iPhone X

My thoughts on the Apple announcement of September 12, 2017, more specifically, iPhone X.

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I’m not going to comment on the Watch and TV news from today, just the iPhones because I use an iPhone to take photos. Ok, here goes.

The iPhone 8/8 Plus are a nice upgrade from the 7 models and I can see why they jumped right to 8 and skipped the “s” version. It’s a new design with the glass back and there are too many improvements to warrant keeping the 7 attached to it. Some could argue that Apple could have done that with the 6s but the outside was pretty much identical to the 6. Another example is the 5s and the SE looking the same but the internals are completely different.

So. iPhone 8. Looks nice. The usual “better, stronger, faster” update is always expected, and the display enhancements are very nice with HD Retina and True Tone. I thought the latter would have made it to the 7 series and was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t. The technical enhancements to the camera are good and I’m really looking forward to trying the Portrait Lighting feature. It might just get me taking pictures of people! (Something I rarely do) Wireless charging is neither here nor there for me. I’ve been plugging phones in for years now so I don’t know that I’d call it a “must have” feature.

And now, we know the official name of the 10th anniversary model of the single most popular electronic device ever made. iPhone X, pronounced iPhone 10. I’m glad they didn’t go with the heavily rumoured “Edition” or “Pro” monicker, and we might have even seen the last of the “s” class. I like the new name. It’ll make a neat hashtag with #iPhoneX.

What’s not to like about iPhone X? Well, only two things come to my mind. One is the price. In Canada it starts at $1319 for the 64GB model and jumps to $1529 for 256GB. The second disappointment is what should be right between those two, a 128GB model. But, Apple knows what they’re doing. They’ll make a few extra billion off people (most likely like me) who will want the larger storage option.

Now for the good stuff. What I like about iPhone X is… just about everything else they said about it. It’ll be Space Grey for me since it’s been my colour of choice for Apple stuff since the 5s. I’ve heard concerns about the glass back but my 4s survived the two years I had it (and my aunt still uses it to this day) and the most damage it suffered was a small crack in the corner of the front panel. That was my first iPhone and I’ve learned to hold the them a little tighter over the years.

The display will have the highest pixel density to date for the iPhone and like the 8, will have True Tone, which I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time. It will also have the same Wide Colour Gamut that is present on my MacBook Pro. Before I sold my older MacBook Pro I compared the two displays and wow, what a difference WCG makes. It’s really makes photos pop. And speaking of photos, and photography in general, the camera in iPhone X is what excites me most about the device.

Ok, before I move on to the camera, I simply must mention the new security features of iPhone X. Gone is Touch ID because also gone is the Home button that has been front and centre on every iPhone since the first release ten years ago. The rumour mill was correct when it said Face ID was coming to the X. But what it didn’t know (to my knowledge) was the technology being it, at least not completely. The wow moment for me watching the Keynote was when they said the TrueDepth camera uses over 30,000 invisible dots to draw a depth map of your face. I mean, there is a lot more to it, but I was really blown away with the way this thing recognizes the user and even needs you to be looking at it to work. And it can tell in the dark too. Just very cool tech, period.

The camera. I guess I should say cameras. The TrueDepth camera on the front of iPhone X is taking selfies to a whole new level. It uses computational photography to give a sharp self portrait while blurring the background for a nice artistic feel. A new feature called Portrait Lighting is a real game changer too. Like I mentioned earlier, it might just make me want to take more photos of people. The Stage Lighting section can even blacken out the background of a photo so just the subject is showing, which gives it a real “studio” type of look to it. The 7MP TrueDepth camera is capable of 1080p video and has an aperture of f/2.2.

The rear cameras are 12MP each and both have optical image stabilization. The wide angle has an aperture of f/1.8 and the telephoto is f/2.4, so low light performance with the X should be much better than what I’m used to with my 6s. Shooting 4K video has been ramped up to 60 fps and I’ll be able to take 8MP stills while shooting video.

The sample photos they displayed during the Keynote were very nice, but when I saw them on Apple’s website on my MacBook Pro, they really came to life. I can’t wait to try this thing out. I think it will really reignite my passion for photography, not that I’ve lost it, but I’ll want to explore new avenues and shoot out of my comfort zone.

There will always be those who were underwhelmed by the announcement today. Myself? Since I follow Apple rather closely in the tech news space I knew exactly what they were going to show us, even with the TV and Watch stuff. But I can really appreciate what Apple puts into developing new products. It’s a shame there are so many leaks and I would be just as content listening to the news without hearing any leaks, but that seems to be part of it. I guess all I can do now is wait and hope I don’t have to wait too long after the launch date on November 3rd to get one.

A Bold Move – Why I Sold My Canon Gear

Sometimes people do the craziest things. I tend to be a pretty conservative fellow — you know, err on the side of caution, that sort of thing. But recently I made a decision that will, in a small way, change my life. Well, the photography side of my life at least. I have decided to become an iPhone only photographer, or an all out iPhoneographer.

I’ve had some sort of Canon DSLR for that past thirteen years and have enjoyed them immensely. My Canons have been great tools for capturing some pretty nice photos and there are much better cameras out there than the ones I’ve owned but I have also been having a lot of fun taking pictures with my iPhone, and the challenges that come with it.

You might say taking photos with an iPhone couldn’t be any easier. I mean really, you just point… and click, or tap, and voila, you have the shot, right?

Edited with Polarr Photo Editor
This photo was in a gallery exhibition

Well, let me tell you, if you’ve never tried to get a really good photo with an iPhone, it isn’t that easy. Sure, it isn’t rocket science, but getting a shot that has the potential to be confused for a DSLR image has its challenges and using an iPhone has its limitations.

