A Guest Post by Misho Baranovic – author of our new iPhone Photography eBook.
For this post I wanted to show you how I integrate the shooting, editing and sharing process when I’m out and about taking photos on any given day.
A few weeks ago, I went to Sydney to visit Oliver Lang, a fellow mobile photographer who had a few mobile photo events that I really wanted to be part of.
On one afternoon, I headed out to the Sydney Biennale, a huge open-air arts festival held on Cockatoo Island, in Sydney Harbour. As always, I had my iPhone with me ready to snap a few shots of the artworks on display.
I was immediately drawn to a huge fog machine called Living Chasm by artist Fujiko Nakaya. For 15min every hour a series of pumps and pipes creates an ethereal fog which envelopes the nearby rock face. I, along with everyone else, was drawn to this incredible scene.
Approaching the fog, I launched my go-to camera replacement app, ProCamera. I was quickly able to adjust my exposure for the scene, exposing for the rapidly growing whiteness of the fog (which was surprisingly cold and wet). Entering the fog, I couldn’t see more than a few steps in front of me. I realised that the auto focus was pretty much useless in this environment, so, I manually set my focus point to about a meter in front of me (I used my outstretched hand as the reference point). You can also see a demonstration of how I use the controls in this video from Eric Kim’s Melbourne street photography workshop.
Now I had my exposure and focus set I could get to shooting. I find that one of the greatest advantages of shooting with any smartphone is that there is nothing between you and the scene. As there is no viewfinder, I can experiment with my framing – particularly my angles and compositions. Cupping my hand over the lens to keep it dry, I watched as figures would rapidly emerge from the fog. Using ProCamera’s full-screen trigger function (outlined in the eBook) I tapped away as adults hesitantly entered the fog and tried to pan the phone as children ran past, oblivious to the other people they could smack into at any moment.
I shot about 100 photos in the 15 minutes that the machine was making fog. As the fog cleared I put my phone back in my pocket and enjoyed the other works of art scattered around the Island. Two hours later, on the ferry trip back home, I took out the phone and started my review and edit process. I scanned through the images and found about a dozen photos that looked interesting. Going back and forth through my camera roll, I thought about how I could make an interesting visual story from the photos. Was there a specific editing style that would help bring out a common thread?
Seeing all the photos of people moving through the fog I realised that the colour in the images wasn’t adding much to the energy and mood of the photos. Right there on the ferry, sailing under the harbour bridge, I decided to edit the photos in a relatively low contrast black and white style; helping to draw out the other worldliness of the images and also heighten the sense of disorientation and mystery.
With instant access to my editing apps, I launched one of my favourites – Snapseed. Just like the Mac and PC versions, Snapseed’s iPhone app is fantastic for fine grain editing, particularly basic brightness and contrast adjustments. Here I’m going to share a few steps of how I editing one of my favourite shots from the fog.
First here is the unadjusted shot. I really like the energy of the boy running into the fog.
Here I’ve loaded the photo into Snapseed. As I’ve outlined in the ebook, Snapseed has a very simple user interface, where an up/down swipe toggles through different settings while a left/right swipe changes the intensity of the setting. I’m going to use the following menu options in order, Crop, Black and White, Tune Image and Details.
The first step is one I don’t do often and that is to crop. In this instance, I think removing the figures on the left helps bring out the most interesting part of the photograph, the balance between the running and dancing figures.
The next step is to convert the image into black and white. From here you’ve got a few editing choices. You can either swipe up/down for brightness, contrast or grain settings, click on the preset button (the bar/star combo on the bottom menu) or click on the circle to convert by colour channel. I’ve clicked on the circle which presents you with five different colours channel choices. I often click on each one to see which works best, which in this case is Neutral.
Next I press the Tune Image button and select the brightness. I’ve increasing the brightness about +10, trying to bring it to the point just before it blows the highlights in the top-right corner of the photo.
The final adjustment on the photo is to click on the Details button and add a little sharpening. I use the magnifying glass feature for a 100% preview of the image (in this case the boys fingers). This ensures that I don’t over sharpen the image.
And that’s it, a quick black and white edit, here is the final image:
So, as the ferry approached the mainland, I’d successfully selected and editing my favourite six images from the shoot.
The next step was to share the photos. Back at my friend’s house, I quickly added a little text description and formatted the photos for upload into Instagram. Over the past few months, I’ve been particularly interested in sharing a sequence of images on the site, challenging the preconceptions that all that’s shared on Instagram are single pics of cats and coffees and selfies.
I called the series Into the Living Chasm, added some numbering and uploaded them with a brief description of the event. The photos were really well received as a whole series, all getting a good amount of positive response and likes.
Here are the other four images from the series.
You can see the final Instagram images and comments here.
I hope this post helped you see how I use the iPhone every day to take, make and share small visual stories. I’d love to know what you think of the photos.
There are plenty more hints and tips on how to get complete creative control of the iPhone camera in the new iPhone Photography ebook!