Using an iPhone in the field
Iím photographing in Portugal at the moment, and have been having an interesting time using an iPhone as one of my primary tools. I havenít seen much here in the forums on the topic, so I thought Iíd summarize my workflow in case it helped anyone else.
Iím shooting primarily Neopan 400 (in 6x7 format) on an RB67 with three lenses (65/90/180mm). Iím metering using my trusty Sekonic L-358. Iím using a tripod for everything, so thereís plenty of time for composition and exposure calculation.
Although Iím quite familiar with shooting with only a camera & meter, Iíve found the iPhone is quite handy for the following (all apps are either standard Apple apps or downloadable from the App Store using iTunes):
As Iím composing on the tripod, Iím using the iPhone as a spirit-level, using the Clinometer app ($0.99). I launch Clinometer, then set the iPhone on top of the open RB67 waist-level viewfinder. I usually adjust for level only in the left-right axis, as the front-back adjustment is part of the composition and doesnít need to be Ďcorrect.í
* DOF calculation
Iíd like to say I use one of the many available DOF applications, but actually Iíve found that none of them are very intuitive or useful. I have downloaded PhotoBuddy, PhotoCalc, and Visual Dof Calculator. These apps might be helpful for someone with less shooting experience, but mostly what the apps do I can either calculate on the lens itself (using distance scales), or I know intuitively.
* Reciprocity calculation
So far Iíve just used the regular Calculator app (in scientific mode), with the formula found somewhere online of Tc=Ti+(0.3*Ti^1.62), where Ti is the indicated speed and Tc is the corrected speed.
* Field notebook
I use the standard Notes application to keep track of information about each roll and shots on that roll. I simply start a new note for each roll, using a sort of shorthand like this:
081210. Rb67. NeopanI use periods instead of other punctuation because itís easy to type ó on the iPhone, if you press the Ďspaceí button twice, you get a period followed by a space.
1. Path. 8@125. 90mm
2. Olive tree. 5.6@250
3. Blue bird bench. 8@250
4. ". 16@60. 65mm
5. Steps w/ Goldfinger. 11@60
6. Path with gutter around tree. 5.6@30. 90mm
7. Wall with plants. 11@400
8. Trellis. 8@400. 180mm-pol
9. ". 8@60
10. Stones. 16@250. 180mm-pol
The first line is the roll ID (I use year/month/day, plus Ďaí, Ďbí, Ďcí, etc. for additional rolls on a given day), camera name, and film type.
The rest of the lines contain:
- Frame number
- Aperture/shutter set
- Lens, with any filters (Ďpolí = polarizer)
If a value hasnít changed on a successive shot (eg, Iím still using the same lens), I leave that out, or use a double-quote mark.
Iíll also note location, date (if different than the roll ID), and other information I want to remember.
Once Iíve finished a roll, I simply email the note to myself. If Iím out of range of a wireless or cellular network, the iPhone will queue the note to be emailed later.
* Reference shots
I use the standard Camera app to take two digital photos of each shot: one is taken normally from roughly the same point of view, and one is taken of the viewfinder itself (with the magnifying glass up, which seems to give the best focus). This latter shot is often quite rough, but serves as a decent reference image until I develop the film.
Just like with any photo on the iPhone, I transfer images back to the computer using iPhone.
* Post-shooting organization
Back on my Mac, I collect the roll notes and the reference images into a new folder. I rename the reference images to relate to the shots (eg, Ď081211.01.vf.jpgí is the viewfinder reference image for the shot #1 on the roll Ď081211í). I run a script I wrote to process my shorthand notes into EXIF tags; these tags are then written into the pair of reference images. (The tags mimic all the shot information, including exposure, camera type, etc.). I can then drag the set of reference images into Adobe Lightroom and, voila, all the metadata is accurate.
Once I develop & scan the negatives, I copy the EXIF information from the reference shots into the new scan files. I can then delete the reference shots if I want to.
* Whatís missing?
While all this works reasonably well, there are definitely some things Iíd like to change.
Using the Camera, Clinometer, and Notes app (not to mention the DOF apps) requires a lot of switching applications. This is tiresome on the iPhone, since I have to press the Home button and mentally readjust to the new app.
It would be nice to making the process involve fewer button presses and be more transparent. Iím considering writing an iPhone app that would let you create a new roll, then add new shots to that roll. For each shot, it would let you take a variety of reference images. It would remember the information from shot to shot, and show a simple level control on the same screen. All the information would then be more tightly related to each other.
Since my Sekonic meter can calculate exposure in EV units, it would be nice to simply input that number into an iPhone app which then helps me calculate aperture and shutter values based on a given ISO rating. This could also take into account filter & bellows factors, as well as reciprocity failure.
A more intuitive and useful DOF calculation would be great. What I want is to be able to input the points I want in focus (eg, main focus on 2 meters, with 1 meter in front and 2 meters in rear to be in focus), and have the iPhone calculate the appropriate aperture, given CoC tolerance, film format, etc.
Anyway, I hope this is useful, or at least interesting to those of you who have an iPhone, or are considering getting one.
Is anyone else using an iPhone in the field?