The iPhone as a Macro Camera

In a previous Macro Monday blog post “Polyphemus Moth on Bird of Paradise,” Motion Picture Still Photographer Ralph Nelson shared a few of his tips, tricks, and techniques for the macro photography of moths, In that post, he also said, “The iPhone also has excellent macro capabilities,” which raised eyebrows from some skeptical blog readers. Here’s Ralph’s response on why and how he uses an iPhone for macro photography.

Without using any of the numerous photo apps that are available and stuck with no  interchangeable lenses or ISO settings, let alone shutter speed/f-stop combinations, I think  a photographer is freed from the distractions of the mechanics of photography leaving his sole focus on image composition. And why not? Henri Cartier-Bresson used a single camera/lens combination (a Leica with a 50mm lens) for his entire career and his pictures didn’t turn out so bad.

I have also found that shooting macro images with the iPhone allows unique perspectives that I could not easily—or maybe even possibly—achieve with any other camera. And the iPhone is always with me. Always.

As of  now, I haven’t used any of the special effects apps that are available for the iPhone although I have to agree that some of them have produced in  interesting looking images. I may try one or more of them in the future but for the moment I just want to produce the best possible photo without resorting to “artistic” filters. The only adjustments I make to my iPhone macro images in Adobe Photoshop are sharpening and contrast control. That’s it.

The iPhone Flowers Book

I had used the original iPhone to make visual notes but I had never taken it seriously until the day that I took a close-up of a flower. I was so impressed with the results that I gave myself a self-assignment to produce an entire photo book of flowers with a few restrictions:

1. All photos had to be taken with the iPhone.
2. No filters, effects or cropping would be done. Only sharpening and contrast adjustments could be done in Photoshop.
3. All photos had to be taken with a two-week time frame.

Did I succeed? I think so, the image at the top of this post is one that will be the cover shot for the book. Once it was finished, I got caught up in other work and only not been able to spend the time needed to get it published. It will very likely be released as an eBook.

When Ralph Nelson’s all-macro, all-flower e-book is launched, I’ll make sure to announce it here.

Author: Joe Farace

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