[Batch 11 : 21 November - 4 December] Remember when I said in my last post to watch out for the next one, because the iPhone 5 redeems itself with it? Well, this is it. Took a while to post this because of the extra work of "product ad layout" (yeah, really, ahem) but alas, here it is.
In the previous post, I "broke in" the iPhone 5 and reviewed how it's better than the 4 (which I formerly used). I named this project "365 ni Lo-Fi" because obviously, it's a daily iPhone photography setup, "Lo-Fi" alluding to how camera phone photos are mostly grainy and have obvious loss of details and sharpness, hence low-fidelity. Well, you know what, I noticed that SOMETIMES, you could overcome the iPhone's lo-fi nature. How? By having sufficient lighting for your photo. The grainy, lossy output of phone cameras (the iPhone's in particular) is brought about by low-light scenarios where the iPhone compensates by bumping its ISO. It's the same dilemma we have in using DLSRs - boost the ISO and absorb more light at the expense of introducing noise to the image. Only thing is, with the iPhone, we can't do anything if it wants to increase its ISO even if we don't want it to. It does that automatically (and that's been the feature I've been pining for - the ability to fully control the iPhone's camera settings). Since we're at the mercy of the iPhone's own metering and adjustments, sometimes we get lucky with the exposure, sometimes we're screwed.
On the positive side, I noticed that with ample exposure, the iPhone can actually produce very good quality images, those with minimal grain, high contrast and colors plus sharpness. It can be done, and with the iPhone 5, the output was better than ever. Then I noticed something as I was sorting through my 365 in Lo-Fi photos on my computer (they have to go through it so I can post them here like this). The iPhone images actually had their EXIF data intact, even after using processing, effects and other apps. Like this :
You can see even after I used the Snapseed (image adjustments) and FilterStorm (text layout) apps for this photo, the image retained the EXIF data (in this case : f/2.4, 1/120 shutterspeed, ISO 80). I noticed the metadata many batches ago, and it got me thinking : if the iPhone can use a low ISO, then the image wouldn't be that bad at all.
Now, how do you force the iPhone to use low ISO (the lowest setting I've seen is 50)? By making it "see" enough brightness. But there's a problem there : sometimes the iPhone re-meters and evaluates the whole scene (just like DSLR systems). If it sees a scene as well-lit in the center but underexposed overall, it adjusts its settings (I'm sure you've experienced this, the iPhone screen shows you an exposure, then the next second or two it shows a different exposure preview). Now, how to go around this? By quickly pressing the capture button, the iPhone will have no time to re-meter and adjust its settings. That was what I did for the photo above.
With these observations and tricks in hand, I decided to do a high-fidelity shoot with the iPhone 5. I aimed for photos that will look like they were taken by a DSLR or a high-end point-and-shoot. A product ad theme seemed like a good fit.
I don't usually show 365 in Lo-Fi photos like this (I do it in thumbnails), but to make you see the difference of this hi-fi shoot, I'm posting them bigger. Captions are provided for some info about how the photo was taken. My regular workflow for processing the photos in Snapseed include increasing contrast (lo-fi photos have low contrast), adjusting white balance, increasing details, and the center focus effect.
The Kit Lens. This experiment encouraged me to continue with the product ad theme. I used a table lamp and a video LED to light the subject. Fortunately, the iPhone metered correctly. When I transferred the file to my computer, I saw the details were there and there was minimal noise. Contrast and details adjustments with Snapseed and text layout using TitleFx later, this hi-fi batch was well on its way.
Marine. I took a similar photo (http://www.jersandelphoto.com/#/album/3458cz/photo/3407971) years ago using a DSLR. I wanted to replicate it this time using an iPhone. I didn't have the same reflective background surface to work with, but I still added the water effect. Very difficult shot. My main concern was the reflection and the iPhone changing its metering and overexposing the shot. I did the quick-trigger method like I mentioned above, and this was the compromise I accepted regarding the reflection. I like the output.
