Tag Archives: iphone

IPhone Photography or iPhoneography

SmartPhones are ubiquitous in today’s world. So many of us have one or another type of smartphone and they are so capable that they have replaced several devices. The one device that the smartphone replaced for many of us is the pocket digital camera. For myself, I shoot with the iPhone for a lot of reasons and not least of all is that I love the interface of the iPhone. It works for me and apparently for a goodly number of other people too. For the past year or so, I’ve made it a habit to watch others at events and while traveling to see who is shooting their memories with what device. The iPhone wins hands down as the most common smartphone I’ve seen in use overall. There is even a word used to describe using the iPhone to create photographs. You will see and hear the word “iPhoneography” or the art of creating photographs with the Apple iPhone.

People use their iPhone for travel pictures, family pictures, weddings, news and just for making pure art. It really makes sense when you think about it. The smartphone or iPhone is almost always with you in your purse, or in your pocket ready to be used for a call, internet query, a map or a fast snap. I find that I tend to be much more creative when shooting with my iPhone over shooting with my normal DSLR because I can easily shoot when inspiration strikes or sometimes, when opportunity presents itself. The DSLR is so big and bulky that it takes a conscious effort to carry it around and it’s noticeable when at times, I dont want to be noticed. The iPhone on the other hand is great for stealth shots or if I happen to be inspired at the moment. And as I show in my book, one can get REALLY creative by Macgyvering (is that a verb?) your way to success with simple tricks.

I want to show some images that I created while in flight and bored or just walking across the parking lot. The idea is that you can shoot and make art at almost any time of the day or night with your smartphone, or in my case, the iPhone. The only real limitation is your imagination.

IMG_4728 dreams

This image which I call “Flight of Dreams” was taken while flying back from Chicago. I was bored but I had my iPhone and so I took several shots out the window. Then I used Snapseed to adjust the colour and crop. I used another tool called “Image Blender” to add a texture and finally I used AlienSky to add my Saturn to the corner.

Triumph Motorcycle

This shot and the next one were taken while strolling through a parking lot on my way into the office. I happen to see a new Triumph motorcycle parked and I love the old school lines but on the modern motorcycle. I quite literally stopped, put down my coffee and ripped off several images. I then processed the images over my coffee once I got into the office.

Chrome motorcycle wheel iPhone

Posted in Articles, iPhone, musings

Shooting with the iphone IOS 6 Panaroma Tool

One of the features of IOS 6 I talk about in my book is the new Panorama tool. This is a tool that allows you to take the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, swing it in an arc and then have a gorgeous panorama image in just a few seconds. If you dont believe me, then take a look at this sample shot from a fundraiser I attended the other day. We had set up two jogging tracks for the kids to run around in two different fields. I wanted to get an image that really showed off both sides and my D700 with the 16mm was not able to get it. Nor did I relish the idea of taking several shots and then spending time in Photoshop stitching it all together. So out comes my iPhone 4S !!

I did three different shots as I’m a firm believer in backup images even more so with this given all the variables such as kids walking by, lighting and so on.

Here is the normal blog image of the pano. The best I can really do is 1900 pixels or it scrolls off your screen.

Jog-a-thon Panorama IOS 6 iPhone 4S

But, with a built in feature of Photoshop, I can easily show you the high resolution image. I use a tool called Zoomify and now I can show off all the resolution I have. Or in this, as much as I grabbed. The original image was downloaded from my iPhone at a reduced size and even the, the image is over 9000 pixels long. All I did to the image was to sharpen it some and cropped it a bit. So for a iPhone stiched image, I think it looks pretty good!

Click here for the Zoomified Pano

As I say in my book, the iPhone is a very capable camera when used correctly. Have fun and go play with panoramic pictures! I am pretty sure you will be amazed and it wont cost you a penny since it’s built in. If you want extra features like a full 360 degrees or other items, buy my book ūüėÄ ¬†or hit up the Apple App store and look around. 360 and Photosyth are two good apps for cheap prices.

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It’s done! My new iBook for iPhone Photography is done

Well, at least the PDF version of “How to Create Amazing iPhone Photographs” is done. The iBook version is waiting for Apple to bless it. But, in the meantime, you can buy and download the PDF which is exactly the same content as the iBook. You can download a free preview from Lulu Press who is my POD (print on demand) vendor.

