Well, I’ve made it a week without resorting to backup shots yet. One week down, only 52 to go. I think if I make a book of this project, I’m going to call it “Phoning It In.”
Anyway, for today’s shot I wanted to try something with landscape photography, and I thought, why not start with a sunset. Now this was tricky for a couple reasons. First of all, I can’t zoom with the iPhone. It pretends to zoom, but it just does pixel doubling which is, well… dumb. So the first key to successful cellphone landscape photography is to treat your phone as a prime lens (which essentially it is) and choose your location well. So I took Steph down to the Monongahela River here in Pittsburgh to help her practice some of her traditional photography with my old SLR and I went to work shooting this with my cellphone. I was hoping to catch the sun setting over the river directly, but the angle just isn’t right. So over the buildings it was.
The second hurdle to overcome is, as always with cellphone photography, lack of aperture and shutter speed control. Shooting a picture of the sun is obviously very bright and it’s really easy to overexpose even if you have control of your settings. Here the buildings turned out to be a blessing. By waiting until the sun set low enough to be behind the buildings, I got a pleasing silhouette of the skyline while dampening the light enough to not overexpose the sky and leaving me with some nicely illuminated clouds. I’m looking forward to trying something similar on a very cloudy day.
Like all of these shots, I also did some post processing work in photoshop. On this one in particular I want to point out the waves in the water. I wanted much crisper waves than a cellphone camera is ever going to deliver, so what I’ve done here is duplicate the main layer of the image and sharpen this duplicate to taste for the water (I used Unsharp Mask on a luminosity only layer for the effect I wanted). Then apply a layer mask to the sharpened layer. I have a black to white gradient on the mask which masks out the effect over the sky and clouds (and the silhouetted buildings where it doesn’t matter) and then subtly increases the effect as you move from the horizon and closer to the camera.