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!)