The Dreamy Fifty. A shake-my-head moment. I took this photo using the same lighting setup as I did with the kit lens photo (above). I thought it gave me the same quality output. When I previewed it on my computer, days later, there was a lot more noise than I would have wanted. Good enough, but not happy with it. Did the bokeh effect and light bue tint with Picfx.
EarPods. The iPhone 5 came with a new design of earphones that Apple excpectedly called earpods. I thought they looked cute, especially on a similar white background (this case, an illustration board). Used ambient light from the window. Boosted the exposure with Snapseed then increased the contrast. Got the look I wanted : minimalist white product photo.
Show Off. I got the idea from an automobile ad a few years ago (can't recall which brand) : garage doors closed but one was half-opened to show off the vehicle inside. So I did it with our garage and used my CX-7. It was high noon and you can see the deep contrast shadows, reason which convinced me to convert this to black-and-white. I wish I did a better text layout, though.
X100. My favorite. It all came together for this shot. The retro-look camera, the simple layout I had in mind, and the sunlight hit the back of the illustration board and gave it a brownish, textured appearance. Easy to shoot, easy to process.
Skagen. Again, I recycled an old photo (http://www.jersandelphoto.com/#/album/3458cz/photo/3407963) I took with a DSLR. The tricky part was the reflection. Once I figured out an angle where there was little reflection, it was good enough for me. It's my favorite watch, by the way, because it's so thin and classy-neutral.
Energy Loops. Two reasons I love Eneloops : they are reliable rechargeable batteries, and they come in white. I love white stuff. The hard part here was arranging the batts so they'd show the Eneloop mark. Everything else was basic.
QWERTY. I miss having a physical keypad on my phone. Since I used the iPhone as my main phone in 2010, I've been making do with virtual keys and the countless typo errors that come with it. I still hope they come out with a really good touch smartphone that also features a real keypad. That's the origin of this idea. Simple setup using window light with the phone placed on top of a laptop's brushed metal surface.
2K13. I wanted to include a basketball in the photo, but the ball I've kept already has faded markings and a little dirty, not really what you want in a supposed product ad. Again, just basic lighting using window light (on the right) and a table lamp (on the left).
Rings. This day I wanted to shoot jewelry, then I realized I don't own any aside from my wedding band and college ring. Went with the bands. I tried, but I couldn't make the iPhone's camera maintain sharp focus on both rings' text. This is f/2.4. Placed the rings on top of a video LED light.
Jag. How could I not include my dream car? Impossible. The top photo (of the Bonnet Leaper) was very tricky, I lost count how many times I repositioned myself so I didn't cast a reflection on the grill. The other two photos were quite easy, but you'd notice the tire is a bit underinflated. I always feel guilty that I don't drive the car regularly, but taking photos of it is a happy experience. Used Diptic for combining into a triptych. Text via Filterstorm.
Relief. I was looking for a subject that could be hilarious, and I found one. I know you know what the text is talking about, right? Placed the tiny pill on a laptop sleeve and made sure to include a lot of negative space for the text. Then I placed large text so the size of the pill is emphasized.
Aviator. I took this photo while on the road to Baguio (not while driving, of course). The ambient light streaming in from the windshield was perfect for the look. The sunglasses is easily recognizable, so instead I put in "no need for introduction" for the text. Because seriously, it doesn't need an introduction. Reduced saturation and slightly adjusted white balance for a soft-blue tone.
Recommended App : TitleFx
Text layout app that's simple and easy to use - especially on text positioning and spacing. Also has an array of effects backgrounds. What I find lacking is the choice of fonts. Overall, a very useful app and a good alternative to Phoster and Filterstorm.
365 in Lo-Fi
For a whole year (365 days), I took a photo with my mobile phone camera and presented them here, in batches. Lower quality as the technology is still improving, just the same phone photography has altered the way people take and look at pictures.