Rad A. Drew Photography: 2019

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Top 10 Reasons to Photograph Cuba with Ramses Batista and Rad Drew

© Ramses H. Batista
If you're a photographer, chances are, photographing in Cuba is on your bucket list. But how do you decide who to travel with and what criteria do you consider in selecting the trip that is right for you?

I've been traveling to and photographing in Cuba since 2012. In the past few years I've teamed up with extraordinary Cuban photographer, Ramses Batista, to create unique photography experiences and ensure an intimate look at Cuban life.


© Rad A. Drew
Here are the Top 10 Reasons to choose us for your Cuba photography adventure!

1. Compliance and Safety

We are vigilant about watching current travel regulations. We comply with all current laws and meet all requirements for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally and safely.


© Rad A. Drew

2. Peace of Mind

Our team handles all the details and has an office in Havana in the event of emergency. Cuba is a second-world country, and although we've never encountered any serious issues, it's a comfort to know that we have the support of a local team should we need help.

3. Experience 

Rad has traveled to Cuba more than 15 times in the past seven years and Ramses is a native Cuban who has grown up in Havana. Together, they know where to go, and when, for great photo experiences. Both are skilled photographers and teachers who use traditional as well as mobile phone cameras and are there for you every day of the trip.




4. Small Groups

The most photographers we take on any trip is 8 and some groups are as small as 5. Small groups mean we are more nimble to explore and go where we want. Our subjects are less likely to be intimidated by our small group size. A small group also means more attention from instructors.

5. Photography Instruction and Support

We have two instructors on each trip — Cuban photographer, Ramses H. Batista, and U.S.-based photographer, Rad A. Drew. We have experience with traditional, infrared, flash, and mobile photography. We will support you when you need it, and stay out of your way when you don’t.


© Ramses H. Batista
6. Photo Opportunities 

Because our team consists of native Cubans, we have extraordinary access to people (dancers, boxers, farmers, fisherman, families, and every-day working Cubans). And we have knowledge of, and access to, extraordinary locations that make unique backdrops for our subjects, including areas of Old Havana, abandoned buildings, extraordinary architecture like the Alicia Alonzo Grand Theater, and classic hotels from the 50’s. Many of the locations we visit are not available to photographers on larger tours.

7. Vetted Accommodations 

Ramses, Rad, and our team on the ground in Havana select and vet the Casas we stay in throughout Cuba. Each is clean and comfortable with private bath and air conditioning.


© Rad A. Drew

8. Local transportation

We provide comfortable and reliable transportation most often with professional drivers. You will be picked up at the airport when you arrive and taken to catch your departing flight. All local transportation while in Cuba is provided.

9. Great Dining!

We’ve discovered the best places to eat in Havana. We arrange meals in local restaurants that feature Cuban cuisine and local character. We eat very well!


© Ramses H. Batista
10. Equipment and Studio Accessibility

We have lighting, flash, and a professional studio available for select sessions. We have everything you need including pocket flash, lights, and backdrops, so there's no need to carry this gear.

These are all great reasons to join us on one of our adventures in Cuba, but the most important reason of all is that WE HAVE FUN!!! Sharing the people, places, and culture of Cuba is a joy for us. We look forward to seeing you on a future trip and helping fill your camera card and mobile phone with extraordinary images that you'll cherish!


© Ramses H. Batista

Don't take my word for it! 

Here is what past participants are saying about our trips. 


Just having completed the 2019 Beauty and Grace workshop in Cuba, I can not say enough positives about the experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would have access to photograph 16 Cuban dancers. In my previous excursion to Cuba, I had neither the contacts nor the access. This workshop was superb! After day 1, I kept saying, "I could go home now. I am so happy with what I captured today." By the last day, I was giddy from the experience. As another group member so eloquently put it, "I can't put the experience into words just yet." I feel the same way. It proved way beyond any expectations. Job very well done, Ramses and Rad. – M.F



**************

I know I speak for the group when I say THANK YOU for a world class workshop and the trip of a lifetime!! – A.W.



