More than two years later, I’m back at the Apple showroom in the Fifth Avenue Store. The invitation to join Apple was to attract a group of amateur photographers who have mastered macro photography with Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro.
Apple finally added macro photography to its iPhone lineup last year, following in the footsteps of smartphone startups like OnePlus, which introduced the feature in previous phones, despite inexplicably removing it from its flagship One Plus 10 Pro.
Standing in the vast underground space, once bustling with Apple customers, fans, and, today, photographers, it felt like it was “before the times.”
This, as it turns out, was one of the first in-person “Today at Apple” events the flagship store has held since before the pandemic, and you can feel the excitement and a slight whiff of anxiety in the air. a lot of people.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s party, where three Apple executives deal mostly with camera technology (but weren’t available to talk to me), they explained why they chose portraits (and talked about the joys of macro photography) and before Apple presents attendees have had a chance to try macro photography. On phones they didn’t own (yet), I found two Apple Macro Photography Contest winners and asked how they took their winning photos.
One of them is Tom Reeves, a tall, slender man with a broad smile who seemed to be eager to share with me how he photographed a snowflake on his puppy’s back.
It was my favorite photo since I spent years trying to get a decent photo of a snowflake. I’ve used the OnePlus 8 Pro and its macro lens attachments on previous iPhones and DSLRs, all with varying degrees of success. I didn’t do anything that looked as good as what Reeves picked up.
“How do?” I asked.
Reeves told me he and his fiancée were out for a walk in Riverside Park in New York one early morning. He explained to me that he learned about ideal conditions for snowflake photography by reading the legendary photographer William Bentley who coined the phrase “no snowflakes are alike” and wrote about ideal conditions for snow photography. It’s really cold, but hot enough to make separate, distinct flakes. On the day of the Reeve rally, it was just this morning.
Reeves told me he looked at his puppy who was “turning into a little snowflake Christmas tree,” and saw his opportunity. He took out the iPhone 13 Pro with one hand while holding the handlebar in the other hand, and came very close – automatically enabling macro mode. The camera was mounted on the perfect snowflake, and he got the shot.
We talked a little bit about the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera system’s tendency to switch lenses unexpectedly, which could be an issue in the macro mode. Apple uses the ultra-wide lens for macro photography, but in certain circumstances, the wide camera will take over, ruining the shot. The answer and this is how Reeves manages his macro mode, is to change the camera setting so there is a selectable macro mode that you can lock or turn off with a single tap.
I thought, “That’s smart,” because I quickly changed the settings on my iPhone 13 Pro.
This macro setting, however way, did not ship with the iPhone 13 Pro but was added in a software update after users complained. To adjust your settings, go to Settings/Camera and toggle off “Macro Control”.
In addition to talking to Reeves, I also spent time with Guido Cassanelli, a charming amateur photographer from Italy. His macro shot of glass was one of the most cheerful and abstract (there were plenty of close-ups of flowers). I asked him how he took the photo.
“I was walking on a beach in Italy,” he said with a smile, and I silently wished to start every sentence that way.
Cassanelli’s detail, though, was a little more manipulative than Reeves, collecting stained glass on Zugali Beach, Italy, pooling it on the sand, spraying a little water on the glass mosaic, then getting close enough to take a macro photo.
The result is still very beautiful.
In general, the winning photos, especially those of strawberries in soda and a cat gazing out the window (maybe he saw a bird), were beautiful and even eye-catching.
I wasn’t too impressed with the iPhone 13 Pro’s macro capabilities, especially the default control settings, but the contest and the resulting images made me reconsider the tool. Outside and in the office, I tried to capture a few of my macros. It’s not good, although I think none of it had quite as much light as some of these photos, which seemed all drenched in sunlight. Apple did not say how much editing, if any, was made on each of the winning shots.
Apple’s macro mode smartphone photography isn’t the best I’ve seen yet, but it shows potential. Maybe I just need to wait for the right moment, get close and then pick up away.
You can see some recent unedited samples below.
Macro photography by Lance Ulanoff for iPhone 13 Pro by Lance Ulanoff.