Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
The long summer holidays have given me space and time to explore new and favoured apps for iPhoneography. The images created on my relatively old, ancient really, iPhone 4s, often make me happier than what I produce with my FujiFilm X100T or expensive Nikon lenses attached to a D800 and D700 DSLR. Certainly, the process of editing, while sitting cross legged at the beach or on the trail, is fun, engaging and therapeutic. It still amazes, especially when travelling overseas, that an image can be online in minutes, shared with friends, colleagues and followers. It is, to quote the novelist above, ‘magic’.
The smartphone has such a brief history but feels like it has been in our pockets for much longer. You may have read an interesting post at the Flickr blog recently that published data about camera ownership in 2013-14. The Apple iPhone features prominently and is the second most popular ‘camera brand’, behind Canon. The iPhone 6 is not yet ranked but one would imagine that it may assist Apple to become the number one camera brand in the next year or two, as measured by Flickr data anyway.
The pace of development and change is fierce. A little over two years ago I blogged about my favourite photography apps and interestingly enough only Snapseed remains in my main iPhone photography folder along with the Flickr app. Gary Poulton, commenting at that post, put me on to EyeEm, which quickly replaced Instagram in my workflow. NB You should check out Gary’s inspirational images at EyeEm.
Some new apps
What apps are you currently using? Of course, the app or camera for that matter do not make the image, you do. It is interesting to think about Ansel Adams’ quip re: ‘the first 10 000 photographs are your worst’ in the context of having a smartphone. Many more people are clocking up 10 000 shots much more quickly. I notice even the most casual users of Facebook have better images than just a few years ago (even without selfie sticks). This is particularly true of teenagers.
There are so many apps available and they are so simple to use that it is hardly surprising the standard is improving. I have tried literally hundreds of photography apps in the last few years and it is definitely the case they are tools evolving rapidly and offer increasingly more sophisticated options. The entrepreneurs selling these apps have such slick presentation, in their video marketing and websites, that the competition keeps innovation positively bubbling. You can see below that I have many folders on my iPhone but stack my current apps on the home screen in a photography folder. Some of these apps have impressed me but I am yet to give them a proper work out. Others I have used very many times.
On first trying Wood Camera it really suited me and suspect it will become a favoured app in coming weeks and months. It is intuitive and has a suite of options for subtle edits. I am tempted to use it live rather than just to edit my photos from the camera roll. Anyone else tried it?
I really like Afterlight and Faded. I already forgive the creators for all those in-app purchases that tempt users to part with their cash. Even if you buy them all, it is still relatively inexpensive.
I am a sucker for those (many) apps that create paintings. These are not for everyone but as someone who loves the idea of drawing and painting but lacks the skills, these are fun apps. Waterlogue is one to try out if you like this kind of thing.
Pixite have a number of innovative and unique apps that will help you take your mobile photography to the next level. Union, Tangent, Fragment, Matter and LoryStripes are bundled at a good price (link to Australian store). I have just started using Shift in an attempt to make my own filters.
I am very keen to try SpacePaint. Early experiments have not worked out but give me some time. Have a look:
As you can see from my screenshots above, I have tried out many apps and most have been superseded or have fallen out of favour through lacking variety or lacking the functionality to make subtle variations.
The following workflow is the most common one I have used in recent months. All my images are uploaded to Snapseed for basic editing. It is such a great tool and when I am in a hurry to get an image published, I can just stick with this app. Often, the second port of call has been Distressed fx where Cheryl Tarrant’s original textures form the backbone of this brilliant app. You really must explore Cheryl’s delightful work at Flickr.
Here’s a few recent examples of this workflow.
I would never apologise for photographing rocks. Rocks can be very beautiful. But, yes, people have asked why I don’t put people into my pictures of the natural scene. I respond, “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” That usually doesn’t go over at all. Ansel Adams
Storage, Sharing and Display
My Flickr iPhoneography album and Eyeem stream, along with Facebook and Twitter are the main places I share or store images. I have only just found iCloud Photo Library (Beta) if you have iOS 8.1 or higher and am currently uploading almost 3000 images (apparently Photo Stream will disappear this year) as Aperture is terminated by Apple.
The range of photographic styles possible with an iPhone and a few good apps is gobsmacking. Street photography (craftily using the earbud button as a shutter release), landscapes, seascapes, nature, animals, selfies, family snaps, advertising, foodie shots or macros, the possibilities are endless. I am still amazed at how epic some images can be with a simple phone (and in the this case immediately below a wide-angled Olloclip lens).
My photography is pretty average. There are so many phenomenally brilliant images posted every minute that one cannot be under any illusions about the quality of what one posts. However, I truly love photography and very little makes me happier, or more in the moment, than when shooting or editing an image. Maybe you feel the same about your photography, or writing, or blogging? if so, this video may prove to be a source of inspiration, especially but not just for younger people.
Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/16079754830
What apps do you recommend?