What the HEIC is Apple’s New Image Format?

Apple’s iOS 11 update changes the way we capture and store images on our iPhones and iPads. A new default image format HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format, pronounced “heef”), created by the developers of the MPEG video format, is designed to save storage space whist maintaining photo quality. HEIC is the file format name Apple has chosen for the HEIF standard and files may appear as .HEIF in the metadata of an image.  

After 25 years of accepting JPEG as a common image format it is not surprising that an alternative has been developed to potentially surpass and replace it. HEIC makes it possible to store twice as many photos in the same space AND potentially have them look better. HEIC acts as a container for images and audio and Apple uses it to store still images encoded with the HVEC (H.265) video format. This adaptation lies at the heart of Live Photos as multiple images can be saved within container.

Compatibility outside of iOS 11 is, at least for the time being, a consideration. Images convert to JPEG automatically when you need to transfer them to other platforms or social media sites. There are a number of converters on the market already for handling HEIF files on Windows. The HEIC format can be turned off in the iPhone or iPad settings.

Up to now, I haven't had any major issues with the file format and I've opened them in numerous apps and transferred back and forward to my iMac and MacAir devices which are not yet upgraded to High Sierra. 

One word of caution is that Live Photos captures a high resolution still image and 1.5 seconds of movie before and after you take the shot. When choosing the new Long Exposure feature, the system cleverly stacks and blends the frames together and produces a great looking motion blur effect (tripod recommended). Whilst the image is more than acceptable for sharing on social media, closer inspection will show that the quality is less than the original still image. This is because the video, albeit high quality, is not at the same resolution of a still image. Furthermore some cropping will take place, in my example the image with the effect was approx 10% smaller. The overall quality was not as sharp or detailed as the original even though a tripod was used. 

Live Photo Original

Live Photo Original

Live Photo Long Exposure

Live Photo Long Exposure

Floridian Skies

I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Florida over the last thirty years or so. The reason for so many returns to the southeasternmost U.S. state is mostly for the boundless photographic opportunities. From theme parks to wildlife to seascapes and landscapes there is plenty of subject matter to satisfy the most insatiable photographic appetites. Without doubt, my favourite subjects are the dramatic and vibrant skies that can be found throughout the year, especially during the stormy season. No surprises, all shots were taken on an iPhone.

Bowditch Point at Dawn. © Adrian McGarry 2016

Bowditch Point at Dawn. © Adrian McGarry 2016

I'm no weather specialist, so I can't offer any scientific reasoning as to why the dawns and sunsets can be so exhilarating in Florida but with the right clouds before, during and after a storm, the skies fill with amazing cloudscapes that ignite with a spectacular colours as the sun reflects and refracts off the clouds. Take a stroll down to a beach or a fishing pier at either end of the day and you'll have a front row seat for a most spectacular offering from Mother Nature.

Ft Myers Beach, a storm approaches at dawn. ©Adrian McGarry

Ft Myers Beach, a storm approaches at dawn. ©Adrian McGarry

I have always preferred photographing 'interesting' skies rather than the perfect, uninterrupted, blue skies that are usually associated with postcards. The blue and golden hours before/after the sun rises or sets are my favourite times, I recently listed my top 10 tips for golden hour photography.

Ft. Myers Pier, blue/golden hour. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Ft. Myers Pier, blue/golden hour. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

It's not just we photographers who appreciate this Floridian colour show. From the South West beaches of the Gulf of Mexico all the way through the island chain known as 'the keys' to the most southerly point at Key West, sunsets in particular are celebrated on mass by crowds of tourists and locals alike. Mallory Square in Key West hosts a nightly extravaganza of street performers and music to accompany the setting sun, elsewhere the ritual is repeated as my photograph from Naples Fishing Pier shows.

Tourists and locals gather to watch the sunset from Naples Fishing Pier. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Tourists and locals gather to watch the sunset from Naples Fishing Pier. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

And it's not only the dramatic, storm-fuelled skies that can create beautiful scenes. On quieter days when the clouds hug the horizon and the sky is not so technicolor, I concentrate on foreground interest. Along the coast at Naples there are old pilings that once supported small jetties, presumably serving the beautiful mansions that line a large stretch of the beach. These old relics make beautiful, interesting subjects when set against clouds and the sinking sun.

Naples Beach Pilings at Sunset © Adrian McGarry 2016

Naples Beach Pilings at Sunset © Adrian McGarry 2016

Waiting on a Wave, Naples Beach & Pier ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Waiting on a Wave, Naples Beach & Pier ©Adrian McGarry 2016

And of course Florida beaches have endless palm trees to add interest to a composition.

