PRT140 – A Unique Vision

This week we’re talking tips and apps to help us when we take photos with our mobile phones. Come listen!

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  • lararead

    Great show and topic! Thank you! My point and shoot died over the summer and instead of buying a new one I have opted to go with the iPhone5. I haven’t printed any pictures yet but they look great on the screen ;) when we went on vacation in FL last summer all we took were are phones and it was so nice not to have the big SLR to worry about. I’m even using some of them on my Christmas card they look so great.

    In the discussion the mention the app Camera Plus. In the app store I see a ‘Camera+’ and a ‘Camera Plus’ do you know which particular app they use?

  • meredith winn

    hi lararead, i think i can speak for stephanie and myself when i say that we are using “camera+” … it might even say “tap tap tap” somewhere in the description too :)

    i’m glad to hear you opted for the iphone5! good choice. happy shooting!

  • Pepper

    Hello Noell, firstly thanks for the AWESOME show(as always)! I’ve been listening to the roundtable for a year, and thought it’s about time for me to jump in and leave a comment :p (I listen on the go, everytime i listen , i reallllllly have something to say and almost blurp it out, but when i sit down infront of my com, the thoughts got lost! now that I have the time to just sit down and listen in front of my comp, i thought i can chime in here :)

    Love this topic! I’m an iphone girl too, and the only kind of apps i’m most willing to spend money on is either organisation apps or PHOTOGRAPHY apps ! My phone is overloaded with photography apps, and it just keep increasing! I thought I could share a few of my favourites :)

    First would be Camera+ , like the panellist mention, it’s really a great app! I My favourite thing about it is that I’m really surprise with the depth of field that it can give, even without applying any filters, it’s slightly better than the original photo taken using the normal iphone camera. I recommend Noell you might want to try this app while you’re on your “task” of not using your SLR for a week! (tell us if you’re sucessful , I would love to hear about your experiences . and good luck to you :D )

    Next favourite would be Instagram. Love their filters. However, the built in camera isnt as good as the normal iphone camera or the camera+ . I usually take with my camera+ camera and import into instagram.

    Another of my fave is Hipstamatic! Love this app! My favouite thing about this app is it takes really sharp and clear images in places with good lighting. That’s why they are able to print the photo in large sizes like 10″ or even 30″ canvas! It works like this, you choose a combination of lens, flim and flash :) there are like 20 of each type, so you can really get a VARIETY of looks :)

    For simple editing of the contrast, vibrance, sharpness and temperature of photos, try Camera Awesome by SmugMug. It think it’s a free app with lotsa cute stuff in there :)

    Lastly , i found a book in my local book store title “Iphonography”, which gives a list of iphone apps and ways to use them!
    -Tilt Shift focus,
    -photo fx
    -perfectly clear
    -shake it photo
    – cameramatic
    -irish photo suite

    Just to name a few. I have not personally tried them. Anyone who tried them can share their experience with the apps? And which to try which not to ?

    I love that Tracey really takes photo using her phone most of the time, and she shots beautiful photos ! For daily life, I shoot using my iphone, and for larger activities or outings such as birthday celebration, I will then lug out my DSLR (I shoot canon too :D) Sometimes, the large SLR tends to scare people away. When i’m with My friends who are more camera shy, I will use iphone, it’s less “scary” in that sense ! If i take out my slr, some of them will shun away from the frame, whereas if I use just iphone, people join in! I guess the general public (non photography people or non scrapbookers? ) are more comfortable with a smaller camera? Haha! Just a thought. I don’t think it’s quite so appropriate to bring my slr to school everyday, although I would love to ! Next semester is my final semester in school, hence my aim is to bring my slr to school everyday and take snap shots of different places that is meaningful to me, and of people and just candid shots of my course mates, and even people sleeping in lectures! (Probably I will call the School version of Ali Edwards’s Week in The Life project !)

