Can you believe that the iPhone 4 and 4S are the most used cameras for uploading images to Flickr? Yes, that means they beat out our friends at Nikon and Canon. So, it’s no surprise that books on iPhone photography are popping up, and this one, simply titled iPhone Photography: How to Shoot, Edit and Share Great Photographs, pleasantly surprised me. The author, Misho Baranovic, compiled a pretty comprehensive book that's well organized and represented by other iPhone photographers.
If you’ve resisted the urge to put down your DSLR in trade for your iPhone during your more “serious” shoots, this book just might convince you to give the iPhone a more valiant effort. At the very least, it will make you think differently about your iPhone’s camera capabilities and situations you can use it in.
Baranovic breaks this book down into three sections. After he touches on the basics, he explores apps, editing, and sharing photos. All while, he includes experts like Greg Briggs, Andrea O'Reilly, AikBeng Chia, and more, who show visual examples of their works and give insight to their work. Note that you'll want to have your iPhone handy as you read through this book. There were several times when I found myself reading a section, turning to my iPhone to try it out, and then turning back to the book for more.
The Apps Have It
The apps section was a big help and covered a fair amount of them, though I might have liked to see one or two more. In this section, you'll realize just how creative you can be with your iPhone, but more importantly, how much control over exposure and focusing you have. I think that might be one of the biggest surprises to readers who may not have realized just how far iPhones and apps have come with granting control of those two very critical aspects. He gives graphics and corresponding numbers to each feature with a detailed description of its purpose. While he personally seems to prefer ProCamera, Baranovic provides a graph that gives the low-down on others, such as the also popular Camera+, as well. Only one is free, but the others are only .99 or $2.99.
Editing, Editing, Editing
We all know that location, location, location is just as important in photography as it is in real estate. But so is the ability to edit. As Baranovic points out, the beauty of iPhone photography is the ability to edit your images right there in the iPhone. This, to iPhone photographers, is paramount to having to download or transfer an image to a computer and open it in a software program before any post-processing begins. The iPhone apps let you edit right there for instant gratification and sharing!
In the above screen shot of the book, Baranovic demonstrates photo editing in Camera+ by giving what ends up being 8 steps of editing an image. The screen shots of the iPhone help those who are visual learners and the text describes quite well the how-to. One part I found to be useful is the app, Phoster, that lets you add text to your images.
Share and Share Alike
The final section is on photo sharing and printing, and just like apps and editing sections, there are how-to steps and supporting images to walk you through a variety of options. Social media is clearly prevalent in this chapter, as he notes these statistics:
27% of all photos taken in 2011 in the United States were taken on a phone, a 10% increase from the previous year. Approximately 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day (approximately 3,500 photos a second). Facebook is now the largest photo library in the world, with around140 billion images.
He also includes tips on uploading to photo sharing sites, like Flickr, and your own website if it's hosted through Tumblr, which he uses.
I highly recommend this book, even if you're a doubter, as it might change your thinking about camera phone photography. The information is valuable to newbie photographers, and for more advanced photographers, you might learn something new, but also especially enjoy the profile interviews.
The topics covered are pretty broad. The book gives you direction on themes such as: street, kids, landscape, travel, panoramas, and black and whites. You'll also notice that there are many examples of early morning and evening or night shots that encourage low light situations as a result of advancing technology. We tend to steer clear of those with our iPhones, but as he points out, both the cameras and the apps are more than adequate to handle low light now.
There's an even balance between interviews with other iPhone photographers and their advice (done in a Q&A format) and the tutorial format he provides. This helps to break up the book and make it more interesting. The images showcased by the guest photographers are inspiring!
One thing I would have liked to seen is a bit more examples of using the flash. While he notes that it's really not good to use the flash, that it tends to be weak, it would have been nice to see some examples of perhaps fill-flash or other cases when you might want to use it. The book is also limited to the iPhone, which is certainly a niche market of many. But, readers might wonder if the same apps are available for Androids and other smart phones.
Overall, though, I would highly recommend this book to people who are already using their iPhone as a camera, for those considering it, and even for those who reject the idea. I guarantee it will open your eyes, if even to a squint, to a whole new world and level of photography. Many of the photographers interviewed indicated that iPhone photography actually made them a better photographer. I challenge you to open your mind and eyes and allow yourself to venture into this world.
iPhone Photography: How to Shoot, Edit and Share Great Photographs contains over 100 pages of very useful information on taking great photos with your iPhone. It can be purchased from Digital Photography School. It's on sale for a few weeks, and it would actually make a great gift for the iPhone photographer friend or family member. Something to consider.
Note: iPhone Photography is only available as an e-book directly downloadable and readable on your computer. There is no printed edition available (as it would increase the price too much) but you are free to print the ebook on your own printer.