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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fine-Art Camera Phone Photography

Using a bevy of sophisticated apps, Tony Sweet shows how to expand your creativity and make wall-worthy pictures from an iPhone

This Article Features Photo Zoom


With the advent of new highly capable cameras in various smartphones combined with very cogent apps, we're now able to create images and optimize them almost exactly as we would in Photoshop. I call it iPhoneography because I use the iPhone 4, and I find it has expanded my creativity.

AutoStitch; Perfect Photo; ProHDR; Filterstorm 2; Pic Grunger; Impression; Hipstamatic

An increasing number of apps are able to manage larger file sizes. For example, AutoStitch can stitch together a series of images that are 5 megapixels each, which can result in an 18-megapixel file (the maximum size AutoStitch allows), depending on the amount of overlap. Many, but not all, apps can handle high-resolution files from 3 to 5 megapixels. Knowing which apps won't downsize the image is of paramount importance if your end goal is to make prints. Sometimes you have to hunt for information about file sizes, but you usually can find it in the System Preferences or under the (i) Information icon. Some apps allow the user to select file size when saving. If you intend to do no more than display on a computer screen, all apps work great.


Various apps can create everything from a totally natural look to one that's highly manipulated. Personally, if I want purely natural, I'll use my DSLR or my Leica or Casio point-and-shoot cameras, all of which render sharper images than my iPhone. To me, the allure of the iPhone and the apps is the ability to create highly stylized, completely unique images from oft-photographed locations. I want to experiment and expand my creative side by revisiting these places with a new approach. Any new camera, software or technique that can take me off the beaten path is a welcome tool.

The Apps
The apps for the iPhone run the gamut from elementary to advanced levels. Some feature sophisticated features like working with layer masks, overlay images and texturize. The more I shoot and process in the iPhone, the more I've developed a systematized workflow. To help me choose from the bewildering number of photo apps available and because my goal is to be able to make prints, my criterion was only to pick apps that maintained the native file size. This limited my most-used apps down to about 15 from the hundreds available. Here are a few examples of my favorites to get you started in new photographic endeavors.

Hipstamatic. When opening the Hipstamatic, one of your first choices is the "lens" you want to use. Moving on from those choices, the "film" setting is selected by pressing the film canister icon at the bottom left. By pressing the curved arrow icon at the bottom right, the interface flips to the second screen where the image appears in the finder window. You can see effects immediately and change settings as desired.

One of the most popular and very cool settings is the John S lens and the Kodot film selection. Several war images from Afghanistan that were shot with the iPhone and this lens/film combination have appeared in The New York Times.


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