By Daniel Rasmus on Tue, 07/08/2014
If you have ever wondered how those marvelous photographs from iPhone enthusiasts are captured, wonder no more: they weren’t captured, they were crafted. If you want to craft eye-catching photos yourself, then you will need to get a copy of The Art of iPhone Photography.
Bob Weil and Nicki Fitz-Gerald have compiled entries from a wide range of iPhone photographers. They cover everything from the basics of taking portraits to capturing landscapes and street scenes, to how to best use panorama settings and HDR.
There are dozens of examples in the book, each one meticulously documented with step-by-step procedures, lists of software you will need, additional hardware required, and gorgeous illustrations that pop on the high quality paper. RockyNook, the publishers, produced the book wide format so it stays open more easily than books with shorter page widths (though I still use a book weight for good measure).
The books applies very thoughtful teaching. Each tutorial begins with learning expectations along with the tools, but then quickly moves to a backstory about the photo example, which offers a deeper emotional connection between the learner and the book and a heightened interest that will likely help the material soak in and stay soaked in. Each tutorial ends with a summary that reminds you of what you should have learned. The overall tone of the tutorials is that of a trusted mentor. And even though some process conformity has been applied, what comes under the steps sections seems to be purely from the heart and mind of the photographer offering the guidance.
There is one caveat to all of this. The book is intended for enthusiastic hobbyists and professionals. Both of those categories of people invest in hardware and software, much of it not free. That means that if you want to match the artistic finesse of these photographic wizards, you will need to invest money as well as time.
Given that the editors didn’t write the entire book, you will find instances where a particular effect, such as removing something from an image, employs different techniques and software from tutorial to tutorial. Having written several tutorials over the years, my guess is that each photographer has mastered his or her own toolset, and that is what they cover. No attempt has been made to smooth out the variability in techniques to create a universal list of must-have tools. And I think that is fine. What it means for the reader, however, is experimenting themselves with tools that may or may not fit their style and workflow—and that may translate into buying tools you don’t end up using (as an aside, keep an eye open for free offers on these tools which occasionally happens, and of course, most of these tools are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional desktop software).
What I like most about this book is its ability to stretch artistic sensibilities. It doesn’t just instruct photographers on how to take good portraits, it teaches them how to turn their work into fine art – how to combine images, change palettes and how to create moods – it teaches them how turn something relatively mundane into something marvelous (see the following page examples that describe how the vivid, lively cover image was created).
One other caution: iPhone apps evolve all of the time, so over the long haul, some of the approaches and screenshots may not look the same or work the same, and some of the apps might even disappear from the app store. Like all good art books though, much of the value here is helping people think about how to execute on their chosen passion—how to think about their approach, rather than the particular tools used in execution.
With The Art of iPhone Photography Weil and Fitz-Gerald unleash a wonderful volume of step-by-step tutorials for how to truly transform point-and-click camera phone photography into high art. Hell, the book is a visual feast worth looking through even if you never plan to recraft your own images—but be warned, maybe you will be inspired by the pictures, and by how easy it is to apply many of the techniques, and decide to up your game anyway.
The Art of iPhone Photography by Bob Weil and Nicki Fitz-Gerald
Available at Amazon.