I’ve been playing with my iPhone camera lately and discovering how much fun and creative it can be. In a previous blog post, I talked about how to use your iPhone camera in burst mode. (You can read it here: bit.ly/Burst_Mode.) It is a great mode to use to freeze motion. But, did you know that the iPhone has another mode that works with motion and is really creative to use: Live Photo mode?
Warning: If you have an iPhone 6 or older, this feature won’t be included. Also, if you tend to postpone installing iOS updates, you may have a problem. Live Photos Mode was introduced with iOS 9.
First of all, unlike Burst mode, Live Photo mode can be turned on and off. The iPhone turns it on, by default. I strongly recommend using a setting in the Settings app to disable this. It will really simplify your life if you get to choose when you shoot in this mode. Otherwise, your storage may fill up fast! Live Photos take up twice as much storage as regular ones do.
The setting I’m referring to is in the Settings app on your iPhone, located on the Home Screen. Tap on it and select Camera. Then, tap on Preserve Settings. Here, you’ll want to turn on Live Photo. According to the app, this will, “Preserve the Live Photo setting, rather than automatically reset to Live Photo turned on.” Huh? This means that in the camera app itself, you can turn off Live Photo, and it will remain off until you turn it back on. If you don’t change this setting, every time you take a photo with Live Photo turned off, the Camera will turn it back on for the next shot you take. I know… clear as mud. You’ll just have to trust me on this. You’ll be glad you did! It gives the control back to you!
OK, with that taken care of, let’s dig into Live Photo Mode in the Camera App.
Tonight, if the sky is clear, you’ll be able to see the Harvest Moon. Since it’s Friday the 13th, a full moon seems sort of appropriate, but it turns out that it is rare. The last full moon on this date occurred in 2000 and the next one won’t happen for another 30 years!
If you plan to watch it rise, camera in hand, here is a quick tutorial on exposing for it.
First of all, while it might seem that you will need a tripod, you probably won’t. That’s because you need to greatly underexpose the shot. This means that your exposure will be much faster than you would expect.
The best mode for shooting it is Manual. No need to panic! Here’s a good starting point:
Set your ISO to 100, or the lowest native ISO for your camera.
Set your aperture to f/4 or higher, if you want a faster shutter speed for hand-holding your camera.
Set your shutter speed to 1/100 second. Take a shot and look at your LCD screen. If you don’t have a really long zoom lens, you’ll need to tap on the magnifying glass on your camera to see the moon larger and judge if it is bright or dark enough.
If the moon is too bright and you can’t see the details on its surface, increase the shutter speed.
If the moon isn’t bright enough, slow the shutter speed down.
One of the things you will notice is that your foreground is really dark, or maybe completely black. That’s why you see so many full moon shots with a silhouette in front of it! Why not get someone to hold up a cutout black cat to hold in front of it for you? The perfect Halloween shot!
I’ve included two versions of my moon shot, which I shot through a window of the Little Rock Marriott last night. The window was far from me, across the open atrium of the lobby. I was on the fourth floor. Both shots are greatly cropped since I was shooting with a 105mm lens.
In the first one, I shot it in Aperture mode, properly exposed for the room I was in. The moon is way too bright, with no details on its surface. Because the proper exposure for the room is slow, my camera bumped the auto ISO to 6400. This caused a lot of digital noise. The other settings were f/4 and 1/40 second.
In the second shot, I set the camera to Manual mode. I left the aperture at f/4. I set my ISO to 100. Then, I played around with the shutter speed. In the end, the best shot was 1/60 sec.
Because I shot it in RAW, I took it into Lightroom Classic, to finish the processing. If you shoot in JPG, you may not need to do this. To make the details stand out, I reduced the Exposure by .35 and increased the Highlights by 16. I also added Contrast (+17), Texture (+18), Clarity (+10) and Vibrance (+5). Finally, I sharpened it, increasing the Amount to 75 and the Masking to 85.
As you can see, the window frame and reflections have turned completely black. If you want to have a bright foreground, you’ll need to take two shots, exposed differently, and blend them. You can read more about doing this in this post.
I’d love to hear how this works for you!
I taught a quick iPhoneography class, earlier this month, at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center. Why was I teaching iPhoneography? Because photographer Chase Jarvis is right. The best camera really is the one you have with you. Whether you’re traveling or hanging around your home town, your mobile phone is usually with you, even when you’ve left your DSLR at home. So, it’s a really good idea to figure out how to use it!
One of the attendees quickly noticed that she was taking multiple photos instead of just one. She asked how to turn that feature off.
Since I’ve had the same problem in the past, I thought I’d write a quick post about Burst Mode: what it is, how to use it, how to avoid it, and what on earth to do when you find that your phone is full of multiple shots of the exact same scene.