    Finally , I have a question for Noell regarding your photography. you mention you love taking photos from different angles & perspective , like you mention in one past episode that you took pictures of you & your son holding your waist . I would love to do something like that, it feels like filming photos of my story. But it’s hard to always find good angles , position the camera and etc. I love the fact that we can capture moments using camera but it’s something we need to do intentionally. While I love the capture those moments, I want to feel and enjoy the moment too. By the time I get the camera set up, I will lose the feeling I have for that moment . Like for example whenever I want to take down the pics of me n my boyfriend, he sometimes will stop me and say things like “as long as we enjoy it and remember it, it’s good enought, so you don’t have to take pictures of everything” I do agree to a certain extend, but on the other hand i wish i could capture it too . I don’t have memory like his and wish i can remember moments even when I’m 70,80 years old. How do you actually take those pictures especially when there is only 2 people , and how do we find a balance between taking down the moment and allowing ourselves to totally enjoy the moment and not think too much about it ?

    Whoops , I guess this long comment is a result of surpressing for 1 entire year of listening to PRT! Hope you guys dont mind!

    Pepper from Singapore

  • Hi Noell and Izzi,
    A great show with the Shutter Sister ladies. You all had some interesting advice. I noted that everyone was using a company to print photos. I wondered if any of the other listeners have tried one of the newer home printers to which you either connect your phone via WIFI or email the machine ??

    I have a final plea…. Is there any advice for those of us who do have an Android phone? Which apps are good/recommended? I am using Instagram to get vintage feel and then Photo Shake to make quick multi photo image.


  • Jennifer

    I listen to PRT, but I actually have a membership question. I put the membership on my Christmas list. Is there a way for someone to get me a membership right now, but without having to use my e-mail address so I won’t know I got it until Christmas?

  • This is a really helpful comment! It’s nice to see these tips written down. Izzy and I took and printed some pictures with Hipstamatic and loved the process. But it was in a nighttime outdoor setting, so I didn’t know the quality is any better than Instagram. But now that I think about it, they were pretty good quality for having been shot in the dark. So I’ll have to play with that one again.
    Also — remember how we talked about mind wandering in the mail section? I think you had one of those moments because that book you mention — Iphonogrraphy — that’s the book that our guest, Stephanie, wrote! :)
    A question I have for you — with all these apps you use and enjoy, how do you choose what you’ll use at any moment?
    And one last comment before I answer your question — excellent point about how camera shy people jump into an camera phone photo. We think of it more as social play and not a photograph that will cement our awkward frozen image in time for ever. Very, very interesting and valuable information!
    To answer your question: I never interrupt “a moment” in order to capture it. I don’t believe in sacrificing life in order to have pictures of a life I didn’t fully live because I was behind the camera. So how do I get the pictures? My “rich” life moments and my camera moments happen at separate times. Much of my life happens without my camera and without photos.
    So if I have a camera around the moment is casual and fun, then I’ll shoot for a minute. Then I put the camera away and get back to enjoying myself. At an event I usually pull my camera out just once.
    That photo with my son wrapping himself around me — I happened to have my camera in hand and there had a been a million other moments just like that when I did NOT have my camera with me. So when he did that while I had my camera ready to go, I thought, “This is something I experience every day but at some point it will be gone.” So I snapped a shot from my viewpoint. I probably could have gotten a “better” angle had I posed us, but that wasn’t the point.
    I don’t take lots of photos with lots of different angles of the same thing like some scrapbookers do. Sometimes I try one, and sometimes I try 3 or 4. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to get 25 or 50 or 100 photos of something. Also, I practice a lot at times when I’m not trying to capture anyone. It’s just practice with inanimate objects. Then when it’s time to capture a moment I’m already fairly practiced.

  • Hi, Jennifer! thank you for your interest! I guess they’d have to purchase it using their own email and then they could forward the membership welcome email to you on Christmas day. At that point you could email me to have me switch the email on file to your correct one. :)

  • Kelly

    I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but I’m looking forward to it! Forgive me if this was answered in the show, but I’ve been wondering if Tracey’s Art of Composition class will be appropriate for iPhone users. I don’t have a DSLR, but would still love to improve the pictures I take. Thanks!

  • Yes, it’s totally appropriate. She spent time specifically on that, plus all of the content applies to composing the shot for all cameras. It will definitely be worth it to take the class!

