Soraya Rudofsky Photography » | Capturing the American Dream

As you all know, I love taking photos with my iPhone, and my favorite camera app is Camera+ – especially on the new iOS!  Now all you iPhoneographers have no excuse NOT to try out Camera+ because it’s FREE until November 16, 2014!

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From the fine folks at Peta Pixel:

Camera+ is one of the most well-liked third party camera apps for iOS devices. It has sold over 10 million copies, and its robust interface and suite of editing tools help set it apart from the stock camera app.

Normally Camera+ would set you back $3 in the app store, but right now there’s a lesser-known promotional offering from Apple that lets you download a copy for free. You just need to know where to look.

If you head into the iOS App Store and take a look at Camera+, you’ll notice it’s still at its usual $3 price. That’s because the app isn’t available free directly in the app store. Instead, there are a few simple steps you’ll need to take to get your free copy.

So click on this link to go to Peta Pixel and find out how you can get your free copy of Camera+!  Thank you so much to Kelly Smith of Kelly Smith Photography  for telling me about this cool promotion!




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Like many iPhone users and self-proclaimed iPhoneographers, I watched the unveiling of the new iPhone 6 with eager enthusiasm (even though I’m not eligible to upgrade for a while).  After seeing the difference in photo quality between my old iPhone 4s and my current iPhone 5s, I was hoping to see a big leap in the new iPhone’s camera functionality — particularly, more manual control.

Turns out, I didn’t need to upgrade my hardware to get more manual control over my iPhone camera.

After installing the new iOS 8 (the original update — not the buggy revision that went out last week), I also updated many of my apps — including ProCamera (which went from version 7 to version 8), and Camera+.  I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered the incredible new functionality available in these apps, particularly:

Why you want to control your ISO and shutter speed

“Photography” literally means “writing with light.”  A camera is a box that controls the amount of light hitting a photo-sensitive surface (like photographic film, or a sensor in a digital camera) to create an image.  The camera controls the light in three ways:  (1) by changing how much light the film or sensor absorbs at a time  (the sensitivity or ISO of the film or sensor), (2) by changing the size of the hole through which light enters the camera (the aperture), and (3) the amount of time light is allowed into the camera (shutter speed).

Thus, you could get the exact same exposure in multiple ways based on how you configure the three controls. For example these three configurations could all result in the same amount of light hitting the photosensitive surface:

  • high sensitivity to light + small opening + quick shutter speed
  • low sensitivity to light + small opening + slow shutter speed
  • low sensitivity to light + large opening + quick shutter speed

But — even if the total amount of light entering the camera is the same in each case, the three resulting photographs will look very different from one another.

  • Shutter speed incorporates the element of time into the photo.  A slow shutter speed shows what happens in front of the camera over that longer period of time (i.e., movement).  A faster shutter speed will appear to “freeze” motion because it is showing a shorter slice of time.
  • Aperture (the size of the hole that allows light into the camera) controls depth of field, which means that more or less of your image will be in focus depending on how large or small the opening is.  A large opening will mean less of the image will be in focus, giving you a beautiful creamy background for a portrait.  A small opening will mean more of the image will be in focus, capturing beautiful far off details in a landscape.

In Auto mode, what the iPhone does is measure the available light and guess what the ISO and shutter speed settings should be to capture a well-lit exposure.   If you’ve ever tried to take a photo of people standing in front of a window and instead got a bright blue sky with a dark blob in front of it, you’ll know that Auto often guesses wrong.  Manually choosing my own ISO and shutter speed gives me creative control over the photograph’s exposure so I can take the photo I want, instead of relying on the iPhone’s “best guess” of what might be the most important part of the photograph. (This is the same reason why your dSLR photos will improve by 1000% if you learn how to use your dSLR in Manual Mode instead of relying on Auto.)

The ability to make my iPhone camera sensor more sensitive to light means that I need less light to come into the camera to get the same exposure and thus can choose a faster shutter speed.  The real-world result is that you can take photos a birthday party in a dimly lit restaurant at night without flash and they won’t turn out blurry. (If I let the iPhone decide what to do in low light, it will to lower the shutter speed – resulting in blur — or turn on the flash.)  The additional control over the shutter speed also means it’s possible to use motion blur for creative purposes. For example, say I’m taking a photograph of a waterfall, and I want to capture how creamy the water looks as it moves over the rocks. The iPhone won’t know that I want part of the photo to be blurry, and will use a higher shutter speed that freezes the motion of the individual droplets.  With shutter speed control, I can decide to put my iPhone on a tripod and slow the shutter speed way down to capture the blur of the moving water and still get the crispness of the motionless rocks.

