iPhone PhotographyI Phone photography is growing in acceptance as a bona fide form of photography, and not merely a cute stepchild feature of the iPhone. Your iPhone is now the camera that’s always with you. It is no longer enough to think of it as a phone that can also take photographs, hardly! In fact, I invite you to look at it as a camera that also happens to make phone calls.Given this newly harvested mindset, and the fact that with each incarnation of the iPhone comes a better camera, I invite you to come along on a photographic journey. In future issues of iPhone Life magazine, I will walk you through the process of taking a raw capture and transforming it into the final image I visualized when I began. Note that every image I will present here is taken with the iPhone, processed in the iPhone and uploaded from my iPhone. I will never use any other external photo manipulation software; the iPhone does it all, but it all starts with your vision.Let’s begin. . .


Shot from SOMA disctrict in San FranciscoThe initial scene (shown above), was a moment I observed one late afternoon whilst walking along the SOMA district in San Francisco. I noticed this scene from the overpass and was immediately hit with the converging lines all seemingly running beneath me. I knew right away I had a shot that was bound to be a hit. After taking a variety of shots using multiple camera apps, I settled on the image shown here, taken with the iPhone 4’s 5-megapixel camera using ProHDR ($1.99,, as the starting point.


Shot from SOMA disctrict in San FranciscoI plan to process every image with the ultimate goal of making it my Daily Mobile Photo Upload (which you can follow on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Flickr). This means I crop every picture as a square. This mindset emanates from my days of shooting medium format film and is a format that I find lovely and challenging. Using Photoforge ($.99,, I cropped the image, boosted the contrast using Curves, and sharpened it a bit.

Ultra Contrast in Dynamic LightUpon settling on the proper crop and contrast levels, I opened the image up in Dynamic Light ($.99,, a fun but slightly limiting app that I seem drawn to for only a few looks. In this case I ended up applying Ultra Contrast first, followed by Overcooked HDR. Best of all, and the reason I wanted to dig into this app in the first place, was the application of Motion which gave it the somewhat hypnotic, almost dizzy effect you see here. Certainly a fun use of this app, Motion can easily add much life and movement to an image, and Dynamic Light excels above many apps in that it allows you to apply the effects within a wide range of intensity. What you see here is the application of Motion, dialed in at about 30 out of 100:

Motion_in_Dynamic_LightOkay, so now I have the image speaking to me as I envisioned it. Well, almost! Again, I went back into Photoforge to run another pass of Curves and then yet another application of Sharpen. Bear in mind that the adjustments I make are often so subtle that they make not even be readily apparent to the untrained eye. That being said, they are still adjustments I wish to make, all toward the end result of being completely satisfied with my final presentation of the image.

Vignette in CoolFXSo, where to next? Good question. I then opened the image up in CoolFx ($1.99, where I added a layer of Basic Black Diffusion to again enhance the contrast. Then I added a black vignette to subtly draw the viewer’s eyes inward. I find that adding a subtle vignette to the outer edges prevents the viewer’s eyes from leaving the frame, well worth the time it takes to add it, trust me.

Frame in PhotogeneGetting close to being able to present it! With the image this far along I see the need to add a border, and for that I turn to Photogene ($1.99, Here I add a custom basic black border and specify the thinkness. I used to vary my border selection with more creativity, seeing as there are no shortage of borders out there, but I came to realize that adding anything beyond a basic border became more of a distraction than anything else.


As has been the case for nearly two years, my goal with iPhone photography is to share the images through many different sites. I invite you to follow my images on Tumblr (, Twitter (@jmarksphoto), Flickr ( or on Facebook (

Should you have any questions about anything you see here, please feel free to contact me at And until next time, happy shooting!


January-February 2012
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