**************

Thanks for a world class workshop! I mean that from the heart. The places we went, things we saw, the access we had, and more than anything, the people and the food......that was a really special week. – J.P.


**************

Thank you, Ramses and Rad, for an awesome experience! Not only for the big camera support, the subjects, and locations, but also for the iPhone knowledge as well. I came away with a totally new attitude about using a mobile phone camera. – S.S.

© Rad A. Drew
Click the links below to learn more about several trips in the first quarter of 2020!




Saturday, December 21, 2019

It’s a Small, Sometimes Random, World!

Last June I traveled to the Calabria region of Italy — the toe of the boot — for the first time to scout for a photo tour that I’m leading there in the fall of 2020. A local friend showed me around and I made this photo of the Santa Maria dell’Isola Monastery, an icon of the small city of Tropea, Italy.

Santa Maria dell'isola Monastery, Tropea, Italy
(Stay with me... this is where this story takes a turn!)

Fast forward to last week when I was on another photo adventure in my home state of Indiana. My friend, fellow photographer, Sally Meyer Wolf, and I, were doing what we love: driving country roads in rural Indiana looking for photogenic barns, scenic landscapes, and old towns. 

We stopped at Dawn’s Diner in tiny Coatesville, Indiana, population 546. 

Dawn's Diner, Coatesville, Indiana

We learned from the owners that Dawn’s Diner is in what used to be a bank. 

“Check out the bathroom,” said our waitress. “It used to be the bank vault.”

Dutifully, I did check it out and sure enough, the thick vault was visible in the entryway. “Cool,” I thought. 

The walls on either side of the entry are part of the thick metal vault.
The bathroom itself was roomy, clean, homey, and nicely decorated with paintings of far away beaches and other pleasant scenes. 

I was washing my hands and admiring the art when it hit me.

There on the wall, the largest picture in the room, was a painting of the Santa Maria dell’Isola Monastery, of Tropea, Italy, very similar to the image I made a few months earlier in a place 5,141 miles away!

Painting on the Wall of Dawn's Diner in Coatesville, Indiana

I don’t know about you, but I find that extraordinary.


Happy Holidays everyone. May the season be filled with intrigue, and especially the joy of family and friends!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

How I Did It!™

Creating Macro Photos with Camera +2


Camera +2 by Late Night Soft S. L. is a great iPhone app for making sharp macro photos without a tripod or lens attachment.

Anyone who’s tried handholding the iPhone when making macro photos knows that getting sharp macro images this way can be challenging.

Camera+2 has three features that help make it possible to create sharp macro images while handholding the iPhone:
  1. Macro Mode, 
  2. Focus Peaking, and 
  3. Stabilization 
Macro Mode uses the iPhone's hardware and programming that gets close without the need for a macro lens attachment.

With Focus Peaking on, green iridescent lines appear around the subject when you have the camera at the correct distance, indicating that the image is in focus.

With Stabilization on, when the shutter button is pressed, the camera will not fire until the camera is still, preventing motion blur.

To let you know stabilization is working, Camera +2 plays a melody until the camera is still and the shutter fires. You may turn off the stabilization sound in the app’s settings.

Here’s how to turn on Macro Mode, Focus Peaking, and Stabilization.

Turn on Macro Mode

First, tap the icon at the top center to display the menu. Then tap to select Macro Mode.



Activate Focus Peaking

To activate Focus Peaking, tap the slider icon in the upper left corner to display the menu, then select Focus Peaking.

Note: Focus Peaking is not as “sticky” as I’d like, and it turns itself off unpredictably. You may need to reset it periodically.



Activate Stabilizer

The stabilizer lets you know when you are moving, and will not fire the shutter (even when you’ve pressed the shutter button) until the camera is relatively still. It helps to brace yourself and hold as still as possible when you press the shutter.



I used Macro Mode, Focus Peaking, and Stabilization for this image of the rose, then processed it in SnapSeed, adding a slight glow with the app, Enlight.

Thanks for reading!

Please subscribe to my Newsletter, my YouTube Channel, and Like my Facebook Business Page.

Until next time, keep on creating!

Best,

Rad


Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Oldie but A Goodie: Average Camera Pro!


