Photography: Snapshots from the Field

While out in the field, we’ll often post photographs from the locations, activities or subjects with an iPhone. You probably caught some singles of rock climbing or mountain biking on our Facebook page during a recent stint in the Southwest. And most recently we were able to share images during a magazine assignment in Alaska’s remote Wrangell-St Elias National Park after getting ‘service’ higher on the mountain. By the response it’s clear that folks like these snapshots from our adventures and travels. It is also evident that not everyone is in the know that the photography is done with a little 4.8 oz smart phone.

My biggest challenge with iPhone photography has been depth of field; everything is in equal focus from foreground to the horizon. The challenge is to get the subject to stand out a little bit from the background. This has been a problem that plagues all digital cameras with tiny sensors. An application called TiltShift Generator has become one of our favorites. We use this app to give the subject some separation from the back and fore grounds. Or as someone put it; “that fuzzy look”.

Quickly we realized that the 5-mega pixel camera in the iPhone 4 could be used to make some pretty decent snapshots, but it is post processing these ‘flat’ images that really allows you to get creative. Armed with a dozen or so apps, I shoot with a certain process in mind. Second place on the favorites list is held by the Hipstamatic app. We’re fans of plastic cameras and usually carry a Holga or Diana in our kit.This app is the iPhone equivalent (kinda) in that it can add texture and mood to the image. This winter we stopped in on a local First Friday show of Hipstamatic photography by a trio of avid iPhone photogs. Hundreds of 8″x 8″ prints crowded the walls making for a very fun and creative show.




The Best Camera app was commissioned by Seattle-based photographer Chase Jarvis as an all in one shoot-process-post machine. Jarvis saw the potential of mobile photography to become the new snapshot and created a network for sharing these images. This was one of our first apps that applied filters to a shot image and still remains a fav. Best Camera has a certain way of applying processes that creates several unique effects. I call this one ‘blue steel’…

Lastly I’d highlight an app called MoloPix that can be set to capture multiple images and automatically combine them into a collage. This turns our iPhone into a multi-lens camera popular in lomography (sorta). I like to use this app as a kind of motor drive. The manual shooting mode is great for capturing action sequences, either on the trail or out after a day on the trail at the bar. This sequence was taken in a dimly lit Anchorage dive bar on an unforgettable night out with friends. I love how this sequence tells a little story. The other thing about this photograph is the proof that our iPhones have become the snapshot devices that candidly record our lives. These are not ‘just’ pictures taken with an iPhone, but rather moments and memories every bit as important as those captured with our Nikons. Turned out that night downtown would be the last time we’d all be together and the camera phone photo files are irreplaceable. You can bet that they’re triple archived just like all our work.

Take a few minutes and let us know some of your favorite camera phone apps or techniques in the comments section below.

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