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my 5 favourite iphone photography apps

black and white photo of parsley flowers

hello, my name is Tasha and I’m a DSLR snob

I fought upgrading my bog-standard mobile phone for ages for this very reason. The camera’s in a mobile phone simply can’t be as good as my camera. Simply. Can’t.

Well, it turns out they can. Which in turn made me into a bit of a camera and editing phone app junkie there for a while.

And 18 months on, I’ve landed on my favourites. The apps I turn to whenever I pick up my phone to take photos… which is becoming more often.

just don’t tell my big camera I’m cheating on it

Camera+

Camera+ ($4.49) helps you use your iPhone to shoot the best photos you possibly can.  The app uses your existing phone camera but allows you more control over the settings.  While you are still able to take pictures in automatic mode, if you feel like you want more light and speed control, then you are able to independently change focus and metering points, allowing you to meter based on a different part of the scene and/or focus in a different area of the frame.

Camera+ is more than just a camera replacement, though, with advanced editing in exposure, brightness, contrast and saturation tools (to name just a few) letting you tweak your photos to your heart’s content.

VSCO

If I’m totally honest, it’s been a while since I’ve used VSCO (Free). For a long time, VSCO was my go-to for editing, with a great selection of image adjustment tools and quite a range of high-quality photographic filters (the app was originally developed for the serious photographer who was looking to emulate film).  They’ve upgraded the interface since I’ve used it last – it’s now very sleek and modern – but it’s still an app that I will go back to when the time calls.

Filmborn

Filmborn (Free) is my latest app acquisition….  I use Mastin Labs presets for all of my photo editing – both personal and professional – so adding Filmborn to my phone was a bit of a no-brainer.  Designed to give you a genuine film look in 3 steps or less, the app lets you take photos with your in-phone camera, then edit them without having to import photos like some of its counterparts.  I love that you are able to view the presets in real-time and the kicker (for me) change between three different focal length crops (31mm, 35mm, and 50mm).

Lenka

Lenka (Free) is a dedicated black-and-white app, developed by professionals, for both amateur and professional photographers alike.  The app is stripped down to the bare essentials. You can only use the rear-facing cameras, your picture mode options include normal and high-contrast, and you can choose to turn the flash bulb on or off for a source of continuous lighting in dark environments. No unnecessary controls, filters, colour… It forces you to focus on what matters most in photography – the light and your composition. Plus you get a real-time preview of what you are shooting.  Minimal, but a lot of fun.

Later

Later (Free-$US49/month) allows you to plan, schedule and publish your visual content.  Personally, I use the free version on both the desktop and iOS versions to schedule my photos for Instagram.  It has a lot more capabilities – with more to come – but being able to schedule my IG posts, particularly if I’ve used my DSLR to take the photos, is what makes this app a winner for me.

And a bonus hardware favourite for you as well.

Moment

I added a Moment ($US30-50) case to my phone about 6 months ago. After much research, I decided on this particular case as it is designed to mimic a “real” camera shutter release, with a two-stage camera button, which means you can lock focus and exposure with a half-press before pressing fully down to take a shot.  Originally launched as a Kickstarter campaign, the Moment app is more about the camera than editing.  The reason I love this case and app so much – I can hold my phone one-handed and take a photo using the shutter button.  Not having to try and tap the screen or use the volume button to release the shutter on the camera on the phone, means that I keep a steady hand each time I take a photo.

Whether you’re new to phone photography or looking for a new photography app to add to your collection, I hope this list has given you some ideas.  The key is to use just a handful of apps, but learn to use them to their full potential.  Regardless of what apps you use, though, to quote one of my favourite photographers  – “You can’t polish a turd.” – so always start out with the best image possible.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What are your favourite phone photography apps?

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inside my camera bag

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for forever, so finally I am sharing with you (most) of what is inside my camera bag and where I work.

my gear & bag

canon eos 7dii and 550d

  1. Canon 7D Mark II: it was an agonising decision to go with this camera body, as I’d been contemplating purchasing a mirrorless camera for their (light) weight.  In the end, though, the 7D won out as I already owned Canon lenses and didn’t want them to collect dust.  Plus the 7D is excellent in low light, which makes it the perfect camera for photographing events in the school hall.
  2. Canon 550D: my original baby.  I pushed this unit to its limits before upgrading to the 7Dii.  Now it’s the camera that my son picks up to practise his photography with and the one I loan to friends when they need a larger camera than their phone.  It’s still in perfect working order and I always have this one charged and ready to go when I’m on a shoot – just in case!

