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3 iPad Airs, and 17 Gold Bars
June 11, 2014 9:39 AM   Subscribe

2014 iPhone Photography Awards "All images must be taken with an iPhone, iPod or an iPad. The photos should not be altered in Photoshop or any desktop image processing program."

Commentary on Yahoo!
posted by blue_beetle (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of those are pretty impressive for sure, but a few seem to have been post-processed too aggressively for my taste.

That makes me wonder, with reference to the competition rules: What's the practical difference between "any desktop image processing program" and the stuff available for iPhone/iPad in terms of common manipulations that can or cannot be accomplished? Is it just a matter of being able to define more complex selections for adjustment layers, etc., using desktop tools? Or is it largely an arbitrary consideration just to make sure the iPhone is the only tool being used to create the image, despite the availability of fairly complex image-processing tools for iOS?
posted by Mothlight at 9:57 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Who's behind or funding this? Who are the competition jurors? I couldn't find that info at the site.
posted by raysmj at 10:13 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Who's behind or funding this?

One party can be crossed off the list.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 AM on June 11


These are great, by the way. Thanks for posting this. I take so many photos with my iPhone that it has really improved how I frame shots and how I look for lighting, etc. It is really something else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I take so many photos with my iPhone that it has really improved how I frame shots and how I look for lighting, etc. It is really something else.

I absolutely love my iPhone and iPad for photography. iPad was just made for portraits.

Thanks for the link...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:29 AM on June 11


Is that a photo of someone being arrested under a giant Calder?
posted by fontophilic at 10:29 AM on June 11


Agreed: this implies "no filters or any post-processing." But it's apparent many of these have been tweaked in one form or another. There are a gazillion Apps for the iphone camera...and most of those have features to adjust/filter/tweak *after* the shot is taken.

Very confusing....
posted by CrowGoat at 10:38 AM on June 11


"a few seem to have been post-processed too aggressively for my taste"

I concur wholeheartedly, and I'd go so far as to say the majority of them have seen some form of processing. There were only four that stood out to me as likely being straight out of camera.

As a photographer I have long espoused that your gear is not important, it's the quality of the photographs you produce through your desire to create. I've seen great stuff come from disposable cameras and absolute schlock from gear that costs far more than my car. With that in mind I find it hard to justify creating a reason to celebrate photos specifically taken by a certain piece of hardware, especially with no other restrictions. I agree that there's no grand distinction between "desktop editing program" and using things like VSCO or Snapseed or any of the hundred other editors available for mobile devices.

I would much rather see photography contests selected by age range, or photographer home city, or location of the shot, or type of wildlife, or anything at all other than, "Hey they used this one particular kind of camera! Look what Joe Average can do even with this tiny little thing!" I think it's misleading to give the idea that photography is something special that only pros can do with expensive equipment except now we've cleverly snuck an affordable tool into the hands of civilians and now it's their key to this secret world.
posted by komara at 10:40 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I am currently on holiday in Europe and only have my iPhone for photography. 5 or so years ago I lugged a Canon Rebel TXi around while on holiday. Whether my photography is any better, or worse now, is a mute point. Nonetheless the iPhone takes a pretty damn fine photo most of the time, and is infinitely more convenient to carry around by several orders of magnitude. And that's not taking into account geo-tagging, syncing with DropBox and the ease of posting the inevitable Facebook snaps for the folks back home. Amazing.
posted by vac2003 at 10:43 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


"I think it's misleading to give the idea that photography is something special that only pros can do with expensive equipment except now we've cleverly snuck an affordable tool into the hands of civilians and now it's their key to this secret world."

After thinking on it, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is exactly what they were intending to do - show that photography is not about being a professional with a back-breaking bag of gear.

To that end I would rather have seen a generic 'best smartphone photos' contest instead of limiting it to a particular brand. I mean when's the last time you saw a big national 'Best Samsung Galaxy Photography Contest'? Speaking as an iPhone owner I don't understand the fetish for this particular piece of hardware, but I suppose its name draws attention and makes this contest possible.

I'll just take away from this, "Hey, people are interested in creating good photographs with the tools available to them, and may be inspired by the results of others!" and call it a win.
posted by komara at 11:29 AM on June 11


moot
posted by blue_beetle at 11:39 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


but the little fox he wants to snuggle me so much I can tell.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:49 AM on June 11


These do a neat job of sidestepping, or at least shuffling around the edge of my biggest gripe about the iPhone camera.

Which is the lack of dynamic range. You can generally pick out a not VERY carefully or cleverly taken photo from an iPhone in seconds just by looking at that. Contrast can totally suck too, even with favorable lighting.

I'm not a masterful photographer or anything, but I'd say I'm a long time hobbyist who can take some decent shots from time to time. I wrote a fairly long post earlier this year or possibly even some time last where I compared the best shots id gotten out of an iPhone 4/4s/5 with the best shots id gotten with various DSLRs... And those gripes I had are generally painfully obvious. Noise has improved, as has sharpness. But contrast and dynamic range still kinda suck.

