The Best Camera

There’s an oft-repeated saying among photographers that the best camera is the one you have with you. In March, I went on a fabulous photo workshop in Charleston with two first-class photographers and teachers, Alan Sislen and Colleen Henderson.  I took along my new Nikon D600 and soon I’ll share some of the photos I took with it. But today’s post is about my other “best camera,” which now accompanies me everywhere, the one in my iPhone 5. Colleen taught us some pointers on great apps to use, and now I find myself reaching for the iPhone more often than ever. Here’s a good example of what you can do with it.

iPhone photos, Clematis 'Dawn,' Camera+, Over app

This trio of Clematis ‘Dawn’ was taken and “framed” with Camera+ and captioned in the Over app.

And another recent favorite:

iPhone 5 photos, Camera+, HandyPhoto, Over, Echevaria

Echevaria ‘Morning Light’ photographed in Camera+, edited with Handy Photo, and captioned in Over.

The phone takes really sharp closeups (no wonder, with an f-stop of 2.4). My favorite app for capture is Camera+, which gives me at least a 7 MB image to work with. That’s what I used on the first photo, adding the “border” with the same app and then importing the image to “Over” to add the text overlay. In the second photo, I actually did some cloning to remove spots on the Echevaria with another app called HandyPhoto. (This is an amazingly versatile app, although it is very large and I recommend using it on the iPad rather than the iPhone unless you have incredibly nimble fingers!)

iPhone 5 photos, Camera+

Tree peonies at dusk around Dupont Circle

Even in low light, Camera+ does a great job capturing a wide range of tonal values. This was taken around 7 pm a week or so ago in downtown Washington DC. (Copyright added in Over; no copyright symbol on our keyboards yet!) And it works well with azaleas, provided you don’t ask it to capture loud pink hues up close.

iPhone 5 photos, Camera+

A ‘Madame Butterfly’ azalea at LPI’s shop in Poolesville.

iPhone 5, Camera+, Over, azaleas

Part of my back yard, taken just around dinner a couple of weeks ago, when both the flowering dogwood and azaleas were (finally) in bloom

Like to experiment with black and white? My other often-used app is Hipstamatic, when I want to capture patterns and shapes, or color isn’t the most important aspect of the image.

iPhone 5 photos, Hipstamtatic app, black and white garden photos

A group of variegated Solomon’s Seal in my back yard.

With Hipstamatic, although the app itself isn’t all that expensive, you can spend a bunch of money adding “packs” to shoot with (the one above uses the “James W + BlackKeys B+W” pack).

Another advantage of working with these iPhone images, especially for gardeners, is that they take up so much less space on your hard drive than images captured with a DSLR. Particularly now that I have a D600, which takes 24MB images, my computer is slowing down and filling up really fast. To work on iPhone images, I usually download them to Dropbox, open them on my iPad if I want to add a caption or work with HandyPhoto, and then I can delete them or save them to my computer if I like them. Otherwise, they may end up on my Facebook page (or my company’s FB  page) and there it stops.

I’ll close with another favorite closeup, of a tree peony. I took this one in a client’s garden last month. The iPhone was the only camera I had with me (although I usually have my Canon G11 around, for some reason it wasn’t with me that day). So glad I had it.

iPhone 5 photos, Camera+

Tree peony, courtesy of the “best camera” I had with me.

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6 Comments on “The Best Camera”


  1. I certainly wouldn’t be without my iPhone I’m a real flower geek with all the pictures I take with it and post on social media !

  2. Theresa Forte Says:

    Great post Melissa – I love my iPhone as well – it really comes in handy. Love your images!


  3. Great shots – love the peonies at Dupont circle!


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