Techniques

iPhoneography: Is it here to stay?

by Fabiola Forns | June 10, 2011

© Fabiola FornsWith the major improvements made to iPhone cameras and the development of thousands of editing Apps, iPhoneography has started to gather a lot of fans. iPhones act as light, practical cameras that are always in your pocket.

Although you can edit your iPhone pictures using computer software, the real fun begins when you use the available Apps to create your own art pieces and upload them to social networks or e-mail them to your friends from your phone.

The iPhone 4 has a 5 megapixel camera. In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS). It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.

Canon’s first digital camera, the D30, had 3 megapixels, while Nikon’s D1 sported 2.7 megapixels. So while 5 megapixels may not sound like a lot these days, it is enough to make a sizable print when the image is captured properly.

Accessories

A few accessories on the market can help you capture and edit your iPhone pictures. Joby developed a handy table tripod that can also be hung from tree branches or doors, called Gorillapod for iPhone. If you are a little more serious and would like to sit your phone on your regular tripod to do slow shutter speeds (App Slow Shutter for blurring water and color abstracts), there is an iPhone Tripod Holder, with a regular size screw that fits tripod mounts and L brackets. If you are going to be editing a lot of photos, you may benefit from the Mophie battery pack that fits comfortably over your iPhone, available in stylish colors. To end your accessory list, a Stylus can help you edit your photos without getting your fingers on the phone’s screen.

Cameras

Apps can help turn your iPhone into a photo taking machine. There are Apps designed to avoid camera shake, like the one provided for free by Joby, Gorillacam, while others have usable digital zoom, as Camera Plus.

Are you a fan of HDR? HDR Pro and True HDR will capture two or three different exposures and blend then for you, giving you after capture controls to edit the resulting images. Note that if the dynamic range of the image is too great, three exposures may not be enough to cover the range of highlights and shadows, and you may get halos. However, these Apps are ideal for landscapes with skies that you want to enhance.

Worried about the depth of field of a small sensor? Synthcam technology of using video to blur the background (or foreground if you choose) will solve this problem, although it has a bit of a learning curve until you get the hang of it. This app is also great for making artistic blurs. There is an excellent tutorial available from the creators.

If you like panoramas, 360, Panorama, and See This have the answer for you. And if you like to play with the vintage look in your pictures and have you phone produce images that look like they came from an old camera, you must try Hipstamatic, square format with vintage look, which lets you switch lenses, film and flash. Make sure to enable precise framing.

iPhoneography © Fabiola Forns

Captured with HDR Pro and enhanced in Iris Photo Suite and Pic Grunge

Most of these Apps will let you upload directly to popular social networks or email. However, if you are planning to print, make sure your App works in the original resolution. Most Apps have an icon that takes you to the menu page of your App where you can select that feature. If not, go to your phone Settings, navigate to that App, and set it there.

If you are going to print your images, it is better to do it from your computer, but there are Apps that handle printing from the iPhone. They require an internet connection for both the phone and the printer. Epson, Canon and HP provide Apps to handle this.

Picture Editing

The real joy of iPhoneography is editing your pictures. There is an array of Apps that will give you options as simple as cropping and adjusting colors and curves and as sophisticated as adding a vintage look or an acid burn or texture.

A few of my favorites are Photo Studio, with almost two hundred filters; Photo Wizard, another set of filters; Iris Suite, with layers capabilities; Mobile Monet, for selectively coloring B&Ws; Bad Camera for special defective effects; Pic Grunger to add texture and grunge; Plastic Bullet for creative color effects; Rays for radial blurs; and Tiffen’s FXs, mimicking their glass filters, with the ability to mask. If you are into fancy frames and creating collages, Imikimi is the App for you, with hundreds of themes to which you add your portrait or image. iDroste will create spirals, while Artista Oil will convert your photo into an oil painting. You may want to try the Frame X Frame, provided free by Joby, that will let you stitch together your images into a stop motion video, and comes with a bubble level, self timer and 3 shot burst. Photoshop has a free application for basic adjustments and Noise Blaster will take care of your grainy problems.

Sharing

Although most of the Apps will let you upload directly to most social networks and email your contacts, some are more efficient than others.

Instagram is a very simple way to edit your photos and share them instantly and best of all, it is free. It will let you see what others are doing and share your new stuff. It will let you track favorites and locate your friends. The world is waiting for you!

If you want more information on this fascinating subject, there are a lot of books available, like “Killer Photos with your iPhone”, by Bamberg, Krug and Ketchum, or a 15 episode Podcast by Tony Sweet, available at his website.

 

About the Author

Love for nature has always inspired this artistically inclined woman, who, after dabbling in other fields as creative writing, music and oil painting, has found her true call in photography. Fabiola holds a degree in Human Resources from St. Thomas University in Miami and teaches photography at Miami-Dade College. As a 2007 winner of the Birds category in the prestigious Windland Smith Rice International Awards, she constantly strives for creativity in her work. She and her husband, Alfred Forns, are a team that complement each other - you can see their work at www.avianscapes.com.

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