Lesson 84: iPhoto Mobile Editing

Yesterday, I introduced you to metadata in the mobile version of iPhoto, a free app from Apple.  Today, I thought I’d show you a combination of using one of the brush editing tools and a filter to take my photo from not very interesting to a more retro look.  I particularly like how the light showing through the leaves in the foreground (left side) looks with the black-and-white effect.

 

Your Assignment:  Download iPhoto if you haven’t already.  Then open it up and select the photo you want to work on.  Here are the steps I followed for my edit:

Lesson 83: Metadata

Apple has  made iPhoto available for free on mobile devices.  It’s always been included with OS X devices (laptops, desktops).  Interestingly, it actually has more features on your mobile device for editing photos than the OS X version has, like brush tools.

But for today, I thought I would take the opportunity to show you something that you can now see on your mobile device.  In the past, you would have needed to download your photos to iPhoto or another photo organizer/editor on your computer to see what’s called the metadata.

Metadata literally means “data about data.”  It tells us things like when and where a photo was taken (and in iPhoto, even shows us on a map).  It also tells us some interesting facts about the settings the camera chose when you took the photo.

Now, I try not to get very technical in this blog, but I think it’s worth understanding something about what your iPhone camera is doing that the meta data in iPhoto can help you understand.

Let’s take a look at the metadata for this photo:

Notice the row of info right above the map?  It says “f/2.2 1/30 4.1mm — ISO 80.”  Since I promised Gina, the inspiration for this blog, that I wouldn’t get technical on her and here I am getting technical, I’m going to limit myself to talking about only one of these numbers:  1/30.  That’s how long the camera opened its shutter to allow light in to make the image.  1/30 of a second is a pretty long time for a shutter to be open–especially when it’s hard to hold an iPhone still.

But notice this photo was taken in a dimly lit room with very little light.  The iPhone had to keep the shutter open longer to get enough light in this setting.

Now let’s look at the metadata for a different image:

Notice that this one has a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second.  That’s a much faster shutter speed.  What’s different about this image?  Well, it was taken out doors in bright sunlight.  There was plenty of light to be had.

Slower shutter speeds will allow more motion to show in your photos.  Notice how my dog’s tail in the first image is blurred.  In the second image, the tree leaves are very sharp and show no motion even though there was a breeze blowing.

By looking at the metadata in iPhoto and checking what shutter speed the iPhone chose, you can get a good sense of what lighting will make it easier to show motion and what lighting will make it easier to get sharp images.

Your Assignment:  Download iPhoto if you haven’t already.  Open it up and tap the “i” button to check the metadata on a few images.  Compare indoor and daytime outdoor lighting–what shutter speeds do you see in images in each type of lighting?  Look for motion blur.  Can you find examples of slow shutter speeds leading to motion showing in your image?

Lesson 82: Halloween Tadaa

Today, we’re going to use the editing capabilities of Tadaa once more.  In honor of Halloween, I thought I would work with a holiday-appropriate image.

The original photo taken with my iPhone 5S presents several challenges.  First, it was taken with lots of distracting background.  Second, it’s so bright, it destroys the Halloween mood.

Using Tadaa, I was able to take the image from a quick grab shot to something that has more impact.  Here’s what I did (see Lesson 82 for instructions on how to open a photo for editing in Tadaa):

Your Assignment:  Give the Tilt-Shift edit tool a try.  Do you have a photo that could be improved by blurring the stuff around the main subject?  This is a good choice for controlling the portion of the image that’s in focus.  Don’t forget to hit Save when you’re all done editing!

Lesson 81: Tadaa

 

Funk-i-fied silly dog photo
Funk-i-fied silly dog photo

Today we’re going to undertake another app.  This one is called Tadaa and it’s free.  Tadaa has a built-in camera that promises HD images.  This is not HDR, which we have experimented with quite a bit in earlier lessons.  Rather, it’s high definition.

But, I thought we’d start slowly by editing an existing photo rather than creating new ones.  So, to get started, download the app, open it up, and then tap the photos icon to the left of the camera icon.  This opens up your photo albums and allows you to select the photo of your choice.

