iPhoneography: We're Just Getting Started
The iPhone is the Polaroid camera of our era. It’s more than just a phone or a tool to update your Facebook feed, it’s also a great way to capture the world around you.
And iPhone photos can be art, as demonstrated by the recent InstantDC show.
There’s a Flickr group devoted to photos taken with the Apple iPhone that highlight what’s possible with this little device. It’s not surprising - the iPhone has overtaken point-and-shoot cameras and expensive DSLRs to become the most popular camera on Flickr. More photos are taken by iPhones than any other camera model on this photo-sharing site.
One of the first people to demonstrate the potential of the iPhone was photojournalist Melissa Lyttle with her shots of kitschy tourist traps along the Gulf Coast of Florida. With a good eye, and a little help from technology, it’s possible to produce powerful images.
Now, with the iPhone coming to Verizon and becoming even more ubiquitous, we’re likely to see even more iPhoneography. Here are some tips to get the most of the iPhone 4 as a camera.
Flash - Turn off the flash. It’s way too bright and narrowly focused. When used in dark bars, it lights up subjects as if in a searchlight. Instead of using the flash, hold your iPhone steady and look for alternative light sources, such as windows, lamps or candles.
HDR - High Dynamic Range (HDR) works by combining separate images, eliminating dark shadows and making everything perfectly exposed. The effect is a very crisp and sharp photo which tends to look a little fake. Don’t use with moving subjects or they’ll end up with ghostly partners. It’s best for static natural landscapes, like a sunny field.
What the iPhone is Best at - It’s the ideal camera for capturing the small moments of life. It’s great for pictures of loved ones smiling, your favorite meal, an interesting architectural detail on a row house. The camera seems optimized for sunny scenes at six feet.
Apps - There are countless applications out there which will make the photos out of your modern iPhone look like they were taken by a 1970s-era Russian camera. CameraBag is one of the most useful applications for experimenting with your pictures. You can make photos look like they were taken by a Polaroid or apply lots of other interesting artistic styles from the past few decades. Hipstamatic and Instagram are other apps to try.
Experiment - You probably already have it in your pocket, so why not experiment with it? You don’t have to pay for film and you can delete your mistakes. Capture what matters most to you.
An expensive camera is not needed to take great photos. Photography is not about the gear, it’s about the photographer. To quote Ansel Adams, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it."
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