Rad A. Drew Photography: May 2020

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Friday, May 22, 2020

Reconnecting with Moment's 10x Macro Lens

iPhone 11 Pro Max, Lightroom Pro Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens

Recently, a friend called to discuss macro photography, so, I got out my Moment 10x Macro lens and played! I was reminded of just how good these lenses are, and how much fun macro photography can be.

iPhone 11 Pro Max, Native Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens

Moment lenses have been around since 2013 and they are arguably the best attachable lenses made for mobile phones today. They are available for a variety of iPhones, as well as for several models of the Samsung Galaxy, Pixel, and PlusOne. 

iPhone 11 Pro Max, Native Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens

About the Moment 10x Macro Lens

The Moment 10x Macro Lens ($109.99 from Moment), is a substantial piece of glass. It comes with a diffuser hood that is useful for managing light, and also for getting super closer to your subject by resting the diffuser hood on the subject or the surface the subject is on. 

iPhone 11 Pro Max, Native Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens

In addition to the lens, you'll need a Moment case to fit your phone's make and model. Here's a link to the case I have for my iPhone 11 Pro Max which cost $39.99. The case is necessary as it is the means by which the lens is attached and positioned in the correct place over the camera's built-in lens.

iPhone 11 Pro Max, Lightroom Pro Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens

Tips for Using the Moment 10X Macro

  • Use a tripod to steady the camera
  • Make sure your subject is still
  • Get VERY close to the subject 
  • Use the lens diffuser without the tripod and let the diffuser rest on the surface over your subject. Make sure ample light can illuminate the subject through the diffuser
  • Try the Moment App for controlling exposure
  • Have lots of light, natural or otherwise
  • Remove the diffuser hood to get super close to your subject
  • shoot RAW and process in Lightroom for mobile.
iPhone 11 Pro Max, Native Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens
If you don't want to spring for a Moment lens, the app, Camera +2, offers a great macro option for iPhone. 
See my blog post, Creating Macro Photos with Camera +2 for more details.
You won't get as close as with the Moment 10x Macro, but for a fraction of the cost, Camera +2 offers a poor man's alternative.

Cantaloup Rind, iPhone 11 Pro Max, Lightroom Pro Camera, Moment 10x Macro Lens
Thanks for reading and for all the ways you are supportive! 

Be safe, stay well, and keep on creating!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Finally! A Replacement for a Beloved iPhone App!

Created in 2011 with the app, AutoStitch;
Featured in my book, In Good Light; Images of the Circle City

If you’ve been making images with the iPhone for more than a few years, I’m willing to bet you have a story about a favorite app that you can't get anymore. Maybe it was abandoned by the developer, or torpedoed by a new iOS. Whatever the reason, it hurt to see it go. I know the feeling.

For me, one of those apps was Autostitch. I loved what could be done with that app and I was so sad when it went by the wayside about eight years ago.

Amazingly, AutoStitch could record many single images and the app would automagically 
"stitch" them into a single image. The result was a combined vertical and horizontal panorama and the size was such that it could be printed larger than most regular iPhone images at time.

The Hermitage, Created in 2011 with the app, AutoStitch;

Autostitch sometimes processed for me as many as 100 images into a single photograph! And if you made a light and dark exposure using the app BracketMode (also defunct), AutoStitch not only completed the horizontal and vertical stitch, it also combined the light and dark exposures to achieve an HDR effect! 

Part of what I loved about images created this way was the wonderful barrel distortion that would occur when you were close to your subject. Some didn't like that distortion, but I thought it added an interesting dimension to many images and I exploited that "defect."

Created in 2011 with the app, Autostitch;
Featured in my book, In Good Light; Images of the Circle City

For years after Autostitch "died," I simply stopped making images that way because there was no longer an app that would do it.

Multiple-image compilation of Fonthill Castle using Autostitch in 2011.

Well, fast forward to 2020 and guess what I’ve learned, thanks to my friend and mentor, Dan Burkholder

That’s right! There's a new app that will do what Autostitch used to do and creates a look that is similar to what we produced in the early days of iPhone photography.

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Created in 2011 with the app, AutoStitch;
Featured in my book, In Good Light; Images of the Circle City
So what is this new app? As it turns out, it's been around since 2017, but it's new to me! 

Drum roll please .... 

Click to get Microsoft Pix Camera from the App Store.

The app is Microsoft Pix Camera, by Microsoft Corporation, and it's available only for the iPhone. It is a strange little app with a lot of other features that I rarely use, but the one thing it does, which Microsoft refers to as Photosynth, is great!

It's a simple interface that has a video camera, a regular camera, and the button on the right, which they call Photosynth

Microsoft Pix Camera Interface
When in the Photosynth mode, simply press the shutter button and begin moving the camera. You can move in a single horizontal or vertical direction for a "straight" pano, or you can move vertically and horizontally to record a much larger area. 

Vertical Panorama with the Microsoft Pix Camera
The camera automatically snaps images as each frame fills with a part of the scene. When you decide you're done, tap the shutter button to stop the camera.

Although the video camera and the regular camera will record in both the 1x (26mm) and 2x (52mm) lens, the Photosynth mode uses only the 1x lens.

To create the combined vertical and horizontal, you can pretty much move the camera every-which-way, but I like to move in a serpentine pattern up and down through the scene. I go up one side, shift just a fraction to overlap with the previous frame, and move down to the bottom, shift again and move up, and so on, until I've recorded the entire scene.

This is a combined vertical and horizontal image,
made with Microsoft Pix Camera and processed
in Lightroom on the iPhone 11 Pro Max;
file size, 11.11MB; resolution, 9.2MP

One thing to keep in mind while recording the image: be sure to go well beyond the tallest point at the top of the scene, and well below the lowest point you want to include at the bottom of the scene, otherwise you may cut off part of the top or bottom of the subject.


Unedited vertical and horizontal Pano straight from the Microsoft Pix Camera app.

Below are two images; the first I made in 2011 using BracketMode and Autostitch, with what I expect was the iPhone 5. The other I made yesterday (May 8, 2020), with the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the newer app, Microsoft Pix Camera

The other good news is that with today's phones, the file size is much larger and better than it was in 2011. The file size of the stitched image below from 2011 is only 1.51MB and 1.2MP, while the new image is 7.13MB and 7.6MP.

The James Whitcomb Riley Home, created in 2011 with the app, AutoStitch;
Featured in my book, In Good Light; Images of the Circle City

The James Whitcomb Riley Home, created in 2020 with the app,
Microsoft Pix Camera. 

I'm excited to begin using this technique again with this new (to me) app! Maybe you will, too!

Thank you for being here and for all the ways you are supportive, especially during these crazy, wacky, trying times. Here's to health and wellness for you and your family. 

And, until next time, keep on creating!