Cell phone cameras are pretty limited, the iPhone's included. Especially when it comes to poor light conditions, like scenes that have a lot of very dark and light areas. You know, when you're taking a photo, and you have choose between the background/foreground, or the person in the photo? No matter where you focus the iPhone camera, you just can't get both, so you have to compromise.
Enter HDR technology - High Dynamic Range imaging. It can be done in a variety of ways, and there are a variety of iPhone apps that take this technology mobile. Essentially, you take 2 photos, one where the camera is focused on the darkest areas of your shot, one where the camera is focused on the brightest areas of your shot, and then the software combines the two so you get both parts of the image to look great. Here's an example of me taking a photo of a rainbow outside my office window. Lots of bright and dark areas. So, popping open my iPhone app of choice -- Pro HDR, see the end of this post -- I take two photos, and then the camera app combines them into a composite:
1. Dark Photo - get the sky and clouds
2. Light Photo - get the buildings and tree colors
3. Combined Photo - background and foreground combined!
Looks great! I get the sky and the clouds in the background, and the light coming off the darker buildings and the tree details.
I looked at a few iPhone apps to get this job done:
- HDR Camera and HDR Camera+ -- both of these iPhone apps take a single photo and produce HDR effects using different filters. Not quite the best results.
- True HDR -- this camera app lets you take two photos and merge light and dark areas, looks great.
- HDR Pro -- in addition to merging a light and dark image, this iPhone HDR camera app also provides options to adjust image colors further once the composite image is made: