The Great Glasshouse – Contrast in iPhonography

More photos from my iPhone using both the phone’s Camera app and PureShot.

Controlling exposure and white balance can be difficult in certain situations, most especially when there is significant contrast in light within the frame. One way to adjust this with the Camera app is to try out different angles and points of focus until you find a reasonable compromise and then make further adjustment to shadows and highlights in post processing with an app like Adobe Photoshop (the phone version) or Lightroom on your computer.

PureShot allows easy adjustment on screen of the area within the frame that is sensitive to the light when taking your shot. This means that it is much easier to use the angle and composition that you want with little compromise to white balance and contrast. And of course further tweaking is possible in post production. I like the mobile Photoshop app for post production on the phone but another good app I use is SnapSeed.

The first photo (of The Great Glasshouse at NBGW) was taken with the Camera app. Although there was significant contrast between the light coming through the glass roof and the “landscape” inside, it was easy to adjust the angle satisfactorily to allow a good distribution of light or white balance.

The second and third shots were both taken with PureShot as TIFFs, with its exposure control making it possible to handle the contrast between sky and land and inside the glasshouse, “table” and darker plants surrounding it. For detailed info on using either app, I refer people to Emil Pakarklis’ iPhone Photography School.

Botanic Gardens



Memorial to the project architect of the Great Glasshouse

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Fixing Phone Photography

Fixing photographs taken on a phone is easier said than done. Having said that, there is nothing like a challenge. How far you go with any adjustments will depend on the results you want to achieve but there is inevitably going to be some compromise in the end.

Below are different versions of one of the phone photographs taken in the woods at Fforest (see previous posts). The HDR option was switched on and so I had two versions to work with – but neither one was satisfactory! Two much strength in the sunny highlights in the original and too much green saturation in the HDR version. Some darks needed lifting, others not. Some highlights needed recovery, some not.

The first image is the one I will use. The second two images are the two (adjusted) versions of the original shot. The adjustments I made in Adobe Lightroom were not enough to satisfy me. The solution was to combine selected areas of the two versions in Photoshop.

Comments very welcome on this issue.

Fforest Forest-3

Fforest Forest-3 Original and HDR combined and adjusted

Fforest Forest 2

Fforest Forest 2 HDR adjusted


Fforest Forest 1

Fforest Forest 1 Original – adjusted

The last two photos are the original and HDR versions of another shot which are both in their original state from the phone. They illustrate the problem quite well.

Fforest Original

Fforest Original

Fforest  HDR

Fforest HDR