  • Pepper

    Hi Noell! Thanks for the quick reply! *big grin*

    Oh gosh, my mind did wander indeed ! I must check the book out again! Yay to Stephanie for pulling together such a great book :)

    As for your question , I typically use Camera+ to shoot photos everyday, because I like the depth of field it gives without even adding filters. So what I usually do is I enjoy my day, I will those photo using Camera+ , WITHOUT choosing a filter , and save it for future post processing! Because when we are outside, eating dinner, catching up with friends, travelling and etc, I won’t want to stop and choose the filters and get disconnected from my friends! Or like last week while I was soooo busy with my school work that i hardly wipe out my iphone to shoot (cos practically it’s just me and books ) , but when something interesting happen, I do still take a photo, I do have the urge to share , but I hold it back , put my phone aside and keep studying . And when i’m finish with the day, I go to my phone and look at all the photos i took from that day and take my time to choose which filters to use and such . Like Izzy mention in the show, one big difference in using SLR and using Iphone to shoot is that , in using SLR we need to select the settings first, while with iphone , we can shoot everything normally and add the filters in conveniently later on :) (not talking about big editing programs like photoshop, lightroom, aperture etc)

    Not only can we add the filters later, the convenience is also in that we can add lots of layers of filters to the photo, across different apps. Because each app is great with a certain feature :) For me , I use camera+ to kind of increase the exposure (one of the “filters” can really brighten up the photo alot) Instagram is able to add a soft touch to the colours of the photo. If I want a black and white photo with alot of contrast, I will choose a certain film and lens from Hipstamatic . If i’m shooting portrait photo , I will use moreBeaute to soften the complexion colour :) Ok and the list goes on. But all these came from my “experience” of playing with the different apps and all these come AFTER I take the photo, most of the time during my free time, on the go while i’m on train to school, or at the end of the day on my bed! I love the convenience of it. Surely, SLR + those awesome big programs on computer give a really GREAT quality photo , there is no way we can compare. BUT what’s important to me is the convenience :) Because I dont have the time to process photos on computer, I can “process” them on phone :) It’s a give and take thingy ya ? :)

    *ooh by the way, just to add a little something, too many layers of filters can make the photo grainy (noisy?) So i usually do a max of 3 layers. And it depends on which filters, some give really grainy effects which i tend to avoid

    *another point, Hipstamatic the only app( so far i tried) which do not allow post processing ! We cannot import photos into the app and edit it. it’s more like an slr, choose our lens and film and we’re good to do. So we have to get the combination right!

    I think I get your point Noell (correct me if i’m wrong ) I did something like this before too. There is this stretch of road at which me and my boyfriend first met! (well we know each other for long time before, but that was where we start chatting with each other, exchange numbers and start to connect). And we always remember how it happen. It’s like a cross road and our life kind of intersects from there! I always want to do a layout on this topic, but i dont have any pictures from that day of course haha! Who knows? We didnt expect that we are going to connect from there. And then recently, we had a little walk near his neighbourhood, and we walked pass that stretch of road! And we had some free time, hence i asked him to post a few post for me to take some pictures haha! Ok, i know it’s not the best possible idea, but i think something is better than nothing? We took a self portrait of both of us on that road too :) Although the real actual event cannot be captured (I always wish there is this camera in my eye, which can RECORD everything i see every moment i go through for future reference haha. And I fantasize to be like a movie character, so that my life got recorded in a third person point of view. Either is fine! really! oh well, some fantasy haha ) , I think it’s more important of how i feel, like you mention , it’s not the best shot , but that wasnt the point :)

  • Madeline Rains

    I loved this round table. Such articulate, wise guests with great practical info. I have Stephanie’s book (the first version) and LOVE it. I went to a gallery show of iphoneography which featured her work, in Atlanta, and can say that the quality of these photos, even blown up, was extraordinary. Stephanie is uber talented as a photographer and as a blog writer. I will buy the book’s second version for Christmas for myself. : )

  • Jen

    Thanks so much for answering! I was just jumping on here with the exact same question :)

  • crazymathchic

    I loved this show!! I really love the concept of using the iPhone to record everyday life – in fact, i bought my first iphone about a year ago for this very reason. I have one questions for all of you ‘iPhone’ photographers out there though — which iPhone are you using?? Mine is an older one – the 3GS – and because of budget issues (and the need for a jail broken phone – I’m on tmobile, so I can’t get an iPhone with my cell plan) I’ll probably be using this phone for awhile. So do you all think that “iphoneography” is do-able with a 3GS, or do you really have to have at least a 4 or 4s to get good photos? I do have camera plus, snapseed, and a few other photo apps, but l’ve always felt like my photos just don’t look as good as I’d like.

