See it here.
I forgot to mention this last month! Earlier in the Summer, in July/ August, during Colombia’s Feria de las Flores, 2 more of my iPhone images were up on billboards! They are the following 2 images, shot on my iPhone6s Plus, with my macro Olloclip, and edited with VSCO Cam for iPhone. It was such an honor to once again be included in an iPhone campaign.
I don’t know how they do it, but Apple finds the nicest, smartest, most fun people to work for them, and my experience hosting the photo walk last Wednesday evening was so great! Not only was I supported by an amazing team of talented individuals, the community members who joined us for the walk were such interesting and talented people.
Right off the bat, a gentleman who attended the photo walk, came up and told me that he had read my reviews on here, on both the Fujifilm X100T, and the iPhone6s+, and went and bought both! He’s been a photographer for decades, and felt that my insight was valuable. I was floored, flattered, and so happy he came to the photo walk. (Jim, if you’re reading, email me so we can keep in touch! Also, I’ll have a Fujifilm XT-1 review for you soon.)
I had the complete honor of getting to know so many great people, photograph them, and even be photographed a few times. We had 3 activities planned for everyone to really learn to focus on light and how to capture beautiful portraits. It felt like, as we walked around together looking for the perfect places to complete each assignment, that we were all in it together: not only did I try and teach everyone my own techniques, I learned so much from everyone else. It reminded me of the thing I love most about photography: each person has his and her own way of seeing the world, and a unique way of capturing it. Having insight into that process is so valuable as a photographer, to continue to learn and grow.
I only wish that we would have had more time at the end for more editing, but we had so much fun out shooting in Yerba Buena Gardens that we ran a little short on time. I know that seeing how others edit their shots is helpful, so I’ll give a play-by-play below of how I edited some of my favorite shots from the photo walk:
Laurie is a pediatrician with curly teal hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a fabulous personality. I so enjoyed snapping her portrait in the dramatic, dappled sunlight of the late evening. I made sure to have her turn her head just enough toward me, to get her eye in a little pocket of light, and I waited for an in-between moment to catch a soft, genuine expression. The wind blew her hair across her face, and over to the side, and the trees in the background continued the line of her hair, splaying out to the right, and it was a perfect, natural, dynamic, yet soft moment.
To edit this image, I first uploaded it into VSCO Cam, and used my favorite color filter in there, Preset A6. A6 lends a very natural, beautifully-toned, not-overdone look. I used it at full strength, and then added just a touch of sharpening, by going up +1. I also upped the exposure by +1 because she had been in the shadows, and I wanted to make sure to have some visible detail in those shadows. The filter also darkened the image a bit, and I wanted to counteract that.
Lastly, I opened the image up in Snapseed and used the brush tool to up the exposure at +.3 strength, to slightly brighten the iris of her eye and make it pop just a touch more.
Caitlin is a girlfriend from high school who surprised me by attending the photo walk. She also was kind enough to model her gorgeous self for me to snap a portrait. I noticed the lines on the side of a building made a really cool grid, and had some light hitting it from the side. I had Caitlin line up specifically next to the line vertically cutting a third of the photo, making sure to include the horizontal line above her head to frame her, and had her turn her face to the sun.
To edit, I used my trusty A6 filter in VSCO, and sharpened +1. The light was so perfect on her genuine, smiling face, and her black jacket contrasted so beautifully with the light gray wall, that I didn’t have to do much at all to make this photo dynamic.
At one point, we all went behind the waterfall and found some awesome light streaming through the cascading water. Beautiful Khadijah was kind enough to model for quite a while, as a ton of us snapped her portrait. I tried to wait for other people to not be in the background of my shot, but it wasn’t happening, and I didn’t want to lose the little sun light in the top right corner, so I shot the photo anyway. I loved how there were flecks of water crossing between Khadijah and my lens.
To edit, first I wanted to remove the distracting person walking in the background, and the waterfall light in the bottom of the frame. To do this, I used Pixelmator’s repair tool.
