AMITIAE - Friday 19 June 2015

Cassandra: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - Photographic Tools (Updated link)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


When I was writing the eXtensions column for the Bangkok Post, Database, between 2003 and January 2011 there was a fairly healthy relationship with Apple: slow at first - I had to collect the first review item (a G5 PowerMac) myself - it became more fruitful with frequent attendance at press briefings and a good supply of review materials: software as well as hardware. I was also lucky enough to be Apple's guest at the 2007 introduction of the iPhone as well as a number of other visits to MacWorld and WWDC for the keynote presentations.

2007 Keynote There were changes at Apple, both here and elsewhere, as well as a total change at the Bangkok Post. The press briefings stopped; the Bangkok Post, Database ceased publication, but I continued writing on my own.

At the beginning of 2014, I started writing for the Bangkok Post again, in the Life supplement. I dropped a note to those I knew in Apple and apart from a polite acknowledgement, there was silence.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Apple in Singapore: some of the links were being remade. This week I attended the first event: a one-on-one workshop held at the Kempinski Hotel where some of the capabilities of the iPhone camera were to be explained. I have been using the iPhone and its photo capabilities ever since the device arrived here.

A bit underpowered initially, the features and quality of the camera have improved, until with the iPhone 5 I was happy to leave my Nikon DSLR at home sometimes. With the iPhone 6, the camera was improved even more; and in the couple of hours I spent with the Apple personnel, I was pleased to learn much more about what it (and Photos) could do.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), this month the winners of the iPhone Photography Award (IPPA) for 2015 were announced. The top three were Michal Koralewski of Poland, David Craik (UK) and Yvonne Lu (USA). Copyright restricts my use of the images, but the link to the IPPA page will show the winning images as well as those of 57 photographers in 19 categories who were also given awards.

The winning photograph of a street musician playing an accordion in a market square in Warsaw is truly impressive. I find photographs like this (and the others on the IPPA pages) to be inspiring: they make me want to take my cameras out and produce such pictures. Like golf, we must always strive for the great - but often elusive - shot.

iMac demo

The IPPA awards have been running since 2007 and are not connected to Apple, but these are not the only examples of good photography online. Apple's own staff look at images on the internet and have collected some of the best stills and videos on the Apple World Gallery. With the number of photographs that appear on Facebook or Instagram, the iPhone is a superb tool for self-expression, and the World Gallery has some of the best examples.

The images on the page include not only information about the photographers, but also show which apps were used, along with any accessories (such as the olloclip lenses). A major feature of the images - apart from the composition - is the use of light. The lens on the iPhone 6 has an Infrared filter so blues are nicely enhanced, but that is not the whole story.

blue skies

I was aware that the iPhone and iPhone 6 Plus use the A8 processor that was designed by Apple: this processor has power equivalent to a 2012 MacBook Pro. I have always known that by controlling the design, Apple would be able to build into its chips features that no other manufacturer could have.

A good example is the move to a 64-bit processor: it took others some 12 months to catch up. The A8 not only has the system but also a graphics processor; but there is also an optical image stabilisation system built-in to the iPhone 6 Plus.

We also discussed some of the editing capabilities of Photos on the iPhones. While sliding displays are used for adjusting an image easily (Light, Color, B&W). As a user slides the finger across the min-image display under the picture, so the photograph itself changes. This is most effective in the B&W section where the light direction appears to change. This is due to different application of red, green and blue filters: a trick Apple borrowed from Aperture.

Editing in Photos Editing in Photos Editing in Photos

Some users prefer to access the detailed controls available by pressing the three bar-icon to the left of the panel, revealing more controls for each of the options. When a photograph is adjusted using the image panel only, we can see which of the specific adjustments is applied, such as exposure, shadows or contrast. By pressing on the image, any adjustments are (temporarily) removed and the original can be viewed by way of comparison.

I have a fairly large collection of apps, some of which I have used since I had the iPhone 3; but there are apps being released all the time. Apple curates some of these in the app store in its Collections section. This and the other parts of the photography apps like Editor's Choice are regularly updated.

iTunes Photo apps

As we discussed the apps, I passed on information about some of my favourites (645 Pro Mk III, the locally developed Camera 500). We both loved Waterlogue, which led me to mention the recently arrived MobileMonet. While he was demonstrating some of the features of the iPhones, I was shown Mextures by Merek Davis and Fragment. I downloaded Mextures ($0.99) that evening.

iPhones and lemon cake As well as the useful information session, Apple provided me with two iPhones on loan so that I can examine (and write about) more of the photo-features over the next weeks and months. These were a 16 GB iPhone 6 and a 16 GB iPhone 6 Plus and I almost had to sign my life away to take them and their covers away with me.

When I set them up later, I used the SIM card out of my own 128 GB iPhone 6: swapping this around while the initiation processes took place. Because of the fiddly nature of the micro-SIMs now used, I dropped the card on the floor. As a result, I discovered that the SIM trays for the iPhones are not the same: the tray will not close if the wrong tray (6 or 6 Plus) is used in the wrong phone.

After setting up with my Apple ID for iCloud, I also had to set up for the iTunes store. I use separate IDs; but once this was done, I was able to download photo apps I had already purchased, as well as making the single purchase of Mextures. Apart from iA Writer which synchronises via iCloud, all the apps I installed were for photography and image-editing.


I do not intend to acquire separate SIM cards for these extra phones: they have a specific purpose. Any connections can be made via Wi-Fi, which worked fine as soon as the home password was entered. I can also use the Personal Hotspot when necessary. When I arrived at work, the Wi-Fi there connected immediately, using the password from iCloud Keychain.

Some of my colleagues, and the iPhone-owning secretary were intrigued by a couple of the features I was able to show them; but I will save these for other articles.

See Also:

Printastic: The Proof of the Pudding - A Book Made on the iPhone Arrives

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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