Here is the description for my new book –

[blockquote]Your content here.The iPhone is an amazing tool. It is a phone, a database, a web browser, a camera, a video recorder and more. But this amazing array of features may overshadow the iPhone‚Äôs arguably greatest feature: its camera’s ability to capture a moment in time.¬† This book will teach you how to use the iPhone camera in ways you never dreamed, to fully capture the moment and to create amazing photographs.¬† You will learn about the basics of crafting images with the iPhone but also about interesting options such as infrared and underwater photography. You will see how to perform high-speed panning to capture a subject in motion and produce stunning images. I present a wide variety of apps, accessories and hardware, as well as tips and tricks, to aid you in creating your photographic art. I hope my sample images will inspire your creativity. When you have finished reading this book, you will know how to use your iPhone as a real camera to create amazing art and lasting memories.[/blockquote]

This book was a blast to write. Anytime I “need” to shoot pictures for a book is fun but this was great because all I needed was a small camera bag and my iPhone. It was liberating in a way to not have to carry around eight lbs of camera plus a big ol’ lens that bangs off things and people as I walk by.

iPhone camera bag contents

My bag has some interesting stuff. A ball bunji cord, a spare phone (my old blackberry), sync cable, Otterbox, Ultra Pod, spare power, MiFi, gaffers tape,  Glif, olloclip lens  and lens cleaner. All of this fits into a very small and light camera bag.  For really light days, I put the olloclip and glyph  into my coin pocket and the ultra pod in a back pocket.

Sample Page from iPhone Book

Here is a sample page from the book where I’m discussing converting the image to black-and-white. This is representative page of my book. I discuss how to shoot with the iPhone, how to add filters, lenses, using video light and more.

If you want to know how to creatively shoot awesome pictures with your iPhone even though it was not designed for it, buy this book ūüôā

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So many words and a new book for iPhone photography

I’m in the last few laps of editing for my new iBook on Successful Iphone Photography. The writing of the book is easy, the editing will kill you. But I’m having a fun with this project. I’ve tried to put in imaginative images that I’ve taken with my iPhones and have gone outside the box to get some cool shots. This book is not a vanity project or an “art” project. God knows there are enough of those around. It’s just “here is how to get solid images from the iPhone”.

 

Here is a preview of some of the images being used in the book. None of these are traditional iPhone images but I have some of those too in the book. These are images to get you thinking about you can do with your own phone. The only limit is what you put on yourself.

 

Double shot of coffee

Nothing like a cup of joe in the morning ?

iPhone 4S using a Hoya R72 IR filter for infrared

Who says you cant shoot IR on the iPhone

Half a Moon with the iPhone

I had several people call me out and say there was not any way this could have been an iPhone shot. I have the EXIF data and the original file. Go ahead, make my day

Using Movie Filmmaking rigging and a iPhone

This was taken using suction cup, ball heads and rigging that I normally attach movie cameras or DSLRs to cars and trucks. This was a fun shot complete with the gaffers tape holding the neutral filter stack over the olloclip lens on my iPhone

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Brave New World of iBook Publishing

This post is sort of about photography but it also is about Apple, it’s about iBooks and it is certainly about diversification. ¬†One reason I have been very quiet of late is that I’ve been head down on learning how to use iBook Author to put together a new book called “How to be successful at iPhone Photography”. In a past life, I use to write very dry technical books on geeky things like network security, Linux and Cisco stuff. If you were a network geek, you probably read one but for the average Joe, not so much.

Now, with photography as my life, it came to me that I could recycle my writing skills into something more than just blog entries. I decided to write a book on using the iPhone since it would be somewhat more easy than writing for Android phones and I happen to own an iPhone. This made it even a more simpler choice on my part. The reason is in the past several months, I’ve become quite the enthusiastic shooter using the iPhone. I am always amazed at just how good it can be and what can be done with a smart phone and some clever apps.

The book will be finished in a few weeks and then submitted to the black hole of Apple approval which I’m told can take weeks and weeks if I’m not so lucky. The price will be very cheap, between 1.99 and 2.99, I have not made up my mind yet. The goal is to make it a good book and high value for less money than a decent latte would cost you.

Now, some of you might sneer at the idea of using a camera phone for anything other than quick and dirty snapshots. I mean, a real photographer uses a brand name DSLR with a five pound chunk of glass hanging off the end. A few years ago that was true and I would have said it myself. But, with the advent of the iPhone, in particular the iPhone 4, 4S and now the 5, the onboard cameras are very capable systems indeed.

I have exhibit A which is a photograph I took using my iPhone 4S and a cheap ETX telescope. I did upgrade the eyepiece from the OEM Mead ETX eye piece to a nicer but still inexpensive Parker Silver Series eye piece. Good glass is good glass whether it be a camera lens or a telescope. But, that was the extend of my “upgrades”. I did not use anything special on the phone and most of the post processing was actually done on the phone standing in the front yard using Snapseed and PhotoFX. I did load the image into CS5 for a high pass filter and resizing of the image. But this image looks better than many I’ve seen taken with much more expensive equipment.
New Quarter Moon September 23 2012 taken with iPhone and Mead ETX telescope

As you can see from the image, the quality is very good. And this was without any real magic or special tricks or high priced hardware. It’s this type of shooting my new book will show you how to do for cheap.

