Embracing the Low Res Image

We have spent so much time struggling to get the highest resolution from our cameras, our lenses, and tripods, our RAW converters, that we often fail to appreciate the artistic value of low resolution images. Low res images are the natural result of art lenses such as Holgas and LensBabies, as well as of techniques such as cropping or shooting in low light with limited dynamic range cameras. And they are especially the province of phone photos.

The image below was shot with the iPhone 6, a phone camera capable of amazingly sharp images under good conditions. Here the conditions were, quite intentionally, far from good. The loveseat that is the subject of the image was in a nearly dark room, with only foot lighting around the edges, to keep hotel guests from stumbling in the dark. The challenge of capturing the gesture of the seat, and the drama of the  low lighting was appealing. A high overhead shot provided the desired form, and post processing in Google Snapseed provided the exposure adjustment, applied texture, image frame, and lastly the radial blur (stronger at the edges) that produces the soft, textured effect of the image.

Such an image fits in the “more poetry than prose” end of art photography, and can make a compelling stock image. Producing a series of such images, with differing subject matter, is always a good idea, since an image like this is difficult to mix with other images, unless similar effects have been used.


C. David Tobie


WEBINAR: Artistic Techniques in Phone Photography, Today 3PM EST

A1 Diner

A1 Diner, shot with iPhone 4S, Processed with NIK Snapseed

This webinar will be a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of phone cameras, and ways to utilize them effectively, including add-on lenses and editing applications. This webinar is sponsored by Datacolor . David Saffir and I will be discussing a range of sample images, chosen for their value in illustrating phone photography methods and techniques. Please join us for what we hope will be an interesting discussion on this hot topic. And stay tuned, as there will be a photography product given away to one attendee at the end of the session.

Sign up now, we’re hoping to see you at today’s webinar.

A recorded version of this webinar will be made available at a later date

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

iPhone Photography 2012

I have received several requests that I post more iPhone photography related material. Here is a start, with some iPhone photos I have taken this year.

Boot Line-up

This photo is one of those images that captures everyday life; I shot it as I walked across the front porch, and entered the house. It tells a colorful visual story in a single image.


This was one of what became a series of car logo macros, processed to bring out the reflections in the chrome, and enhance the color and contrast.

Crystal in the Window

This street shot of crystal stemware in a shop window produces a high contrast image with interesting texture and color when processed. One of my more interesting iPhone photos of the year, and one I plan to try printing at some point.

Shadows on the Curtains

The patterns that the sun created on these bedroom curtains, as it shone through a double hung window formed a dynamic image that called out to be shot.

Poppy and Bee

This macro of the inside of a poppy, as a bee was pollenating it, is one of the most dynamic and colorful iPhone photos  I have shot this year.

BrownEyed Susans

There is nothing unique about this macro of wildflowers, but the color, composition, and mood still put this image on the short list of my 2012 iPhone photos.

Tuscan Room with a View

The view from my hotel room window in Tuscany this summer. Too striking to pass up.

A1 Diner

A walk by shooting, of a picturesque diner in Maine.

Swimming Pool

Simple abstract of a swimming pool. But very satisfying.

Something of a tribute to Andrew Wyeth. Its pretty amazing that phones can make this kind of evocative images these days.

High Key Bacchus

An experiment in taking an image to the edge of recognizability. You decide if it results in a successful image.

Koln Dom

Night shot of the Cologne Cathedral during Photokina. This is shot with the iPhone 4S, without the improved low light capabilities of the iPhone 5.

Chaise Lounge Autumn

Again, an evocative image edited to enhance that feeling, from an iPhone; shot in the back yard.

After Dinner Espresso

My low key iPhone shot of the year. When our after dinner espresso arrived in bright red cups, on the black tablecloth, it demanded I pull out the iPhone, and take a shot.

Sculpture in the Rain

A shot at the local art theater, from their roof overhang. The mood and the rain against the clouds kept this image in the series.

Let me know which of these images work for you, and why.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Follow CDTobie on Pinterest

For those of you already using the social networking site Pinterest, you might want to take a look at my boards there, covering various areas of photography, as shown in the image below. If you are not yet a member of Pinterest, ask someone you know who is a member to send you an invitation.

CDTobie Pinterest Boards

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Book Review: Dan Burkholder’s iPhone Artistry

iPhone Artistry is a comprehensive guide to the iPhone as a photo tool, and at the same time an inspiration to aspiring iPhone photographers. Clearly organized, thoroughly researched, and well written, it succeeds in covering a wide range of both technical and aesthetic material in a manner that is engaging and educational. If you are going to purchase only one book to guide you though the process of becoming an artistic iPhone photographer, this one would be my recommendation.

Dan begins with a thorough and well illustrated chapter on the various generations of iPhones, and the methods of navigating them. This is followed by an introduction to photography apps, including the process of searching for them, downloading them, and using them. Once the author is sure his reader is prepared to get started, he provides sections on shooting apps, basic editing apps, creative editing apps, and  specialized apps for panoramas, image stitching, high dynamic range, layering, and other advanced techniques. All without losing touch with the artistic end that is the goal of these tools.

The final chapter pulls it all together with a series of creative workflows showing the processes which lead to the richly textured, artistically colored sample images throughout the book. A clever App appendix shows the names and icons of dozens of Apps, with QR codes for each, allowing the iPhone photographer to snap an image of any that are of interest, and use a QR code reading App to find out more about them. A perfect example of form relating to content.

iPhone Artistry abounds with clear examples of how to take the kinds of photos we all snap with our phones, and process them into the kind of artistry we would like them to be. Equal parts information and inspiration make this the perfect book for learning the “how” without losing sight of the “why.” Also be sure to look for author Dan Burkholder’s iPhone Artistry workshops, which he presents at many photographic workshop locations.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Image below: Copyright 2012, Dan Burkholder