Endless opportunities to add palm trees into your composition ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Endless opportunities to add palm trees into your composition ©Adrian McGarry 2016

If you would like to know more about my iPhone Photography and live or are visiting the North West of England then please check my events listing or why not join me on a Manchester workshop

 

 

 

Fireworks at Disney World

As exhaustive, exhilarating and expensive though your day in the Magic Kingdom may be, there is nothing to beat the explosive grand finale of the thrilling fireworks spectacular. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is the highest consumer of fireworks in the world and the evening display that illuminates the night sky high above Cinderella's castle is truly magical. Amazing lighting effects interact with a stirring soundtrack in a tribute to Disney characters and films. Overall the event is a wonderful eye-popping extravaganza choreographed to highest Disney standards.  

Walt Disney World Halloween Fireworks © Adrian McGarry 2016

Walt Disney World Halloween Fireworks © Adrian McGarry 2016

The cost of the nightly fireworks is not something that Disney shares. Estimates puts the expenditure at anywhere from $41,000-$55,000 a night! The spectacular New Year’s Eve and seasonal special displays are anticipated to cost over $100,000! That rolls out to at least $15 million a year for Magic Kingdom fireworks alone. Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks also have firework displays that are probably half the cost, that comes out to at least $30 million a year for them. Unconfirmed rumours are that the parking fees (currently $20 per day) pay the bill.

It's a great show-piece and is surprisingly easy to capture on an iPhone as my image above confirms.

 

 

Improve Your Smartphone Photography

Welcome to the age of smartphone photography. This may be the greatest time in history to be a photographer. The majority of us carry a mobile device at all times that includes camera technology capable of capturing images that are hard to differentiate from high-end DSLR shots. If you aspire to create images of a professional standard, now is the time to explore the potential of your iPhone camera.

I launched my iPhone photography workshops earlier this year and they have been extremely popular and successful. Participants, regardless of prior photography skills, discover new apps, workflows, tips and tricks that inspire them to capture stunning photos that they never thought possible with a smartphone.

My iPhone Photography workshop is conducted in Manchester city Centre. 

My iPhone Photography workshop is conducted in Manchester city Centre. 

The workshops are centered around a photo walk within Manchester. The diverse subject in the city allows us to cover many genres of photography including street, urban landscape, long exposure and HDR. The sessions are relaxed and tailored to suit the individual's needs with everything explained in a hands-on, friendly way. The emphasis is to have fun whilst capturing great shots. Martin Bennett from Urmston recently joined me on a workshop and has this to say; "Adrian was extremely accommodating and easy to work with right from the point of making an enquiry and everything about the day itself was well organised, relaxed and friendly. I really got the sense that Adrian wanted me to get as much as I could out of the day."

From inexperienced to advanced users, my workshops are tailored to suit individual skill levels and photographic goals. Each workshop is intended as a one-to-one training session, however up to two additional participants of similar skill levels can be included if you prefer.

Martin, a recent workshop attendee photographing the Beecham Tower, one of Manchester's iconic buildings. I provide the use of a tripod for HDR and Log Exposure shots.

Martin, a recent workshop attendee photographing the Beecham Tower, one of Manchester's iconic buildings. I provide the use of a tripod for HDR and Log Exposure shots.

Nicola Warwick from Chorley was another recent workshop attendee and says; "Adrian was generous with both his time and his knowledge, we spent a very pleasant few hours exploring Manchester's Northern Quarter in Manchester, discovering photographic subjects down the backstreets that I'd not come across before. I'd been looking forward to our 1:1 session and it was just brilliant!"

The good news is that I am keeping the workshops running throughout the coming months and taking bookings through until the end of the year. The workshop lasts around 3 hours and costs £75 (a £20 deposit is required). Times and days of the week are flexible but are not available during evenings. Add up to two additional participants with similar skill levels to yourself for £60 per person (£20 per person deposit required).

You can book your workshop here.

I am also available to present lectures to photographic societies, art clubs, corporates and private functions. These fast-paced presentations include examples of my work and real-time demonstrations of techniques and workflows. South Manchester Camera Club recently responded following my presentation; "Terrific. Thanks for a superb night’s instruction." In early September I visited Warrington & District Camera Club and they had this to say;" The whole event was very enjoyable and you presented it in a very engrossing and exciting manner. We'd definitely recommend this to another camera club!"

My presentations are fast-paced, entertaining and full of tips, examples and information..

My presentations are fast-paced, entertaining and full of tips, examples and information..

