Apple has just introduced a great new web page with quick video tips on how to better use the iPhone 7 camera.  It’s great to see Apple do this, as they come up with so many new features for their various apps that go unused unless you see someone use it (or have a teenager that says “No duh Dad, you didn’t know that!” when you get excited about figuring out how to use Siri to search Netflix movies on your Apple TV, duh…).  Here are a couple of great iPhone camera features/tips to note to help improve your pictures:

  1. Focus & Exposure Adjustment. In several of the video vignettes they demonstrate how you can choose the area of the scene you want to focus by tapping on the screen and then simply slide your finger up or down to adjust the lighting/exposure. This will be a game changer if you weren’t aware of this feature, as many of us just point and click and hope for the best.  The phone already does a great job of auto focusing and auto exposure, but this feature allows you to really hone in on your subject and set the exposure you want.  The advantages and usage of these features are best highlighted in the Close-up, Without a Flash, Street Light, Bold Color, Golden Hour, Sunset Silhouette and Backlit Subject videos on the webpage.
  2. Portrait Mode with Depth Effect. Cool feature for mimicking a more shallow depth of field, but note this is a digital manipulation of the scene.  Works great on small images for Instagram or Facebook mobile, or even 4×6 prints, but I wouldn’t use it if you’re hoping to get an 8×10 picture out of the shot. IMHO (In My Honest Opinion) the edges of the picture where the Depth Effect start to take place look like poor quality Photoshopped images to me, with blurry skin and clear demarcation lines where the digital manipulation is taking effect.  Great feature for small images though.
  3. Vertical Pano. Great little a-ha moment!  I have used pano for many landscape (horizontal) images, but never thought about using it for vertical scenes.  Would be interesting to see how the iPhone does in processing vertical distortion as you pan up a sky scraper.

Interestingly the Apple webpage did not include a vignette about the iPhone camera’s HDR option.  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The dynamic range of a scene tells you how different the brightest parts of the scene (the highlights) are from the darkest parts of the scene (the shadows). The human eye can see a much greater dynamic range than any camera, including the camera of your iPhone.  This is why sometimes (especially in backlit scenes) your eyes can see the details in both the persons face and beautiful landscape/sky behind them, but when you take the picture, either their face is too dark and the sky is colorful, or the exposure on the face is perfect, but the sky is blown out (mostly or all white). All cameras have a limited dynamic range, so what professional landscape photographers do is put the camera on a tripod and take multiple exposures of the scene, adjusting for the lights and darks, and then combine the images in post-production.  Now-a-days, there are many cameras and applications that do this automatically for you, including the iPhone.  The next time you are trying to take a picture where there is a lot of light and dark areas in the scene (and you want to capture more of the detail in both), try turning “on” the HDR option when taking a photo and see if that gives you the image you’re looking for.

Check out Apples “How to shoot on iPhone 7” web page (CLICK HERE) – some great stuff there on how to improve your iPhone pics like a pro!



Just saw a FANTASTIC documentary this weekend about street photographer, Vivian Maier. Interesting thing was that her amazing talent was not discovered until after she had passed away, and may have gone completely unnoticed, if a young historian (John Maloof) hadn’t purchased her negatives at a storage auction for $380 (greater than 100,000 images). The documentary does a masterful job in taking us on the journey of how Maloof (through his own compulsive behaviors) looked to unravel the mystery of who was this prolific photographer, where she came from, why did she take so many pictures, and why did they go unnoticed for so long.  It’s a captivating story of an artist who recorded history in her own unique way, for her own unique reasons, and lived a life of solitude without ever being recognized for her amazing work (which is on par with famous street photographers like Dorothea Lange, Garry Winogrand, and Henri Cartier-Bresson).

Vivian Dorothy Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer. Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago’s North Shore, pursuing photography during her spare time. She took more than 150,000 photographs during her career, primarily of the people and architecture of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, although she also traveled and photographed worldwide.

In a “small world” scenario, there is a portion near the end of the movie where they interview some of her neighbors who talked about the “old lady on the park bench”.  I immediately recognized the location as the Rogers Park Beach, where I just happened to take the picture below during our recent visit to Chicago in June.

Check out the movie trailer below.

M o r e   i n f o