Here’s a surprise of image I stumbled on while browsing my unprocessed selects in Lightroom.
The image itself is not surprising. It’s not even particularly remarkable. It did catch my interest the other evening though, with the layered rock outcrops forming nice concentric arrow shapes of differing shades.
What surprised me was when I opened the Develop module and a number of my presets were greyed out, which usually means the image is incompatible with a profile the preset uses. And most commonly for me, that means it’s not a Fujifilm raw file.
In this case, it turned out to be a DNG raw file from my old iPhone X—a panoramic stitch, no less—taken with Halide and merged in Lightroom.
So why the surprise?
I’ve never really got on with the iPhone-as-a-camera. Or at least, not the iPhone-as-serious-image-making-tool.
I’m pretty sure that makes me a camera snob of some degree, although I would also argue it has to do with ergonomics and emotional feel as much as perceptions of image quality or that the iPhone isn’t a ‘real’ camera.
Since having kids, it has been fantastic for documenting our daily family life: capturing many cherished images I never would have caught with a bigger camera and I also use it plenty to document scouted locations and save them to SceneMapper.
But I really have to force myself to bother taking the kind of images I would with one of my dedicated cameras. The iPhone just doesn’t put me in a creative mode when it comes to photography.
All of which meant I was quite (pleasantly) surprised to realise this image was made with an iPhone X.
Hopefully this will encourage me to try a bit more often with the iPhone when spotting a composition and not having another camera with me. ProRAW on the iPhone 12 Pro has already been encouraging me a bit more recently as it makes raw photography on iOS way more accessible (for as lovely as Halide is, iOS not allowing different default camera apps does interrupt a do-without-thinking workflow).
However, it is Halide that got me this image, taken as a scouting reference shot, back in 2017 and so I’ll perhaps have more of a rummage through the occasional raw files I’ve made with Halide over the years to see what else may be lurking.
This is also another reminder for me of the value of letting images rest for a while in the Lightroom catalogue, to be re-appraised at a later date with fresh eyes.
So often, getting home after taking images and pulling them into Lightroom, I’m disappointed with results that don’t match what I thought I was capturing. Leaving them in the catalogue to allow the freshness of the memory to fade can free me up to look at the image more as another viewer would: without the context of having been there and simply seeing the image for what it is.
Oddly, this can often renew my interest and help me re-spot whatever small detail(s) made me make the picture in the first place.