The iPhone app, Average Cam Pro, around for eight years now, is a multiple exposure app that can take and combine from 1 to 128 images with a single shutter press, making it ideal for doing intentional camera movement (ICM). ICM, long practiced by traditional camera photographers, refers to the practice of moving the camera while either a long exposure or multiple exposures are being made.

AvgCamPro is about as simple and primitive as they come, and not even everything in the app seems to work as intended. Still, everything that needs to work, does, and with some very cool results.

In this post, I'll share how I recorded two images with AvgCamPro, and processed them with SnapSeed and Lightroom on the iPhone.

Before I start, here's a screen shot of the very simple AvgCamPro settings interface:

Tap settings in the lower right corner of the screen
to display the settings options shown above.
Tap again to close settings.
There are three rows of settings, each with a different option.
  1. Number of pictures; this first row is where you select the number of images to be in your multiple exposure. There is no magic number as each number creates a different result. For the images in this post, I selected eight exposures.
  2. Shooting Interval (seconds); in the second row, determine if and how many seconds you'd like to wait before the next exposure. Why is this useful? That will become clear in the description of how I created the image of the yellow tree below.
  3. Pre-start timer (seconds); I leave this set at 0. In this row, you can select the number of seconds you'd like to wait after tapping the shutter button before the first exposure is made. It's not really useful for ICM in any way that I've discovered; I don't use it.
The other buttons are:
  • Toggle Camera, which switches between the selfie camera and the front facing camera
  • Slow Shutter, which as near as I can tell does nothing at all, and
  • Lock Exp/F/WB, which also don't seem to work. 
That's it. The elements that don't work don't prevent the camera from making fun multiple exposures.

Here's how I made the following two images.



Image 1

How I Did It!™: Recording the Image
  1. Open AvgCamPro
  2. Select 8 for the number of pictures 
  3. Set Shooting Interval at 0.
  4. Point the camera toward the flower bed, tap the shutter button, and rotate the camera with a smooth movement while the shutter fires eight times.
  5. Tap Save.
  6. Tap "X" to return to the camera.
Note: If you tap X before saving you'll be prompted to save. 

How I Did It!™: Processing the Image

The image right out of AvgCamPro looked like this:


The color is flat and muted, and the details are muddy. It lacks structure. Here's what I did to bring it to life.
  1. Open in SnapSeed and make the following adjustments in Tune Image:

    Ambiance +100
    Contrast +20
    Highlights -60
    Shadows -28
    Warmth +10

  2. Make the following adjustments in Details:

    Structure +25
    Sharpening +25

  3. Apply Tonal Contrast and accept the defaults of High Tones +30, Midtones +50, and Lowtones +30.

  4. Export and select Save a Copy
Next, I opened the Lightroom app on my phone. Normally, I use light room to record and process RAW files, but Lightroom also has a tremendous color management tool that lets us select and adjust Saturation, Hue, and Luminance for individual colors in the image, so I use it for other than RAW files, too.


*****
A Note About Lightroom

The majority of Lightroom's powerful tools are available to everyone, whether you're an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber or not. 

Lightroom for the phone (android or iPhone) is included in the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, so installing it is a no-brainer for anyone already subscribing to the Cloud. When subscribers first open Lightroom on the phone after installing from the App or Play Store, they'll be prompted to login using their Adobe Creative Cloud account and gain full access to all of Lightroom's tools.

If you are not an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you can install and get the benefits of Lightroom for free. You get all of its outrageous RAW shooting and processing power, with the exception of three inconsequential tools that aren't included in the free install: Selective, Healing, and Geometry. Each of these tools is marked with a blue asterisk and when you tap to open them, you'll be prompted to subscribe to the Creative Cloud. Simply decline the offer if you don't want to subscribe. You still get all the Lightroom tools necessary for RAW processing. The three things not included in the free installation are not required for processing RAW files, and substitutes for them can be found in SnapSeed and other apps. 
*****

To open the image of the flower abstract in Lightroom from the camera roll, do this:
  1. Open Lightroom and navigate to either the All Photos or Recently Added folders in Lightroom.
  2. Tap the Image Icon next to the Camera Icon at the bottom right of the screen as indicated by the arrow in the image below:



  3. Select the desired image from the camera roll that appears:



  4. The image appears in Lightroom and can now be edited with the Lighroom tools.



  5. The only Lightroom tool I used on this image was the Color tool at the bottom right of the screen. Tap the Color tool and the color management slides and buttons appear:



    You can make global adjustments on this main color interface, but tap the Mix button circled in red (above), and the Color Mix tool appears (below).

