Using Your Imagination to See

Aside from its ever-present convenience and its remarkably crisp, vivid image yield, the iPhone’s best trait might be its fun factor. The fun lies in our blind reliance upon it to make decent photographs in any situation. And what could be the most challenging of them all?

Photographing the great outdoors on a brilliantly sunny day, where absolutely no image shows up on the screen, presents us with a challenging situation that doubles as opportunity. We make a giant leap of faith that the spot we’ve pointed the camera towards will be sharp and properly exposed later on when seen in our photo stream. Lacking a viewfinder, our only option is to trust our iPhone’s built-in technical prowess—and our own imagination to see what our eyes cannot. The challenge becomes an opportunity!

“It’s always worthwhile to trust your imagination to see what your eyes cannot.”


The trust in our iPhone’s ability is not often misplaced. The iPhone is remarkable at capturing a scene that we’ll only get to see onscreen later, once we’ve stepped back indoors. But it’s asking a lot of the iPhone camera to perfectly render all of the detail the eye might see on a bright sunny day. That’s where our imagination comes in, with the help of some post-processing apps.

iRiver HDR Scape with Snapseed iPhoneography © 2104 by Jann Alexander
iRiver HDR Scape with Snapseed iPhoneography © 2104 by Jann Alexander

My iPhone 5s photograph of the Guadalupe River as it winds through Gruene, Texas, was made in late afternoon on a still-brilliantly sunny autumn day. Without any screen visibility, and lacking a viewfinder, I just pointed and shot. A few times, just to see what I could see later on, indoors. And what I found later was reliably crisp but lacking the depth of the actual scene, and much detail in the light and dark areas. The first edits I made were in the Snapseed app, with the HDR Scape filter applied gingerly (above), and later the Tune Image filter for sharpness, more brightness, ambience, added contrast, even a bit more saturation.

The original photograph appears here, next to a screenshot of the Tune edits in Snapseed:

Finished? Not hardly. Imagination is a powerful thing, and the Photo fx Ultra app offers a few more arty options than Snapseed, especially in Diffusion filter. How would the image look with a bronzed, glimmering filter added for a glowing effect, or a warm center spot applied, so it’s outwardly unfocused?

Photo fx Ultra Diffusions with Bronze Glimmer iPhoneography © 2104 by Jann Alexander
iRiver in Photo fx Ultra Diffusions with Bronze Glimmer iPhoneography © 2104 by Jann Alexander

Photo fx Ultra Diffusions with Warm Center Spot iPhoneography ©
iRiver in Photo fx Ultra Diffusions with Warm Center Spot iPhoneography ©2014 by Jann Alexander

Screenshots from the Photo fx Ultra app used on my iPad mini, below, show how the two variations in the Diffusion filter were applied:


Why stop when the imagination is beginning to take flight? With the Special Effects filter in Photo fx Ultra, we can travel in time. Changing day for night looks convincingly as though the sun has just touched down, out of view. The screenshot shows how it was done.

The final lesson that reliance on our iPhone’s camera teaches us is this: Once you start using your imagination to see, it’s hard to stop. 

What apps are you using for post-processing your iPhone landscapes?

Find more iPhoneography tricks and photos HERE.  See more creative ways others are using their smartphones for Editing and Post-Processing at Sally’s Lens and Pens, where each week is a new smartphone photo adventure. And please get in touch HERE to buy my custom prints, from $45. 

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