Here is another iPhone picture and this time, I broke a few hearts with it. It’s the expected “ring shot” but this time I used the Olloclip Macro lens on the iPhone 4S to take an ultra close up of the wedding ring. Then I processed it in CS6 just like I would any other deliverable image. There is virtually no difference in quality of using the iPhone vs. using a DLSR with the 800 dollar lens.

Wedding Ring Shot using iPhone 4S and olloclip macro lens

So here are a few samples from my upcoming book. You will get a sense of the book and how it’s going to look. And being an iBook, it will be interactive unlike traditional print books.

Chapter 1 of How to be a Successful iPhone Photographer

Sample Chapter Content of How to be a Successful iPhone Photographer

So stay tuned for my announcement of my booking being approved by Apple for sale in the iTunes catalog. It’s been alot of fun so far in writing it and I hope when I get it done, you will find it an enjoyable read and inspiration.

 

 

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The iPhone as a real camera

The iPhone burst onto the scene several years ago and the critics were vicious in their panning of the new and very expensive Apple phone. As time went on, it was clear who had the right idea and now Apple’s iPhone dominates the smart phone market from both numbers of phones and the overwhelming number of apps.

I have had an iPhone since V1 thought it took me almost a year to give up my crackberry for the iPhone. But I have since embraced it even though as a phone I find it to average. Why do I embrace it? because it does so much more for me than just calls. And in one area, I’m not alone in my loving the iPhone and that is iPhonography. The art of taking photographs with the iPhone. From instagram, to camera apps, remote triggers, facebook camera apps, framers, watermarking apps and more, there is an amazing number of ways to use the iPhone as a camera. And it’s not just the apps, the sensor is pretty good for what it is. It can be reasonably sharp, it has built in HDR and one of the worst flashes I’ve ever had the misfortune to use.

I decided to put a few images to show what the iPhone can do with some imagination and a few apps.

The next two images were taken using the 4S with an inexpensive telescope using a normal viewfinder and a X2 barlow converter. Nothing very special. I used a spring clamp on the eye piece to provide a platform to snap from and I used a remote trigger by way of the + button on the mic cord the second time to get away from the shake and shudder caused by having to touch the phone.

September 4th Moonrise using iPhone 4S

Close up of the moon using iPhone 4S and a X2 Barlow converter

Then there is what we do when we play tourist. In this case, I was at Disneyland and while I had my G11 hanging around my neck, I opted to use my iPhone because I could snap it, process it and send it to my wife who was not able to be with us at the park. The social side of the smart is in many ways, more of  driver than anything technical. The tech is just the means to an end which is social interaction.

Snow White with kids on iPhone 4S

And lets not forget the geeking out side of life. I found an app called “360” which is a way cool automatically stitching panoramic app. You set it up and start taking shots. The app handles the overlap and blending and does a fair job of it. Not as nice as my DSLR but for 5 bucks or so, how can you possibly complain? It’s good enough and that is the idea here. The phone is “good enough” on alot of fronts and some of the apps make it “better” than my DSLR. In this shot, I have been to catch the complete rainbow end to end.
Partial pano of rainbow using iPhone 360 app

I’ve taken beautiful shots at events, weddings, documented shoots, tourist shots, work shots, printed images and processed images all on the iPhone. It’s a very capable device and when coupled with someone who knows photography, it’s astoundingly good at being a camera.

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Practice, Practice and more Practice

One of the things that any professional photographer will do is constantly practice their craft. Practicing may not be dragging out the strobes and the fancy background, it can be as simple as just bringing a camera on a family walk.¬† For myself, I always have a camera with me whether it be my iPhone or my¬† “professional” camera. I find that like anything else, constant practice with my chosen equipment helps me on the job when I’m shooting for you and being paid for it. I personally and ethically believe that when I’m shooting “for real”, it is not the time for me to be practicing while on your dime. Any true professional would agree with that statement and when you are shopping around for a photographer, it’s something to consider.

You might question the use of an iPhone for practice but when I have limited equipment, I find that I get much more creative to get the most out of the camera and myself for that matter.¬† It’s no longer having a two thousand dollar lens or a five hundred flash, it’s all about me and what I can do with what I have. This translates directly into better pictures when I do have my expensive equipment handy.