    You can now independently adjust any of the colors on the spectrum by tapping the color and moving the sliders. This tool allowed me to isolate the orange, yellow, and purple colors in the image and give them the presence I wanted them to have. It's more precise than simply increasing the global saturation for the image.



Once I had the color the way I wanted, I tapped Done, and then saved this image back to the camera roll, following the sequence below.


 



I added my signature to the image using the app, Image Blender, and ended with this final result:



Image 2

The inspiration for Image 2, an image of a colorful fall tree, came from the work of Pep Ventosa. Ventosa uses traditional cameras to create some remarkable multiple exposures of trees, buildings, vehicles, and landscapes. AvgCamPro lends itself wonderfully to his technique.

How I Did It!™: Recording the Image

The process for making and processing this second image of the yellow tree is very much like what I did for Image 1, so I'm going to summarize, calling out the differences.

I followed the same steps for recording Image 2 as with Image 1, with one exception: I set the Shooting Interval to five seconds. This five seconds between shots let me move around the tree and align each exposure with the previous one. I moved around the tree in an equidistant arc taking a few steps and realigning the image before each subsequent exposure. I might have gone all around the tree, but there were tall weeds that prevented me from doing that, so I simply moved in a arc. This is what the resulting image looked like right out of AvgCamPro. As you can seem, it doesn't look like much. In a way, it reminds me of a RAW file that hasn't been processed yet.



How I Did It!™: Processing the Image

Again, I followed the same process in Lightroom as I did with Image 1. I used the Color tool to isolate the blues, greens, yellows and golds, and make independent color adjustments, rather than one global adjustment. This let me decide the intensity of each color in the image and afforded just one more way to influence the outcome with my creative choices.

I made a slight crop in SnapSeed, then added my signature to the image using the app, Image Blender, ending with this final result:



Thanks for taking time to read this post. I hope you find it useful! If you're so inclined, you can share it using the Facebook and other buttons below. 

Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter and to my YouTube Channel where I post videos in my How I Did It!™ learning series. 

Email me here with comments or questions

Until next time, keep on creating!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Travel as a Political Act


Cliffs at Tropea, Calabria Region of Italy

Did you ever think of travel as political act? As a rule, I don’t espouse political opinion on social media, but I am comfortable about the idea of travel as a political act

No matter what political camp you’re in, traveling consciously in our tumultuous world is a powerful way to expand our understanding, challenge our prejudices, and practice being open to the views of people from outside our wonderful country.

Mark Twain wrote:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

I wholeheartedly agree!

Afghani "Camel Man" at the Al Ain Camel Market,
the Largest in the UAE.
The young Afghani man (above) although we shared no common language, kindly showed me around the market. He insisted we walk more than 100 yards so he could show me the new born camels. After, he permitted me to make his portrait.

On our recent dahlia workshop, my friends Ann and Carol, introduced me to the concept of Travel as a Political Act. I didn’t know it was a “thing,” but I believe that’s what I’ve (we’ve) been doing (however unwittingly!) as we’ve traveled the world making photographs. 

Lone Bristlecone Pine at Sunrise
My friend Dan Sniffin and I shared the experience of the ancient bristlecone pines. Being the only two humans on the mountain with these ancient trees – some more than 5,000 years old – does a lot to put the problems of the world in perspective. These trees have seen it all and they prevail.

Trips from coast to coast throughout the US have exposed us to many views, and travel to England, Scotland, Italy, France, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, have shown me that the rest of the world sees things much differently than many Americans. I don’t always agree with these alternative views, but I think it enriches me to at least listen and try to experience another’s perspective. 