Next, I used RNI Flashback to apply a filter. RNI Flashback is such a special app, and I’ll write an entire review dedicated to it soon, but basically it mimics what it thinks real film chemicals would do to your photo, and it never recreates the same filter twice, ever. It brings out such amazing tones, and it did so with this shot. Once I applied the RNI Flashback processing, I opened the photo in Snapseed to very gently brighten up her face just a touch, by using the dodge and burn tool at +5, and swiping over her face just once. I also used the saturation brush at +10 strength and painted over the orange light in the photo to make the light stand out. I cropped the photo just a touch, because the background behind her to the left of the image, was distracting.
This lovely lady, Chelsea, let me borrow her ExoLens with a Zeiss telephoto lens that isn’t even out yet, and it was gorgeous! I loved the way it made it possible for me have such a lovely out-of-focus background, for a portrait taken with iPhone. I think the result is so high-quality. I want one of these lenses now!
Because of the cool, retro vibe of Chelsea’s round sunnies, I thought a film look would be perfect. I used RNI Flashback, lowered the grain and dust to halfway, and sharpened just a little bit.
I really enjoyed the first activity we did as a group, which was shooting in square, because I rarely do that. It was cool to reframe my thinking and play with the symmetry of the shape, focusing on architectural lines to help me enhance my subjects. Usually I’m photographing my babies, in natural areas like fields, so it was very different and very fun to shoot adults next to buildings. I think it’s important to remember to try things that aren’t your usual style, and move a little bit out of your comfort zone. You may find you enjoy shooting more styles than you thought!
Overall, I want to thank Apple, Jeff, Mike, Ian, Tom, all of the Apple Store Union Square creatives, and everyone who came and made the photo walk experience valuable, memorable, and fun. It really was such an honor.
(If you enjoyed these step-by-step edits, I am wrapping up an ebook all about iPhone photography detailing how I shoot and edit. I’ll release it soon!)
I’ll be hosting a fun iPhone photography event in SF this next week, on Wednesday the 15th, at the brand new Union Square Apple Store. If you’re in town, come join me!
You can look at my review over on The Brooks Review, here.
I’m so excited and honored that 3 of my photos are included in Apple’s Shot on iPhone6s campaign that launched today! To read more about it, check out my quotes in this article on TIME, or read more about the campaign in this article on Mashable.
Please keep an eye out if you see any of them anywhere: magazines, billboards, in the Tube, etc.–I’d be so excited if you could snap a photo and send it my way!
I still can’t believe it, and am beyond grateful and excited about this entire campaign. I can’t wait to show Sloane her face on billboards: I’m sure she’ll think it’s only natural that every 3 year old has one!
Recently, when I posted my review of some iPhone photo editing apps I love, here, a guy (@daveday on Twitter) tweeted asking me if I’d ever heard of, or tried RNI Films. I hadn’t, but now it’s one of my absolute favorites. (Thanks, Dave!)
My usual go-to remains, VSCO, despite shorter-lived favorings of Litely and Mextures. I still love the latter 2 apps, and use them, but I love film-emulators, and VSCO just has so many options, beautifully-toned filters, and endless possible adjustments. I always go back.
However, this time, something is different. I had my usual obsession with RNI Films, went back to VSCO, and then something strange happened: I went back to RNI Films again, and use it at least 50% of the time. Previously, my go-to for black and white filters, especially when I wanted them to truly look like film, was BLACK App. I love it, and I’ve reviewed it before, but RNI has more black and white film filters, and they are beautiful.
RNI stands for Really Nice Images, and it’s true. Also, the app is free in the app store. I can’t even believe this beautiful app is free. With the free download, it offers a good amount of filter selections already, and allows you to purchase more selections via in-app purchases: 2 negative films packs, a black and white films pack, a vintage films pack, and an instant films pack. Each pack is $3.99, which I believe is well-worth it, yet you can get by without purchasing any of them, and still have plenty of nice choices. There’s also one pack, that you can get for free if you share it on Facebook. Initially, I only purchased the black and white pack and the negatives packs. It’s within the last week, after loving the app so much, I bought the rest.
