It's somewhat ridiculous that I should even have one. It's a luxury expenditure
where the actual price of the phone is wholly incidental. Rather, the real
expense of the iPhone for most people is the monthly 'iBill'. I'm fortunate
enough to pay it, without strain - yes - but I really don't talk much
on the phone, you see (ironic to many). At least not with the same
death-grip devotion as most people in The States and now, increasingly, in
In fact, only a close circle of people have a cell number for me -
or any personal number at all, for that matter. I'm a private man,
you see - or one who seemingly exhibits what a friend refers to as a
"sociological aloofness". I, on the other hand, see it as a natural response
to the world in which we live ... and the people who occupy it. Yes, it may
seem unusual for one buffered with this psyche to have an Internet presence
at all, but the beauty of the web is that it allows for communication on
one's 'own terms'.
So, why would I pay a premium for the most expensive cell phone (more commonly,
'mobile phone' in the UK) as an object that I innately hate, both
conceptually and philosophically? As it relates to the iPhone, I was naturally
drawn to Apple's always exceptional industrial design as part of the company's
entire product ecosystem. And yes, it further functions as a 'pocket computer'
of sorts, in addition - as well as being an iPod, and all that ... As to
'The Chosen' - they could always reach me on any one of my old Motorola phones,
in any event. That was the incidental part.
Still, I would feel obligated to actually use the thing. But I can
only surf the Internet for so long at the airport with it. After a time,
I get bored, and truly prefer a more sizeable MacBook for such perusals,
in any event - or to simply pass the time by making fun of people at the
terminal in my mind. And yet, for those times when you don't want to be burdened
with a laptop, it's ... nice. I also use it to tune guitars and shit. So
it earns its keep, I suppose. Kind of. I guess.
But I also did recognize its potential as being among the slimmest of pocket
cameras for when I didn't want to dangle a digital SLR from my shoulder.
A visual note-taker of sorts, yes. But also something of an 'art tool', always
at the ready, that further inspires by its very simplicity. One simply focuses
on composition, light, and color (or non-color, if ultimately preferred).
Every tree should have its own cloud.
I wouldn't be the only one to see the iPhone camera as such, by any means.
Entire websites are devoted to 'iArt'. Advanced applications also exist to
help in the endeavor, most notably that created by photographer, Chase Jarvis,
with the 'Best Camera' app, allowing one to execute a number of PhotoShop-like
changes within the iPhone, itself. And the technical limitations of the iPhone
become an integral part of the medium - it's very 'look', much like art students
shooting with cheap, plastic Holga cameras. Deficiency, itself, is the signature
So, for those who are somewhat familiar with photography, here are some
considerations and observations as it relates to iPhone photography ...
As with most 'cell cameras' the iPhone camera is comparatively limited in
dynamic range. The highlights blow out easily to a state of 'irretrievable
white' where no trick in PhotoShop can bring those back. Ironically, the
iPhone likes a lot of light falling on the subject where these problematic
highlights will most commonly occur. As such ...
Expose for the highlights - much like older slide film - and let the shadows
fall where they may. This is sage advice for most digital cameras, in fact.
More so with the limited range of smaller image sensors. The 'selective focusing
square' on the display (from 3G-S model, forward) is also the area the camera
uses to determine exposure. It would be nice if these two functions - focus
and exposure - were separated, but I wouldn't expect it in this type of
One must remember that the 'shutter button' is on the actual screen. Initially,
there's a natural tendency to hit the soft, mechanical 'Home' button to release
the shutter. It doesn't. Use a light finger in any event. The light weight
of the iPhone is not your friend in this instance. Same for endeavoring
to hold the feather-light camera steady. A bit of practice goes a long way.
While there were those who were initially disappointed with the iPhone's
'pixel count', it's entirely appropriate for the size of the sensor. Trying
to squeeze more pixels onto its small substrate would have reduced
image quality. In actual execution and practice - with the deft use of PhotoShop
- one can coax an image that yields a serviceable 8 x 10 print. Once matted
in an 11 x 14 frame, say, visitors to your home will actually be quite accepting
of the image, not really conscious of the fact that it was shot with a cell
As it remotely relates to the above, while I have great admiration for Chase
Jarvis' 'Best Camera' iPhone application, I prefer to work the images in
PhotoShop. While 'Best Camera' is a wonderful thing for those who don't own
PhotoShop - or who simply want to tweak in the field before they send the
image to FaceBook - I find it somewhat difficult to make critical judgments
on the iPhone screen. Moreover, the ambient light surrounding the small screen
may not be entirely suitable for such tweakish refinements.
If you're on a Mac, you can make some very nice adjustments without PhotoShop
by way of iPhoto - yes, but also by just using 'Preview'. In fact, here's
a quick, dirty - and yet effective means to sharpen up the iPhone image Open
the file in 'Preview', Go to 'Tools', then select 'Adjust Color'. In the
translucent pop-up window, you'll see a sharpening slider ... As it
relates to iPhone images, pull the slider virtually all the way to the right
- yes, towards maximum sharpness. While this may seem hyper-aggressive to
PhotoShop users, be mindful that the slider in 'Preview' has a far more gentle
slope than PhotoShop. Pulling the Preview slider somewhere towards maximum
sharpness will look just about right for iPhone images at 100%. Scaling the
image down for the web involves other considerations. In PhotoShop, I tweak
with 'Smart Sharpen'. But no matter what you use - from 'Preview' to PhotoShop
- always remember to sharpen as the last step, following any other
So when you're not particularly in the mood to talk ... shoot instead. Remember
the credo of one picture speaking 1000 words? Well, for most cell phone users,
I suppose they'd still require roughly 575 images to fully convey their spoken,
non-compelling, no-interest bullshit ...