The most precious of these destinations for me over the years, has been Cuba. It’s a place I’ve traveled to more than any other and I’ve become connected to wonderful people there who are friends for life, in some cases, they’ve become family. 

Cuban Farmer Making Charcoal in the Vinales Valley
Traveling to Cuba today, in the current political climate, to see first-hand how Cubans live, the ways in which they suffer, how dependent the government is on other (in some cases unstable) governments, the impact of US policy, and the general uncertainty of the country’s future, is an important endeavor for me. 
My Young friend, painter Roly Castelliny, beautifully portrays
the world in which he lives in Old Havana
As I’ve explored this new (to me) idea of Travel as a Political Act, I was referred to the writer and traveler, Rick Steves. (Thanks, Ann and Carol!) Steve’s article, 10 Tips for Traveling as a Political Act is full of ideas and suggestions for how to make your travel a political act. 

Sheik Zayed Grand Masque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Most of the tips on Steve's list are things we've been doing on trips for years. I didn't know what we were doing had a name, but in many ways it's exactly what we've been doing. 
Omani Merchant Sorts Radishes at Ancient Market in Oman

See Rick Steve's article and maybe you’ll find something in it for you, or maybe you'll learn that you've already been traveling as a political act!

Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep on creating! 

Tobacco Harvest in Vinales Valley, Cuba
For more information about the travel and photography we do, see my Workshops tab, and subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Why Today's iPhone is Worthy of Your Camera Bag

The iPhone became a staple in my camera bag about nine years ago when I acquired my first iPhone, an iPhone 4. At the time, doing photography with one’s phone was a novel idea, and many photographers who relied on large (and heavy and bulky) DSLRs for their photography, didn’t pay it any mind, much less afford it any respect. 

iPhone 4
© Rad A. Drew

But that was then. Today’s iPhone has matured to include features and technical specs that warrant giving the device a second look. In this article I’ll identify some of the things that I think make this mobile devise worthy of a pro’s camera bag!


iPhone XS Max
© Rad A. Drew


Create RAW Files and Process RAW on the iPhone

Digital photographers have understood the power of RAW for many years. RAW files contain data that allow for the recovery of details in highlights and shadows not possible with JPG files. For this reason alone, shooting and processing RAW leads to better quality images. Until recently creating and processing RAW files on the iPhone was not an option.

Today there are many apps that allow us to create RAW files, and while there are a few that also support RAW processing, none is as robust and comprehensive as the Lightroom app for iOS and Android.

For those who subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom for the phone is a no-brainer. The “fully loaded” app is included in your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. But even if you don’t relish parting with your hard-earned cash each month for the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, Lightroom is still free for everyone. The catch? If you aren’t a subscriber you don’t get these three tools in the app: Healing, Selective, and Geometry. But you do get the Lightroom camera for creating RAW files and you do get all the tools necessary to process those RAW files on your phone. The tools you don’t get aren't necessary for RAW processing, and are easily found in other apps, like SnapSeed.

So, the bottom line? If you want the quality you can extract from creating and processing RAW files on your phone, you need Lightroom on your iPhone! Watch for more details and my workflow on an upcoming YouTube video. For now there is this YouTube video which I recorded last December that reviews my workflow. Please ignore my comment in this video where I say if you’re not a subscriber to the Creative Cloud, don’t bother with Lightroom for the phone. I was flat out wrong about that! After a day on the phone with Adobe, I was finally able to sort out what they are doing with the non-subscription version!

iPhone XS Max
© Rad A. Drew

Create Long Exposures

Early iPhones didn’t possess the ability to create that “soft water” look characteristic of long exposures. This type of look was, previously, only possible with a “big” camera. Today’s iPhones, especially the later models, allow several ways to achieve the look of long exposures.

Live Mode in the Native Camera

Live Mode is turned on by tapping that little round bull’s eye at the top of the Native Camera interface. It turns yellow when it's on. You know, the one you always turn on by mistake and end up with those annoying moving images! That’s what I thought for the longest time, until I learned that the LIVE feature is really a great way to achieve a “soft water” or blurred people photo without a tripod, a big camera, or neutral density filters.

