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Book Review : iPhone Obsessed: Photo Editing Experiments With Apps by Dan Marcolina

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During the course of a year, author Dan Marcolina, obsessed with taking pictures with his iPhone, began to experiment with mobile images. During this time he became even more obsessed with the various ways he could process these images. He began collecting and combining applications to explore new image iterations.

Which brings us to iPhone Obsessed – the results of the authors work. This book, which is meant to be both inspirational as well as educational, is filled with the resulting images along with coverage of 47 different iPhone photo apps and how they can combine to create different looks. iPhone Obsessed is 192 pages in length and is contained in 12 chapters.

Chapter 1, “Capturing the Mobile Moment,” looks at how easy it is to take a lot of images when your camera is your phone and you always have it with you. Here you will see what makes the author pull out his camera, how he frames the moment, and takes the shot. Chapter 2, “Straightforward,” now begins to look at some apps that are setup and finishing tools. These applications primarily add punch to a straight shot. They include Photoshop Express, Iris Studio, Perfectly Clear, and many more.

Chapter 3, “Grunge,” is for when you want to take a clean and sharp image and you want to give them a rough look. These apps allow you to scratch, blotch, and give an image a bit of mystery. The apps looked at here are FotoMuse, PicGrunger, and PhotoCopier. Chapter 4, “Blurs and Vignettes,” describe ways to make images look less clear. This is important when you want to give an image a dreamier look to it. Here you will work with TiltShift, BlurFX, and CameraKit.

Chapter 5, “Toon Looks,” strips away the detail and leaves just lines and color, giving it a cartoon effect. These apps can add interest to an uninteresting image. They include ToonPaint, Percolator, and ArtistaHaiku. Chapter 6, “Film Looks,” brings out the creamy colors, raw grains, and enchanting light leaks that traditional film gave to an image. You will see how to use PlasticBullet, FilmLab, and Hipstamatic to achieve this kind of look.

Chapter 7, “Painting Looks,” examines how you can turn a photo into a painting or photo illustration. By the nature of a mobile photo, you can render just enough detail to give an effective painted look through the use of Artist’s Touch, ArtistaOil, and SketchMee. Chapter 8, “High Dynamic Range,” uses the apps ProHDR, and TrueHDR to get beyond the limitations of the small sensor that is in the iPhone. Here you will see how to blend the highlights of a dark image with the shadow areas of a light image to capture a much more dynamic range of light.

Chapter 9, “Breakouts,” are apps that segment, dissect, and combine images allowing you to create more complete stories or imply a message through a juxtaposition of subjects. Apps include Diptic, QuadCamera, LoFi, adlib, Cubism, and more. Chapter 10, “Adding Light,” can give a picture more soul, but you must do it with some restraint. By using the apps LensFlare, Light, and LightLeak, you can accentuate an image with new life.

Chapter 11, “Auto Effects,” are apps that can give some instant gratification. These apps — PictureShow, LoMob, and CameraBag — can combine some of the best grunge, paint, light, toon, and blur effects together to produce some gratifying looks. Chapter 12, “Parting Shots,” takes a look at some apps that the author was just getting to know as well as some that didn’t fit into the categories of the other chapters. These include Bad Camera, PinHole Camera, Filterstorm, and many more.

iPhone Obsessed is a really unique book that takes things to a new level with regard to both the iPhone and the apps that you can use with the camera. One of the things that it opens up is the use of layers. There are many places where the author will take a photo, process it in the camera – sometimes multiple ways, then pull it in to Photoshop and process it some more.

The other thing is that it has barcode tags that, through a free app, you can scan with your iPhone, and it will take you to an online source of more information, four hours of videos, and other things to enhance your reading experience.

iPhone Obsessed is a very impressive reference of material that is aimed at anyone who loves taking pictures and wants to learn to do more with their iPhone. If you fall into this group, no matter what your skill level – rookie to pro — I can highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.