The film filters truly look like film emulsions. The resulting images are richly-toned and beautifully-textured. It offers film stocks from Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, Rollei Digibase, and Fuji. There are 5 types of film presets divided up into categories: Negative, BW, Vintage, Slide and Instant. I use the Negative and Black and White packs the most often. My favorites of the filters for color in the Negative group are the Agfa Optima 200, the various Fuji Superia options, and the Kodak Portra options. My favorites for black and white in the BW group are Agfa Scala 200, Ilford Delta 100 HC, Ilford Delta 400, 800 and 3200.
The app is simple to use. First, upon opening it, you load your image, and it asks you whether you’d like to straighten or crop. Then you move to the next screen, where there are 4 simple icons to select from. Click on the little arrow to go back to the previous, first screen. Click on the film icon to select an emulsion, on the wrench and screwdriver icon to fine tune, or on the arrow to export back out to the photos folder. It’s intuitive and clean, no library of previously-edited images to wade though, gallery to publish to, or shop to accidentally click on, a la VSCO. It’s purely editing.
The fine-tuning features are similar to VSCO, with the ability to adjust brightness, contrast, clarity, grain, shadows, highlights, pre-warmth, post-warmth, pre-tint, post-tint, saturation, sharpen, vignette, fade, and dust, all on a sliding scale, which I appreciate, and prefer to VSCO’s tick scale. I rarely, if ever, use these features, and if I do, it’s mainly opting to up a little brightness, contrast, or sharpen a touch. I’d like to think it’s because my images don’t need it past the filters, but I think RNI just does a really great job with their emulsions as-is.
It would be easy to say that RNI makes my images look like film, because I shoot with a Fujifilm X100T that already makes my images look like film. But, even my iPhone photos end up looking like beautiful, authentic film. Every one of the images in this post, is shot with my iPhone 6S Plus, save for this last one, which was shot with my iPhone5.
Of all of the film-emulating apps so far, this is my favorite, and I believe it’s the best when it comes to capturing a true film look.
You can download RNI Films here in the app store.
“Look, I’m not an intellectual – I just take pictures.” -Helmut Newton
This quote is perfectly how I feel about photography, and why I feel unfit to give a super-techinal review of any camera. I believe it’s more about the eye of the shooter, than the gear that takes the shot. I am an avid iPhone photographer because it’s a great camera that I usually always have with me. I occasionally dabble with film, but it’s not as convenient. Recently, another camera has stolen my heart. The Fujifilm X100T is an incredible tool, and I now use it about half of the time, using my iPhone6S Plus, the other half.
I’m not into all of the stats about the camera, but there are plenty of reviews out there to tell you all about that part of it, if you like. For me, it’s less about the numbers and settings, and more about the art. It’s about how simple it is to use to get a beautiful result. I really love that this camera is small without tons of options, has a fixed lens, and isn’t intimidating like a DSLR could be to someone just getting into photography. It has a 35mm equivalent, f2 lens, and a hybrid viewfinder, which means I can get a decent portrait, and I can go old school and hold it up to my face to shoot, or use the screen on the back.
Things I Love
The camera is digital, but the results are made to look like film, and it has film filters built in that I can select before I shoot a photo. I love the look of film, so this is a huge bonus in my eyes. The tones and colors are nicely dynamic, with lots of detail captured in shadows and highlights. It’s not exactly the same as film, but it comes close enough for me to enjoy that part of it thoroughly. And, the fact that it’s digital means I get the immediate gratification of having my photos right away. It’s the best of both worlds as far as getting a film look, without the wait to develop the roll. I still usually edit my photos in post, but honestly, I don’t have to with most of my FujiFilm X100T images if I don’t want to: they already look beautiful straight out of the camera.
It’s so easy to use. Even not knowing all of the technical rules about cameras and photography, a person would be able to get fabulous shots using this camera. There aren’t a lot of settings that I need to tinker with, so I can have a basic understanding of how a camera works, and get the shot quickly, without much thought toward the set-up. I like to shoot in aperture priority mode, which means I select the aperture and let the camera select the shutter speed, based on the light, and focus on the moment at hand, instead of on my camera settings. I do this because my subject matter is often wiggly kids, and I want to be able to capture them in motion, quickly and easily. I could also set it to shutter priority and set it to the speed I want, and the camera will select the aperture for me, or I could shoot with everything set to A, or conversely select each setting myself in M mode. I love how many options there are to use this camera depending on comfort-level, type of shooting I’m doing, and the look I want, and I think it increases basic camera knowledge at a less-intimidating pace.
