Monday, May 20, 2019

iPhonography 101 – Editing

Last time, we talked about the basic functions and some tricks of the iPhone camera to maximize the quality of the images you make. Today, we’ll focus on improving images through in-app editing software after images are made.
Unlike Photoshop edits, iPhones give photographers a Plan B and Plan C for mistakes.

Plan B: When you complete your first set of edits and/or crops, the iPhone will create and save a new image with a different name. Your original photo will no longer appear in your phone’s library, but it is still there. When you download your images, you’ll see the original plus another file that contains the edits.
However, if you DELETE the corrected photo from your phone, the original (unfiltered) image will also be deleted. I’ll explain later, but NEVER delete an image from your phone unless it is backed up elsewhere, or it’s completely useless (a photo of the inside of your pocket).

Plan C: If you completely mess up a photo with too many filters, it isn’t a problem. Close the edit. Reopen the same photo and press the “Revert” option on the bottom-right of the screen. You’ll get a pop-up screen that states “Revert to original will remove all edits made to this photo. This action cannot be undone.”
Then, choose “Revert to Original.” You’re back to where you started, and the image is uninjured.

Professional photographers learn to “crop in camera.” We include only items we want to see in the frame and/or use the edge of the frame to remove items we don’t want to see.
However, sometimes we don’t have the option to do much more than point-and-shoot before the moment is gone. In those instances, we can use a digital crop to make the image look better (banish the portable toilet beside your friend).
A strong caution about software crops: You will lose detail, and the image will suffer substantially if you digitally crop it. Your goal should be to use every pixel of the frame. If you must crop down, do so sparingly. iPhones are good at hiding their flaws – until you crop. Then, every flaw, interpolation and “invented” or “rounded” pixel becomes obvious.

With the selected photo open, select Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. Near the bottom-left of the screen the crop box will appear beside the word “Cancel” (it looks like a square with curved arrows). Tap the crop box.
This creates a bounding box around thee image. You will also notice a portion of a circle under the bottom of the bounding box with compass degrees for fine-scale rotations. At the bottom-left of the active area is a box with a curved arrow to control orientation. At the bottom right of the active area is a box with additional shaded boxes to represent crop formats.

When an image is first open in the crop area, the iPhone will try to help the photographer by applying an autorotation and crop. It selects a horizontal or vertical line as a “key,” then it rotates & crops the rest of the image to match the key line.
Depending on your shooting style, this is useful. If you’re very deliberate, you’ll need to undo this by either tapping “Reset” (back to zero degrees) or swiping left or right on the rotation wheel under the photo until it is to your desired position.

This is the most basic edit. iPhones are good at detecting horizontal camera orientation (if the camera is horizontal and perpendicular to the ground). However, if the camera is used to photograph something flat on a table (parallel to the ground), it will default to vertical orientation.
If the captured image isn’t in the desired orientation, it’s simple to fix.
With the photo open, select Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. Near the bottom-left of the screen the crop box will appear. Tap the crop box.
If the image autorotates, see if it’s OK or Reset the image to zero degrees.
The orientation box will appear in the bottom-left corner of the active area. This allows the photographer to rotate the image in 90-degree rotations. If the image is upside down, press the box twice (a 180-degree total).
If direction isn’t vital (food photos), it’s often best to rotate the image until the dominant light source appears to come from the top of the frame.
If this is the only change, hit Done.

Fine-scale rotation
As mentioned above, this is used to make subtle image alignments. The image can be rotated slightly or severely by swiping left or right over the semi-circular dial at the bottom of the bounding box.
As a genera rule, it’s wise to choose one line as a “key” within the frame and orient the remainder of the image off the key line. Often this is the horizon or a vertical line of a wall or beam.
Sometimes, photographers create visual tension by choosing a harsh, perpendicular rotation.
If this is the only change, hit Done.

When dealing with mobile social media, you can either choose the crop or settle for whatever the media platform does to your image. I prefer to make proactive choices whenever possible.
Click on the size button, the available options are Original, Square or the ratios 2:3, 3:5, 3:4, 4:5, 5:7, 9:16.
Most social media platforms will use a 4:5 crop on your image. By choosing this option first before sending to social media, the photographer chooses what is cut or remains in the image area.
Instagram prefers square images. However, it will generally accept 4:5 single-image posts. Multi-image posts will all be cropped to square (or the special template used).
Again, the photographer wants to be in control of the crop. If a photographer only shoots with Instagram in mind, s/he may as well shoot in square format to have better edge control. If the image will be on several social media platforms, it’s best to make images with the full frame, then crop to 4:5 for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Once those are posted, crop square for Instagram. At this point, there is the square version of the image, plus the original. You can download both to your computer or you can “Revert” to eliminate the square version.
9:16 is a widescreen cinematic crop. Use this crop to make custom YouTube covers for your videos from the field. It can be replaced later if needed.

