Rad A. Drew Photography

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Create Unique iPhone Images with These Tips!

Today I have two tips to share for making images with your iPhone. One involves making images from video frames and the other is a creative use of the "selfie" camera.


Tip 1: The Selfie Camera

Until recently, whenever I read about improvements to the selfie or front facing camera on the iPhone, I didn't get too excited about it. I mean, unlike some of the teenagers I teach who take mostly selfies, why would I care? I didn't see much use for the selfie camera, so why would I care if it was improved?

Well, then I had an epiphany, or more accurately, I got a dose of the inimitable Jack Davis while co-leading a workshop last November in Moloka'i! (BTW, we're doing the Moloka'i experience again November 2019!

Throughout the Moloka'i workshop, I was surprised to see Jack making use of the selfie camera. No, he wasn't taking lots of photos of himself! Rather, he was using the selfie camera to get into hard-to-reach places, or to photograph a subject from an unusual perspective. Using the selfie camera meant he could see to compose the image. Sometimes it takes a "duh" moment to learn what is right in front of your face!

So, the next time you want to shoot up from a low place, or shoot around a corner, or show a subject in a possibly never-before-seen perspective, try using the selfie camera! Yes, it's true that it's not as high quality as the back camera(s), but it's pretty dang good and getting better all the time. 

Here are a couple of images taken recently using the selfie camera on the iPhone XS Max and processed in SnapSeed. I challenge you to see what you can create using the selfie camera!



Bottom-Up view of May Apple from the forest floor.

Bottom-up View of Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Ok, it's still good for the occasional selfie. :) 


Tip 2: Creative Use of Video!

When I was mushroom hunting yesterday, I had my Fuji around my neck and my iPhone in my pocket, but I didn't carry a tripod. I came across some tiny wild geraniums (about the size of a quarter) and some other very small wildflowers that I didn't recognize. I had my Ztylus Revolver 6-in-1 lens on my iPhone and I attempted to use the macro and super macro lenses, but between me handholding the camera and the wind blowing the flowers all over God's half acre, I couldn't get a sharp image.

Then it occurred to me. I'd just the day before made a YouTube video about the app Video2Photo by Paco Labs. Video2Photo is an  iPhone-only app that takes a video, breaks it into individual frames, and allows each frame to be saved as an individual image file. (See my YouTube video for a demo.)

With my wildflowers blowing in the wind, I thought, What if I make a video of the flower, as it's swaying in the breeze, then select just the frames that appear sharpest?

I used the video camera in the iPhone's native camera, then extracted some of the sharpest frames. The images below are the result. This technique doesn't eliminate the need for a tripod sometimes, but even if I had had a tripod yesterday, the wind would have still been an issue. Shooting the video and selecting individual frames for processing gave me the best option under the circumstances, and I like these results.

Quarter-sized wild geranium, iPhone XS Max video camera and Video2Photo
to extract individual frame. Processed in SnapSeed.

This little guy (which I haven't yet identified) is about the diameter of a dime.
iPhone XS Max video camera and Video2Photo
to extract individual frame. Processed in SnapSeed.  

Dogwood Blossom at the end of its cycle.
iPhone XS Max video camera and Video2Photo
to extract individual frame. Processed in SnapSeed.

Teensy weensy Fly on unidentified wildflower, iPhone XS Max video camera and Video2Photo
to extract individual frame. Processed in SnapSeed.

Get the Ztylus Revolver 6-in-1 lens system here and enter code 15REFERRAL at checkout for a 15% discount.


For me, the Ztylus offers the best balance of quality and ease-of-use of any of the top accessory lenses available today. It's made for select single and dual lens iPhones, Samsung, and Huawei phones.