Now, the iPhone is a bit like the Holga too. There is one aperture, f/2.8. Since the lens is very wide angle, there is a large depth of field. Correct exposure is dependent on the automatic metering to set shutter speed. This makes for a good test of the photographer's basic skill set and understanding of wide angle photography.
My first images surprised me. Was this capable of more than snapshots? I immediately saw the first challenge, namely holding the iPhone so my fingers did not get into the image. In addition, I was so close to the subject that it was easy to shade the subjects. Those are good basic skills to keep in mind.
A next question to me was about the wider landscape image. Could I use the wide angle to show a perspective of flower beds and their surroundings?
This image would have been better if I had a short stool to stand on, but I loved the color, and the instant review of the photo. The colors were looking pretty good too. This image was at 1/125 second and ISO 100, naturally at f/2.8. The previous image was at 1/120 second, ISO 80. I was surprised that the sensor ISO speed went down to 80.
So, I went looking for some more images. If you are photographer, you know how a few good images inspires a burst of creativity with no apparent sense of time passing.
Parallel to this discovery was the delight I felt when I could pull the image I just made into a photo editing application, and make some simple adjustments. If you can remember shooting a roll of slide film, mailing it to a processor and waiting for the return mail some week later, then this is revolutionary beyond the initial digital revolution when you could download a memory card to your computer the same day and edit. Now you can do edit and email it to someone within minutes, and it can be a pretty good image.
Here is a good example of how the iPhone can capture an unexpected creative image. We were visiting our daughter in Washington, DC this autumn and with some unexpected time, headed across the Mall to see the new monument to Martin Luther King Jr.
Just this past week, I was feeling cabin fever after a day of pouring rain, and went in search of images with both my iPhone and Canon G9 point and shoot. I wanted to compare the two cameras critically.
I think this is a pretty good image. It was made with the camera very low to the pavement in order to correctly position the reflections. Which camera would you expect to have created this landscape image?
So, after deciding on the source of the landscape image, decide which camera likely made the portrait image at that follows. It is in the same light.
Well, the first image is from the iPhone. The tipping of the Corning clock tower and the bank building suggest a wide angle shot with the lens tipped upward. This causes keystoning. The second image uses a longer focal length to limit the portion of the scene in the image. There is less keystoning. The colors are pretty good in both with a slight edge on my screen to the G9, a very slight edge.
I asked the question whether the iPhone is capable of creative photograph, and I think the answer is a qualified yes. It works where wide angle distortions are not a problem. (Note that the one common complaint is that people's faces are distorted to look bloated and warped. That is to be expected from a wide angle lens.) I do think it is important to get close to a foreground element that can fill the image. Objects in the distance become very small and are lost to the viewer.
I have begun a gallery of iPhonography in my website and hope you will visit it at:
Natural World Photography by Paul Schmitt
Here is my final image from when I was leaving clock tower area. Can you tell what it is?