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Swan Lake
iPhoneography, Polaroid

Go Analog: Convert Your iPhone Photos Into Film

For all my love of everything digital, there are still some things in which I’m still squarely in camp analog. Yes, there are any number of apps on which to take notes or organize to do lists, but nothing has ever worked as well for me as old-fashioned paper and pen. Research even suggests that writing notes the analog way improves learning and comprehension. My stacks of Moleskine journals and collections of colored pens serve as testaments to my continued love of longhand writing.

I’ve also been unwilling to let go of film as a medium for photography. Instant film, in particular, with its dreamy qualities and keepsakes that fit nicely in my aforementioned Moleskine, is my favorite. But my Polaroid SX-70 was broken most of last year (now fixed!) so instead, I decided to experiment with the Impossible Instant Lab. The Instant Lab is a great little invention that lets you make original instant film images from photos off your iPhone. And I love it. I can take any image from the camera I have with me the most (iPhone) and convert it to film, creating images that are the same but also completely different.

Indeed, film is not dead.

Impossible Instant LabReflections of the ThamesImpossible Instant LabImpossible Instant LabImpossible Instant Lab

This Is Happening

This is Happening

Earlier this summer the postman rang our bell, delivering a package that wouldn’t fit in the post box.  My other half instantly comments, “What on earth have you ordered now?”  I don’t remember ordering anything (at least not this time) and so am as curious as he is about its contents.

Inside, I’m surprised find two copies of a book, This Is Happening.  I search my brain.  Why has someone sent me these books?  I have no idea.

Then, as I look at the book a little closer, it clicks and everything comes back to me.  Because there, on the cover, just above the “PE” in Happening is my photo, the photo I’d submitted ages ago to Chronicle Books when they put a call out for submissions to their crowd-sourced Instagram book. I’d only bothered to submit this one photo, and I’d totally forgotten about it until this book showed up on my doorstep.

Swan at Thrupp Lake

I’m a big advocate of mobile photography and the collection of images that editor Bridget Watson Payne has curated really demonstrates the power of this creative medium and the depth and breadth of images that people can create with their phones.  These images serve as reminders that it’s always the camera we have with us that captures the best images and moments.

This is Happening highlights that single, fleeting moment that makes us happy and just begs to be photographed—the perfect cup of coffee, a scenic moment on the morning commute, the joy of new shoes, a loved one’s shy smile.

And I’m excited to be part of this book and share this space with so many photographers I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with online, talented photographers like Meghan Davidson and Lindsey Garrett.


So, if you’re looking for a nice little photo book to stuff in someone’s stocking, look no further.  And, because it’s the season of giving and Chronicle graciously sent me an extra copy of the book, I’m giving away a copy to one lucky commenter.  Simply leave a comment below and I’ll draw a winner on December 10th.

Or if you want to get your copy now, the book was just released a couple of weeks ago and is now available at Amazon and other bookstores.


Congratulations to Amanda!  You’ve won the copy of the book.  I’ll be in touch to make arrangements to get it to you.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 19.57.12

London Instameet
iPhoneography, Travels

London Instameet

On Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining Susannah, Xanthe and a group fellow photographers on a photo walk around London.  It was so fun to explore a little corner of London that I’d never even known existed, Barbican.  It’s full of interesting architecture and as a group we couldn’t help but drool over all the leading lines and reflections.  The photo opportunities were endless.

I most enjoyed meeting and walking around with like-minded souls.  Kindred spirits who were also stopping every few feet to snap photos and compose shots.  People who share a passion for documenting this life and who totally get the feet shots.

Can’t wait for the next one!

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iPhone Photography Apps
iPhoneography, Photo Tips & Tricks

What’s In My iPhone Camera Bag: An Update

About a year and a half ago I wrote about the apps I use when shooting with my iPhone and looking back, I realize that it’s time for an update.  Apps have changed.  My style has changed.

And honestly as I’d been shooting a lot with the D800 since Christmas, I’d not been a prolific iPhone shooter lately.  But on my recent holiday to Spain and Portugal, I found myself falling in love with the iPhone again.  So I thought it worth an update on what I’m using these days.

It’s a lot less.


I use a “camera replacement” app to shoot all my images.  The built-in camera on the iPhone just doesn’t have enough bells and whistles for my needs.  Most importantly, I’ve found that having more granular control over focus and exposure and being able to separate the two make for better iPhone photos.  The built-in camera doesn’t yet offer this.

However, there are a number of apps that have this functionality.  My favorites are ProCamera and Camera+.  Both have separate focus and exposure controls and self-timers, tools I use regularly.  Right now, I’m shooting mostly with ProCamera because it also offers a square shooting mode.

