Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

iPhone Photography Tips & Tricks III

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 5, 2012

Perhaps you’re read the two preceding entries in this series.

That would be “iPhone Photography Tips & Tricks,” and “iPhone Photography Tips & Tricks II.” (Had to clear that up, you know. It never hurts to be certain, right?)

Apple continues to improve the camera application on their iPhone, and in the 4S, the resolution of the camera has reached 8MP, and sports all-new optics. Not only does it shoot 1080p HD video, but it boasts a  f/2.4 aperture, improved backside illumination sensor, excellent auto white balance, advanced color accuracy, face detection, and reduced motion blur.

As well, the 4S model iPhone has 60 percent more pixels than the camera on iPhone 4.

While the improved camera sensors in the iPhone 4S have increased its sensitivity, it is ultimately the glass that makes any camera’s pictures worthwhile. And the appearance of a five element lens in conjunction with a larger aperture allows better quality light, and more light to reach the camera’s sensors, which results in a clearer focus and significantly improved pictures, overall.

However, those hardware improvement don’t say much about other really cool integrated camera features in iOS 5. And just so you’ll know, iOS 5 will work on the iPhone 3GS,  iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, iPod touch 3d & 4th generations.

One useful feature available on all iOS devices is the ability to take a picture using the Volume UP rocker switch or button. A picture no longer has be made by tapping on the screen. Simply mash the Volume UP key while in camera mode and a picture is taken.

As noted previously, the ability to zoom and a Rule Of Thirds grid have been added. By the way, spot metering & focusing have been features in iPhone since Day 1.

Again, just so you’ll know, to spot meter, simply touch the screen on the area you want to meter. The camera automatically focuses on that area. (For those who don’t know what a spot meter is, there are links in this and other entries that explain what they are.)

Now, let’s talk more about the camera app improvements in iOS 5 – which also includes HDR processing ability. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Here’s what that means. Our eyes are magnificent marvels of Creation. There is no camera made that has the ability to see the extremes of range that the human eye can see, and see it simultaneously. The visible range of light – from extremely low (less than one candle in a large room), to extremely high (think of powder white snow on a clear and sunny winter day) cannot be duplicated in one image. Either the shadows are “blocked up” and underexposed, or the highlights “blown out” and over exposed. Both are cases in which details are lost in the resulting image – one in shadow, and another in highlight.

The way to remedy or “fix” that problem is to combine at least two separate images of the exact same scene, one which is exposed for the bright and highlighted areas, and another which is exposed for the dark and shadow areas. Ideally, when making a HDR image on a larger computer, at least two additional images should be used, both of which should be exposed for the mid-tone, or average lighting. Yet it’s possible to obtain a reasonably good HDR image using only two images.

The iPhone 4S has built-in processing hardware that allows the functionality of the HDR in iOS 5. The 3GS does not. The functionality of the HDR image is software based, and is integrated in the iOS 5. However, the processing “horsepower” necessary to render the photograph is not present in the 3GS model.

Remember: These are very sophisticated computer algorithms and processing ability we’re discussing. None of this ability was present 10 years ago on any computer, much less on a smartphone, which were also non-existent.

The following features all work on the iPhone 3GS, which is the model I use.

iOS 5 camera iPhone integrated editing feature

iPhone test screenshot with iOS 5 showing the integrated photo editing feature. Across the bottom, from the LEFT, are icons for 1.) Rotate Image; 2.) Enhance Image; 3.) Red eye reduction, and; 4.) Cropping

The screenshot to the LEFT shows the integrated photo editing features of iOS 5.

In order, across the bottom, from the LEFT are icons for:

1.) Rotate Image – tap once, and the image rotates 1/4 turn counter-clockwise (90° LEFT);

2.) Enhance Image – tap to turn on, and it automagically adjusts several different parameters. (While the exact parameters of “enhancement” may be a closely-guarded topic with Apple, we do know by observation that lighting and contrast are adjusted, while color balance and sharpness may also factor in.);

3.) Red Eye Reduction – tap once and the red reflection appearing in eyes when flash is used, disappears, and;

4.) Image Cropping – tap once and an options screen appears.

When the Crop Photo screen appears, there is a small button across the bottom center of the screen that reads “Constrain.” There is also a 9 square grid with emboldened corners that appears in the background.  Again, to crop a photo is to adjust its size and dimensions. Also known as “aspect” – which is the ratio of width to height – it has traditionally been measured in inches, but is more accurately expressed as a ratio, no matter the measurement used. If you choose “Constrain,” the following 9 pre-set resizing/cropping options appear.

1.) Original size photo;
2.) Square;
3.) 3 x 2.
4.) 3 x 5;
5.) 4 x 3;
6.) 4 x 6;
7.) 5 x 7 ;
8.) 8 x 10, and;
9.) 16 x 9

Simply choose the aspect ratio that suits the photo, and move the photo around – including zoom in, or out – within the defined constraints of the aspect you’ve selected.

However, if none of those 9 options meet your needs, you can create your own unique crop. Simply press the “Cancel” button at the bottom of the screen for the 9 pre-set cropping options, and adjust the crop lines on the image to make the custom crop. You can even tilt the photo up to 45° LEFT or RIGHT.

By touching the outer grid lines or corners, and moving your finger across the screen, the shape and aspect of the grid changes. Once you have made the aspect you want, the image behind the grid can still be enlarged or made smaller by using the same pinch/squeeze technique that zooms in and out when viewing a photo.

In the Crop Photo screen – seen below – there are 9 pre-set resizing/cropping options available. The other, smaller photo, is a highly unique crop, one that is outside the typical 9 pre-set parameters. As well, the image behind the crop is tilted 45° RIGHT.

iOS 5 Camera, Integrated Cropping feature

iPhone Camera with iOS 5, showing the Integrated Cropping feature

This screenshot photo demonstrates a highly unique image crop and 45° tilt.

This screenshot photo demonstrates a highly unique image crop and 45° tilt.

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