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Hat Photography with the iPhone

Discussion in 'Hats' started by alanfgag, May 10, 2012.

  1. I've been a Mac devotee since the 1980s, but it took me a long time to switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone. There are some things the iPhone does incredibly well - one of them is photography. As long as you have adequate light for the tiny lens, you will be amazed at the sharpness and color fidelity. And if you enjoy creative photography, there are five million apps that will help you with added effects and pizzaz. I hope some of you who use Instagram and other apps will add to this thread with your experience.

    This post is about a simple workflow I use for most of my WHAYWT thread posts. It does involve using Adobe Photoshop which is not an inexpensive program, but one that is indispensable to me. It's features are also included in many less expensive photo editing programs, so you might find this easy to replicate in the software or app that you use.

    To start off, I take a bunch of quick captures in a few different locations. I usually prefer the shots taken in daylight, but today I chose one from my office which had a mixture of natural light from the window and fluorescent light from a desk lamp. Here is the original shot.


    And here is the final image after about 10 minutes work:


    And following is what happened in between.
  2. To get the image into Photoshop, I download all the photos from the session in Apple's iPhoto program on my Mac. From here I can easily open the files in Photoshop.

    The biggest flaw in the original is the terrible color accuracy, caused by a conflict between my illumination in daylight and the office in fluorescent light. Even iPhones get confused from time to time. The process of correcting the color balance can be lengthy and difficult - I quickly made a decision to make this a B&W shot. So I created a second layer in PS and made the top layer a monochrome version. I usually like a little tone in my B&W photos, so I set the top layer with a little transparency - maybe 10%... just enough to allow a little color from the underneath layer to come through and tint the image. I also erased a little more of the B&W layer in my eyeball, but you'd never know that unless I told you! Then the layers are merged to lock in the change.

    So that quickly gets rid of the color nastiness issue.

    The tiny lens of the iPhone has a huge depth of field... which means that everything in your image is likely in sharp focus. A good camera lens is prized both for its sharpness and for its ability to create good looking areas of soft focus when used wide open. To simulate this with the iPhone, I made another duplicate layer. Working with the bottom of the two layers, I applied a Gaussian Blur filter to defocus the image. Going back to the top (sharp) layer and using the eraser tool, I selectively erased the background in the top layer, allowing the soft focus layer to show through. My eraser tool had a little transparency, so that I could defocus the furthest areas of the image more than the closest - just as camera focus would appear. The end result puts a little more "focus" on the hat and hat wearer and a little less focus on the clutter of my desktop. Again, I merged the layers to lock in the changes.
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  3. Finally, I cropped the image, getting rid of areas I thought were distracting, including the awkward arm holding the iPhone. And I adjusted the levels of the image to lighten the shadows in my face and hat. Levels in Photoshop has 3 sliders - adjusting the middle slider will adjust the tone safely, without clipping detail in the shadows or highlights.

    To finish the image, I adjusted the size from the original 5 megabytes to and 250K... appropriate for sharing on the web. Once saved and uploaded to my website, I can capture the URL and post to the Lounge.

    So that's it. Simple and subtle changes to an image that was OK to start with.

    Please add your own techniques and tips... Droids and Blackberries are welcome here too!
  4. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck One Too Many

    Three words "tap tap tap"
    One app that not only allows you to choose your focus but use another area as exposure. Then you can edit Scenes, exposure, effects , crop/size, style, borders, then save it. Load it into Photobucket with the photobucket app. Finally post on “thefedoralounge” all from your i-phone. That what I do.
  5. DJH

    DJH I'll Lock Up

    Thanks for that, Alan.
    For my WHAYWT photos, I usually just work them on my phone like Johnny - currently with the SmugMug app.

    My #1 Photoshop tip (I have to process thousands of images a week in our wedding season, so I use it a ton) is never to pay full price - find a student in your family and get the education price.

    A short time ago I got CS5.5 with Photoshop, InDesign (another indispensable program), Illustrator and Acrobat from Adobe for $299 for my college student daughter.

