iPhoneography Advice From a ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ Star
If you remember the Apple ad campaign for the iPhone…
Venice is the mobile photographer’s dream city, and its natural, historical, and architectural attractions provide a wealth of experiences to enjoy in person, capture on one’s iPhone, and of course – edit! It’s a truly unique city – criss-crossed by canals and labyrinthine alleyways – whose afternoon light illuminates the easter-egg hues that color even the most simple buildings.
A roving iPhoneographer who finds him- or herself in Venice will almost inevitably be drawn to capture the city’s many beautiful canals. These waterways, and the Mediterranean light that reflects off them, makes otherwise unremarkable images look compelling. But it’s sometimes a challenge to have multiple fields of view illuminated in a picture, since an iPhoneographer will often need to use the small yellow square in the camera app to designate the point of focus, thus rendering non-focused parts of the picture slightly darker. Take, for instance, the image below, of a canal in Venice’s Canneregio neighborhood.
It’s a fairly nice image, with drying laundry strung between two old buildings, and motorboats “parked” along the sides of the canal. The sky was actually white, as it was a somewhat overcast day. When shooting this photo, I opted to take advantage of the late-afternoon light, and therefore focused on the sun shining through the laundry [using the yellow focus square on my iPhone’s camera]. The result was that while the center of the image was nicely highlighted, the buildings on the side appear somewhat dull by comparison, and their compelling colors – pink on the left, yellow on the right – don’t really “pop” in the way they did in real life. Check out the difference between this final image and the original.
To give the magnificent architecture and color their due, I used Enlight’s Image>Adjust tool to make a few selective edits that would do justice to the beauty of the scene. I used the Tools tab to increase the image’s brightness, contrast, and exposure, and also adjusted the image’s saturation. Since, however, the center of my image was already well-lit, I really only want to apply my effects to the buildings, leaving the drying laundry and murky water with their original colors.
Notice, however, that when I increased the image’s saturation and brightness, I also washed out the laundry hanging on the line, (no pun intended). And so I’ve used the Mask>Apply tool to scrub away the increased brightness from the sheets hanging from the line in the middle of the image, as well as from the water, to keep it a sort of murky, greenish shade, so as to highlight the brightness of the scene above. In so doing, I’ve restored the buildings’ vibrant colors, while maintaining the fidelity of the my original focal point.
I was also able to use Enlight to fix up images I shot on my SLR. [Thanks to Apple’s most recent firmware update, iPhone photographers can now use a Lightning-to-SD cable to directly import photos off their camera’s memory card and edit them in Enlight]. Consider the image below, identical to the one above, except that I took it a few minutes later, and that it’s a bit more “zoomed-in” than its iPhone counterpart, thanks to a 50mm prime lens. The image still isn’t quite as bright as it was in real-life, and the buildings on either side still lack their natural luster.
I used much the same tools as before to quickly edit my SLR’s capture. I used Image>Adjust to increase Saturation, and slightly increased Brightness, as well, restoring more vibrant color to the clothes hanging on the line, and to the surrounding buildings.
Enlight also comes in handy when removing little parts of images that detract from an otherwise perfect shot. Take, for instance, the shot below, of the Grand Canal. It’s an image that captures an iconic Venice view, but you can see the side of the Vaporetto I was riding in the lower, left-hand corner, as well as the boat’s mooring rope. I could crop out the bottom third of the image, but I’d lose the scale of the water. I could also crop the left-most part of the frame, but then I would lose the symmetry of the image, as well as the pink palazzo on the left, with the Italian flag hanging out front.
What I can do instead is use Enlight’s Heal tool to replicate some of the closer waves, and “map” them over that little visible part of the boat that impinges upon an otherwise compelling shot. I chose the part of the water that looked most similar to the part of the canal where the boat was, and used the Feathering tool to make the replaced portion look seamless.
Since, however, the light on the left-hand side of the canal is a bit less visible than the center – from which I drew my “transplanted water” – I’ll then use the Target tool to identify the part of the image I want to tweak, bearing in mind that the red circle is used only to target a selected part of the image, and doesn’t actually apply red coloration.
Sometimes, the sky in a picture gets “blown out” by your image’s focus. Consider the two identical shots below, one with a focus on the canal, and the other with a focus on the blue sky in the background.
The image on the left nicely depicts a gondolier, and the buildings in the foreground are clearly visible. However, the sky, and the buildings in the background, are all but invisible. The opposite is true in the latter image. The gondolier is almost a shadow, the buildings in the foreground look rather creepy, while the sky and and buildings off in the distance are clear and quite visible. The creative iPhoneographer can easily meld the two images, using the Mixer tool.
In this case, I overlaid the image with the more visible sky and buildings in the background over the image with the visible gondolier.
I used Tools> Erase and Add to selectively add light and color to the sky and buildings in the back. After a bit of tweaking, your image looks just about perfect.
For the iPhoneographer with a passion for travel and photo editing, a trip to anywhere – especially Venice! – presents a real opportunity to produce phenomenal images. Just don’t forget your passport and Enlight!