Why you should ditch the Native Camera App

The iPhone’s native Camera app does NOT have any of this additional functionality. It is, however, available in both of the third party applications that I mentioned: Camera+ (available in the App Store for $1.99) and ProCamera 8 (available in the App Store for $3.99).

After playing around a bit with both applications, I think both have their strengths and weaknesses. Overall, I prefer Camera+ because it’s cheaper and I found it easier to use the new manual controls.


For me, the interface for adjusting shutter speed and ISO is more intuitive and easy to use in Camera+ than in ProCamera 8.  In Camera+  you pull up a pair of sliders at the bottom of the screen and adjust each one to the left or right until you get the results you want.  I also really like that Camera+ made it easy for me to lock in my exposure settings and then adjust focus separately afterwards using the touch screen.

Screenshot of my iPhone 4s running Camera+ and adjusting the ISO and shutter speed of the camera.Pin Image

Screenshot of my iPhone 4s running Camera+ and adjusting the ISO and shutter speed of the camera.


However, Camera+ does NOT have a Kelvin slider for white balance like ProCamera 8, and instead lets you choose from a series of white balance presets for daylight, sunset/sunrise, incandescent, flash, etc.  If you’d rather not mess with Kelvin, then this is probably the app for you.

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Screenshot of my phone in Camera+ setting the white balance using a preset.  Notice the blurriness of the photo of my living room in the middle of the screen.  The motion of pressing the top button on the phone to take a screenshot is enough to blur the image at 1/30s. If I had manually chosen a higher shutter speed (like 1/180) and a higher ISO instead of using Auto, the image would be sharp.

Procamera 8

I like the histogram, composition, and aspect ratio tools in ProCamera 8, and it tends to be my camera app of choice.  However, the new functions are not as easy to use in ProCamera 8.   In order to adjust the shutter speed or ISO you need to click on each function individually at the top and a slider comes up at the bottom of the screen to make the adjustment. I was frustrated several times in ProCamera 8 when I touched the screen to adjust the focus and it reset my ISO and shutter speed to auto (though it is possible that this was user error).

Screenshot of my phone as I adjust the shutter speed in ProCamera8. Pin Image

Screenshot of my phone as I adjust the shutter speed in ProCamera8.


A nice new feature of ProCamera 8, however, is the ability to adjust the white balance using Kelvin color temperature:

Screenshot of my phone as I adjust the color temperature of the image in ProCamera 8. Pin Image

Screenshot of my phone as I adjust the color temperature of the image in ProCamera 8. Adjusting color temperature is necessary to make the image look like what you see in front of you, but it can also be used creatively to adjust the mood of an image.


In short, this update means its becoming possible to use an iPhone much more like a true manual camera.  We’re not 100% there yet — it’s still not possible to change the aperture of the camera lens, which is fixed and very small, resulting in a large depth of field (i.e., no creamy blurred-out backgrounds in-camera). But who knows, maybe that will be next!

 If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends!

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The Fine Art Book I ordered from Vision Art arrived and it’s GORGEOUS! I love everything about it — the fine art paper is luxurious, the giclee colors are perfect & vibrant, and the photos are tack sharp.  I can’t wait for my clients to see them!

And — to all my NWA friends — you can see it in person tonight at the Art Bash for Cystic Fibrosis’ Silent Auction! It’ll be on display with my donation – a gift certificate for a 2+ hour custom session (family, pet, or child) with 35 high-resolution digitals.  The Art Bash for Cystic Fibrosis is tonight at 7 pm MaJesty Republic gallery in Downtown Bentonville. Hope you can make it tonight to support a great cause!

Beautiful fine art album and display donated to Art Bash silent auction in Bentonville.Pin Image

Vision Art Fine Art Book and display for tonight’s Art Bash Silent Auction.

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Happy September! Even though the weather is still hot here in Bentonville, the kids are back to school and fall is a few short weeks away.  I can’t believe there are only three months left until December and the holiday season!  Soon it’ll be time to send those holiday cards to family and friends, and reflect on all the wonderful things that have happened this year. 

