The iconic 3-in-One oil is as popular as a cell phone. You can always find a neighbor or friend who has a bottle hanging around somewhere in home or garage. It’s not hard to understand why. Slip over to the 3-in-One website and browse all the uses that reviewers report: honing blades, lubricating contact points on a guitar, quieting hinges, removing rust. It can handle almost everything.
By blending several apps in my mobile photography workflow, my iPhone has become a 3-in-One. It shoots quickly, slowly, closely, distantly. It can handle almost anything.
In the field, I turn on three camera apps: the native iOS Camera, Camera+, and Lightroom (Lr) Mobile apps. Each has its own strength. The native Camera app is quick and Apple’s JPEG processing is pleasing. Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile app shoots in raw format and provides the image in its excellent editing module almost instantly. And Camera+ offers manual controls over everything Apple allows access to with its camera; it also has a digital macro and a slow-shutter function missing from the other two apps.
Before shooting, I set up each app. Some settings stick while others have to be reset every time I switch from one app to another.
You can activate the native camera app with a quick swipe from right-to-left on your iPhone’s lock-screen. Simply press the Home button to wake the iPhone from sleep and then swipe. The camera is ready, in its default settings. Your photo is automatically added to your Photo Library (accessible from the Photos app). If you have iCloud Drive set up, it’s beamed up to the mother ship at Apple and ready to be beamed down to other Mac and iOS devices in your Apple universe.
One setting I engage at the beginning of every excursion:
|HDR||More dynamic image; can minimize white skies and black shadows|
Don’t set the app’s timer and expect it to stick. As soon as you press the Home button or double-press to navigate to another app, the timer function turns off.
Adobe Lightroom (Lr) is designed for photographers. It has everything needed to organize, edit, print, backup, upload, and view your photographs. At present, Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography subscription costs $9.99 a month. You get Lightroom, Photoshop, 20 GB of cloud backup, and access to Adobe’s photography-related mobile apps. You can go it alone and use the Lr Mobile app without a subscription but you lose cloud back up as well as automatic sharing with other devices.
The only setting I make sure is on is the timer. Lr Mobile cannot shoot in any format other than raw.
|Timer||2-second timer so I don’t have to mess with a remote shutter release (Apple earbuds)|
|Raw||All detail possible by image sensor is captured; more latitude in post-processing in Lightroom|
|Editing||Automatically and almost instantly available in the same app for editing then sharing with Instagram|
I prefer Lightroom for editing and that’s why I include it in my workflow. There’s nothing special about its camera controls. But its editing controls are first-class. They’re non-destructive. Your edits are really a formula that Lightroom applies when you view or share your images. You can always return to an image and tweak edits, or completely strip them out and start from scratch from the original image. I shoot in Lightroom so I can edit in Lightroom. No need to import from another app.
For $2.99, you can have one of the most well-rounded camera apps. It’s often described as a replacement for the native camera app. Camera+ gives you manual control over exposure, focus, shutter speed, and ISO (but not aperture which is fixed on an iPhone).
Camera+ is an essential app because it offers two essential features: digital macro and slow-shutter speed exposures. Use the macro to zoom in for better detail or composition. Use the slow-shutter speed and low ISO to achieve the wispy water effect at your local waterfall or with other moving subjects. You’ll need a tripod or wedge your phone into something immovable so you don’t unintentionally add your own blur to the image.
I set the timer and raw file formats and they stick as I move between apps and return to Camera+. The shutter speed and ISO controls are fussy–once you set them don’t touch the screen or Camera+ will reset exposure, shutter speed and ISO based on the light it detects in its focus point.
|Timer||5-second timer so I don’t have to mess with a remote shutter release (Apple earbuds)|
|Raw||Captures all detail available to an image sensor; files upload to Photos Library and can be edited in Snapseed|
If you want a Raw workflow, use Camera+ and activate the Quality & Format menu’s Raw function. The photos can be edited in the free Google Snapseed app or downloaded from the iPhone’s Photo Library and edited as raw images in Lightroom.
Surviving on Three Apps
My photography goal is to get the best images out of my iPhone. My style tends toward exaggerated realism. These three apps cover nearly 100% of the scenes I want to photograph in my chosen style.
However, many mobile photographers prefer apps that filter images for a particular look. Hipstamatic uses the iPhone’s camera but then applies a user-determined filter or combination of presets when it generates the JPEG image you see. Slow Shutter Cam specializes in long-exposure photography and Blackie converts images to black and white while you preview the scene and then when you click the shutter icon.
What are your essential photography apps?