iPhone Photography Talk

I’ve been using my iPhone for almost everything lately. During a regular shoot I’ll stop and shoot a few images with my iPhone to manipulate on all the applications I have (too many). Rarely do I just use one application usually many different layers are applied. I’ve been seeing iPhoneography classes popping up here and there. And that’s fine. I’m just here to say that you don’t need to take a class to enjoy the fun of shooting with an iPhone. Maybe you’d have to take a class to learn how to print, or what an f-stop is, or how to make platinum prints, what types of film to use, how to use photoshop, etc. But, there’s really nothing special about learning how to use an iPhone and the multiple apps there are available to you from the Apple App Store. It’s actually the most dumbed down way to take pictures and that’s what makes it fun. Take the picture, run it through an app. Done. Maybe you run it through multiple apps? Whatever. But unless you’ve never taken a picture before (and some people who have never taken a picture before do quite well with an iPhone) there’s really nothing to learn. All you need to know are the names of the photo apps available. An iPhone Photography (iPhoneography) class isn’t going to teach you anything special about photography. All you need is imagination and the time it takes to figure out what each app does so that you can run your photos you think will look best with each app through the applications. In short, save your money for the apps, don’t spend it on silly classes. You have to see what they do – there’s an endless number of ways to use the applications. Some good, some bad. The fun part is figuring out what way works for you. With someone teaching you how, you don’t find the gold, you just do what they tell you to. So, I’m not telling you how to do anything here, just talking about the apps. You go visit them yourself in the app store and read more. Here’s a list of the applications I use regularly with ratings after descriptions:

Photomarkr: puts a copyright mark on your image – 10

Tiltshift: blurs selected areas of the photograph while leaving others sharp – 10

Tiltshiftgen: see above – 10

Photogene: let’s you adjust levels, crop and more – 8

Hipstamatic – this app has a few problems and until they have a fix for it I wouldn’t suggest trying to upload any images anywhere besides Flickr or Facebook and only through their application or you’ll only see a black graphic – but, this gives you different “film” types to choose from, “lenses” you can choose from (not really lenses or film, just programmed filter type junk in the app that makes it look like film, simulators). You can’t import images to this application and have to launch it in order to use it, huge downfall for myself. I don’t understand why they spent so much time on the graphics on the application (camera back simulation) when they should have spent some time coding an import from library button. You’re stuck with the images and can’t run them through the different film types or lenses to see what happens to each image, which makes learning what type of scene works best a hinderance. Though it is shooting exactly like you would with film, but if the theory of only having your phone with you all the time is why you take so many pictures didn’t apply here, I’d tell you to just go put film in your camera and use that. I’ll give this app a 5.

Camerabag: One of my favorite apps. Several different effects for your photos and it always solid on the iPhone. – 10

LoMob: Let’s you import your photos and put them through several old skool film types. – 10

FilmLab: Another film simulation application. It’s great as you can layer the film simulation and run an image through several times to achieve some cool looks. – 10

Cinemafx: This is one of the first apps I fell in love with. You can run through several different settings and make seriously dreamy/foggy/contrasty images. It does wonders for shots that might be a little too dark if you run it through the Elf Glow (one of my favs you’ll see). – 10+

Pro Snap – It’s a little janky, but sometimes it’s fun. I just tried launching it and it crashed and I have the 3gs iPhone, so, when it works fun when it doesn’t, who cares! There’s a multitude of other apps… – 7

Quadcamera – awesome. It acts like it’s named. You can take 4 pictures one right after the other only pushing the shutter button once. You can also take 8 at once. It displays in a row or in a square or rectangle. It will also animate the photos and make animated gifs from them and you can email them to yourself to view them. This is super fun for taking those kooky self portraits like you would in a photo booth. – 10+

Nightcamera – this app is kind of lame. It doesn’t really take better photos at night than the regular photos you can take just straight from your phone. Kind of a waste of time to download. – 3

bwCamera – just a really basic app. does one simple thing. uploads images to the app to turn them to black and white, or touch the camera icon and it will take the photo in black and white. it does that one thing really well. since a lot of apps do the exact same thing plus many other things, it’s not something completely necessary to have but i’ll give it an 8 because it’s never crashed and it’s always done this one thing well.