  • Nicole Hoffman

    My spouse is getting me a new camera for my birthday, a DSLR to upgrade from the point-n-shoot I’ve been learning to use. But my phone has been acting funny and I’m wondering, after listening to this episode, if I should just give in and get the new iPhone 5?! I feel as if the DSLR would help me learn more about and practice focusing, lighting, etc so I could apply that to my photography on any device/camera. I know that “the camera you have with you is the best camera”, but I have resisted getting an iPhone and now hope that spending money on a DSLR won’t be a waste. I learned a lot listening to this show, and I can relate to the problem of lugging a big camera around to restaurants, the kids’ schools, on errands. I don’t see me ever “going pro” with my photography, but it is a hobby that got me into scrapbooking, and I really want to get better at it. Noell, I am looking forward to hearing how your week of taking iPhone pics turns out; maybe it could help me with this dilemma

  • LOVE Meredith and it’s been fun getting to know Tracey and Stephanie through this podcast. So awesome to hear Noell, Meredith, and Izzy in my ear this week. Love you guys and love your show–so energizing! Thanks so much!!! =)

    PS: My husband and I call the little Sun-Shaped Contrast filter in Instagram “The Awesomizer” because it has such an awesome impact on our iPhone pics. =)

  • So it’s only been 3 or 4 days now but I had immediate improvement just by taking more thinking more about the way I compose my shots. I’m a lot happier with my uPhone photos now and having fun.
    That said, I would never replace my DSLR with it. I’m not saying you should buy one or the other. this is just my opinion for me. Here’s why:
    1. I value high quality photos as one of the most important ways to preserve my family’s memories and phone photos are low quality, even if you’re really good at it.
    2. I don’t like filtered effects. I like my photos bright and crisp and it’s just not the same as what I can get with my DSLR, even though I’m suddenly enjoying my iPhone photos.
    The reason I wanted to improve my phone photos was because I wanted to share photos immediately and easily on Facebook the pics I take with friends, and so that I can take pictures I like when I don’t have my SLR. I’m using my SLR less, but for me it’s not a replacement.
    I’ve always believed the camera is the #1 best scrapbooking tool to invest in and I didn’t buy a die cutter or tool that cost much until I’d invested in a good camera and photo software.

  • Jessica B

    Hi Noel! Thanks for this how, it was full of some great tips!
    I wanted to add my two cents to your question about tips of how to avoid shaky photos with the iPhone. If you are using the Camera+ App you can use the Volume + button on the side to control the shutter. This has helped me take steadier photos, since I don’t have to move around to tap the screen. Also, if you are wearing your headphones with the volume control button, you can use that Volume + button to release the shutter as well. It kind of works like a shutter release remote on a dSLR and that has been very handy for me!


  • Jennifer G.

    I am so glad that you are doing this show. I have a really old iphone, but am hoping to get at least a 4s soon. I love taking photos with it and I love that my children use their i devices as well to take photos. One child has an ipad and another child has an ipod touch. The other one borrows my phone occasionally. It is fun to pull photos off of their instagram accounts and off of their photorolls. Helps me have a different perspective of how they see things. Love the pointers from this eposide.

    On another note, I am a very basic scrapbooker. A little paper, a little embellishment, a lot of photos, and some journaling. I use mostly CM products for the creative coordination (because I am not very creative in general), but have been using other products more and more as time goes on. Our children got a few new clothes this weekend and I actually kept a few of the tags for repurposing in my scrapbooking or to cover as tags. First time and I am very excited about using each of them. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  • I love using clothing tags, too! I think I even have some videos in the membership where I show how I use them sometimes.
    Love your comment about how interesting it always is to see how and what our children shoot. I’m always fascinated by this too!

  • ra_life

    So, what do you guys think about Instagram changing their terms and conditions this week? Will you still use it?

  • Karen Poirier-Brode

    Just a comment to say how much I enjoyed the show. I usually listen on my iPad (and commenting using that device is not easy). I do remain a regular listener.
    Wanted to comment on this episode because I liked hearing more from these women; so, have checked in here on my computer. I went to the Shutter Sisters Oasis retreat this year and got to meet these wonderful women in person. Oasis was awesome! Loved the informative lectures and all the personal encouragement. iPhoneography was a topic well-featured at the retreat as well as self portraits, underwater photography, still life photography, and my old love – Polaroid photography. Really amazing retreat and such wonderful sisterhood.Tracey and Stephanie’s books are great. I have Stephanie’s original Art of iPhoneography book on my iPad and found the information helpful, though I think my iPhone photos are no where near what i like to capture in contrast to my DSLR. However, I’m not lugging that DSLR everywhere. I guess I better follow Tracey’s advice and practice! BTW, I also took Tracey’s class at BPC and it really is helpful.

