Long exposures on the iPhone made easy
When it comes to iPhone photography it’s going to be a brand new learning curve for some. For others, this will be the only style of photography they will ever know. Long exposures are a type of photo that can freeze nonmoving items while blurring moving items. It’s a wonderful technique that until Spectre for iOS was simply not possible to my knowledge on the iPhone.
The app is packed full with powerful technology including:
- DCI-P3 Wide Color Pipeline
- Live Photos
- Metal Graphics Acceleration
- Tripod Detection
- Siri & Shortcuts
- AI Stabilization
- Machine Learning & CoreML
- Computer Vision
Spectre Camera’s smart Automatic Scene Detection requires iOS 12. The AI-based stabilization features are available for iPhone 6S and higher. The developer does recommend using the iPhone 8 or later with Spectre Camera for the best results.
So, when you open the app, you will end up seeing several different basic tutorial screens
When you take a long-exposure photo, you select how long you want the photo to capture for by scrolling through the timer wheel in the bottom right-hand corner. You can choose between 3, 5, or 9 seconds. This is the amount of time that the shutter will stay open. When you are ready to take your photo, you tap on the shutter button and then wait until the timer progress bar (goes around the shutter button) finishes. The trick with this type of photo is to remain as still as possible. Otherwise, the image will not appear as crisp as the technique dictates.
I tested out this app with a couple of different types of photos. One was an active, windy lake and the other was a busy highway at night. With the lake, I was hoping to get the ‘smoky’ look from the water. This lake is apart of a wilderness preserve so there is no shortage of wildlife in the area and a lot of people like to walk, fish, and boat in the lake. This particular day, the wind was blowing quite a bit, but other than that, activity was quite sparse. I took a couple of shots, but this one was my favorite.
Now, I want to note that in this photo, you can still see some ripples, but it is much more smoothed out than the original water, which is shown in the photo below. I was able to capture the before/after of this photo because I had the Live Photo option turned on within the Spectre app. This meant I could go back and see the actual action of the photo as well as the finished product.
The next test I attempted was to capture light trails from a busy highway at night. This photo was actually taken from an overpass that overlooks the highway I was capturing. You can see that the light trails include some of the business signs in the area. One thing I’ll note here is that even though the app did capture the light trails pretty well, the photo showed up better on the phone than when I downloaded it to my computer.
The photo above, as well as the lake photo, were both taken handheld. The lake photo was 100% handheld whereas the light trail photo was handheld, but the phone was attached to the Joby Handypod at the time. I’m pointing this out because I feel like perhaps the extension from the Handypod may have contributed a bit to some hand shakiness. As a final test, I took one more light trail image, but this time, I purposely moved the phone around in an attempt to capture an interesting design. It didn’t turn out exactly as I hoped, but it was a unique photo nonetheless and it demonstrates the importance of keeping your camera steady when taking a long exposure. I would actually say that if you have the option, use a tripod when taking a long exposure if at all possible.
The makers of Halide have really designed a fun and easy to use