Monthly Archives: January 2016

iPhone Photography: Fall Colours

Never mind the fun apps that allow you to create vintage film looks, superpose photos or add textures to your iPhone images. The ingredients that make for good photographs are independent of what camera you use. Just like the ingredients that go into making a superb dish do not depend on the oven you have.

Fall provides many photographic opportunities you can capture with your iPhone. And last fall, we were blessed with many days of nice weather. This late in the year in Scotland, the sun is low on the horizon essentially all day, providing ideal lighting conditions for many hours.

St Peter's church, Edinburgh, fall colours, tree, and blue sky. Shot on iPhone.

St Peter’s church, Edinburgh. Shot on my iPhone in the late afternoon last autumn.

Sometimes it pays off to stop and look up. Pointing your camera up or down gives a different perspective and can make for interesting photographs. When I saw the colour on the tree in the above photo, I knew the blue sky would provide great colour contrast. And then I realised I could also include St Peter’s church in the frame. I had my shot.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh with tree and fall colours. Backlit and shot on iPhone.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh. I love to place the sun between 10 and 2 o’clock. I learned this from world class photographer Joe Baraban.

I was on my way out to run an errand when I noticed the wonderful light on Lutton Place. I love backlighting or more precisely having the sun between 10 and 2 o’clock. You can see the reflection of the sun in the window.

Blackford Hill,  Edinburgh. Forest with fall colours shot with iPhone.

The forest area in Blackford Hill is one of my favourite places to photograph, especially when the fall colours are on.

Shooting into the sun can cause some problems, and that is why many people avoid it. The internal light reflections inside your lens become strong enough to degrade the image quality. And if you carry your iPhone in your pocket a lot, there is likely some dust on your camera lens, which can further degrade the image quality when the sun is shining right into your camera. A simple solution is to frame the image in such a way that there is something in between the sun and your camera, as in the picture of the fall forest above where the tree is masking the sun. This way you can get the wonderful backlit look without the technical problems commonly associated with it.

Edinburgh castle from Princes Street gardens with iPhone last autumn.

Edinburgh castle shot from Princes Street gardens.

I love shooting the same subject at different times of year and in different lighting conditions. Edinburgh castle is one of the main tourist attractions the city has to offer. And since I started selling iPhone photos on Stokimo, I plan to take many more Edinburgh castle photographs.

iPhone Street Photography

One of the most remarkable things I noticed since I started taking pictures with my iPhone is that hardly anybody is paying attention to you while you snap away. You are not considered a serious photographer, and people move on. No big deal.

Red door with shadow of person. Taken with iPhone

I love the colour red in photographs. I go by this door very often, but hardly ever do I have a proper camera with me. So when I started taking pictures with my phones, I knew I wanted to photograph this door.

Try pulling a big DSLR and lens from your bag and people take notice. It is clear your purpose is to take photographs, and people tend to be on their guard. It is more difficult to remain discreet. There are ways to do so, but I found taking candid photos with a DSLR more challenging.

In my experience, the key to interesting street photographs is patience. Namely, find a spot and let the action come to you. It eventually will. For example, in the above photo of the red door, I found the scene without any people in it to be a bit bland. I gathered I could improve the photograph by including someone in the photo. When I noticed the long shadows produced on the day by the setting sun, I knew I had my shot. It was just a matter of time before people started to walk by. I took a number of snaps, but this one is my clear favourite.

Cartoon tiger on a wall with two people shadows. Fountain Park, Edinburgh. Taken with iPhone.

Another image playing with shadows. Taken at Fountain Park, Edinburgh.

The above picture was taken at Fountain Park, Edinburgh. I was early for a business networking event, so I looked for photo opportunities. I noticed the colourful cartoon tiger character. And once again, the sun was low on the horizon and I decided to take advantage of the long shadows cast by passers-by. It took a number of tries to get the composition I wanted and hone in on my timing. The above photograph is my favourite of a few good pictures  I managed to get.

Man taking break from work. Street art on the wall,. Taken in Edinburgh with an iPhone.

