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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ultimate Photo Sketch Pad

The iPhone doesn’t replace a serious camera nor does it replace serious nature photography, but it does give you an endless array of tools to experiment with and expand your creativity

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Initially, you'll find yourself playing with images much as you would in Photoshop except at twice the speed because you're working with such a comparatively small file. Again, the more you practice, the more you can see the possibilities that are there for you both before and after you take the shot—no matter what camera you're using.

As you begin to play with some of the wilder overlays, you'll find you can create images you might never have tried with the mind-set of a conventional landscape photographer. Using painterly skies, for example, has given me a whole new vision of how to treat a landscape photographically.

3) Panorama of a house and trees in Encinitas, Calif., using Pro HDR and AutoStitch.
3 Stitching together a number of RAW files can be a very time-consuming process. Beautiful panos on the iPhone can be done in a fraction of the time; plus, as you're building a series of 5-megapixel images, you end up with a file size that can make a very nice print. I'll often use my iPhone to preview a panorama that I'll then take with my "big boy" cameras to process later.

Again, because the iPhone is a sketch pad, I'm continually trying new things. Recently, in Encinitas, I saw two wildly manicured trees in front of a house. I stood very close to the house and made a 24-shot, handheld HDR panorama (two HDR brackets for each of 12 images). I processed the images in Pro HDR, then stitched them together in AutoStitch, which is my favorite panorama app. Standing so close to the house forced the panorama program to distort the house, trees and sidewalk into a very designed and slightly surreal image. I never would have seen or tried this with my "big boy" cameras.

Slow Shutter
4,5 The iPhone has no iris. The camera controls the light with shutter speed and ISO. As both are set automatically, it's very hard to get a blurred image unless one is shooting in very low light. Neutral-density filters (if they existed for the iPhone) wouldn't work because the camera would just keep upping the ISO to try and give you the fastest shutter speed it can. These seeming limitations, however, have led to the invention of some very cool apps. Slow Shutter Cam, for example, allows you to take multiple exposures in any light and then blends these shots together, producing a final image that gives the blurred look of a long exposure. I've written many times in my Basic Jones column about taking landscape shots at slow shutter speeds, but I honestly never thought I would be doing the same thing on my phone, without a filter, in the middle of the day!

4) Using Slow Shutter Cam, Jones took this painterly aerial from the window of a small airplane traveling between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Maui. While it was a bright scene, the app allowed him to make an image that looks like it was taken at a slow shutter speed.

5) In this dawn shot, Jones set his iPhone on a tripod and used Slow Shutter Cam to blur the action of the waves while keeping the rest of the image in sharp focus.

Everyday Beauty
The more I use my iPhone, the more I've come to see it not only as a sketch pad for learning new techniques and sharpening my eye, but also as a sketch pad to remind me of the everyday beauty in my life. Making photographic art wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, has just become part of my daily ritual now that I have the iPhone. The images I record fill me with gratitude—every day. In the end, this may be the greatest gift that the iPhone can give us.

So, my friends, stop debating. Give the iPhone a try. I guarantee you won't regret it!

Customized photo books are a great way to display your nature and travel photography. Thanks to today's online publishing sites and services, there's no shortage of options for creating a book that reflects your own style. With a wide selection of sizes, formats and styles to choose from, you can design a book to look exactly the way you want. Most do-it-yourself publishers offer options for hard or soft covers with luster, metallic, canvas and other kinds of surfaces. Some higher-end bookmakers give you the option of designing your own layout or letting their in-house experts do it. Some, like Blurb, even help you spread the word about your book by placing it in their online bookstore and allowing family, friends and visitors to flip through it.
AsukaBook (866) 330-1530
Bay Photo (800) 435-6686
PhotoBook Press (888) 333-6950

Dewitt Jones' Basic Jones column has been part of this magazine since its inception. Check out his new ebook iPhone Art in My Life on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or the Apple iBookstore.


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