Non-standard crops
The bounding box around the image can be moved to make non-standard crops. This is useful to deliberately crop something out of the frame or crop to change frame orientation. If the image will be emailed or used in a non-standardized location, this is the preferred crop.
However, for standardized media platforms, an additional crop size requirement may be applied. Once the original crop is made, a standard size can be applied to the remainder of the image. This may require additional crops until only the desired portion of the image remains.

Edit Suggestions
Over time, Apple’s basic iPhone image software has become extremely good. The automatic mode is good enough for most people. However, it is designed to present “vanilla” images, they’re good but not amazing without something else.
Luckily, there’s a full editing suite available in the photo library.
With any library photo active on the screen, choose Edit at the bottom of the screen. The bottom of the screen will now show “Cancel,” a crop symbol, a triple ball for filters (see above), a “radio dial” for settings and “Done.”
Select the radio dial.
You will see a stack of options. They are Light, Color and B&W (black & white).

Light Edits
Choose the toggle button on the far right of the screen in the Light section. You will see the following seven options: Brilliance, Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast and Black point.
Each of these can be individually adjusted for up 2.3 positive stops (lighter) in 1/5th stop increments, and 2.3 negative stops (darker) in 1/5th stop increments. Please adjust as necessary.
In photography, a “stop” is one level of light. In most photos, there is a “dynamic range” of 5 stops where 1 = black with detail and 5 = white with detail.
For my particular shooting style, my Go-To settings are typically: negative 2/5th highlights, positive 1/5th black point, and a touch of Brilliance if needed to open the mid-tones.

Color Edits
Choose the toggle button on the far right of the screen in the Color section. You will see a sliding bar of color options. This sliding bar makes changes to several background options simultaneously to speed editing. However, it becomes a hammer when a tweezer might be more appropriate.
If I’m in a hurry and the image is close to correct, I will often start with two frames worth of positive color shift to make the colors pop. This is often too much, so I back down a little if the colors start to overpower the scene.
When a more subtle approach is needed, press the three lines on the left side of the screen above the sliding scale. You will see the following three options: Saturation, Contrast and Cast.
Saturation is the intensity of the colors.
Contrast is the difference between light and dark.
Cast is the color balance from cold (shades of cyan and blue) to warm (shades of red and yellow).
Most often, the sliding scale will handle the Saturation and Contrast. However, you may need to manually adjust the Cast depending on where and/or when the image was made.
If the image was made in a completely shaded outdoor area, it is probably a cool scene that needs to be warmed some.
If the image was taken in tungsten, halogen or sunset light, it could be very warm (red to orange). So, you might need to add some negative cast to remove some of the orange tint. But the iPhone software probably tried to make the light “normal” colored by adding blue/cyan. So, it may be best to add warm light back into the scene to make it look like it did during the actual sunset.
The opposite holds true when shooting blue flowers or sky. The software may try to remove the cyan/blue shades. It’s best to slide the Cast settings to the negative side to make the cast cooler (blue/cyan).
The iPhone color and light balance options are limited, but better than depending on the camera software alone. If you want to learn more about color balance, temperatures and more, please see my blog post “BalanceThe Light.”

B&W Edits
B&W = Black & White (grayscale)
When you first tap the button, the image remains in color, but you’ll see a gray sliding scale at the bottom of the screen.
Slide through the entire scale. It will go through a series of grayscale version equating to Red, Green and Blue filters.
You can make additional changes by tapping on the three lines on the bottom-right of the viewing area. Under B&W, you’ll now see Intensity, Neutrals, Tone and Grain
Intensity adjusts color filtration separate from the other options to shift light emphasis to specific areas of the image.
Neutrals adjust the middle gray tones toward the lighter and darker ends of the spectrum.
Tone adjusts the contrast or “flatness” of the image.
Grain adjusts the amount of artificial film grain introduced into the image. Don’t use it.

Enough for now,

Please see Part 3: Storage

No comments: