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How To Take Stunning HDR Photos On Your iPhone | Turorial & Tips

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Have you ever seen those photos on Instagram that look so vibrant and surreal and wonder how they are created? Usually, they are photographed with expensive DSLR cameras but today I am going to show you have to achieve similar results with your iPhone. The old saying is true, the best camera is the one you have with you. In today’s world we always have a phone on us and most phones today have amazing cameras built-in. I decided to make this tutorial to show you how to take stunning HDR photos on your iPhone, these techniques will work on most other smartphones as well.

What is HDR Photography?

HDR stands for high dynamic range and is simply a way of capturing all low lights and high lights of a scene in one single photograph. An example of this would be if you are taking a picture of a tree against a bright beautiful sky. If you just take a normal picture, one of two things usually happen. (a) You will get a good focus on the tree with nice detail but the sky will be blown out and too bright to pick up any color or cloud detail, or (b) the sky will be full of detail and color, but the tree will be dark will little detail.

This is where HDR photography comes in by taking a series of (usually 3) bracketed photos in various exposures, one normal, one overexposed, and one underexposed. The 3 photos are then merged together into one single photo. This technique will make the entire photo explode with color and detail in both the sky and the tree. Here is an example of a series of 3 bracket photos taken on an iPhone.

Bracketed Photos Example.

Now here is the problem. This is simple to do on expensive DSLR cameras, but smartphones for the most part are not set up for this. There are many apps you can download that will run filters over your existing photo’s to try and emulate an HDR photo, but for the most part, the results are not desirable. There is a simple way to take bracketed photos right on your iPhone or smartphone with the help of an app called ProHDR or ProHDR X if you’re using an iPhone 6/7 series. ProHDR is an all in one app that does it all, takes bracketed photos in different exposures and then merges them for you all with one click of a button. We are going to take it one step further and not use the final image it creates. Instead, we will only be using the 3 bracketed photos it produces and creating our own merged HDR photo on our PC.

Tools you will need to take HDR and bracketed photos on an iPhone.

  • ProHDR App for iPhone or similar bracketing photo app.
  • Photomatix software for PC (there is a free demo version)
  • iPhone or Android Smart Phone.
  • Tripod (recommended)

Before we begin I recommend using a tripod as the camera will be taking 3 images and they need to line up, any slight camera movement will cause ghosting and blurry images. You don’t need a fancy tripod, there are inexpensive ones available at Walmart for less than $40 and you pick up a smartphone adaptor mount to attach your iPhone to the tripod at most dollar stores.

Step 1: Mount your iPhone on the tripod and line up your shot.

Step 2: Launch the Pro HDR app and go to the settings. There are a few changes we need to make from the default settings. The main changes to the settings are (a) turn off “Auto Save Captured Image”  and (b) set the save original bracketed photos to three. See the attached image for settings.

Uses these settings on your iPhone for HDR Photos

 

Step 3: Now press the shutter button on the phone and it will capture 3 bracketed images and automatically save them to your phone’s camera roll. When you close the app it will prompt you that you haven’t saved the merged photo. Just ignore it, we are going to create our own merged photo in the next step.

Step 4: At this point, you need to transfer the 3 bracketed iPhone photos you just shot to your PC. This can be done many ways. Just make sure you transfer them in original full resolution.

Step 5: Now the fun begins. We will take our 3 bracketed photos and merge them into one photo using Photomatix by HDRsoft. If you haven’t done so, download Photomatix from the HDRsoft Website. This will be a free trial version and will have limitations. Once downloaded launch the application. At the top left-hand corner select the option to “Load Bracketed Photos”. Browse to the location of your 3 bracketed iPhone photos you saved to your PC and load them. A dialogue box will appear, make sure the settings are matched to the diagram below. There are many options but for now, we will stick to some basic settings.

 

Once ready, click on the “align and merge to HDR” button this can take several minutes while it works its magic.

Step 6: Once the image is ready it will appear in the workspace. You can take time at this point to play with sliders and settings, however, there are many ready to go pre-sets on the right-hand side. Find a look that you like, then click the apply button. This will render your final image. Once complete, save the new HDR Photo that you created.

At this point, your photo will look great and you can print or share them as is, or you may want to take them a step further with some Photoshop tweaking. Here is an example of an HDR photo taken on an iPhone 6s. You can see the original iPhone bracketed photos and the final merged HDR Photo. Take notice of how detailed the sky is and all the wonderful detail in the old schoolhouse.

 

Things to consider when creating HDR Photos

When it comes to HDR Photography some people love it and some people very much dislike it. Sometimes the effects and color saturation are way overdone to the point the photo looks cartoonish. By my philosophy is that there is no right or wrong, after all it’s your photo and you are expressing yourself. If you like the end result, then the photo is perfect. Practice makes perfect! Continue trying different things, play with different angles and settings and you will find your own style.