I still use Hipstamatic on occasion but it’s become more of a special purpose camera and not every day shooting.


General Editing

There are hundreds of apps out there that enable you to get super creative with your iPhone images, some even turning them into works of art no longer recognisable as photos.  And while I have a number of these apps, I tend not to use them on a regular basis.  I tinker with them but in the end I ask myself,  “In twenty years when I look at this photo will I think I was on drugs?”  If the answer is yes, I abandon the creation.

Instead, I rely on just a handful of apps to process my images, ones that allow me to enhance the photos with clean, classic editing.

PicTapGo – I love this app.  It’s got a super easy workflow and robust set of filters that you can layer on your image.  It’s made by Totally Rad, the same folks that make the really good Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets.  And the great thing about this app is that you can save “recipes” for specific filter combinations to not only speed your workflow but also create consistency.

VSCO Cam – VSCO, the makers of the fantastic Lightroom presets, just released a new version of this app (it’s actually a whole new app) a few weeks ago.  In fact, I edited all of my holiday photos from Spain & Portugal using the earlier version of this app.  Their filters are meant to emulate various types of film and are generally clean, classic looks.  I really like some of the new filters they’ve created specifically for portraits.  The only reason I don’t use this app more than PicTapGo is that the workflow is clunkier and more time-consuming.

Photogene – I don’t do I ton of editing with Photogene but I still find it useful for “Photoshop-like” adjustments. Things like rotating, straightening, cloning, dodging or burning specific areas of a photo, etc.

Special Purpose Editing

Touch/Retouch – This is hands down the best and easiest app I’ve used for removing unwanted stuff from a photo.  That scaffolding around La Sagrada Familia that makes your photo rubbish?  Just erase it with a few swipes of your finger.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

FaceTune – This is the only new app on my list and one that I’m still experimenting with.  It’s purpose-built for editing portraits with tools for editing skin tone, blurring backgrounds, and highlighting the eyes.  So far I’ve really liked the results.

PicFrame – Still my favorite app for combining multiple photos into a collage.

Over – Want to make a statement or share an inspiring message with your photo?  Over is a great little app for adding text over your photos with lots of fonts and styles.

Made with Over


Instagram – So yes, I’m back on Instagram.  I left Instagram at the end of last year over the hullabaloo regarding their terms of service but I’m back.  I found that I missed the community and the creative outlet.  And, I’m a much more prolific iPhone shooter with Instagram than without.  While I was still sharing iPhone shots on Flickr, it never really felt right and it felt like more work.  I felt like with Flickr I needed to curate myself more and was much less likely to share more candid shots.  But with IG I feel free to share more of these and it’s been really good to be welcomed back into the community.  You can find me @katherinelightner.

Flickr – I don’t share photos directly with the Flickr app, doing that instead through Instagram and cross posting to Flickr.  The main thing I use this app for is catching up with the groups in which I participate.  From here I can comment on other people’s photos, join in group conversations, or even organize my own photos on Flickr.

So there’s my latest list of iPhone photo apps narrowed down to those I actually use and that do more than just take up space on my iPhone.

What about you?  What are your go to photo apps?  Some of the same or different?



The 2013 Mobile Photography Awards

One of the items on my list is to have my photos displayed in a gallery.  I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to submit and share my work.  So back in December I submitted a few images to the 2013 Mobile Photo Awards competition.  The MPA is an international competition that seeks to promote and celebrate the medium of mobile photography as an art form.  And ever since I picked up my first iPhone, mobile photography has been a huge part of what’s inspired me as a photographer.

Well, over the weekend they announced the results and I’m over the moon that the judges selected two of my images as Honorable Mentions in the Macro category.  My images, along with the rest of the winners and honorable mentions, will be on display at the MPA Premiere at the SOHO Gallery for Digital Art in NYC from February 22-28, 2013.  If you’re in the NYC area I encourage you to visit the show as you’ll see some truly amazing images across a range of subjects and styles.  And if you’re not in the NYC area, you can still soak in all the creative goodness that people make on their phones but just visiting the MPA site and checking out the various categories and winners.  The work that people create on a mobile phone today continues to astound and inspire me.

Dew Drop
This was my first year participating in the MPA and, even though I shoot lots of different subjects, I didn’t submit anything outside of the Macro category. I really just wanted to keep things simple and stick with a single theme and style.  In addition to the two images selected, you can see more of my macro shots over on Flickr.  I use the fantastic Olloclip for all my iPhone macro shots and these were all captured with the Hipstamatic app.

My thanks go out to the organizers and judges who give their time to put this show together and review all the entries.  I’m humbled to be included in such a great show with so many incredible artists.