a parked train


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