How? Tap the Live mode icon on the native camera, turning the bull’s eye yellow. Select a scene with a stream or other moving object and tap the shutter button. Find and select the photo in your camera roll. Now swipe up on the image. Four options will appear beneath your photo: Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. I’ve found little use for the first three, but select Long Exposure, and the parts of your image that are moving (like that steam or waterfall) become soft, while the remaining part of the image remains sharp. All this is done while hand-holding your iPhone.

Live Mode, iPhone XS Max
© Rad A. Drew

Lightroom Camera Long Exposure

Currently available in the Lightroom app for your iPhone is a beta version of a long exposure feature. To turn the feature on, navigate to the app's settings and locate and tap on the app’s Technology Previews. You’ll see two: Long Exposure and Depth Map Support. At the time of this writing, Depth Map Support is not available. Long Exposure is. Once Long Exposure is enabled in the settings, you can select Long Exposure from the camera interface. Lightroom takes a series of images (in RAW) and combines them so that any moving parts of the scene are softened, while stationary elements remain sharp.

SlowShutter Camera by Cogitap Software

The SlowShutter App also allows making a long exposure. In the settings, you choose one of three capture modes: Motion Blur, Light Trail, and Low Light. Each mode captures motion in a unique way which you control by the Blur, Light Sensitivity, Shutter Speed and ISO. For best results I use a tripod, (unless doing Intentional Camera Movement (ICM); see below).


SlowShutterCam
© Rad A. Drew

Spectre 

The Spectre app is a relatively new app that allows movement capture in a variety of ways and for most photos allows hand-holding of the camera, although a tripod can yield better results.

An oldie but a goodie, Average Cam Pro

This is an OLD app that I fear may disappear from the App Store. It’s a really fun app for creating long exposures. The app is very simple and allows us to take from 2 to 128 exposures, blending them together in the phone. With the camera on a tripod, one can get great light trails or cloud movement while all other elements in the scene remain sharp. 


Average Cam Pro and Dramatic Black & White
© Rad A. Drew


Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

Slowshutter Camera by Cogitap Software

Use the Slow Shutter Camera to create swipes of colorful objects (e.g. flowers) or of people moving through a crowded area, like a train station.

I recommend these settings. The first image of settings are the main camera settings, while the second set of settings are for each scene. Like your big camera, if the light changes, the settings in the second set below, like shutter speed or light sensitivity, may also need to be changed, although the app is far more forgiving that our big cameras.



and




SlowShutterCam Vertical Swipe
© Rad A. Drew

Average Camera Pro

This app is wonderful for creating intentional camera movement (ICM) photos. Here’s a brief set of instructions:
  • Choose a colorful flower bed. I like to look for one dominant color like white, yellow, or red. 
  • Open Average Cam Pro’s settings.
  • Set the “number of pictures” to 4 or 8.
  • Leave Shooting interval and Pre Start Timer set to 0.
  • Tap the shutter button and twist the phone as the shutter fires.
Average Cam Pro
© Rad A. Drew
Now get creative.
  • Set for a different number of photos,
  • Move in different directions (twist, swipe, push, wave)
  • Process in SnapSeed and turn into a painting with the app, Impresso, by Jixi Pix.

Dual Lens and Portrait Mode for Narrow Depth of Field

Before the first dual lens iPhone, the 7+, creating a narrow depth of field was something reserved for our “big” cameras. Today, with the phone's dual lenses and depth effect technology, we are able to focus on an object (e.g., a flower or a face) and have that object in sharp focus, while the background goes soft. In the latest iPhone, the iPhone XS, not only does the camera produce a narrow depth of field, but also allows the depth of field to be adjust by providing a simulated f/stop slider that goes from f/1.4 for maximum blur, to f/16 for a fully sharp image.

Combining the Portrait Mode with the Portrait editor in SnapSeed is a great way to fine-tune portraits for great appeal. SnapSeed's portrait mode has adjustments for face spotlight, skin smoothing, and eye clarity, all of which can take your image up a notch.


