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Changing Portrait Mode on the Fly

The last thing that photo subjects want when we're taking their picture is for us to waste a lot of time fooling with our camera. If you're using Portrait Mode on a recent model iPhone, you may be tempted to scroll through the options at the point of capture. There's really no need to... that is if you're using Photos for macOS High Sierra to manage your images.


When you open your Portrait Mode image in Photos, and go to editing mode, you'll see all of the same options that were available at capture. So if you recorded in Natural, but decided later that you wanted Studio, you can make that change in Photos. No pressure, no problem.

So, just make sure you're in any Portrait mode, then fire away. Your photo subjects will thank you.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

A New Way to Charge My Smartphone

Just like most folks, my smartphone is an integral part of my working life. It's the camera that I always have with me, my lifeline to clients, the controller for the Spark, my navigation system, and my #1 information source. So keeping it charged is critical to all of these activities.


In the waning days of my iPhone 6S, it would only hold a charge to about 5 pm each day. My routine had been to plug it in at night, then unplug it the next morning and use it until it ran out of gas.

At first that routine lasted me an entire day, unless I was engaged in something unusual, such as serving as navigator on a road trip. But over time, it began to lose its endurance.

I did a little research on the subject, and I made a few notes. I can't substantiate any of these because I am not a Lithium battery expert. But here's what I came up with.

  • The best time to recharge a battery is when it's about half empty.
  • Leaving a battery in the charger long after it's reached 100 percent capacity puts it through unnecessary cycles, thereby shortening its life.

Based on this, I decided to try a new routine with my iPhone X. Here's my current approach:

  • Do Not plug in the iPhone at night and leave it charging until morning. Instead, I put it in Low Power Mode (which is very easy via the Control Center).
  • During the day, I give it a quick top off when it's at 50 percent level. I can do this at my desk or with the portable charger that's always in my bag (since the firestorm). This usually only takes an hour or so. Then, I unplug it when it's at 100 percent.
  • When I don't need the phone, such as at the movies, I put it in Low Power Mode at the same time I silence it. Again, the easy access via the Control Center makes this simple.

That's all there is to it. I've made a few minor adjustments that are already natural. And over time I'll be able to gauge their effectiveness.

The iPhone X seems to have an excellent battery. I'd love to keep it that way for years to come.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

The 6mm f/2.4 camera on the iPhone X is a welcome addition for those of us previously using single-camera handsets. Have the option to use a stabilized mild telephoto in addition to the wider lens is helpful not only for portraits, but for landscape work as well.

IMG_0381.jpg "Under the Bridge" - Captured with the 6mm camera on an iPhone X at f/2.4. Photo by Derrick Story.

And since the recorded image goes directly into my Photos for macOS library, I can finish off the image using the Luminar editing extension. The workflow is very fast, and the results are appealing.

This is not to say that I'm ditching my mirrorless. But when I went for a bike ride the other morning, all I had was my iPhone X in my pocket. And thank goodness I didn't have to pass on this shot just because I didn't bring my full camera kit with me.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

iPhone X - What Do You Want to Know?

I've received my shipping notification for a 256 GB iPhone X. It should arrive the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (which I think is perfect!). In the meantime, I'm going to be figuring out the scenarios that I will use for testing the new device. And it dawned on me, if you want me to look at anything specifically, now's a great time to ask.


Here's my scenario. I'm upgrading from an iPhone 6S. I use Photos for macOS, Photos for iOS, Luminar, and Capture One Pro. I do shoot RAW files with the iPhone, as well as video and Live Photos. iPhone photography makes up about 1/3 of my total captures.

If you want me to look at anything specific, here's how to submit your query:

If I have any follow up questions, I'll ping you back via the email you provide. I can't promise that I will address every question. Sometimes folks get really specific on these things. But I will definitely use these queries to help shape my reporting of the iPhone X.

Thanks a bunch!

You can download RAW Power for iOS for free and transform your iPhone into a powerful mobile post production workstation. The app works on all devices running iOS 11, except: iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPad mini 2 and 3, iPad Air 1, and iPod Touch. I tested it on an iPhone 6S, and it worked great.


The big selling point with this particular processor is that the app was developed by a team led by Nik Bhatt, a former Senior Director of Engineering at Apple and the former Chief Technical Officer of the Apple Photo Apps group. Hence, this app is able to efficiently tap Apple's RAW engine decoder so you can get the most out of your captures. Think mobile Aperture when you think about RAW Power.

In use, the experience is terrific. It interacts seamlessly with iCloud and the Photos library system. Edit in one place and the results are available everywhere. When I opened edited images on my Mac, they looked great and even had the editing badge applied - very, very smooth workflow.

All the tools are available for free except for White Balance, Curves, and Depth Effect (for dual-camera iPhones). You can unlock those for $10.

The one thing to note is that you'll still need an app to capture RAW files with the iPhone. There are a number available. I've been using ACDSee Pro and Lightroom Mobile. I also transfer .ORFs from my Olympus cameras to my iOS devices in the field, then edit those with RAW Power. Either way, once you have the RAWs on your phone, RAW Power does a great job of decoding, adjusting, and helping you organize them. Well done!