Speaking of limitations, some of you reading this might be thinking I’m off my rocker for leaving the DSLR scene with all of its possibilities to a very limited one in that of the iPhone. I knew that full well going into this. And believe me, this isn’t a spur of the moment decision. I have been mulling over this for probably two years now. I was just waiting to see if that “ah ha” moment would ever come to push me over the edge of uncertainty. That moment has been manifesting itself in a few different ways over those two years.

I began this thought process when the iPhone started to get good at taking photos. For me that started in October of 2013 when the iPhone 5s was released. The technology in that thing was very cool. It was the first iPhone that, when you tripped the shutter, would take a series of four images almost simultaneously, instantly analyze them and give you the sharpest one. I was impressed, but what impressed me more was the quality of the photos I was taking. And no, I realize they aren’t DSLR photos, I get that. But for images produced from a PHONE, they were pretty good. The continuing evolution of iPhone cameras kept increasing my faith in them as something I could use exclusively. The increase from 8 MP to 12 in the 6s was all but the icing on the cake for me and since I get a new iPhone every two years, I’m very excited to see what the 2017 model will have. Oh, and that’s a good point too. I get a new camera every other year!

Digging deeper into why I took this plunge, there are my reasons for taking photos in the first place. I’m not a professional so I don’t make a living doing photography. I don’t often print my photos, although I’m a firm believer that it helps to improve one’s photos. For the type of photography I do, I really don’t need a fancy full frame DSLR and big, expensive, top quality lenses. My memories and my works of art are generally reserved for my own menagerie of pixels stored on a hard drive both at home and abroad (my backups), and the ones I deem worthy are shared for you and anyone else who cares to take a look at them on a small handful of online portals. A good friend of mine once referred to me as a “social media” photographer, which is arguable, but I prefer to be called a “photographer,” just like anyone else who creates photos with a camera.

With an iPhone I can explore various types of photography all on the same device, and a versatile arsenal of apps allows me to do things like instant HDR, black and white, or even an upside down view camera style of photography just to name a few. It’s like having a darkroom right in my pocket. The limitations of the iPhone with regard to taking photos is, in my opinion, balanced quite nicely with the ever expanding possibilities for creating art provided by the thousands of people who create the apps available to us.

I spoke earlier about not needing expensive lenses and such. I don’t. But I have acquired a set of lenses that I can attach to my iPhone to expand my photographic experience. Again, the quality is not like that of my Canon stuff but I’m ok with it. The close up work I can do
with the macro lens was probably the IMG_2157
final deciding factor for making my switch to iPhoneography. I never did own a macro lens for my Canon so I hadn’t experienced the world up close but I’m loving it, and this little kit of lenses cost less for all five than the cheapest of Canon lenses.

I could go on and on about what I like about iPhoneography but I’m sure a lot of those who began reading this have already moved on. If you are still here, thank you for your interest. I want to close by saying that I hope my peers don’t think any less of me as a photographer. I still know the craft. I’ll still help those in need whenever I can, and I will still learn from other photographers just as I have for most of my life. I know there will be times when I won’t be able to do what my peers are doing in their photography, but that’s okay, I’ve already accepted that. Currently I have two goals for my iPhoneography. Well, okay, one goal and one dream. The goal is to capture an image of the milky way. The dream? Well, it’s a long shot, but my dream is to be featured in the Apple World Gallery where, if selected, one of my images will occupy billboards around the world and be printed on the back cover of thousands of magazines. The goal is more likely to happen than the dream but hey, there’s nothing wrong with “shooting for the stars” now, is there?

My Most Popular Photos

I thought I’d check out my most popular photos on Flickr and surprisingly, they’re both iPhone photos. The top ranked photo seems to get views just about every day. It’s a simple photo of a cup of coffee, which just happens to be one of the most popular beverages on the planet. I’m guessing the reason this image gets so many views is because people search for “coffee” on Flickr or in a search engine, and because I named the photo “Coffee”, it must show up. In fact, the photo had three views in the time it took me to prepare this post. This image has never appeared on the Flickr Explore page where you get a lot of “exposure” and it has received no “faves”, meaning no one has favourited it. The view count is currently sitting at 881.

The photo was taken with my iPhone 4s and edited in an app called Snapseed.

Here’s “Coffee”.

My favourite beverage.
My favourite beverage.

My second most popular photo is one I took recently with my iPhone 5s at a place called Saugeen First Nations Amphitheatre. It’s simply a bench sitting in front of a stone wall that has some vines and flowers growing up it. The image was also edited in Snapseed. 

This photo did make it to the Explore page. It still hasn’t caught up to “Coffee” but it has received some fave love by some thirteen out of 728 people who have viewed it.

I call this one “Amphitheatre Bench”.

Amphitheatre Bench
Amphitheatre Bench

You can see more of my photography at reddoor.photos

Someone’s Farm

Someone's Farm by gregmcmillan
Someone’s Farm, a photo by gregmcmillan on Flickr.

On a recent day trip to the McMichael Gallery we wanted to get some pictures of an old abandoned house. As I jumped out of the car to start our little venture, this farm across the road caught my eye. I spent all of about three seconds composing and shooting the scene.
The display at the gallery consisted of images by Edward Burtynsky and Ansel Adams. As you can see by the edit on this image, I was very influenced by Adams. I truly believe I will never be able to produce a black and white edit that would come close to Ansel’s work, but I will definitely be studying the Zone System in a lot of my future works.