Artistry with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Obviously a sunflower, Canelo, summer garden.

Photography has gone through a major change.   With the arrival of the iPhone, almost overnite, it became possible to capture high quality images, process and edit them on the phone without a computer, $2 apps replaced much of what expensive photo editing software was needed for.  If that’s not enough, the need for a heavy bag, full of expensive lenses, filters and external flash was greatly reduced.  And perhaps most important, it brought the fun back into photography and made fun and interesting imagery accessible to many more people.

Soon thereafter, Apple’s iPad, iPod touch and other smart phones followed suit with cameras.  Major camera manufacturers followed suit with smaller camera bodies and lenses, touch screens for commands and menu functions, in-camera apps are now starting to be released.  Is the iPhone equal to the better and bigger DSLR cameras, not yet, but it won’t be long before they are truly competitive.  And when it comes to smart phone photography, Apple products clearly have the advantage, much of it due to the large number of apps available.

I’m not telling you all this because I’ve decided to write camera reviews but for a couple of reasons.  One is that I find this transition something really fun and exciting.  The other is to let you all that will be repeating the iPhone Artistry course at La Posada del Rio Sonora in the town of Banamichi, Sonora, Nov 30-Dec 2.  Last year’s course was so popular that we decided to give it another go.  Who’s it for, just about anyone whether they be a professional photographer or a beginner.  With the iPhone, the iPad or iPod Touch it becomes possible for a total novice to capture and create stunning images.

The instructor is none other than fine art photographer Dan Burkholder who is also the author of iPhoneArtistry, the most comprehensive and fun how-to book on iPhone photography.   Dan has a long history of looking beyond the photographic horizon to see, explore and teach the next great thing in imaging.  I can guarantee that participants will never look at travel and artistic photography in the same way after this workshop.  For more information about Dan –

From my own personal experience, one can find hiding within your iPhone, one of the most inspiring, capable, and fun imaging systems in all of photography. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the iPhone is not just some cute snapshot device.  Quite to the contrary, it’s a powerful creative tool that invites artistic exploration without the expense, weight and complexity of larger camera systems. It’s like having a camera and digital darkroom, all in your shirt pocket!  For more details about the course, consult our website –


To demonstrate the versatility and to provide some examples of the kinds of things you can learn in the course, I’ve posted a collection of photos below.  And that if some of what you see appeals to you and you also love taking photos, then this may be your time.

There are the kinds of photos that happen because the phone is always with me and another category, because of the ease and size of the phone, there are the ones that would otherwise never be considered.  It opens new doors to how we see the world.  I especially love having it with me when driving, all too often great light, clouds appear making for memorable and striking photos.

The drive home from Sierra Vista crossing Turkey Creek on hwy 83, I love not having a bridge.

It’s perfect for travel, when working in Minnesota this past summer we took a day off to visit downtown Minneapolis.  The capability to easily produce panoramas made for this shot of the Mississippi.

Downtown Minneapolis, the Mississippi

Mid-day, 112 degrees, the light flat and bleached, the initial photo I took was not the least bit interesting, nonetheless, a couple of apps later yielded very acceptable results.

Mission San Antonio Paduana in Oquitoa, Sonora, built by Father Kino and considered by many to be the gem of his missions.

When conditions are right, great photos are totally possible, but once in a while it can be fun to blur the distinction between photographs and paintings.

The hillside across from our house, edited for normal exposure only.

Interpretation of the above photo.

When adding painterly effects to photos, the effect can be strong or subtle.  Here are several photos that give some idea of how easy it can be to use those types of effects.

Summer garden, Mexican Sunflower and butterfly.

Geese, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Garden bench, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I love informal portraits, those that suggest themselves spontaneously.  In my opinion there is nothing more perfect than the iPhone.  Once again, it’s almost always with me when the opportunity presents itself, it’s inconspicuous and non-threatening, rarely does anyone feel uncomfortable, sometimes they’re not even aware that there photo is being taken, those can be the best.  The result is a portrait that is much more revealing of the person than what happens in a studio or when posed.

Jackeline Sinotez from Banamichi, Sonora at the town hamburger stand.

Marco Bianco of the Bianco family restaurants in Phoenix, AZ taking pride in their fabulous bread.

Ramon Ochoa from the Rio Sonora at Ranchito La Martina, who for the most part, never lets me take his photo, this time with the iPhone on my lap. He does, however, like the results.

Lastly, here are some iPhone photos from this past summer while working on a project with botanist Gary Nabhan, photographing the once vibrant culture of heirloom wheat that was once a part of everyday life in the southwest and northern Mexico.

Ruin of the flour mill or the “Molino Harinero” in Huepac, Sonora.

Remnants of the old Gold Medal flour mill in downtown Minneapolis that was the victim of a grain dust explosion.

Still life of heirloom White Sonoran Wheat, the pottery is a collector’s piece by mother-in-law Rina Swentzell.

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