There’s also a really handy exposure compensation dial that allows me to go up or down by 3, and I use it a lot, by knocking the exposure down -1 to increase the shutter speed if I’m working with low light. I also knock it down sometimes just to get an end result that’s a little more moody and darker, with more detail. In my opinion, sometimes the camera shoots just a tiny bit lighter/ overexposed than what I want, so this dial corrects that, with the added bonus of increasing my shutter speed.
A really awesome feature: I can wirelessly transfer my images straight to my devices. For me, that’s my iPhone, where I do all of my editing. It’s so simple, and fast, and makes it really easy to send images to friends and family, almost instantaneously.
There is a macro setting that allows me to take some nice, close detail shots, as well as an ND filter. These two features are useful, but to be honest, I rarely use them. I find I mostly don’t need to, even when shooting outside in bright light, or up close. They are still nice to have available, just in case.
Lastly, the camera is a really nice size for my hand, though I could see it being a bit small for larger hands. It’s not too heavy, so it’s quite easy to tote along on an outing, and it has a nice, grippy texture, so I’ve never dropped it. I can’t say the same for my poor iPhone.
The battery life is abysmal. I cannot leave my house without at least one spare, and I usually bring more. It’s honestly so bad that I can’t even get through an hour of shooting without changing the battery.
I love that it’s fixed lens, but I also don’t, because as I become more and more comfortable with the technical aspects of photography, I find myself wanting to use alternate lenses. There are lens adaptations I could buy for it, but I feel like that’s not the point of this camera, and in that case I should buy a different camera that’s made for interchangeable lenses.
It’s expensive. Retailing currently for about $1,100, it’s much more expensive than my Nikon film SLR for sure. But, I don’t have to buy film for it.
I truly love this camera, and love how much it has taught me, all the while giving me some great keepsake photos along the way.
I get a little aggravated with the question, “what camera do you use?” Not because I mind sharing, quite the contrary: I love to share all of my photography processes and help anyone get photos they love, and I truly and absolutely love this camera and think almost everyone would. It’s a frustrating question because in the end, it’s implied that the gear makes the photo, and it’s just not about the gear, it’s about the eye, perspective, and personal touch of a shot. It’s the ability to tell a story with an individual look into your world, that no one else quite has in exactly the same way. It’s the ability to capture and express a feeling.
Ansel Adams shot with gear far “inferior” to the technology we have now, and his photos still hold up. It just wasn’t, and isn’t, about the gear. That’s surprisingly a draw to this camera, because it is so simple, I spend less time thinking about settings, lenses, etc., and live in the moment to get the shot, and get it well. (This is not to knock DSLRs, which are wonderful tools, just different.)
It’s a throwback to simpler days of using a camera as it comes, and learning how to do so skillfully, focusing on the shot and the message, rather than relying on the gear to do the artistic work.
You can purchase the Fujifilm X100T here.
*all photos in this post, except for the image of the camera itself, which was taken with my iPhone6S+, were taken with my Fujifilm X100T.
I’ve already reviewed a few of my favorite mobile photo editing apps, here, here, here, and here, and now I’m going to share some additional apps that I’ve been using with more and more frequency. VSCO still has my heart, but it doesn’t do everything. (I edit all of my photos on my phone, even those I take with another camera.)
First, is Mextures, which is $1.99 in the app store. Initially I was a little turned-off by the app. I’m not sure why, but it seems I balk at every new photo-editing app at first (except for BLACK app which I loved immediately). Mextures can give a VERY processed look, and usually I’m not a fan of that, however, the cool thing about the app is you can adjust it thousands of ways. There are preset filters (light leaks, textures, adjustments) you can layer and adjust, and create your own formula. There are also preset formulas made up of multiple layers, that you can adjust and customize in myriad ways. Once you’ve created your own formula, or adjusted an existing one and made it your own, you can save them in the app and use them again. Many Mextures users also love to share formulas with each other.