I also practice with my normal shooting equipment but I may limit myself to a single lens or a certain setting to better learn how my equipment works under a wide variety of conditions. This works to your advantage as I can be shooting rather then messing around with the camera and constantly looking at the view finder while missing key shots. This becomes critical for events like weddings where things can be moving at a quick pace under a wide variety of conditions.

Here are some practice images that I took while on walks with the family using my main camera and a single lens.  I also use these images to push my post processing skills and learn new techniques.

Sara Portrait in Oak Canyon Nature Center Anahiem

This was taken at the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim right at dusk. I also used a technique in my post processing to give a soft glow to the image while keeping the eyes sharp.

Three sisters at Oak Canyon Nature Center Anaheim

This image was also at the Oak Canyon Nature Center and originally was more cyan or blue than the the finished print shows now. The sisters were in a cool shadow at dusk which does not lend itself to warm tones.¬† So post processing turned it around into a warm summer’s night as it was and gave the nice warm tones. Again, a professional can adjust to conditions both by shooting differently or by making critical adjustments in the processing of the image.

The final practice image shows how I can take a blah scene and literally change seasons with some judicious post processing. the original image is on the right and the changed image is on the left. This was practicing some advanced post coloring techniques.

Oak Canyon Season Change comparision

As you can see,  as a professional, I practice constantly just like any other professional. This way when you hire me, I can be ready to produce very high quality art and results without dithering around trying to learn on your dime and missing the images you hired me to produce.

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Why You Should Be Printing Some Photographs

On a recent trip to Disneyland and to Chicago, I was struck by how prevalent the use of smart phones, in particular the iPhone was being used for photos. People were taking photos of themselves, where they were, friends, short video clips, long video clips, video conferencing to friends while on the road and more. Heck, I had a Nikon D700 with me and I still used my iPhone to snap a few shots of Chicago. What I did not see were any people sharing PHOTOGRAPHS, only electronic images. No wallet prints, no small albums or any other printed media. People were passing around their phones and other devices.

John Hancock Tower Chicago

In talking with a some of these people, I  learned that very few of them actual printed the images on to paper, ever. The images lived on the phone, Facebook, Flickr or home computer. They were  looked at briefly online and then never seen again as new images take their place. And unlike photo albums of years gone past, nobody pulls out their cell phone or laptop at home to look at pictures.

As it turns out, very few people are printing any of their photographs any more. That’s a real crime in of itself,¬† but it also goes to show that prints should be part of your collection. Yes, you can have a thousand images on your phone or tablet but what good are they if nobody ever sees them?¬† What good are they if the kids can’t see pictures of their vacation because they don’t know where the images are out on your hard drive, they don’t have access to your computer or they dont know what widget the images are on? How can they share with friends at school about where they went on vacation or show off to neighbors?

We re losing something precious by not printing photographs. Facebook is well and good but we humans are tactile bunch. W want to touch and hold in our hands things like prints. And it’s not the glow of a tablet, we¬† want pictures that do not require software, hardware, power supplies, dim rooms and all that goes it with the digital generation of viewing pictures.

This is something we as photographers need to educate our customers to do¬† and we need to do it ourselves. When was the last time you made 4×6 prints to show off to friends your last vacation around the dinner table or coffee shop? Did¬† you just dump a few hundred images on Flickr or Facebook and call it good? People get excited about holding real pictures.. They get excited about real time sharing of stories. They get excited about touching pictures. It’s time to get excited!!¬† Make some prints and spread them around!!

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80 / 20 rule or how good is good enough

Point and shoot cameras are a dying breed. Virtually everyone now has a smart phone with a camera and that includes myself. Yes, I have my very expensive cameras for projects and assignments but in truth, often times for myself, I’m shooting with my iPhone. Why? Because it’s “Good enough”. For 80% of the time, it’s perfect for what I need in my daily life. Would I shoot a wedding with it? Only if you paid me AND signed a contract saying as much. For most people, it’s the old 80/20 rule where the 80% is close enough. The iPhone or other smart phone is 80% close enough and they dont need or even want that last 20%.

With the new software like Snapseed and Photoshop apps, you can do alot with the phone or iPad that even a year ago seemed out of reach. You can now get iPhoto for the iPad.. really? a real editor and photo manager on an iPad? Oh yeah.. now we are styling.

So here is an image taken with the iPhone and edited on the phone using Snapseed software. Pretty amazing !!

 

I love shooting 30 second video clips for one group I’m active with on Facebook. Why? Because it’s a fun way for people to really get to know me by HEARING me speak and watch me talk about something. I’ve included a small sample here of my “Cooking Show” for my friends on Facebook.