My next smartphone photography event is on October 27th when I will be presenting 'iPhone Photography & More' in Gatley, at the United Reformed Church Halls. If you ever wanted to ask questions or find out more about iPhone photography then this is a perfect opportunity. When I appeared at Chapel Camera Club earlier in the year they said; "If you don’t own an iPhone, you’ll certainly want one after Adrian’s convincing talk. You’ll be putting your DSLRs away."

Whether you're totally new to photography, or a seasoned pro, there's a lot to be gained by attending my workshops and presentations. Inspire and ignite your imagination to get the very best out of your smartphone photography that will leave others wondering how you ever achieved such remarkable results with just your phone!

Any questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

Create Photo Art Workshop

Explore The Art of Mobile Photography

Following many requests, I'm very excited to announce a new creative workshop for 2017. Please join me at Stockport Art Gallery as I invite you to explore your creativity beyond the capture of a photograph. Discover a thrilling and captivating world of art that can be created on an iPhone or iPad with a few inspiring apps.

My unique approach to creating photo art is guaranteed to successfully teach participants how to create stunning artwork from photos - even if they have never previously painted. Don't worry if you are new to smartphone photography or apps, this 3 hour masterclass is suitable for all abilities to develop their own creativity with ease and fun.

Saturday March 4th 2017, 12 noon.
Stockport Art Gallery and War Memorial

Wellington Rd South, Stockport SK3 8AB 

Price: £25 per person  - Take advantage of the early bird pricing of £20 per participant with just £5 deposit. Places are limited, so why not book now to secure your place and avoid disappointment.

The workshop is designed for you to take part with either an iPad or iPhone, alternatively you may follow the workshop and take notes for later use. I will send a list via email of apps that will feature at least one week before the workshop date so that you may purchase and install them if you wish. Some of the featured apps are free to download.

Refreshments will be available on the day, you are also welcome to bring your own snacks and drinks.

I look forward to welcoming you in Stockport's beautiful Art Gallery.

iPhone In The Hands of The Pros

Following on from all the coverage of Apple's iPhone 7 launch last week, I'm excited to see photos emerge that have been taken with unreleased iPhone 7 cameras. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted links to Sports Illustrated and ESPN last weekend highlighting images taken with the company's latest smartphone.

Tim Cook Tweet SI
Tim Cook ESPN Tweet

Sports Illustrated photographer David E. Klutho took photos at the Titans-Vikings NFL game in Nashville. The images look superb and if we hadn't been told in advance that they were shots taken with a smartphone we would never have guessed as they they do not look out of place amongst the other images on S.I.

At the same time ESPN photographer Landon Nordeman was covering the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. His series of images were again captured using the new iPhone 7 Plus camera which is set for release tomorrow, Friday Sptember 16th. "The autofocus and exposure performed exceedingly well in various lighting conditions" commented Nordeman.

On assignment for TIME, professional photographer Corey Arnold was also one of the first to get his hands on the new phone, testing it in the canyons of America's stunning Zion national park. The resulting images, he says, are stunning: “I’m impressed with the improvements from the iPhone 6s Plus." 

Professional travel photographer Austin Mann is no stranger to the iPhone. He has test-driven previous Apple devices and he's done the same with the iPhone 7. In conjunction with Nat Geo Travel and Nat Geo Adventure, Mann visited Rwanda to track gorillas and put the new camera features through exhaustive testing. 

The video "review" (below) about tracking mountain gorillas is a beautifully produced 9 minutes long mini-documentary. Austin Mann's photos and full review can be found on his website.

Aside from the excitement of seeing the first photos emerge from the new camera, it isn't anything new for professional photographers to use the iPhone for their work. Take for instance Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer, who has long taken behind-the-scenes photos of US President Obama, his family and the various daily ongoings at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Pete Souza on Instagram

Pete Souza on Instagram

Indie writer and director Sean Baker used an iPhone 5s to create Tangerine, a movie which made a big impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. He has again repeated the act with Snowbird, a beautifully shot short film featuring model/actress Abbey Lee.

For years, professional wedding photographer Sephi Bergerson had wanted to shoot an entire wedding with just an iPhone. With the iPhone 6s Plus he finally advanced had to technology and fulfilled his plan and beautifully captured the wedding of bride Ayushi and groom Abhishek in India.

For the ultimate example of a professional photographer getting the best out of the iPhone look no further than Kevin Russ. His self-made job saw him abandon everyday life for a constant road trip, living out of his car, documenting the epic, rugged landscapes of America almost exclusively on an iPhone. He became a huge hit on Instagram in 2013 and the following year saw him embark on an even more testing journey through the Southwestern United States, hopping freight trains with just his phone and minimal possessions. 