Photo Mojo – it’s decent. you can adjust colors, saturation, contrast, rotate the image. simple basic photo editing and it always works. i don’t use it very much, but if i wanted to rotate an image i’d run it through. – 8

Best Camera – This app is a lot like Camera bag, but it lets you decide to crop square, add a border, cross process (super saturated colors), change to black and white, add a tone, cool a tone down and you can add a vignette. I like using this app with other apps. I might run a photo through cinemafx then run it through camerabag then bring it over to Best Camera and see how funky I can make it. Especially when I’m bored on an airplane with nothing to do. – 10+

LOMO – Another one like a flip through of different film simulations. Though not as sophisticated so it might keep your ADD down to a minimum. It’s a dumbed down application that always does what you think it will. – 10

More LOMO – see above – 10

Joy Camera – is definitely joyful. Infrared, super cool film looking digi snaps, just get it. You’ll find yourself playing around losing track of time. 😉 – 10

Iron Camera – I think they spent entirely too much time playing with cool graphics, but after playing around with it you’ll love it. You can blur several different angles, add funky borders, add cool colors and not just a couple – they’ve got blue, red, orange, yellow, green (eww green skin), purple… etc. Love this app. 10+

Sepia Camera – another dumbed down app that gives you options of different sepia tones. simple. works. 10

Then these three that will go in one post, ToyCamera, SepiaCamera, OldCamera – I think these apps might be free, and they should be. They’re super basic and you can’t import photos you already have stored on your phone. You’ll find that you won’t use the applications as much if you can’t import them from your iPhone library and it will bum you out that you downloaded an app if you can do that. But, on the other hand sometimes you’ll find yourself using it just to get away from having way too many options. These are all solid apps, just really basic and limited – 8.5

Polarize – this app is dumb to me. the only thing it does is put a polaroid border on your image – you know the SX-70 border. For me… being a connoisseur of everything Polaroid, I sort of find this app to be stupid. Pointless. Meh. But since it works and does what it should do – 6

FocalLab – blurs images, vignettes images, and you can resize images. basic. and i never use it. 8

iShake It – This is the first app I downloaded. And I only downloaded it because you have to shake your phone (shake it like a Polaroid Picture) in order to develop the image. I think I used it 5 times and got bored. Plus, that whole Polaroid connoisseur thing again… – 6

Photo fx – Yes. Get it. Ample processes and simulations. 10+

Pano – Now this app is cool. The only downside for this one is the image size saved. TINY and that’s a bummer because this could be so totally rad if it would be a really large image. You make a panograph by taking one picture and the app ghosts the image and puts it over the new view so you can line up the scene after you’ve moved down a bit. It’s fun. I’ll only give it a 9 though because of the image size. If that wasn’t a factor I’d give this a 12.

SwankoLab – This is cool, but again, more attention to graphics here than what the images really end up looking like. It’s a simulated darkroom. It has darkroom chemicals you can pour into a pan to develop the print. It’s fairly video game-ish. I think there are many other apps listed above us that basically give the same look that you can achieve with this app without the video game effect of trying to make you feel that you’re actually “developing” photographs. It’s fun if you’re bored and want to pretend that you’re in a darkroom. It’s obvious that they’ve put a lot of effort into it, and it’s kind of cool for someone who has never stepped foot inside a darkroom before because maybe it would entice them to do just that. I’ll give it an 8.

So there are some of the apps I’ve used and use. Get some of them. Play with them. GOOGLE the apps to see if there are Flickr groups specific to those apps so you can see what the pictures look like. See if someone has a blog set up for iPhone photography and tags the images with the apps they use. Flickr is probably a good way to judge what app you want to buy (a lot of the apps I listed are free though, just check). Lots of the applications have options to “upload to flickr” and it will automatically make a folder for you with the application name, sometimes.

This is the first nude I made with my iPhone that I imported the photograph through several photo applications. I think I used Cinemafx, Camerabag and Photogene on this image. I should take notes probably, but what’s fun is that it’s kind of like shooting with a toy camera, you never know quite what you’ll create until you get there.

iPhone Nude with Madame Bink in Australia – October 2009

This entry was posted in Fine Art Nudes, iPhone Snaps, Rambling, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Allen Birnbach May 6, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    Very insightful analysis and review!

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