So, to celebrate the start of the fall season, any Collection booked & paid in full during the month of September (for sessions held now through December 5) will receive a complimentary box of 25 custom holiday cards.  Plan your session now and get those holiday cards off your to-do list!  

For more details, you can reach me at, by phone at 907-347-3424, or by clicking on the “Contact Me” button above. 

Northwest Arkansas Family, Childhood & Pet Photographer - Fall Pin Image


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I admit it. I’ve been cheating – on my Nikon dslr – with the most unlikely of suspects.

It all started innocently enough. I admired a beatiful sunset photographed by my friend and former instructor, Michelle Turner, on her Facebook page, and was stunned to discover that she had taken it with her iPhone 5s. I still had the 4, but when an opportunity arose to upgrade, I jumped at it. At the time I said it was because my storage was completely full, but in my heart I knew it was for the camera.

Months passed, and I took a few photos, but I still didn’t understand the craze. I downloaded a few apps and started doing some black and white conversions that I quite liked, but little else. Then, my very dear friend and photography crush Candice Zugich, also known as The Blissful Maven, posted an iPhone photo of her daughter that made my heart stop. Clearly, I was missing something.

Two fortuitous events intervened. First, Lensbaby announced a Kickstarter campaign to launch a selective focus lens for the iPhone, the LM-10 (now available for purchase – see here where we participated in the launch!). And at about the same time the LM-10 was due to arrive, two of my favorite photographers, Caroline Jensen and Emma Wood, teamed up to teach a mobile phone photography class. (If you’re on Instagram, make sure to follow them: carolineJ and emma___wood; their feeds are AMAZING.) I signed up, and the rest is history.

Over the past two months, I’ve barely reached for my dslr for personal projects, instead whipping out the flat little rectangle with the Minnie Mouse case that lives in my pocket. I thought I’d feel cheated by a phone camera’s relatively limited dynamic range and lack of control. I didn’t. I enjoyed not lugging around my comparatively clunky dslr. I loved the ease with which I could engage in street photography without feeling like a stalker. My favorite part, though, was the ability to edit right on my phone, anytime and anywhere – in line at the grocery store, during previews at the movies, at stoplights in my car (NO! I swear I don’t!)…

So, I thought that today I’d share (without giving away any class secrets):

5 tips for better phone photography

1) Use apps to get more control over your exposure. Look beyond the Camera app that comes standard on the iPhone to camera apps like Camera+ and ProCamera that allow you to separate focus and exposure. This will make it much easier to make sure your subject is properly exposed in tricky lighting situations, such as backlighting. (I hear that certain android models will allow you to choose the shutter speed (swoon).)

Phone photographyPin Image

Yukon – captured with my iPhone 5s and edited with VSCO Cam


2) Choose one or two multi-function editing apps to form the basis of your mobile workflow. Pick apps that allow you to adjust the filers, particularly their strength (hint: filters are almost always too strong as is and need to be tweaked and toned down). I particularly like Snapseed and VSCO Cam as easy to use all-around editing apps. Find a couple of “go to” filters that you like on a variety of photos for quick, consistent edits.


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville ARPin Image

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville AR seen through my phone


3) Experiment! There are tons of crazy apps out there producing off-the-wall, cool effects, like Tales of Us and Glaze. Try some! One of my favorite aspects of mobile photography is that there’s not the same pressure to be perfect. So why not try some double exposures, or wacky effects? Go even a step further and get some fun add-on lenses, such as the Lensbaby LM-10 (my favorite), the Photojojo mobile lenses, or an Olioclip.


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Kiska. Phone photo using the Lensbaby LM-10 and edited in the VSCO Cam app for iPhone.

4) Join Instagram. A photo community is a great way to keep you motivated and practicing your skills on a regular basis.

5) Take a class! I highly recommend Caroline and Emma’s class at ClickinMoms: Shooting 107: The Art of Mobile Photography.  But if you can’t wait for the next run, another awesome resource is the incredible Michelle Morris’s mobile photography e-book, A Camera’s A Camera (hers is another fantastic Instagram feed to check out as well: michellelmorris).

And Michelle is right – it’s just a camera! All the same principles of taking a good photograph – lighting, composition, exposure, expression – still apply.  Shooting everyday with the phone you have with you will improve your overall photography skills and spark your creativity.  So get shooting! I’ll bet you have a camera in your pocket right now.

To see more of my iphoneography, follow me on Instagram and Like my page on Facebook!

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