Category Archives: iPhone

iPhone Photography: Lone Tree

After taking a nature fine art online photography class, I really took to adding textures to my pictures. I was therefore delighted to find out there were apps that allowed me to do this on my smartphone.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This is my favourite of all the versions of the lone tree photograph I created with the DistressedFX app.

One of my favourite editing apps is DistressedFX. It is very easy to use, but it does take quite a bit of experimentation to find which photographic subjects best lend themselves to adding DistressedFX textures.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

It never ceases to amaze me how different a photograph can look when applying another DistressedFX texture.

The ‘distressed effects’ worked out quite well, in my opinion, with this photograph of a bare tree taken during the past winter, on my way to a meeting.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This high contrast version works because of the graphic simplicity of the subject.

When editing the photos, what I typically do is cycle rapidly through the many textures/overlays DistressedFX has to offer, and then go back and tweak the ones I thought looked good.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This effect is called ‘Surreal’.

If you are like me and love to add texture effects to your iPhone pictures, I would recommend you try the DistressedFX app. But be warned it’s going to take some experimentation before you get the results you want.

iPhone Photography – Urban Graffiti

If you are a casual DSLR  or point and shoot photographer, you’ve probably never used Photoshop actions and presets to edit your photographs and create a particular look. And you’ve almost certainly never applied a texture to one of your images.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Edited with the DistressedFX app.

I was introduced to adding textures to images in an online fine art nature photography class. I was delighted to find out you could do this on your iPhone. Here I used one of the textures from the DistressedFX app.

One of the great things about mobile photography is that you can buy apps that can give your photographs a different look and feel with a few button presses and slider adjustments. These apps pretty much do what many Photoshop presets and actions do. At a fraction of the cost.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the Diana analog filter from Camera+

A different version of the photograph. This time I used the Diana analog filter from Camera+.

I personally use Camera+ to take my photos and do some minor edits, such as adjusting brightness and contrast. I also like some of the analog filters that app provides, such as the Diana and XPRO C-41 or their retro Ansel filter for creating contrasty back and white images. I would love to try VSCO and Snapseed, but I can’t use these apps on my good old iPhone 4.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the XPRO C-41 filter from Camera+. for a crossed processed look.

In this version, I used the XPRO C-41 filter from Camera+. I’ve always loved the cross processed film look and this is one of my favourite filters.

One app I recently fell is love with is DistressedFX. It allows you to combine your photos with a number of textures to add mood to your images. The app also gives you many options to precisely adjust the blending of the textures and photographs.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Edited with Chrome filter from Camera+.

I rarely use this filter (Chrome from Camera+), but I liked the look it gave the image.

Another app for adding textures and other effects to your images is Mextures. It allows you to layer many textures and effects in one go and gives you a lot of control. But beware, these apps can be really addictive!

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the retro Ansel filter from Camera+.

The retro Ansel filter from Camera+ was applied to the image to create this contrasty black and white version.

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

iPhone Photography – Getting Started

Your phone is nearly always with you. Since all smart phones have cameras in them (and pretty good ones these days), most of the time you have a photography device with you. And it’s a wonderful thing. As Jay Maisel put it, “Always carry a camera. It’s tough to take a picture without one.”

Heriot Row, Edinburgh. Crossed processed film look, taken on iPhone

Edinburgh has some really interesting streets, such as Heriot Row. I took this pic with the Camera+ app on my iPhone. That app not only allows you to control exposure and focus, but comes with a number of tools to edit your photos. I used the filter that gives you a crossed processed film look, which I loved in my analog days.

I really liked that idea when I first got my iPhone 4, but was soon disappointed. The camera app is really easy to use, which is good. The flip side is that I found it didn’t give me enough control to take correctly exposed photographs in quite a number of situations. So I felt very frustrated and for a few years never thought again about taking pictures with my iPhone.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh. iPhone photography

This is Lutton Place, Edinburgh. Using another “film look” filter with Camera+ on my iPhone

But never say never, because a few things made me change my mind. First of all, I’m now on social media, and I’m sure, you, the reader are too. Posts with images create much more engagement on Facebook, and never mind Instagram, a social media platform that is primarily visual and created for mobile devices. While these platforms allow you to connect with people all over the world, you will have noticed that in order for social media to be effective, you need to feed the monster with fresh content on a regular basis.

Ray of light and blue door. Clarity filter in Camera+, Taken with iPhone.

One of the limitations of an iPhone camera relative to a DSLR is that since one shoots a jpg file directly, scenes with a lot of contrast are potentially problematic. But why not try? With a couple of applications of the clarity filter in Camera+, the iPhone camera can give you some interesting results when it’s not supposed to!

iPhone photography, or iPhoneography, even presents opportunities for professional photographers. Sports photographer Brad Mangin has developed quite a following on Instagram. He even published a book of his baseball iPhone pictures.

Cafe tables outdoors, with reflection. Grunge look, taken with iPhone

Another example of multiple applications of the Clarity filter in Camera+ to produce a grunge look to the image.

According to professional photographer Julian Caverley, clients are asking for some pictures to be shot on smart phones, to accompany a social media campaign. People like the look and feel you get from an iPhone camera.

Princes Street Mall, Edinburgh. Taken with iPhone

Princes Street Mall, Edinburgh. The elements of design such as lines, shapes and textures enhance your photographs, regardless of which camera you use.

I therefore decided to take an online class on iPhone photography offered by the Bryan Peterson School of Photography, taught by Holly Higbee-Jansen. It was a real eye opener, to say the least. The camera in your phone is a pretty powerful device, especially when complemented by a number of smart phone apps that allow you to better control your exposures and edit your pictures.