Saturday Surf

It's pretty common my Saturday mornings are spent at the beach. Friday afternoons are spent coordinating what time we would meet up and what beach would have the best surf. It's a time I value with friends and thought it would be fun to document. By the way, the video below was shot entirely on my iPhone 6S Plus.

iPhone 6S Plus: Live Photos

In previous posts, I've shown some of the photos I've been able to capture from my iPhone 6S Plus (see posts categorized here). Overall, I've been totally pleased. I even spoke with Steven on his podcast and explained why having such great image quality in a small form factor is just the ticket I was looking for. There was one feature I couldn't tell whether I was going to dig or not: Live Photos.

Is it a video? A GIF? A bunch of compressed frames?

In truth, Live Photos are a .mov file - a fairly common video format.

The feature can be turned off, but when on, it automatically captures up to 1.5 seconds right before you take a photo and 1.5 second right after. When watching the Apple promo footage of the feature, it was hard to tell if this was a gimmick - whether this is something that I would actually use and find interesting. And then, once I got my phone, I found there was a bit of a learning curve to it.

Live Photos are, in essence, a video file. As with any other video file format, sound is recorded. Still images, what you're used to seeing this site, don't have audio. But as any videographer will tell you, audio is half the content - and arguably more important than visuals. The audio coming into the phone, isn't great, so it can be overlooked, but it is still interesting to have. Take this for example: 

The second part of the learning curve was holding steady while getting photos. Luckily this problem has been fixed with a recent software update, but let me explain... the 1.5-before-and-1.5-after was a pretty strict guideline. That meant if you pulled your phone out of your pocket, immediately shot a photo, then placed it back in your pocket, there was a good chance you'd have unusable starts and ends to your Live Photos. Kind of like this:

Now, the video above isn't that bad, but you can tell where you'd be forced to do some clipping if I wanted to keep that footage for use. With the iOS 9.1 release, Apple put a "fix" to this: they leveraged the data from the accelerometer and gyroscope to tell the camera to stop recording when it sensed the phone being put away. It was a welcome update!

Once I understood the quirks of the software and understood what the camera was doing, I felt like I was paying a lot more attention to what I was capturing. It was taking composition to a whole new level - incorporating things seen and unseen.

Below are some of my favorites.

There are a few things I dislike about Live Photos:

The file created isn't easily shareable. I can easily send a live photo to someone else with an iPhone (I've only tried as far back as a 6), but sharing to social media from the device is hard, if not impossible. Is there an app for that?

I can't edit a photo original without destroying the Live Photo. For me, editing a photo is half of the creative process - I capture, then edit. In order to edit a photo and keep the Live Photo, I need to create a duplicate. The organizer inside of me hates to have an original and an edited version within my camera roll.

Low frame rate. Live Photos are fun. And thats about it. I'm going to find them useful when I'd like more than a still image to help me remember a fun event. I'll probably never find a practical, everyday use-case that makes Live Photos a game changer.

To conclude, I'll probably turn Live Photos off and opt to make the conscious decision to turn it on when I think it might work in the right setting. The file size isn't my concern, it's moreso my reluctance to keep have irrelevant video files cluttering my folders. I wouldn't call Live Photos a gimmick, but I'm definitely looking forward to later versions of this in the future.

Lake Hodges: iPhone 6S Plus Test Shots

Over the weekend I met up with my buddy Steven to do some exploring around Lake Hodges. I made it out of the house early to get there while the morning light was still good for photos. It was fun to get a little more work in on the new iPhone, but it was sad to see how badly the CA drought has affected what once was a usable body of water.