Kevin and Jeff’s Adventure – iPhone Portrait Fun

iPhone low light
It started with this. A test shot of Jeff during a conversation to see how well the new iPhone worked under low light conditions. A pretty good start if you ask me.

It’s a great time to be a photographer. As I look at all the advancements in technology, I realize how lucky we are to experience such a change in the way we see and record life. This article will be the first of many as I start reflecting on my recent adventures in different parts of America. My latest trip was a 12-day trip with Jeff Schewe, who I’m sure many of you know. I have had the opportunity to travel with Jeff to different parts of the world, as we did workshops together. But this trip was special. It was about Jeff and me and our great adventure — just two guys having fun and taking pictures. We traveled from Las Vegas to Reno and visited Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Mono Lake, and Yosemite National Park together. It was a great adventure, and we discovered many places, met some interesting people, and had the chance to come across some of our old and special friends. I’ll have more to say about these in upcoming articles.

Today, I want to share something that happened during our last dinner together.

After a long drive from Yosemite to Reno, Jeff and I thought we should go out to a nice steakhouse and have a celebratory dinner, reflecting on the good times we had and some of our favorite moments. During this trip, we photographed using several different makes of cameras. I shot with the Sony a7riv and a variety of lenses, and Jeff shot with the Nikon Z 7 with a number of different lenses. In addition, we both had a Sony RX100vii, as well as our iPhones. This article is about one of our many iPhone experiences.

A few weeks before our trip, I upgraded my iPhone to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I will be doing an article on this new iPhone. To say it bluntly, this new iPhone is better than I could have imagined. There are many cool things to like about this iPhone, and it shows us that the future of photography is going to be quite incredible. I am going to share a little story and a few pictures from our dinner that night.

iPhone photo
So, Jeff pulls out his iPhone sets it for light and held it to the side of his face, This is the unretouched image that was made. Notice the blurry background. I used portrait mode to make this image. it allows you in editing to vary the depth of field. Pretty cool thing to see Of course I like the blurred background.

Sitting at a high-top table at the Reno steakhouse, Jeff and I discussed some of the new features of the iPhone 11 Pro X. There are many features that make the camera in this phone stand out, and I will expound on these in the future. One of the features that I have come to enjoy is the low-light capability of the camera on the iPhone. I mentioned this to Jeff and decided to see how well it worked in the dim light of the restaurant.

As you can see in the photo, the low-light capability did quite well. The room was dimly lit. Yet you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the photo. I shared the image with Jeff, and Jeff being Jeff got a creative idea. He pulled his iPhone out and set it to “white light” and then held the phone off to the side, lighting the side of his face. I set my iPhone to portrait mode and adjusted Jeff’s pose a bit and took a photo. Jeff then put his iPhone under his face and lit it from a low angle, and I took another photo.

This image of Jeff was cropped a bit and softened using Snapseed on my iPad. Images I shoot with my iPhone go right to the cloud and then download onto all my Apple devices. Pretty cool as it allows me to shot on the iPhone and edit on my iPad with a larger screen.

Wow, the images were pretty damn good. Who would have thought you could do a portrait shot on an iPhone that’s lit by another iPhone and make it look like these? The portrait mode allowed a selective background blur, which is cool to use. Hard to believe these were made in a dimly lit restaurant.

I edited the image a bit further softening a bit more and taking out the distracting lights in the background. I think I made Jeff look pretty good. After looking at this I might be forced to go back and add some detail in the shadow area of Jeff’s shirt to show some detail. But alas it is what it is.

All of this is pretty incredible when you think about it. Jeff and I both come from a school of thought that we should always have a camera with us. We have Jay Maisel to thank for that. Jeff carries his Sony RX100vii on a lanyard, and it hangs from his neck. I carry mine in my pocket, and both of us always have our phones with us.

Next, I tried a BW conversion. I made several versions but settled on this one with a slight tone to it.
Then for giggles and grins, I used another app to give Jeff a painterly look. This was created from the image shown below.

Throughout the trip, we shot many images with the iPhone and even an iPad. We played around and had fun. We also did some pretty serious image-making with our more expensive cameras. We both came back with a ton of images that we will be sharing in some future articles and, as we mentioned, in the recent article: Kevin and Jeff’s Adventure. You can check out the links in that article to view what we shared on our Facebook pages.

This is the shot made with the iPhone used for light held under his chin. Jeff is already a spooky guy and this light just didn't work, but it is till fun. Maybe a bit too spooky for me.
This is the shot made with the iPhone used for light held under his chin. Jeff is already a spooky guy and this light just didn’t work, but it is still fun. Maybe a bit too spooky for me.

There is something special about hanging out with a friend and photographing landscapes together. It’s also fun as a photographer to mess around and play as we did that night in a Reno steakhouse. We were both surprised at how nice the images turned out. It’s incredible to think we took these with an iPhone with no light (except some light from the other iPhone).

Look for more from this trip we did together soon.

Kevin Raber
November 2019
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: Columns, MISC

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