Portrait Mode and SnapSeed Portrait Editor


Portrait Mode
© Rad A. Drew

Process Big Camera RAW files on your iPhone or iPad

With the advent of Lightroom for the phone, we can now send RAW files made with our traditional camera to our iPhone and process them using the Lightroom app with RAW editing tools. I use my Fuji's wireless system based on BlueTooth to send RAW images to my iPhone.

This is a great way to conveniently process your “big boy” camera images while traveling or just when you want to work away from the big computer.

If you use Lightroom on your desktop, depending on how you set up your system, you can have all images appear on all your devices, including your Lightroom catalog on your desktop.


Print Large with Integrity

There’s no denying that the iPhone has a small sensor relative to traditional “big” cameras and this means, generally, smaller prints. I’ve been printing iPhone images at 20 by 30 for years, but to go much bigger the quality begins to suffer.

Enter Topaz Labs desktop software powered by artificial intelligence! These tools which came out in the summer of 2018 and continue to get better and better allow for several kinds of improvements making it possible to print iPhone images very large with integrity.

The desktop apps, Gigapixel AI (which allows a small iPhone image to be enlarged up to six times) and DeNoise AI (which eliminates noise for low-light or other iPhone images to an unbelievable degree) have both been game changers for iPhone photographs. Armed with these tools, iPhone photographers never have to tell a prospective customer that they can’t print the image at the size the customer wants. These new desktop applications from Topaz Labs allow enlargement with integrity that is mind-boggling.

The image on the left is the original at 2583 x 3875 pixels or about 10MP resolution. On the right is the same image enlarged 4 times to a resolution of 10332 x 15550, about 160MP! The quality of the image on the right is equal to or better than that on the left, but the size is 150MP larger!


Split Screen Comparison of Gigapixel AI from Topaz Labs. Image on right enlarged 4 times.


High Quality Lens Systems

It’s often said that the best way to zoom with an iPhone is with your feet! Getting close to your subject is not something that can be accomplished easily with just the iPhone. Today, however, a number of aftermarket companies are producing attachable lenses for most iPhones that make wide angle, macro, and telephoto images possible. Among my favorite lenses are Moment, Ztylus, and OlloClip.

Moment produces the best glass of the bunch and their prices reflect that as one of the most expensive lens systems available. Their 60mm lens gets twice as close (and up to four times as close when using the Moment app in combination with the lens). The wide angle lens is a favorite for recording small areas like rooms in a house or other areas that require a wide angle for context. It’s also good for landscapes and images with dramatic foregrounds.

Olloclip is another quality lens that has been around a few years and offers similar wide angle, telephoto, and fisheye lenses.

Ztylus Lenses are new on the scene and they’ve produced one of the most convenient and easy to use systems for a great price ($59 dollars). I’m referring to the Revolver 6-in-1. It’s easy to attach, accessible, and affordable. No, the glass isn’t quite as good as Olloclip and Moment, but for images that are going to be textured and processed to paintings, it is quite adequate and, to me, worth it for the convenience.

Portable Editing (on iPhone or iPad) 

Apps on the iPhone have gotten better and better over the years. The main staple for many iPhone photographers is SnapSeed, with 28 tool kits for editing and stylizing images. Equipped with a histogram, curves, and levels tools, along with selective adjustment tools, there isn’t much that can’t be done with this software. 

And Lightroom on the iPhone isn’t just for RAW files. I often take JPG files into Lightroom to use the Color adjustment tool which allows me to isolate specific colors and adjust saturation, hue, luminance, and vibrancy. These editing tools go anywhere when traveling!

Because it’s small, lightweight and portable, it’s often the Camera you have with you

It’s small size not only makes the camera easy to carry, it’s often less intrusive when taking portraits or shooting in areas where big cameras may not be allowed. When traveling, an iPhone, lenses and an extra battery fit easily into a purse or small bag for easy accessibility.

Summary

That’s my list! Today’s iPhone is truly worthy of any camera bag because of the many things it does well. It deserves respect as a “real” camera, as many pro’s have come to appreciate. 

Still the bottom line for me? It’s about as fun as it gets!

Thanks for taking time to read this post and for all you do to support what I do! Until next time, keep on creating!