I’ve had to change my thinking a little bit. I think what I dislike is a poor-quality photo, adjusted to the max, but I hadn’t realized how many truly beautiful pieces of art can be created, even if it’s obvious the photo has been adjusted. Take these two images below, that almost look like paintings once I applied the Mextures formulas I used. It’s obvious they’ve been processed, but I still love them. My intention was to turn them into Degas-inspired pieces.
I’m also obsessed with taking photos of the sky, and Mextures formulas do some AMAZING things to skies.
The X-Film formulas, and the Atmospheric formulas, as far as the pre-set ones go, are my favorites, because most of them have a lighter touch. With all of Mextures’ filters, you can adjust the intensity up or down, so it’s easy to fine-tune a shot without making it look over-processed.
Basically, I use Mextures when I want a bolder, more colorful look, or if I want my photo to have some texture.
Next, is Snapseed, which is free in the app store. This app does a few things, and has some filters, but I prefer VSCO Cam and Litely’s filters. What I LOVE about the app is the Brush. With the Brush feature, you can dodge and burn in parts of your image, or paint different areas with different adjustments for exposure, saturation, or temperature. It’s incredible! I love taking photos of the sky, and I often use the burn tool to burn my cloudy skies in. I haven’t played as much with the other brush effects, but the dodging and burning tool alone is worth it to have.
Raw iPhone6 Image:
After burning the mountains in with Snapseed:
Then Filtered with VSCO Cam:
I also think the transform feature on Snapseed is pretty cool: it allows you to adjust the angle of your photo by either tilting it on a horizontal or vertical axis, or by rotating it. It also fills in the sides when it rotates, usually decently accurately. The Selective feature in Snapseed is one that I haven’t used much yet, but it’s also really cool: it allows you to adjust sections you tap, in your photo, and bring the contrast, saturation, or brightness up or down, in just the specified area, leaving the rest of the photo alone. I don’t know if any other apps let you do this, so it’s definitely a feature worth noting.
One thing I don’t like, is I’ve noticed once I use Snapseed, my entire photo, not just the adjusted parts, is more line-y…which isn’t a word, but it appears slightly more pixelated or something, to me, which can be pretty noticeable depending on the image and how much adjusting I’ve done. That has led me to use it less-often, because I don’t love it when my images look overly-grainy or processed (unless that’s the particular look I’m going for as in my Mextures Degas-inspired pieces).
Snapseed offers a healing feature, but in my opinion, there’s a better app for that.
Enter Pixelmator, at $4.99 in the app store. More pricey than the others, but worth the cost for all of its features. Before finding this app, I used Touch Retouch for removing unwanted flecks, spots, power lines, etc, from my photos, but Pixelmator does it so much better. It guesses what the space should look like without the item you’re removing, and it usually gets it right, or close. If it doesn’t, it’s quick and easy to tap undo, and try again.
Before– Distracting background buildings and the bottom of a cup in the top left of the frame:
I really have only used Pixelmator for that feature, which is a shame, because it’s packed with some powerful editing tools, but they’re more for advanced editors. You can use layers, distort images with things like warps, twirls, and bumps, it offers a nice vignette tool, and color adjustments, on a sliding scale so it’s easy to adjust it exactly perfectly (versus the tick scale on VSCO that doesn’t offer any in-between stops for its adjustments), and tons of brushes and erasers, available in lots of options and adjustable sizes and opacities, to fine-tune. It also offers some filters, but I prefer VSCO, Litely and Mextures for filters.
I tend to be a person who wants my editing to be simple, and fairly quick, especially for an image taken on my phone. So Pixelmator’s more in-depth, advanced features, just go unused by me. The app is worth the Repair tool alone, though.
Overall, these are 3 apps worth having and playing around with. I find myself learning from them, simply by shooting things just for the purpose of trying out new features and capabilities.