I hope this article helped those looking to take bracketed HDR photos on your iPhone or smartphone.


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iPhone / iPad

iPad Pro 2018 Review | Amazing Video Editing Machine

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Here is my review of the new 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018. I did not jump on the review bandwagon on release day as many tend to do. I feel I like to use the product for a good amount of time in normal real-world scenarios like I would use it on a day to day basis. The new iPad Pro 2018 has been out for a little over a week now and I feel I am ready to make a review. Now, this review comes from the view of a video editor. Last year I transitioned to 100% mobile video editing and now only edit on my iPad Pro. Every day I edit video for my YouTube channel, Drone and GoPro videos as well as some work for clients, so having a fast and reliable device is important for me. Up until last week, I had been using the 10.5″ second generation iPad Pro and I have been really pleased with its performance.

Which Size To Get 11″ or 12.9

Like last year Apple is offering the iPad Pro 2018 in 2 different sizes. They have managed to make the screen on the smaller iPad Pro 11 inches this year due to the smaller bezels. The larger iPad comes with a screen size of 12.9″ but the overall size is quite a bit smaller. After Apple announced the new 3rd Generation iPad Pros I decided I would step up to the 12.9″ now that Apple has shrunk the footprint of the device into what I feel is a more manageable size. Size is important to me as I tend to hold my iPad a lot when editing as I quite often edit in my living room and while out on a patio having a coffee. Moving to the larger iPad Pro 2018 did take a little getting used to, that extra 2″ inches of screen does make quite a bit of difference to the overall size and handling of the iPad. But after a few days, I easily adapted and I am quite glad I made the jump to the larger screen size. If any of you are on the fence about what size to get, I truly recommend going to the larger size if you will be editing photos or videos. You will love the extra canvas size and even with its larger size, it is still very comfortable to hold, even for long periods of time.

Physical Changes To The 2018 (3rd Gen) iPad Pro

These years iPad Pro’s have seen a massive change in both appearance and functionality. Apple has removed the home button and replaced it with its true depth camera and face ID system. The bezels have shrunk and the corners of the screen are now rounded. I was a little skeptical at first on how I would like the removal of the home button, and for me, it did take some getting used to. Without the home button, all the gestures from the iPhone X series have been carried over to the iPad Pro. The first few days using the new setup was quite awkward for me, always reaching for the home button that was not there. A week in an now I don’t miss it at all. The only issue I have is quite often I have the FaceID camera covered with my hands so it will not unlock, however, the iPad offers up a friendly reminder that camera is covered and life moves on.

iPad Pro 2018 Video Editing Performace

Like I stated I mainly use my iPad Pro for video editing, and for the most part, I edit with an app called LumaFusion which is a full featured and advance editing app for iOS devices. In general, when doing simple edits the is no noticeable difference in performance after all the old iPad Pro and LumaFusion were already a great pair. You start to notice just how powerful these new iPad Pro’s are when you start to get into multi-Track 4K editing with lots of edits, luts, speed changes and effects. The new iPad Pro is much snappier and has less hesitation. One thing to note if you are looking for a massive decrease in render times you will be disappointed. In my tests when rendering a simple 4K video the old iPad Pro and new iPad Pro 2018 finish in the exact same amount of time. You will notice a slight improvement when you start adding transitions, filters and speed changes, but not by much. I have found that LumaFusion seems to crash now and then on the new iPad Pro most likely the app needs to be updated to fully support the iPad Pro 2018. Personally, I am not too worried about that, the folks at LumaFusion are most likely hard at work tweaking the code and preparing a new version that will be optimized for the new iPad Pro 2018.

In closing, I have been quite happy with the new iPad Pro 2018, however it was a pretty hefty price to pay. The new Apple Pencil 2 works flawlessly and a much better implementation than the first generation. You can watch my full iPad Pro 2018 YouTube review below.


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iPhone / iPad

Unboxing The 12.9 iPad Pro 2018 and Apple Pencil 2

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This is just a simple unboxing video of the new 2018 iPad Pro and second generation Apple Pencil. I was previously using the 10.5 inch iPad Pro but thought I would switch to the 12.9 as they have really decreased the overall size while still maintaining a nice work canvas. I primarily use my iPad Pro to edit all my YouTube videos as well as my personal drone and GoPro videos and its hard to think they can even improve on an already really great product. Stay tuned as I will be adding my full in-depth review soon.

iPad Pro 2018 Cases: https://amzn.to/2JOy8LQ

 

 

Unboxing the 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018.

Unboxing the 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018.

Unboxing the 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018.

Unboxing the 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018.

Unboxing the 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018.


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