First of all, what is Burst Mode and how do you use it?
This photo of an old windmill in Kinderdijk, Netherlands was shot in RAW, with my Canon 5D Mark III. The settings were: 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 125, shot in Manual mode. I then imported it into Lightroom Classic CC to process it before exporting it as a JPEG. The RAW file is flat and dull looking. The processing allows you to turn that flat photo into art. To see a larger version of the processed photo, click here.
Welcome to the fourth post in this series.
In the first post, I explained what Photoshopping is and that, usually, an intention to deceive is involved. In the second, I talked about compositing, a method of combining photos to create something new. The third post exposed the myth of straight-out-of-camera photos being unprocessed.
With this post I address the art of processing. Ansel Adams, the famous photographer and environmentalist, said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” He was referring to all the steps involved in photography, from visualizing to shooting to work in the darkroom. He also said, “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”
With those words to inspire us, it’s time to look at what you can achieve in the digital darkroom. Read more →
This shot is of The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, taken from the Kennedy Center in the late afternoon. If you slide all the way to the right, you’ll see the RAW file that the camera captured. To use it in the post, I had to save it as a JPEG in Lightroom, without processing. If you slide all the way to the left, you’ll see the JPEG that the camera created. You’ll notice that it is sharper and there is more contrast. However, the details in the darker parts of the image are too dark to appreciate. It’s a fine snapshot, but not a great image, in my opinion.
In parts one and two of this series, I’ve discussed photoshopping and compositing. Most photos don’t involve either of these treatments. It’s time to talk about the most important part of finishing a photo: processing.
All digital photos are processed. I bet that got your attention! Many people will argue that their photo is art because it is SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) and there is no processing involved. What they don’t realize is that those SOOC photos are processed by the camera. Let me explain… Read more →
In the first post in this series, I wrote about photoshopping, and it’s emphasis on deception.
Compositing also attempts to distort reality by layering two or more photos to include elements in the final image that weren’t originally there or to remove elements that were there. Some common examples of this are replacing a dull grey sky with a more colorful one or placing the subject on a more interesting background. Compositing can also be used to expand the dynamic range of a photo, where movement within the photo wouldn’t allow an HDR to be created. I use this when trying to capture a full moon with foreground interest.
Designers frequently create composites for advertising. Read more →
If you follow photography on the web, you’ll find stories about photoshopping on a regular basis. Is it the same as processing, editing, or compositing? Or is there a difference? The answer, in a word, is yes… They are different. But, it’s not that simple!
This is the first of a four-part series about this complicated question.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: photoshopping. According to Merriam-Webster, to photoshop is “to alter (a digital image) with Photoshop software or other image-editing software especially in a way that distorts reality (as for deliberately deceptive purposes)”. The important part to note is the intent to deceive. (By the way, the elephant in the photo is not photoshopped. He really was grazing in the wild in Sabi Sabi, South Africa. I don’t photoshop my photos.)
Examples of photoshopped images abound. For years, models have been photoshopped to appear extraordinarily thin. Read more →
I love my iPhone camera! Ever since Apple introduced the iPhone 4s in 2011, with it’s improved camera and technology, I’ve been hooked on the convenience and quality. Before that, when I traveled, I carried a small digital Canon Elph point-and-shoot camera, set to auto mode, to grab photos quickly. Now, I didn’t need to carry an extra camera. I had the perfect tool to feed my “shoot and run” habit. Read more →
It’s almost December. Do you send out Christmas or holiday cards? Have you ordered them yet? (True confession… I have not… 😩)
I thought I’d share some tips for getting a good shot of your dog for your card. These portraits can also be printed and framed. You don’t have to use them for cards!
This weekend of December 2-3, 2017, the moon will be full. Best of all, it’s a perigee or super moon, which means that it will appear larger in the sky. On top of that, in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter, so humidity levels may be lower in the air. All in all, it’s a great time to go out and practice shooting the moon!
If you’ve ever tried this before, only to come home with photos of a glowing white orb in the sky, this time will be different. Here are some hints for getting the detailed shot of the moon that you wish you’d taken before.
Join my mailing list!
Want to know when I publish a blog post? Or be the first to know when I offer a workshop? Subscribe here!
- Shoot “Long Exposure” Waterfalls with Live Photo Mode
- Exposure for a Moon Shot – It’s Not What You Think
- Using Your iPhone in Burst Mode
- Photoshopping, Processing, Compositing– Is There a Difference? Part Four: Photo Processing… Get Ready for Some Serious Fun!
- Photoshopping, Processing, Compositing– Is There a Difference? Part Three: Photo Processing… Where the Art Begins!