Thursday, May 11, 2017

Secrets of iPhone Photos Revealed

     I don't know about you, but as our smartphones become better and better cameras, I have decided that I don't want to lug a backpack with one of two DSLR's and a plethora of lenses. I have done enough of that. Call it rebellion at a cranky old age.
     My first realization of this truth was after I spent hours honing my sale item photos to look like what I saw when I photographed them against a black backdrop. My Nikons would try to make that black background 18% grey much to my chagrin. Even when I got that grey back to black, the colors of my birdhouses never had that same pop. I use a lot of color and I quickly discovered a black background made those colors pop. It was only after a friend asked me to snap a photo with my iPhone 5 that I realized, for some reason, the phone saw the colors exactly as I saw them. I never used a digital camera for my store photos again.
The original photo. Dark
and gloomy.
Clicking the image gives you a 
variety of options including editing
the photo, third option from the left.

     While I was on a recent trip to Hong Kong, I was having trouble with the lighting at the Great Buddha monastery complex and while trying to get the colors not quite so gloomy, went to my tried and true method of  hitting the color correction layout at the bottom of the photo, next to the trash can. As I lightened it, shown here with a photo of the lines at the Hong Kong airport, you can see that the windows light has more or less cast those wanting inside as dark shadows.
     So I clicked the third item from the left to see if I could get some definition of the people there. Here is what the screen looked like:

   If you look carefully you will see a white dot surrounded by smaller dots. Touch that and another screen shows up.
The bottom of the photo gives
you several options to correct 
things in your image. The white
dot is for making light or darker
corrections of your image.
     You suddenly have a great deal more power to adjust your image!  Since I have come to rely so much on my phone not only for images for my ETSY store, but as my one and only camera I was very surprised!
Clicking the white dot gives you 
this new menu that allows even
more adjustments.
     The new wrinkle, for me at least, was the three horizontal lines at the right edge, just above the lighter adjustments you can make. I had never paid much attention to them before. I was amazed when I clicked that and a whole new menu appeared, one that I had never seen before! In many ways it was like I suddenly had the power of PhotoShop right there on my phone only it was part of the image adjustments that Apple included on the iPhone 10.3.1 iOS. It was part of the operating system. When I thought of all the Apps I had on my phone to accomplish what I discovered was part of the iOS, was I surprised. Here I had the power of powerful editing on my phone and I never realized it. So, I started playing with it and as you can see in the photos, while they are not ideal the finished photo looks far better than the original.
     There is no right or wrong here. 
Here are the additional options
that are built in to the iOS to
help improve your images before
posting them to Facebook, or 
sending to relatives and friends.
Here, you can see when adjusting
for brilliance the people are
beginning to show up.
     You can play with as many or as few of the options shown here (left)... anything that might help the quality of your photos. In fact,  on a photo like this, I tried each and every one of the options trying to get an acceptable photo. It is not easy and in this case, running the image through PhotoShop after downloading the image from your phone to your computer might be a better option. However, don't discount the power built right into the software of your phone.
     As I have already learned, the images of newer smartphones are good, darn good and when printed to say a photobook, look quite nice. No one, unless you were or asked a professional photographer, would ever know these images were not from a DSLR.
     What amazed me though was a sort of return, in Hong Kong at least, of cameras being used that used ... gulp, gulp, real film! It is easy to buy there and have processed. I wonder. Vinyl records are coming back, is film coming back as well?
     As you can see here in the final image that while not award winning, you can see the people, the gate and even the clouds in the sky quite clearly. It is a definite improvement over the original image.
Here is the adjusted photo all
done in the editing software of
the iPhones 10.3.1 iOS.
     If you have a smartphone, you might want to start poking around like I finally did. I became quite adept at lightening or darkening images but had ignored the three small lines that appeared on the right of every edited image. 
     Of course, you don't have to stop there. You have a variety of color options that mimic styles of photography from the past ... you know like chrome (Kodachrome), Sepia tone, and other kinds of, to me, weird color. There is also a B&W option that will turn any of your photos into amazing black and white images. 
     I hope this helps you and encourages you to, like me, not settle for just the image you snapped but so see if you can improve it. I have been amazed at how ho-hum images can become really something to be proud of to post and show your friends and family.

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ...

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