canon camera lenses

  1. Canon EF-S 55-250mm: one of the original kit lenses that came with my 550D, the zoom mechanism is completely flogged out because this was my go-to lens for a long time.  I keep it in my bag because it comes in handy for photographing sports days at school.
  2. Canon EF-S 18-55mm: the other kit lens from my 550D.  It doesn’t get used all that often anymore.
  3. Canon EF 50mm 1.8: the nifty fifty. This is the lens that lives on my camera now.  I had a hate/hate relationship with it for a long time as I struggled to find its focal sweet spot, but in 2015 I made the decision to leave this lens on my camera until I mastered it.  It’s the lens I favour for photo shoots, although I’m hoping to upgrade to the 1.4 soon (ideally, I want the 1.2, but don’t know about the price!)
  4. Canon EF 85mm 1.8: I purchased this lens with the intention that it become my go-to lens… Hasn’t happened yet, so I’m thinking of doing what I did with the 50.  Put it on my camera until I master the sucker!
  5. Canon EF 100mm 2.8: I *love* this lens.  If I’m having a particularly rough day, the 100mm goes on the camera and I go into the garden exploring the world in miniature until I calm down.

speedlite 270EX II

I keep a Speedlite 270EX II in my bag as well.  Again, I had every intention of learning how to use it, but preferring to photograph in natural light, I’ve just never really had the need to master the flash.  It’s on my to-do list for this year, though.

blackrapid camera strap

I don’t know how I managed without my Rapid Strap before I bought it!  Lovingly called the Sniper-Strap, I purchased mine after attending a Love Your Camera workshop with Angie Baxter and seeing hers in action.  Since then I’ve bought one for Daughter’s camera as well.  Why do I love my strap so much?  It slings across my body and takes all pressure off my neck when I’m wearing my camera.  I can (and have) literally have my camera on my body all day without it being a nuisance.  Best money I ever spent!

camera accessories

  1. spare memory cards: formatted after each use and ready to go when I pick them up.
  2. lens pen: to keep my lenses and camera body clean and free of gritty bits.
  3. blower pen: great for blowing dust and grit off.

kelly moore camera bag

All of my gear (plus bits and pieces I’ve purchased and never really used… can you say Gary Wong diffuser?!) lives in my Kelly Moore camera bag.  It helps keep the dust off of everything when it’s not in use and protects it when I travel or am at a photo shoot.  It all lives beside the Mercedes I got for my birthday a few years back (the real thing was a tad expensive), and my 2 red hippie camper vans (because one day I’m going to own one and travel around Australia in it!).

my space

photography by tasha chawner work space

This is where I work. I made the decision to purchase an electric standing desk last year because I find that sitting puts too much pressure on my back.  I have a Human Tool Balance Spot anti-fatigue mat that helps to keep me upright and moving and alleviates the pressure on my feet when standing for long periods.

  1. I run a Dell XPS 8700.  It’s a couple of years old now, but still (mostly) working a charm.  Has the odd hiccup, but runs Lightroom (my photo editing software) easily and efficiently.
  2. I moved over to a Wacom Intuos pen and touch tablet a number of years ago.  I use it instead of a mouse as it allows me finer control when editing photos. I still have a touchpad mouse on my keyboard, as every now and again I come across programs that won’t play nice with my tablet.
  3. my Big Picture planner from Design Aglow.  I’ve customised my own weekly to-do list, but love having everything in this folder and at my fingertips.
  4. my Paperblanks journals.  One is for my jewellery design sketches. The other two are used for keeping photography tips and notes, and for sketching out poses for photo shoots.
  5. my creative matra’s for 2017: ‘I am one with the creative flow of life’ and ‘I capture the beauty of life in my art’. are my creative goals for 2017.
  6. my alter.  I keep a Ganesh and Krishna statue at my work space and an amethyst, rose quartz and clear quartz crystal.  They’re there to help me calm and remind me to engage in self-care.
  7. my glasses.  Can’t see sh*t without them anymore, so I need to know where they are at all times.  This is their permanent home when they are not on my face!

So there you have it.

my gear, my bag, my space

I’d love it if you would share a link to photos of your workspace if you have one.  I love being a little voyeuristic and peeking at how others set up their spaces.

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preparation and process: why I will ask you to sign a photo release form

why i will ask you to sign a model release form when you have a photography session with me

what is a photo release form?

A photo release form is the term I use for a model release form.

How are they different?  And, what is a model release form?

In it’s simplest terms, a model release (or photo release in my case), is a written and signed agreement between you (the client) and me (the photographer).  The purpose of this contract is to protect– release– me from liability in future lawsuits which previous clients might file against me for legal claims like invasion of privacy, defamation of character, etc. Simply put, the document stipulates the terms under which one party may use photos taken of another party.

Why do I ask you to sign one?

Effectively, I’m asking your permission to take your photo.  Particularly if I’m photographing your children.  According to Legal Vision Australia, no precise rules that spell out when a model release is required.  But because I wish to use images taken at your session for promotional purposes for my business, I ask you to sign the photo release.

Can you refuse to sign it?

Yes, you can.  In signing it you are giving me, as the photographer, all publication rights to all images, which is effective from the date of signature to the end of time. There is no right after signature to ask me, as the photographer, to destroy particular images.

Am I going to publish your photos if you don’t sign?

No, I won’t.  I will respect your right to not sign the document.

Will I publish less-than-perfect images of you?

Absolutely not.  I’m running a business that I want to thrive and grow, so it’s in nobodies best interest to publish photos like that.

The aim of these posts is to help you understand the preparation and processes that go into your photo shoot.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below.

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