Lately, I've been working a lot with my newest camera--the one that's on my iPhone 4S. It's such a kick to use it, my SLR has been gathering dust. That has a lot to do with the apps that I can use to transform pictures.
Because I often experiment with texture overlays in my photography, using iPhone apps to create special effects comes naturally to me. And because the iPhone weighs next to nothing, it goes with me everywhere--something I can't say about the three-pound SLR. So I'm never empty-handed when impromptu photo ops present themselves.
I'm not alone in my iPhone obsession. I'm aware of a number of nationally known photographers, including Tony Sweet and John Paul Caponigro, who are shooting with smartphones. Tony has a couple of great instructional videos on using the iPhone creatively. It was from him that I learned about Iris Photo Suite, available for both IOS and Android. It's a workhorse that lets me adjust exposure and contrast as well as layer on special effects and filters. The pinhole camera effect in the lefthand photo below was achieved with Iris.
For fun, I like to explore the effects and filters in FX PhotoStudio. I used a distortion filter to turn the simple shot of spring crocuses into a modern-art fantasy.
SnapSeed is a powerful app from Nik Software, which also produces sophisticated and expensive Photoshop plugins beloved of professional photographers. At $4.99, it was by far my most expensive photography app. I used it to finetune the star anise photo on the right and to give it a vintage glow and border.
What's cool to me is running the same photo through different apps to see what I can come up with. A lot of these experiments are failures--or boring--but sometimes, crazy things happen. That's how a nicely exposed but rather ordinary photo of a tree turned into this lacy alien spaceship, and a simple clay pitcher became a pop-art fantasy:
Tony Sweet says in his videos that he likes to use the iPhone and apps to create "more personal interpretations" of scenes; if he wants a "straight" shot, he uses his Nikon DSLR, which of course offers greater resolution, control over exposure, and different lens options.
But he also says, and I agree, that "it's still about the pictures. You have to get the right picture." It's true: my best iPhone images started out as nicely exposed and well-composed photos. I've learned that photos taken in dark conditions or with the really bad in-phone flash are generally hopeless. The iPhone camera excels in brightly lit settings and closeups--the phone was no more than six inches away from the crocuses and star anise pods in the photos above.
If you're interested in exploring "phone-ography," here's a list of iPhone apps from John Paul Caponigro. Many of these are also available for Android phones.
Millbrook area residents: you have until April 9 to enter the Great Millbrook Library Phonography Competition.
© 2012 Lisa M. Dellwo