Once you’ve got the photo open, you can apply a variety of edits.  To keep this simple, I used only 3 types of adjustments.  One of the things I particularly liked was when using the “HD Clarify” adjustment, you can flip back and forth between the original photo and the revised version to see if you like it better than the original.  I wish each adjustment had that option.

I decided to apply a funky filter to my silly dog in Doggles just for fun.  The app has many filters, but the funky one I chose is a bit more unique–I haven’t seen anything similar in other apps.  That said, I can’t say it’s one that I expect to use often.

 

Your Assignment:  Once you’ve got a photo open in the app based on the above instructions, follow these steps to do your first edit:

 

Lesson 80: Many Effects

One last quick tip on Paper Camera and then we’ll move on in the next lesson.  If you like the same photo with many different effects, once you have the photo open, you can choose an effect and adjustments and then click the diskette icon to save that version of  the image.

You don’t have to leave the screen to go to the next effect and try that one.  You can repeat this process through all of the effects and save as many versions of the image as you like.  All of the images remain inside the app until you go to the photos and save them to your camera roll.

This is a nice little timesaver if you want to, say, try many different effects on the same image and then view them on a larger computer screen later to decide which you like the best.

Your Assignment:  Pick a photo to experiment with many (or even all) of the effects available in Paper Camera.  Follow these steps to save many versions.

Lesson 79: Start with a Photo, End with a Drawing

Yesterday we used the Paper Camera app to create a sketch by taking a picture.  Today we’re going to use Paper Camera to turn a “regular” photo into a line drawing.

Paper Camera not only acts as a live-view of effects, it also allows you to apply those effects to existing photos.  This has the advantage that if you decide you don’t like the effect later, you still have the normal photo to work with.

However, you can’t create a “normal” photo using Paper Camera.  You can use Camera Awesome, the Apple Camera App, or your favorite camera app to take the photo and then open it in Paper Camera to apply the effects.

This means you can use any photo you’ve got on your iPhone to play with the effects.

Start by opening the Paper Camera app.  Next, follow these steps to open an existing photo from your Camera Roll and apply effects:

Your Assignment:  Pick a photo that you want to play with.  Follow the steps above to apply the effect of your choice.  Did you turn someone you love into a comic superhero?  Or maybe create a simple line drawing?  Did you have fun?

Lesson 78: Make a Sketch

 

Sketch up of bicycle
Sketch up of bicycle

Yesterday, I introduced Paper Camera.  Today, I’m going to show you a quick lesson on adjusting the Sketch Up effect to gain more control over the effect.

Start by opening up the Paper Camera app, then scroll through the effects by clicking the right arrow to get to the Sketch Up effect (or another one you like).

Point the camera at the subject and frame it the way you like.  You can see the effect in your LCD live.  If you don’t like the effect you chose, click the right or left arrow to change the effect.

Once you have the effect you want, you can adjust the contrast, brightness, and lines sliders to get a look you like.  Here are the steps one-by-one:

Your Assignment:  Experiment with each slider.  Raising the contrast makes the light areas very light and the dark areas very dark–you can cause some parts of the subject to disappear.  The brightness lightens and darkens the entire image.  The lines adjustment is the most interesting to me.  It thickens/darkens or thins/lightens the lines in the image.  You can get a very minimalist effect or a completely filled in look this way.

Lesson 77: Paper Camera

Today, I want to introduce another app.  This one is called Paper Camera.  It’s $1.99 and it’s available for both iPhone and Android phones.

I found this app while looking for an app that has the same levels adjustment PhotoForge has (see Lesson 76)–I still haven’t found one yet, so let me know if you have one!  I downloaded it out of curiosity, played with it a few minutes and then forgot about it.

Then, I was working on creating a graphic for a small business.  I’m not a graphics artist, so I was starting with a photo and doing all kinds of crazy things in Photoshop Elements trying to turn the photo into something that would work.  After spending hours shooting and editing, I realized I didn’t have the right composition to make the image work.