Nimble Photographer Logo

RAW Power has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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Like all good citizens in the air, I switch my iPhone to Airplane mode when it's time to takeoff, and I leave it there until landing. But that doesn't mean I'm not taking pictures.

IMG_5159.jpg "Flying Over Oakland" - Captured with iPhone 6S in Airplane mode. Photo by Derrick Story.

Much to my delight, the camera is still recording geotags, even in Airplane mode. So as I'm snapping my way across the U.S., I'll know approximately where each image was captured. How nice is that?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

One of the great things about iPhone photography is that whenever I encounter an interesting scene, I have the ability to capture it. Such was the case last night at a family event.

Pool Scene at Night "Illuminated Pool" - Captured with an iPhone 6S and processed in Luminar. Photo by Derrick Story.

The original shot had the ballroom entrance illuminated with tungsten lighting with the pool in the foreground. My original instinct was to capture the complementary colors of blue and orange. And when I reviewed the images a bit later, I thought they were OK.

But I felt like there was a better shot hidden within this scene. So I opened the photo on my MacBook and started playing with cropping and graphical effects. And there it was. The really interesting composition didn't have the ballroom at all, except as a reflection in the pool. The edited image was more abstract instead of a literal interpretation of the scene. And to be honest, it is far more interesting.

My point is that we often have better images trapped within our ho-hum captures. And thanks to our high resolution capture devices, we can extract the art from within our snapshots, and still have enough pixels for publishing, or even printing.

Take a look at your shots from the last week. Are there any hidden gems?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

iPhone Only Street Shooting

Zach and I caught the E Train last night from Queens to Midtown so I could introduce him to Times Square. He's never been to Midtown before, and I thought 42nd Street would be a good place to start.

times-square-liberty.jpg The Characters of Times Square - Photo by Derrick Story.

Since my focus was on being a tour guide and not a photographer, I decided to leave my gear back in the room and just pack the iPhone. It was an interesting exercise. Normally, my street shooting is a mix of smartphone, mirrorless, and film.

What I liked was the portability. It was easy to keep track of my phone and wallet in the hustle bustle of busy Manhattan. I could shoot RAW when I wanted to, and I didn't draw any extra attention since I was just like the other 10,000 tourists hanging out that night.

What I missed were my lenses. Back in the room I had a 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar and a 17mm f/1.8 Olympus Zuiko. And there were moments when I was craving focusing with those optics. The other thing I missed was looking through a viewfinder. I don't mind capturing off an LCD screen, and sometimes I need to for a particular angle. But I love the "isolation booth" sensation of composing with a viewfinder. I can really get into the shot that way.

I was looking at the images on our subway return trip and thinking about how the night went. I had made the right call. I was focused on Zach and not my cameras. We had a great time. And some of the iPhone pictures were pretty good.

So, apparently, I did choose the right tool for the job at hand.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

No one loves mobile photography more than me. But my toolset goes beyond the iPhone, even though it remains an integral part of the workflow.

olympus-PEN-F-location.jpg The Olympus PEN-F on location. Photo by Derrick Story

What I also like is the act of rotating knurled dials, pressing physical buttons, and looking through a viewfinder. I like the way a well-designed camera with a half case and wrist strap feels in my hands. It makes me want to use it.

And thanks to WiFi, I can still quickly send the picture to my iPhone and publish on Instagram in just a minute or two. The fact that maybe I can enjoy a cup of coffee during the process just makes it all the better.

I just returned from 3 days of driving around Silicon Valley covering events and taking pictures. I used my iPhone all of the time. At moments, it was my camera, and other times it was my publishing conduit.

But when I could, I also reached for the PEN-F. And in the end, I captured more images with it than my smartphone. And I love those shots.

My point is, we don't have to limit ourselves to smartphones, no matter how wonderful they are. There are moments when I want photography to be more than simply tapping a screen. And that's what keeps me enthused about this craft.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

As we rev up for the next iPhone super cycle (10 year anniversary and all), it's sounding like the top of the line handset will tip the scales at $1,000. That's more than what I would spend on a new Pentax KP or OM-D E-M5 Mark II (and the OM-D comes with a free $400 lens). Both are serious tools that I use in my photography business.


Based on Apple's track record, we're also pretty sure that we're going to have to purchase the top of the line model to get the best camera. In a very real sense, many mobile photographers have to look at this investment as photography gear. And as such, it should be pitted against the other cameras and lenses we're considering.

The waters get muddied a bit by the fact that we typically buy our smartphones on payment plans rather than splashing a big charge on to our credit cards. It makes the purchase easy, and therefore the investment might not be accounted for properly.

I'm thinking about all of this because I have an iPhone 6S that will be paid off in September. It's a great handset with a very capable camera. Typically I upgrade my phone every two years.

But I think I need to look at this in a more businesslike matter. If I spend a $1,000 on a new iPhone, that should be accounted for that in my budget (spanning two years). What else do I need? How will the iPhone purchase impact those other items?

The days of getting a semi-free phone with our carrier plan are over. The next iPhone will be a substantial investment, and it should be viewed as such for photographers on a budget.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.