As Pros, we sometimes forget that the 80/20 rule really does apply in alot of ways. AS consumers, we live in great times but all the apps will not make you a professional photographer. If you want a professional shot, you need to track one of us pros down for that critical 20% of your life when the iPhone picture just wont do. But also remember  that with a bit of work, that small phone can take some amazing images.

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Shooting high quality pictures on the cheap

Compact fluorescent light bulb

Image via Wikipedia

I hear alot from photographers, both pro and amateur alike about all this expensive equipment they “need” to have in order to shoot good photographs. I know it well since I also used to say the same thing. Or at least I did till I saw some work done with cheap equipment, obsolete equipment and DIY equipment. I also read up on what some of the famous photographers used to make their images. What Ansel Adams used to make most of his famous images would be considered junk by most photographers today if shown the camera without the backstory. Oddly enough, if you gave the photographers the backstory, then the camera would suddenly be imbued with mythical qualities of just the right lens or some other quirk that gave Ansel the edge he needed. None of which addresses the one critical fact that is Ansel KNEW how to make an image before he even tripped the shutter.

I see the same thing with lighting, I see it with cameras, lenses, bags and more. Photographers are equipment junkies which in itself is fine but when it gets to the point that you can not take a pictures without several thousand dollars of equipment and it’s your kids birthday party, you might want to rethink things a bit. I’m as guilty as the next photographer who grabs the three thousand dollars selection of equipment to take a family snapshot. But, in recent times I have become much better about using whatever camera I have handy for my images. Why? Because I’ve grown as a photographer and I have learned how to take pictures regardless of the camera. Some of the important things I’ve learned about is getting the right pose or using a piece of white paper to give me a touch of fill light while shooting with my iPhone and other tricks. Another very important lesson is not worrying about the last 20% of the picture quality when the first 80% is good enough for what I will be using the image for. Honestly, do you really NEED to shoot a snapshot with a five thousand dollar camera body/lens just to stick it up on Facebook?

Black and White Ireland Castle Bell

I just got back from a trip to Ireland where after much internal struggle, I took two cameras. Neither of which was one of ¬†my expensive bodies/lenses and that was because I really didnt trust my own judgement ūüôā ¬†So what did I take to Ireland? The last time I took a D80 with a cheapo 18-55mm VR lens. This time I upgraded a bit and I took a Canon G11 which I know I can shoot well with, it was my camera of choice when I went to Oxford last year.

But  I also took a old D70s with a bargin 18-105 F3.5 VR lens. I took that because it has a bit more reach than the G11 and it has less noise than the G11. But the G11 is very convient to drag around given how much smaller it is over the DSLR.  I left my very expensive equipment at home. So why would I do that? A couple of reasons to be honest. I did not want to drag all that expensive and heavy equipment around and risk it on a trip that was personal. I make money with the D300 and the expensive glass I use with it. If something happens to it, I need to replace it and that can cause a few problems even with insurance. So I took two cheap cameras so  that if something happened, it was not a serious deal, it would be more of an annoyance. There is another reason that I like to take some of my lesser cameras on trips like this.

Portrait using bare CFLs and cheap home depot reflector

I have my share of pro level lighting and modifiers, I have become somewhat taken with very cheap lighting and shooting pretty nice portraits without even a modifier. And when I say cheap lighting, I’m talking about using eight dollar reflectors from Home Depot and single CFL (Compact fluorescent Lightbulbs) screwed into the reflector. If you know how light works and how a camera works, you can take good solid pictures even with this cheap lighting. The picture shown here is one of my¬†experiments¬†taken with a couple of the single CFL lights without any modifiers. This image is a lesson in that you do not need alot of expensive lighting to make a good portrait. And in this case, I did shoot the image with a Nikon D300 but I used a relatively cheap 50mm 1.4 lens. My Nikon D70s would have worked just as well.

The Strobist community has made an art form of using small battery flashes in ways that most photographers never thought of. And not just the expensive small flashes like the Nikon SB900, but ANY flash such as the five dollar reject found at Goodwill that was designed for a long dead camera brand. Light is light and once you know that, you are ten steps ahead of everybody else.

Matching polkadot  dress and hat

In this image, I used two small battery flashes, one with an umbrella and one facing a 15 dollar reflector and set -2 stops from the umbrella. I shot this on a grey background and then used a texture to give the image a nice background. This was a cheap and easy portrait without alot of money sunk into lighting modifiers, expensive strobes, power packs and all the rest.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the takeaway of the fact that you dont need expensive equipment to take nice pictures. The expensive  equipment can help you by making it easier to make images, but it is not required. And in some cases, the expensive equipment can hinder you making solid images because you dont know how to use it as well as you need to.

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