I packed up my tripod, camera, light stand, light modifiers, flash, and various accessories and headed back to the client’s location to shoot again.  I got there (feeling like a pack mule) and suddenly remembered the Paper Camera app.  I pulled it out, and with a single tap on the screen, created a graphic that will work.  I immediately got depressed.

But, you should rejoice!  This little app will allow you to create really funky stuff when you’re feeling like having a little fun.  What’s also exciting is that it will create the same effects in video.  And, you can see the effects in your screen as you’re taking the photo/video.  It’s pretty wild.

There are three things I don’t like about the app:

  1. It doesn’t save an unedited version of the photo–you only get the image with effects applied.
  2. It’s upside down, doesn’t rotate, and the volume-up button doesn’t work for shutter release.  I guess this could be 3 things, but it’s the combination of them that I find annoying.
  3. While the icons in the app are cute, if you’re someone who needs reading glasses but tries to get by without them, it’s hard to tell what they are.

That said, it’s still a lot of fun to see the world in line drawings or cartoon live on  your phone.

Your Assignment:  If you’re interested in this app, download it and try out the various effects.  Try flipping over to video with the “Con Tours” effect on.  It’s fun.  Here are screen shots of the different effects.  I’ll do some more details on what you can do with this app in later lessons.

Lesson 76: PhotoForge Levels

I previously promised I would talk about PhotoForge as an editing tool.  After I put together steps for a simple adjustment that can be made using PhotoForge (see below), I did a little googling so I could tell you how much PhotoForge costs.  Unfortunately, I discovered I apparently missed the news bulletin that PhotoForge’s development company was acquired by Yahoo in June and the app was removed from the App Store.

So, if you don’t already have PhotoForge, this lesson will not apply for you.  Sorry about that.  I guess this will be the one and only lesson on PhotoForge!

The adjustment I love the most in PhotoForge is available in a variety of editing tools (I’ll find another iPhone app for this in a future lesson).  I use it on nearly every photo I take, iPhone or DSLR.  It’s the levels adjustment.

“Levels” refers, to put it simply, to how bright or dark the tones are in a photo.  The “tones” are grouped into shadows, mid-tones, and highlights.  The left-most slider adjusts the darkest parts of the photo, the middle affects the mid-tones, and the right-most slider adjusts the highlights.  This allows you to, more-or-less, selectively change the exposure.  It gives you far better control than, say, the brightness adjustment in Snapseed.

For this example, I chose a photo that was an OK photo, but needed some punch.  Follow the steps below if you have PhotoForge to play along at home.

Your Assignment:  Try a levels adjustment in PhotoForge (if you already have the app).  Here are the steps:

20131013 PhotoForge Levels.001 20131013 PhotoForge Levels.002

Lesson 75: HDR Adjusted

Since we’ve been on the topic of HDR for a few lessons now, one thing I wanted to mention was that even when you used HDR photography, you can still gain more control over the end result of your image by doing post-processing.

Now, as you know by now, I love Pro HDR for iPhone HDR photos.  Pro HDR has several adjustments you can make before you save the image.  You can see details about those adjustments in Lesson xx.  However, that’s not quite the same as post-processing.  After you’ve saved the image, you still may want to apply some adjustments to make the photo look the way you want.

For example, let’s say I thought my sunrise HDR photo from the iPhone 5S from the Sunrise showdown was too dark.  I could use adjustments in Snapseed to brighten up the image.  That is, I could if my iPhone screen weren’t currently broken and I could see to edit on my iPhone!  🙂  Sorry, I had to cheat one last time and edit in Aperture.  But, my replacement phone is on its way!

So, imagine this was edited in Snapseed:

I tend to be fond of darker images with strong contrasts, so I’m not particularly enamored with this edit.  However, I often find that when I see my photos later, they look too dark to me, so maybe tomorrow I’ll like the brighter one better.

Your Assignment:  Take a photo that your pretty happy with.  Do just a few adjustments on it like brightness and contrast.  For details on how to use Snapseed, check out Lesson 41, 45, and 46.  Are there certain adjustments that seem to really help your image?