We all have heard the myth of why iPhone (or any smartphone) cannot take a good picture. By now you have seen in this blog, many images that are very respectable and if I had not said they were from an iPhone, you would have thought they were from a “real” camera. But, to really get the best out of your smartphone picture, you need a real desktop editor. Not an app on a very small screen. I use Lightroom and Photoshop by Adobe for a few reasons. One is that Lightroom is an asset management system and will let me keep track of ALL 80,000 of my images. It is also a kick butt editor that is very easy to get fast and smart results from. A bit of icing on the cake is you can buy it outright for about 150.00 dollars or you can pay 9.99 a month for it AND Photoshop CC. That’s right!! For about 2 dollars a week, you can have the defacto standard for editing and management. For this post, I will be showing what can be done with Photoshop since it does things like skin retouching better than Lightroom. Photoshop works really well at what I call “Heavy Lifting” editing. Lightroom does amazing work for very fast and general edits but when I need to replaces parts or have very fine control over the editing, I use Photoshop.
When I say all of this in my iPhone class, the next question is “Why”? Why do I need this? If you are just posting to Facebook or other social media, then you don’t. But, if the iPhone has turned into your main camera and you want some really nice pictures to print and hang, then you want to use the right tools to get there.
Here is a typical iPhone shot taken on the fly just before the Disneyland “Big Thunder” ride takes off. I liked the overall expression but I didn’t like the splash of bright light on her face or the background. I used PureShot on the MAX quality JPEG setting. This setting gives me over 3x the data to work with. The normal iOS image is about 1.5 Mb and the MAX is a bit over 5Mb in size.
Here is the Photoshop edited version where I’ve used normal glamour retouching techniques to clean up the bright light, smoothed out skin tones, cropped it and tilted it slightly. I also used a slight blur on the overall image. I even removed myself from one of the sunglass lenses.
You can see that the iPhone image edits just as well as any other image from a “real” camera when using a real editor. The tips and tricks you know work the same. And just like any other JPEG, you need to edit with a gentle hand to avoid artifacts. For this edit, I use many layers and my Wacom tablet.
All this extra data really comes in handy when you want to pull down highlights or bring up shadows on an iPhone JPEG. Normally you cannot do either very well but with the MAX quality JPEG, it works pretty well.
None of this editing could have been done on the iPhone using an “app”. We do not have the apps and we do not have the fine control of a stylus needed on such a small screen. Even on the iPad, it would have been difficult at best.
Ultimately it is all about control and flexibility as to why use a real editor on your smartphone image. Again, this is wasted effort if all you are going to do is post to Facebook which destroys image quality anyways. But if you want really nice images, this is why.