Basically what I'm getting at, is I can take a shot with my NEX 6 in RAW, and probably not have to really do anything but fix the white balance and it'll generally look great. A lot of iPhone shots by comparison just look cheap, and either require lots of post in vsco/photoshop express, or will just always obviously look like they were from a phone. You have to go out of your way to take a really good shot with an iPhone, and I bet most of these were from a pile of tries. Part of it is that if something isn't turning out the way I want on my "real" camera I can just twist a knob and tweak it. The iPhone exposes NONE of that, so sometimes getting a good shot in the first place feels like wrestling an obstinate kid.

I guess it reminds me of the people I know who have ridden a tallbike, big wheel, or fixed gear with a low ratio on the STP or other long ass organized bike rides. It's impressive, but there's an already existing easier way that will get you the same results, if not better, with a lot less hassle.
posted by emptythought at 12:21 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Some very nice photos. I think the last one of the fallen tree is probably my favorite, also doesn't appear to be super heavily manipulated.

The gallery presentation on the front page of the awards site, however, seems to do all it can to make it difficult to consume / enjoy the photos. In many cases I can't even tell where one photo ends and another begins. At least they're not all cropped to square, but a little breathing room wouldn't kill them. And the hover... ugh.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:36 PM on June 11


I thought it was about trying to combat the 'iPhone camera sucks' reputation. I don't know about the other two, but I haven't heard anything good about the phone camera.
This picture goes a long way to change my feelings, although I have no idea what editing was done, other than use 'panorama'.
posted by MtDewd at 12:50 PM on June 11


That landscape with the moon ... how did the photographer ... I mean, it's dark but you can see ... what ....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:55 PM on June 11


There's an iPhone-camera-sucks reputation? I'd always heard the opposite, at least in the world of camera phones.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:56 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


e.g., this review from dpreview.com: "image quality under most conditions is among the top of the class of 'conventional' smartphone camera units".
posted by BurntHombre at 1:01 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the other two, but I haven't heard anything good about the phone camera.

The camera in the original iPhone and iPhone 3G was infamously terrible. 3GS was marginally better but still pretty lousy. iPhone 4 was the first one with a camera that didn't suck, and Apple seems to have been taking camera quality seriously since then.
posted by neckro23 at 1:11 PM on June 11


I take a lot of photographs with my iPhone 4S and a surprising number of them come out not too bad. Often, though, I do use apps like Flickr or Instagram to slap a filter or manipulate an image to make up for short comings of the camera. In those in the, it seems like there's some where someone just happen to have an iPhone, but in others, they set out to take an interesting photograph with it. The real question is....have any of those been printed out yet?
posted by Atreides at 1:51 PM on June 11


have any of those been printed out yet?

This is another thing worth noting. Notice how they're all TINY thumbnails on the site, and even when you click through you get sub-megapixel tiny versions of the images? That's because iphone photos instantly look like crap as soon as you view them not even at pixel peeping 1:1 resolutions, but even just higher res lightboxes on most photo sites.

The impressiveness of most iphone photos completely falls flat when they're viewed in something larger than a facebook photo upload. Even really good stuff like this. You could never print most of these, if not all.
posted by emptythought at 2:13 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


There's an iPhone-camera-sucks reputation? I'd always heard the opposite, at least in the world of camera phones.

No, there isn't. No idea what MtDewd is referring to. The iPhone has been rated as the best, or at least close to the best, for years now.

The only gripes I generally hear about the iPhone are those clueless enough to believe megapixels are the deciding factor when it comes to cameras, and that's an area Apple has not chosen to compete.
posted by justgary at 2:25 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


There's something pretty weird going on in this one. I think it's a composite of two images.
posted by Flashman at 2:53 PM on June 11


No, I think it's just clear water with a rocky riverbed underneath.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:34 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


You could never print most of these, if not all.

Amen.
posted by ReeMonster at 5:18 PM on June 11


"All images must be taken with an iPhone, iPod or an iPad. The photos should not be altered in Photoshop or any desktop image processing program."

Strange rule. The distinction between a "processed vs unprocessed" photograph can take up an entire of chapter of a photography theory textbook and has been part of the discourse since the mid-20th century.

One can argue that ALL photography is "processed" if you consider the automatic algorithms use to convert light on a sensor to pixels on a screen. Choice of film in analogue photography changes the "process" by which a print is produced.

It's rather quaint and naive to consider the processing on a mobile device to be any different to that of a "desktop image processing program".
posted by ianK at 12:09 AM on June 12


As Jerry Pournelle once (or probably many times) wrote, "The best camera is the one you have with you."
posted by lhauser at 5:35 AM on June 12


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