Getting started with iPhone photography tools

 In Gear, Post-Processing

“Why would you take professional photos with your iPhone?” This is a question I am asked often. I simply say, “I love having a camera and darkroom in my pocket with the ability to be creative anywhere, anytime.”

The iPhone can take amazing photos right out of the box, however if you add additional camera apps, you have expanded its abilities to capture HDR and even slow shutter images. If you add a few editing apps to your iPhone you can make amazing basic edits in seconds, or even change your photograph into a beautiful painting. For those who want to dodge and burn, edit photos with masking tools, use blending modes and even need to remove telephone wires — there are apps for that too.


Two camera apps I highly recommend are ProCamera and Slow Shutter Cam. Once you purchase and download these apps you will want to go into the settings of each and make the choices that are best for you.

Many photographers who use the iPhone are not aware of the additional capabilities the apps have to offer. A favorite choice within ProCamera is the HDR capture in a TIFF file. The above image was captured with ProCamera in HDR. The range of light in this image far exceeds the option of HDR in the native iPhone camera.


The Slow Shutter Cam app is capable capturing motion by taking several images in sequence and stacking them together for a long exposure photo option. This camera also captures great playful blurred effects. The user chooses how long the capture will be and the app exposes the image for the correct light balance.


A favorite editing app among many iPhone photographers is Snapseed. This app is easy to use for basic choice such as brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, highlights, shadows and warmth. After the basic edits are made the user can make selective edits, add a vignette and apply just the right amount of detail.


The next editing choice in Snapseed might be to add a filter such as Black and White or perhaps Glamour Glow. These editing choices can be applied to the entire image or selectively with a masking brush.


A favorite way of processing is to add a grunge like filter to my images. Several apps have great choice for such applications. With Distressed FX, as an example, the user choose which filter they like best and what percentage of the effect should be applied. This image was edited with Snapseed and then Distressed FX.


Another favorite creative editing choice is a painterly option. Once again there are several apps that create a large array of techniques. The complaint among many photographers is that the applied technique is often ‘overdone’ or ‘muddy’ looking as in the above image.


The ‘muddy’ image can be improved dramatically by using the app ImageBlender. Essentially with this app the user imports the original image and the filtered image, and then makes the creative choice of how to blend them together. This technique will lessen the effect of any image that was processed with a filter effect.


Once the creativity begins, the possibilities are unlimited and the fun begins.


Another question I am often asked is, “But can you print an iPhone image?” The answer is absolutely. There are many iPhone photographers who have had gallery showings all over the world. Prints are made on paper, canvas and metal regularly.


Last, and often most important, is the question, “What workflow can I use to insure my photographs are not lost or downgraded in quality while processing?”

There are many ways to transfer your photographs at full resolution from your iPhone to your iPad, however using Apple’s Photo Stream option is not one of them. Unfortunately if an iPhone photo is downloaded to the iPad with Photo Steam is will be reduced to a 3.1mb file. An app that gets around this limitation, transferring at full resolution, is PhotoSync.

What if you don’t use your iPhone to take professional photos, but you have an iPad and want to edit your photos with it? Great! The iPad has a capability of editing up to a 36mb file. So all photographers can join in the fun of having a darkroom with them all the time.

If you are intrigued please consider attending one of my classes at the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, “One iPhone, Lots of Creativity” or attending the workshop, “Taking it to the Streets.” I am looking forward to sharing the creative possibilities with you.

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