    Also, wonderful to hear about the Mac world conference and that a day will be all about iPhoneography. Sounds really interesting.

    Stephanie’s book Lens on Life: Documenting Your World through Photography is a great book too and I loved learning about her charitable foundation, Lens on Life, where children in underprivileged areas use old iPhones to document their stories and learn the skill of photography and can use their photos to help their impoverished families. really wonderful.

    Hope to be able to say “Hi” to you, Noell, and to izzy at CHA. Gosh! that’s right around the corner.

  • Hi! Nice to hear from you again! Glad you’re still listening! :)

  • Tiffany W.

    I really enjoyed this podcast because it made me think about the ways I am using my iPod touch to take pictures and how I use those pictures in scrapbooking. My comment would be too long to put here and I included some pictures of two layouts I made, so I wrote a blog post about it.

  • I had no idea iPods have a camera in them! Thank you for sharing! :)

  • Joanna

    The tips Jessica shares here also work with the basic camera app on the iPhone. Also a lot of people don’t know that the iPhone shutter fires when your finger comes OFF the shutter (if you use the button on the touchscreen). So you can get better pictures by holding your finger on the shutter button until you have the composition you want and gently sliding it off. Try it out – it really helps!

  • Joanna

    I waited until I could get a 4S – that seems to be the point where the camera became really worth using. TMobile may eventually get an iPhone… but maybe an android would be a better choice – a lot of the new phones have great cameras and can use the same or similar apps, and maybe you can get one for cheap with an upgrade or sale. But you have what you have, so – If you light your photos well you might have more success (I saw an iPhone pro fashion shot done with all the fancy studio lights – the lighting made the photos great, not the camera). Phone cameras can’t handle low light, backlighting, or motion very well, so you’re better off not getting your hopes up trying to take a photo of a toddler playing in front of a window! I guess it depends on what makes your pictures “not as good as I’d like.” You could go with a more abstract/vintage/toy camera look which doesn’t require a super sharp awesome shot… It depends what you’re taking photos of and what you want to do with them.

  • Yes, that’s what I thought, too — I was pretty positive I’d taken shots that way without the app, but I didn’t want to say anything without verifying that my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me! I did NOT realize that about the shutter firing when your finger comes off. Great to know — Love the tip. Thanks so much!

  • crazymathchic

    Thanks for the advice Noelle and guests, and also Joanna! I have been using some of the post-processing we talked about, and also using the image stabilizer in camera+, and I do think it’s improved my images. It also helps to understand the iphones strengths and limitations. Of course, I still prefer the pictures I get with my actual camera, but like everyone has said, the picture you have is way better than a picture you missed because you didn’t have a camera! I got the book iPhoneography for Christmas, and I’m going to work on improving my iphone pictures while I wait to be able to afford a few iphone. Thanks everyone!

  • Joanna

    I listened to this show, read the comments, listened to the following show and guest comments, and suddenly realized, no one has talked about the option BETWEEN a dSLR and phone camera! I have a really great camera that is a compact but also has full manual controls. It’s an Olympus XZ1, but Nikon and Canon has similar cameras. These advanced point and shoot cameras were being marketed to pros who didn’t want to use their high end dSLRs when they went on vacation but still wanted to have quite a bit of control over their images. It doesn’t have interchangable lenses, it has a basic zoom lens like a point and shoot. But you can put it on aperture or shutter priority mode or on full manual (or on full or a scene mode) and it takes really good pictures. It doesn’t threaten people the way a big dSLR does, but it takes much better pictures than my phone. And while it wasn’t cheap like a basic point and shoot,it wasn’t as expensive as a dSLR (or an iPhone). Of course it’s not as fast as a dSLR or as pocketable as an iPhone. I use it when I want to get better pictures in challenging conditions, or when we’re at an important event. I use my phone for fun pictures, instagrams, when I don’t have my camera with me or when I want to snap a picture to share right away. I LOVE it so much better than my old point and shoot and almost as much as I love my iPhone.