    Oh, my favorite Photoshop add-ons are the set of Nik filters (especially Silver Efex Pro for black and white) and a filter called Melancholytron which gives fantastic sepia images.
  6. KyleK

    KyleK One of the Regulars

    Nice write up, Alan. I'm not a prolific poster but I lurk quite a bit and always enjoy your images.
    I'll echo DJH's comments - except the app I currently use the most for in-Phone work is Snapseed. David - it's the same company (Nik) that makes Silver Efex Pro, which is definitely great! For serious, print worthy B+W, Photoshop alone isn't so hot. Now I have to check out Melancholytron. In reference to buying student licenses to Photoshop - whenever I need to buy new Adobe Creative Suite products I usually take a Continuing Ed course. You get the discount AND a semester of night classes for (much) less than the cost of the full price program.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  7. Nice info Alan. Unless you told me I never would have guessed your photos were Iphone. I am usually in a rush to work when taking my WHAYW photos, but having more time would be neat to play with photoshop.
  8. jbucklin

    jbucklin Practically Family

    Okay, it's time to lose my "Never will you see me with an iPhone" attitude and surrender to the inevitable. I have been in need a good digital camera for a while and you have convinced me that the iPhone, with all its other attributes, is the way to go. I do, after all, use my iPad an awful lot and it is just an oversized iPhone that I can't take pics nor make phone calls with!
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  9. Smartphones have certainly made it very easy to play about with images this way. I'm in the devoutly anti-Apple camp, but I do use something very similar with my Android-based handset. It's amazing what is available even with free applications. :)
  10. I have the iPhone 4s and I've quit carrying my Nikon 12 pixel camera and only use my phone. It takes very accurate color pictures in natural light. You will hae the same problems indoors as the rest of the cameras do when you try to get the exact color. I downloaded a free Photoshop and Photobucket App and I can do almost anything I want. I'd still take my Nikon to a wedding but for hat pics and Ebay pics it's gonna be be my iPhone.
  11. Thanks for the posts and additional info. The PS educational license is certainly the way to go if you have students or faculty in the family. It's amazing how a quarter million dollars in college costs can save you a bundle on software. :D

    The image processing on board the iPhone is quite remarkable compared to my older Canon digital Elph. The sharpening routine does an incredible job making up for the optical limitations of the tiny lens and miniature pixels... perhaps a little too incredible, depending on your age and amount of sun damage to your skin. I have a healthy collection of cameras and I enjoy them all for different occasions and subjects. For a daily diary type of shooting where the end result will shared at screen resolution, the iPhone is hard to beat.
  12. EggHead

    EggHead Practically Family

    If you use a PC.. I have both Photoshop and Lightroom (both from Adobe). While both work for processing photos, the difference between them is Photoshop is more for creative artists, Lightroom is more for working with photos.
    I also like Google's Picasa, it's free and can do 90% of what I do with photos usually. The only reason I got Lightroom 3+ was for it's noise removing algorithm.
    I tend to take pictures in DNG format so my choice in photo editing software is more limited.
    Waiting for iTouch 5G - if it's camera will be close to your iPhone's, I will buy it.
  13. It appears that the iphone's camera is going to kill off the market for those trying to sell the little point and click digitals we all used to swear by. I've gone from looking for better cameras to just using the iphone for photos, video and everything.

    When I started on these Bulletin boards, posting pics was a novelty. Me having an avatar with my own image was a novelty as well. Now I can post a vid, or a pic of my hats at the front door with a few clicks.
  14. Very nice photos, but can you tell me what make and model the lovely grey hat is please?
  15. gqmagic

    gqmagic One of the Regulars

    All my pictures have been with an Iphone and the camera reversed towards me, genius!
  16. hatsRme

    hatsRme I'll Lock Up

    Not too off topic, but yesterday I received an Email announcement from Leitz about their new Leica "M Monochrome" camera. It's a dedicated Black and white digital camera that boasts amazing picture quality from any perspective. Skip all those intermediary steps, Alan, focus manually, and all for about $8000! A time-saver for the purist? The images had better be amazing. Sure, I'd like to try one, but this is like the Patek Philipe of cameras! Dream, dream, dream...
  17. Kmadden

    Kmadden New in Town

    Alan, maybe I missed it — but what kind of hat are you wearing in that photo?
    It looks great!
    What's the brim width?
  18. That's exactly what i asked!

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