Man taking a break from work in the late afternoon light.

Sometimes you have to get lucky, as in the above picture of the man taking a break from work. I couldn’t have anticipated the photo opportunity as the door was closed, since I had no indication it could open any time soon. I was initially drawn by the street art on the wall. Fortunately, I was ready when the photo opportunity presented itself. He must have known I was taking pictures, but didn’t seem to care.

iPhone Photography – Combining Pictures

If you’ve never tried multiple exposures, I suggest you do. Although I do warn you that in the beginning it can be a little frustrating, because the results are likely to leave a bit to be desired, shall we say. Like everything else, it takes some time to get some intuition about what subject matter works and the kind of photos that produce interesting combinations. I found that even after you’ve done it for a while, this technique always has surprises in store for you.

Mannequin head and wall paper texture combined with the Diana Photo app on iPhone.

This is a combination of a mannequin head photograph and a picture of the wallpaper in my living room. Sometimes, you don’t have to go far to add interest to your photographs.

I was introduced to the Diana photo app in an iPhone photography class I took. With this app, you can combine pictures from your iPhone camera roll in a simple way and experiment with the multiple exposure technique.

Mannequin head and sofa fabric combined with the Diana Photo app on iPhone.

Another mannequin head photo combined with a texture/pattern from my living room using the Diana Photo app. This time, I used a close-up of the fabric on my sofa.

So far, I’ve had the most success combining a photo of some particular subject and another involving a pattern or a texture. I think this is because one needs to shoot pictures with superposition in mind, and I have yet to get a good grasp of how to do this. I’ll keep you posted when I figure it out.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh and a wood texture combined with the Diana Photo app on iPhone.

This picture of Lutton Place, Edinburgh, was combined with a wood texture using the Diana Photo app. The texture was again photographed in my flat. I know, I should go out more…..

iPhone Photography – I’m a Hipsta now

One of the fun thing with iPhone photography (iPhoneography) is the number of apps that allow you to exercise your creativity. I understand that sometimes a photo look can just be a fad or gimmick and won’t stand the test of time. But that is a chance I’m willing to take once in a while.

Bench in Edinburgh park, iPhone and Hipstamatic

Lone bench in an Edinburgh park. I love the Hipstamatic vintage look with minimalist compositions.

One of the first iPhone photography app I was introduced to is Hipstamatic. It’s a fun app that allows you to create images with a vintage look. You get a choice of lens types and films. You must commit to a lens/film combination before you take the picture, so it takes a bit of playing around to get some intuition about what the results will be. And the photo preview is very small, which can be a problem if you are like me and don’t have great eyesight.

Edinburgh castle from Princes Street. iPhone and Hipstamatic

Edinburgh castle from Princes Street.

Another drawback of Hipstamatic is that it gives you no control over exposure or focus. That was the main reason I was turned off iPhone photography in the beginning.

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. iPhone and Oggl.

Scottish national Gallery on Princes Street, Edinburgh. I tried different versions after importing into Oggl, and this was my favourite.

Fortunately, there is a solution to all of my pet peeves about Hipstamatic. It’s called Oggl. You can import all of your Hipstamatic lenses and filters, and even get some new ones. It is also possible to import into Oggl pictures taken with another camera app, such as Camera+. This solves the problem of the small photo preview on Histaminic and the need to commit to a particular lens and film combination before taking the picture. After years of Photoshop use, I’ve become accustomed to the flexibility afforded by digital photography to make decisions about the final look of the image at the editing stage, rather than having to commit right in camera.

ice cream van on Princes Street, Edinburgh. iPhone Oggl vintage look.

When I saw this ice cream van on Princes Street, I know I wanted a photo with a vintage look. It took a few tries of lens and film combinations in Oggl before I found one that I liked.

I’ve only begun to experiment with these fun apps, and I’m looking forward to taking many more photographs to hone my iPhoneography skills.

Princes Street Mall, Edinburgh. iPhone and Oggl.

I love shooting street photography with my iPhone. Nobody pays attention to you. This was taken at Princes Street Mall, Edinburgh