Why my iPhone is essential to my HDR work

Article Written by Jim Nix

(Author’s note: Just to be clear, this is not an iPhone vs. Android piece.  It’s about how this little device has helped me get better at HDR.  Cool?  Cool.  I am on my 3rd iPhone now, and that’s all I know.  Android is great too, from what I hear.)

The iPhone is a great tool and has really sparked my creativity, in lots of different ways.  It gives me ideas on how to process shots, and some apps even help me figure out where to go take some shots – and when!  It’s an invaluable tool and I can’t imagine doing my HDR photography work without it.  Long live the iPhone!

Here are some key reasons why the iPhone is improving my HDR work:

*  I can practice my composition and processing skills anytime, whether I have my Nikon with me or not. My iPhone is the one thing that I really never go anywhere without.  I am sure you have heard from lots of photographers that “you should carry your camera everywhere”, but really do you do that?  Do they?  I’m sure I have said that too, but it’s not true.  I used to carry it to more places than I do now.  I find that these days I just have the iPhone handy, and it does a great job.  As far as composition skills go, how much easier can it be to try out different comps than to line up the iPhone and test it out?  You can re-compose quickly, and shuffle forward or back, up or down without moving a tripod and DSLR.  It’s light, quick and simple.

*  As far as HDR processing goes, you can practice that on the iPhone too.  I always use ProHDR, which is a great app for creating HDR photos on the iPhone.  It’s inexpensive, intuitive and most importantly it does a great job.  Since my iPhone is always with me, I find myself taking HDRs all the time: on a run, or an errand, between meetings at work, etc.

*  It gives me a tantalizing preview of what I am shooting.  Whenever I travel and take a lot of shots, I am so eager to get home so that I can start processing.  I get pretty excited about shots when I am out there, but I leave my MacBook Pro at home so I have to wait until I return.  But of course I have my iPhone handy, and I often take iPhone shots of the same things I am firing brackets of with my Nikon (plus other stuff too, of course).  So usually when I am done, I go eat dinner, get a beer, and process some iPhone shots.  It’s awesome, and gives me a lot to look forward to when I get home.  Plus, if you enjoy sharing your iPhone shots, it’s just a couple of quick taps and that’s done.

*  It sparks your creativity.  With all the apps available for post-processing on the iPhone, you can quickly and easily try all sorts of things you might not want to take the time to do otherwise, and you may even come up with some creative ideas that you just wouldn’t think of if you were sitting at your computer working on an image.  I have definitely experienced this.  I have some preset styles I like to use on certain types of images, but with the iPhone I find that I experiment a whole lot more.  I am willing to take some creative risks with my iPhone shots that I just wouldn’t do with my normal ones.  This often bleeds over into my normal processing, and has helped me develop new ideas for my Nikon images.

*  I constantly take notes on it when I am out shooting.  It’s easy to get into the groove and shoot, but often I find that I am thinking about something and need to write it down.  That way, it gets out of my head and I can focus on my shots (no pun intended).  Or, maybe I just want to take a couple of notes for future reference about what I am shooting, or where, or something that happened along the way.  Regardless of what it is, having my iPhone handy allows me to be productive in an entirely different way.

*  It’s fun, and that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it?  If you are not having fun, then what’s the point?  Although there are a lot of photographers who are very serious about their iPhone shots, I find that my iPhoneography is a little more whimsical and fun.  It feels like the “rules of photography” are relaxed and I can just create and enjoy the whole process.  That’s important to me…really important.

If you are interested, I have a list of my favorite iPhone photo apps on my blog.  You can find it here: http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/top-iphone-photo-apps/

Well that’s it!  Hope this helps, and have fun out there shooting with your iPhone, or Android, or whatever it is.  Just go shoot!

Jim Nix is a photographer, traveler, HDR enthusiast, explorer, iPhone shooter, and tea drinker based in Austin, TX. He shares his photos and travel experiences on his blog at http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/NomadicPursuits

  • Chris Maskell

    sage words Jim and good, sound advice. I’ve never used an iPhone but I use my Android in the same manner; it’s always with me, it helps with composition and I can do HDR with it. I also use it to Geo Tag locations for later return with the DSLR

    • http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/ Jim Nix

      thanks Chris, I figured I am not the only one using it a lot out there – thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottFrederickPhotography Scott Frederick

    Good Stuff Jim. I need to shoot more HDR with the iPhone!

    • http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/ Jim Nix

      it’s freakin’ great fun Scott and the iPhone is always with ya!

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.comberceraldi Karen Comber-Ceraldi

    After reading your article I bought the HDR app. Just did my first HDR with it and was pretty impressed. I then ran it through NIK HDR Pro2 tone mapping and Silver FX, turned out very cool! Thanks for the tip :)

    • http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/ Jim Nix

      welcome, thanks Karen!!