a brief guide to iPhoneography, part I

No more posts from my phone for awhile! I can't make links or format anything, so it's only really good for quick, short posts. I have way too much to talk about for that!

Anyway, a couple people asked about editing photos on the iPhone. I'm not any kind of expert on photography, iPhone or otherwise, so this will just be about what I've learned so far, which is not a lot. I do know what I like, and I think I've developed something of a style, if that makes sense. So I would encourage anyone to just play around and eventually you'll come up with your own, unique style and workflow and hopefully be able to create some really lovely pictures to enjoy!

The first thing to remember is that using a camera on a phone has limitations, but those limitations can really boost your creativity. Because there aren't any settings to adjust and little you can control, you can focus simply on composition and light. I don't think it's enough to take a poorly composed picture, slap a funky filter on it, and call it good. It's important to start with a well-composed, well-lit shot. I have learned more about composition using my iPhone for the last year or so, than I have with my Nikon in the three years I have had it. I have to add that I am really impressed with the iPhone 4's ability to take sharp, nicely white-balanced photos indoors, especially in the evening.

So, let's talk about composition first. There are a couple things that can help with that. One thing I do is use an app called GorillaCam to take my photos. There are many similar apps, I like this one because it's free and has all the features that I want, so look around and compare. I've just tucked the native camera app away in a folder and never even open it, and GorillaCam is the first app on my photography apps page on my phone. Here's why I use it:

  • It has an anti-shake feature and the sensitivity can be set to low, medium, or high. That means that the shutter won't release until you're holding your phone very, very still. And that means that your photos will be much sharper. I leave it at medium, but I'll adjust it up or down, depending on what I'm doing. 
  • It has a full-screen shutter release, so I can tap anywhere to take a picture, instead of trying to tap right on that little button. This also makes for sharper photos.
  • You can show a 3×3 grid on the screen to help compose your shots (rule of thirds! If you don't know about that, then read up on it!)
  • There's a bubble level, so you can make sure your photos are nice and straight.
  • There's also some other nice features like digital zoom, self-timer, and three-shot burst, which is nice for action shots.

 What about after you take your picture and the composition is not quite perfect, or it's just a little too dark or too light or too contrast-y or crooked? To fix small problems like that, I'll open up a photo in PS Express, the free Photoshop app. The main thing I like this app for is cropping and straightening. Honestly, it's a little disappointing that Photoshop hasn't created a better app. It is free, however, so it's still worth the download. I'd love to see them create something a little more robust, I'd be more than willing to pay for it.

Let's look at an example of a photo I edited and posted a few days ago. Here's what I started with:

image from www.flickr.com

Remember all that stuff I told you about light and composition? Well, I was obviously not taking my own advice here. But it was early in the morning and a little breezy, so I did the best I could with what I had to work with. I used the zoom feature in GorillaCam, which is not ideal, since it's a digital zoom and not an optical zoom. You can see a little pixelation. I was also not happy with that branch on the left side. So I opened it up in PS Express and cropped and lightened it up a little. So now I had this:

image from www.flickr.com

That's a little better. I'm not crazy about the pixelation still, and I really want to focus on that open flower on the right, so now I'm going to use TiltShift Generator. This is probably my favorite photo editing app, and the best 99 cent app for sure. There's also a free version if you want to try it out before you commit, but it won't save at full resolution, so my advice is to just spend the 99 cents. Adding a little blur, with the focus right on that flower is getting me much closer to what I want. I also really like using this app to adjust the brightness, saturation, and contrast, so even if you don't want to add that blur effect, it's nice and easy to use to brighten up any kind of photo. The vignette feature is also really useful, and very subtle.

image from www.flickr.com

 Now we're getting somewhere. There are still some pixels showing, so I decided to try playing around with some vintage-style filters. Lo-mob is a $1.99 app that has a big selection of filters, and gives you the ability to edit a little more once you apply a filter. You can preview all the filters in a list with thumbnails of your photo, and then select one to go back to the full-sized image. I didn't do any further editing, but you can also re-size and adjust the vignetting and some other little things depending on which filter you use. I liked all three I used in that previous post, but I think this one is my favorite:

image from www.flickr.com

The scratches further hide that pixelation I didn't like, and I think the frame and the elongated shape work well with the composition of the photo. So there you go! That's the kind of stuff I often do with the photos I take on my iPhone. This was really long, and there's lots more to talk about, so I think I'll break this up into a series of posts. Coming up: some more apps I like, links to some inspiring iPhoneography, and let's talk about the ubiquitous Hipstamatic app (I have a love-hate relationship with this one). Any other topics you'd like me to cover? Let me know in the comments! 

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an iphone photo a day::number three (x3)

image from www.flickr.com

Taken with GorillaCam, edited with PS Express, Tiltshift Generator, and Lo-Mob

image from www.flickr.com

Taken with GorillaCam, edited with PS Express, Tiltshift Generator, and Lo-Mob

image from www.flickr.com Taken with GorillaCam, edited with PS Express, Tiltshift Generator, and Lo-Mob

Oh, all right Spring, I guess you are welcome to come now, you and your pretty, pink, blossoms. 

I'm not sure which version I like best, I think the first one is my favorite. What do you think? 

Tonight is knitting group, so I'll show you some knitting in the next post. I've joined the Knit Knit CafĂ© Westknits KAL, which is fun, since I haven't really done a knit-along before. 

Here are some links I've been collecting recently:

I'd like this camera case for my iPhone.

Brooklyn Tweed is going to take us on a tour of the mill where Shelter yarn is made. The series starts here. I think this will be fascinating. 

Doesn't orange-vanilla marmalade sound delicious? 

I would love one of Ann Wood's ships, but maybe I can make do with my own teacup instead. She very generously shares the how-to

I'm currently cooking a lot of quinoa. These recipes look delicious, and this one is for sure. I know, because I've made it about three times in the last two weeks. 

I like brownies, but they are so rich, I don't have them often. These seem like a really good idea. White chocolate?! Raspberries?! Yes, a very good idea.

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an iphone photo a day::number two

image from www.flickr.com

Taken with GorillaCam, edited with TiltShift Generator and Labelbox

This post is a combination of iphoneography, app review and cookbook review. Three for the price of one! The iphoneography part is self-explanatory. I try not to overdo the TiltShift Generator, but I really love that app. You don't have to do the whole depth-of-field blur thing with it, like I did here, it's equally handy to quickly lighten and brighten just about any photo. I think it's an iphoneography staple, so you should just get it.

Today's review is actually the other app I used above, Labelbox. Labelbox is free, and super fun to use for adding tape-style labels to your photos. It's easy-peasy, too. Just choose your tape style (there's 8 included, and a pack of four more you can purchase in the app for 99 cents), slide your finger across your image to apply the tape, and type your label. If you're not happy with the result, just tap and hold the tape and it will disappear. 

image from www.flickr.com

There are some limitations that I would love to see addressed, like the ability to resize or move a label once it's applied, but I can live without that in a free app. It does save your image at nearly full resolution (1435 x 1920), which is a big plus. This would be a lot of fun for digital scrapbookers, and it's also great for sharing photos on facebook and twitter. It's a fun little app well worth the download.

Labelbox - Stepcase

Let me tell you about that salad now, because it was delicious and I will probably be craving it regularly. I've still been working on my quest to eat less meat and more vegetables. I haven't been cooking much of interest lately, and eating out way too much, so I thought it was time to step it up a bit and start bringing my lunch to work more often than not, and cooking dinner on weeknights and not just the weekend. I recently picked up Appetite for Reduction, about which I've heard lots of good things, which might surprise a lot of people, since it's a low-fat, vegan cookbook. I don't plan to become vegan, and I have no fear of oil (particularly olive oil, yum!), but this is a really great book and I pretty much want to try everything in it, that's how good it is. 


So far I've made the Vietnamese Noodle Salad with grilled tofu that you see above, and the Quinoa, Kale and White Bean Stew. Mr. HeyLucy, a soup aficionado and carnivore, loved the stew and requested that it be put into regular rotation around here. I also caught him nibbling at the grilled tofu as I was packing my lunch this morning and had to swat his hand away. I kind of didn't blame him, though, because darn, that tofu was delicious, as was the whole salad. The dressing is a simple, oil-free blend of soy sauce, sweet chili-garlic sauce, agave, lime juice and some water. It's just the right blend of salty, sweet and tangy. The tofu is marinated in the dressing, and then grilled, which gives it a nice texture and a lot of flavor. I think that's one of my favorite things about the book actually, it doesn't try to make "fake meat" replacements, it's about eating good food that doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is. Everything looks really flavorful, and there are all sorts of herbs, spices and interesting ingredients used, but nothing that seems like it would be difficult to find at your local grocery store. Most stores carry quinoa now, right? 

Appetite for Reduction my be billed as a low-fat, vegan cookbook, but really, it's just a whole bunch of real, good, and good-for-you food.  

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an iphone photo a day::number one

image from www.flickr.comTaken with GorillaCam, edited with TiltShift Generator and Instagram

 I know it's crazy, but I'm not quite done with winter. I'm not tired of boots and sweaters just yet, but it seems that spring is on the way, and the daffodils are starting to bloom!

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It's app time! Since I recently mentioned Downton Abbey, I thought I'd tell you how I initially found it. PBS has this handy (free!) app that lets you preview their most popular series, it includes schedules for your local station, spotlights of selected shows, and even limited-time viewing of complete programs. 

image from www.flickr.comYou can even share what you're watching on Twitter and Facebook. I am particularly enjoying episodes of Julia Child. It's not the original French chef series, but she introduces a chef each episode and then that chef cooks a signature dish. It's a nice distraction when you're awoken at five in the morning by yet another cat fight. But that is a story for another post. Anyway, it's free, it's well-designed, polished, and it's educational. Get it! 


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image from www.flickr.comTaken with GorillaCam app, edited with Tiltshift Generator

A little over a year ago I had this great idea for a blog all about iPhone apps, that was focused more on women and creative sorts, you know, people like me and you (I'm pretty sure most Hey Lucy visitors are women and creative, except for my brothers, who are men, of course, but still creative, and iPhone users). I had an iPhone and found all sorts of app review sites, but they were mostly by men and mostly about games. I like games, but I've got Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and Bejeweled, and that's about all I really need at the moment. So I started a blog called Applesauce, and posted a whole bunch of app reviews and iphone photos, and it was a lot of fun. And developers were constantly sending me their apps, but there were kind of a lot of crappy apps being sent and it was not always easy to find the time and energy to keep up with everything, and then, a few weeks ago I managed to break the whole site. Also, I had a really good deal on web hosting for the first year, but that ran out and it was starting to cost more money and I couldn't figure out how to fix the site and I really didn't think I could keep it up all on my own, so I finally came to the decision to just let it all go. So if you were an applesauce visitor, I'm sorry that it's not there any more.

I have good news, though! I thought it would be fun to post the occasional review or photo here now, instead! I hope you won't mind, and really, it just means more posts! Recently, Mr. Heylucy's sad little mobile phone died, so we had to upgrade. I gave him my old 3gs iPhone and upgraded to an iPhone 4. Now that I have an even better camera, I need a little push to start playing around with it more and taking pictures every day. I'm still always on the lookout for nifty, well-designed apps, so I'll tell you about them and some of my old favorites that I wrote about before on Applesauce. I'll tag all app related posts applesauce, so if you are interested, you'll be able to easily find them. I hope you won't mind, and I promise this won't become an all-iPhone-all-the-time blog. 

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