Phonetography - tips & favorite apps | Andover Photographer

April 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

My family just returned from a fabulously relaxing time away in Mexico.  When packing for the trip, I definitely wanted to bring my "big girl camera" and lenses as we were staying at a beautiful resort with it's own nature preserve complete with coral reef (highly recommend Club Med Cancun!) and had some fun cultural excursions planned.  But I also knew my kids didn't want to be constantly under the microscope either and I didn't want to lug my equipment around.  So for most of the trip I simply used my iPhone 6s.  Phones can take awesome quality photos these days - they wouldn't do well for large prints, but for supplementary memory documentation for an album I plan on making, it certainly does the trick!  And beyond the phone, there are some great apps out there to give better control of the capture and post editing.  I'll share my favorites here, what I love about each and my workflow.  I do edit every photo I plan on utilizing.  Once you've practiced a bit, it really doesn't take a lot of time.

The apps I use the most are: Camera+, VSCO, Retouch and Tadaa.  I also sometimes utilize Mextures and PicTapGo.  Mextures gives some great effects for lighting, black and white emulsions and landscape enhancers.  PicTapGo I use for quick shares with family and friends or posting images to Facebook.  I find this one degrades the image quality quite a bit so I use it for images I don't plan on printing but that I do want to enhance a bit - crop, sharpen, brighten, etc.  Not all of these are available for android, but there are similar ones out there.  The links I provide below are all for idevices.

So here goes my workflow.

Capturing the image.  I most always use Camera+.  It does have a small cost of $2.99 but it does give you better control by allowing you to easily touch the screen for point of focus and point of exposure.  You get 2 icons to move around your screen.  By assigning the point of focus, you get the control of where you want the focus to be rather than the camera which is great for all sorts of uses but particularly good when you're photographing people.  Assigning the exposure ensures it compensates for for light properly.  There are great bonus controls like Macro and Burst.

Editing the image.  Here is where I follow a workflow and may end up using 1 - 3 apps on my phone to finalize an image.

  1. Is there anything I want to remove in my image?  If so, I use TouchRetouch which is free.  This helps remove distracting elements - an individual, a car, a sign.  I used this app in both the "sombrero teddy" and black and white "departing" images.  For the teddies, there was an outlet & light switch on the wall that distracted the eye from remaining focused on the teddies.  I was able to use my finger to lasso the outlet and click a process button.  It takes a sample from what is around the area you're removing to make the replacement.  In the black and white, there was an individual on the left close to the wall that I didn't want to include, so I did the same there.  If you have a busy scene, it sometimes doesn't work quite right, but practice with zooming way in and you'll find it works quite well!
  2. Do I want to add creative blur, straighten or crop to my image?  If so, I use Tadaa which is also free.  I like this app for cropping as it gives me one additional option for crop of 16x9 and has an easy straightening tool which is great for landscapes or if there are lots of lines in the image.  I also use this to add lens blur which doesn't happen often on the phone.  Adding lens blur adds more focus on the subject matter.  I utilized this on the image at Tulum (the stone temple along the ocean) and on the black and white.  In the temple image, I wanted to create some foreground blur to help draw the eye right to the structure.  I did this to the black and white as well as I didn't want the foreground walkway or the thatch beach umbrellas to be an area of focus.  They were part of my composition, but not where I wanted the eye to land, so blurring helped put the focus on the great lines of the structure over the wallkway and my kids waiting underneath.
  3. What is my artistic vision for the image?  This is where I decide whether to use VSCO (free with in app purchases for additional filters) or Mextures ($1.99) and then I'll use the same app to enhance anything else like exposure, contrast, highlights/shadows, sharpening, etc.  Most often I will use VSCO. First, I will choose a filter - there are free ones and also some available for purchase.  There are a few that I typically use and there are both color and black & white.  Once you start utilizing the app, you'll find your favorites - those that match your style and preferences for the end result.  And then sometimes, I don't even use a filter if the image is how I want it.  After the filter is applied, then I go into settings which are all controlled by easy sliders.  Image too bright/dark, adjust the exposure.  Add some sharpening, clarity or contrast.  If it's a bright day, I will often play with the highlights and shadows which will pull back detail or eliminate shadows on faces.  

Posting the image.  I have a personal facebook account which is very straightforward.  If you love photography, I highly suggest instagram.  There are a lot of great individuals to follow and it's fun to see what others are doing and even connect with local businesses.  I have both a business page and personal page.  I keep my business page primarily for posting sneak peeks for some of my sessions and promotions.  My personal page I use mostly for my Project 366 (this is a leap year) - a photo a day, every day.  

This sounds like a lot, I know.  And usually I go right to step 3 which takes just a minute once you've practiced and found what you like to use.  But it does make a difference and can make your images shine!  Feel free to comment, message or email me if you have any questions or if you'd like some guidance on getting started!



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