Tomorrow, when the iPhone 7 goes on general release be prepared for a swell of images shared throughout social media and blogs. Technically, the images will range from stunning-to-average-to-poor emphasising what we already know - that regardless of the technology, the best images are made by the most competent photographers. The iPhone 7 once again confirms that the best camera is the one you have with you.

New iPhone May Touch A RAW Nerve

It's official... Apple has unveiled iPhone 7. Increased battery life, new Jet Black colour version, dust and water proofing, larger storage options were all included in this latest update of the world's best-selling smartphone. The additions were equally as newsmaking as the controversial omission of the headphone jack; the era of tangle-free, wireless listening is now upon us.

Re-engineered, the iPhone 7 Plus.

Re-engineered, the iPhone 7 Plus.

It is major changes to the iPhone camera system though that has enthralled iPhone Photography enthusiasts like myself, leaving us eager to upgrade to the latest model. The iPhone 7and 7 Plus boast a re-engineered 12-megapixel camera with larger f/1.8 aperture, six-element lens and new image processor. Optical image stabilisation is now standard on both models (previously limited to the Plus). Apple claims the camera is 60% faster than previous models and will record more detailed photos and videos with increased noise reduction in low-light conditions. There is also a new 7MP front-facing camera and improved, smarter, LED flash onboard too. Pretty impressive, however it's Apple's changes to the flagship Plus model that has left me scrambling to pre-order. Embedded in the iPhone 7 Plus model is a second 12-megapixel camera with a focal length of 56mm offering a 2x optical zoom; a first for the iPhone. As if this wasn't enough there is the promise of an intelligent shallow depth of field portrait mode coming later in the year.

Alongside these hardware changes is the imminent launch of iOS 10 billed as Apple's "biggest software release ever". Improved messaging, maps, notifications, news, Siri interaction, Home Kit and Photos app all feature in this major overhaul of the mobile operating system. The standout news is that photographers will be able to edit raw files taken with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus cameras. I'm expecting third party developers to take advantage of this option in a big way. Adobe with their Lightroom app and Google with SnapSeed have recently introduce RAW editing into their latest releases. 

Inevitably, there will be those that sneer, snipe and reject the device as a below par photography gadget. Good enough for the 'Instagram Generation' and wannabes but never anywhere near the ultimate perfection that 'serious' photographers insist upon. I have come across a certain amount of pomposity within some photography circles that dismiss anything that isn't produced by Canon or Nikon and that doesn't carry an eye-watering price tag. Opinions that are possibly aired by the same, or like, individuals who a decade ago were dismissing digital cameras as inferior toys, yet today proudly own an all-singing high-end DSLR. Comparisons can also be drawn with those who once decried the use of Photoshop editing over the art of traditional darkroom techniques, yet now boast an Adobe Creative Suite subscription and 'educate' us on best practices in Lightroom workflow. 

Refreshing then to hear that Magnum pro photographer Christopher Anderson, who has already been shooting with the new iPhone, quoted by Apple as saying "This iPhone is going to be a part of any professional's repertoire of tools. The camera didn't just handle low light, it rendered the separation of colours in a way that reminds me of film. Just Beautiful."

There is no substitute for experience, no fast-track to honing skills and perfecting competence; it is my belief that a skilled photographer will create a worthwhile shot on almost any device. Professional travel photographer and iPhone user Jack Hollingsworth took to Twitter to say "Smartphones still need smart photographers to create smart photography".

@photojack

Professional photographer Jason Nocito who has also been using the pre-release iPhone 7 says "I love the depth of field capabilities and the ability to shoot fast without losing sharpness. This iPhone proves you don't need a five figure rig to be a great photographer. This camera is gonna change the game." 

Truth is companies are commissioning work on the iPhone, stock photos taken with an iPhone are being purchased for ad campaigns and editorials, I run workshops with companies who wish to empower staff to take images for social media and web work. The purists aren't happy as they see newbies eroding their livelihood. It is an uncomfortable truth that technology has just about changed every industry on the planet and those who transition their business models to adapt to new trends and practices will be the ones who ultimately survive and succeed.

The iPhone is not a DSLR and vice-versa, each has its own merits and come into their own in certain conditions. However, the iPhone cannot be ignored any longer as a fad or a toy, it is a serious piece of kit that is evolving at a pace that many of us wished for but never thought possible.