iPhone 7 Camera Impressions. by Alex Gesse

Every year Apple, Samsung, HTC and many other smartphone manufactures update their lineup with a new smartphone, with more features, faster, and with it better cameras. It's never been easier to capture that moment, to share memories, to tell stories through photographs, to create art like it is today.  Many of us have the privilege to carry one of those with us in our everyday life. 

I'm one of those people and I just bought the new iPhone 7, not the plus and I will be talking about what I think of its camera. I can tell ahead of time though that it's great and it's a very good upgrade in comparison to the iPhone 6s. Now, I will specifically be talking about the camera on the new iPhone 7, so don't expect anything else on it like new features, speed and all.

Nikon D3300 1/160 f/5.0 ISO 500

Nikon D3300 1/160 f/5.0 ISO 500

Here are some of the specs of this new iPhone 7 camera:

  • New 12MP sensor
  • Aperture of f/1.8
  • New 6 element lens
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 28mm focal lenght (35mm equivalent)
  • RAW support in DNG format
  • Quad-LED True Tone Flash
  • 7MP front facing camera with an aperture of f/2.2
  • New ISP or Image Signal Processor

Image Quality
I took the iPhone for a spin and I enjoyed using it a lot. I'm not going to compare with other phones out there, I heard already it's still not quite as good as the camera on the Galaxy S7, but this is all about the camera on the iPhone itself.

Image zoomed in 100%

Image zoomed in 100%

Images during daylight are impressive in quality with good exposures, beautiful vibrant colors as well as maintaining good skin color tones and very good image sharpness and details. However, during processing of the jpegs the phone will apply some noise reduction to the image even during good lighting condition and low ISO such as 20-25 causing it to lose some fine details, you will notice this especially in the shadows area of the image and especially if zoomed in to 100%. Still, the images look great and only those who are pixel peepers will notice this really.

Overall the images are very impressive, they are sharp with a lot of details, colors are vibrant, contrast is great and exposures are consistently good for a smartphone. White balance also looks very accurate to me as well specially in good lighting condition. 

iPhone 7 1/4 F/1.8 ISO 400
Click to enlarge

For photos in low light, the phone takes advantage of the new lens now with an aperture of F/1.8 which allows 50% more light in comparison to the last generation to enter the camera and hit the sensor, which helps with keeping your images sharp and improve the quality in low light situations. This photo of the Jeep shows how good the camera can handle low light. The scene was much darker than what it appears to be, you can tell the image has some noise to it even with noise reduction added to it, but look how much detail the photo was able to retain, this is a very usable image.

The phone now has an updated Flash as well with what Apple call it Quad-LED True Tone Flash and its supposed to be 50% brighter than the previous model and its suppose to adjust the color temperature of the environment. 

 iPhone 7 1/120 F/1.8 ISO 25 unedited

 iPhone 7 1/120 F/1.8 ISO 25 unedited

What I have noticed during my testing is that the iPhone tends to slow down the shutter speed as much as it can before raising the ISO, as you raise the ISO the sensor of the camera gets more sensitive to light  causing the image to start getting  grainy and lose sharpness and details. Instead Apple decided to slow the shutter speed to capture more light before raising the ISO too much and that's possible thanks to the optical image stabilization, otherwise images shot at a slow shutter speed would get blurred, like the iPhone 6 used to get.

The front facing camera also received a bump in specs, it now has a 7MP camera which should help you take even better selfies than previous generation. In this image below.. I took a selfie with my sister under some shade with a very bright background and the camera did a good job capturing details on both foreground and background.

Selfie of my sister and I using the front facing camera, unedited!!

Selfie of my sister and I using the front facing camera, unedited!!

Taking a photo is quick and burst mode makes sure you don't miss any action. I'm really happy with how the camera performed, images looks great and you will be able to capture and share fantastic photographs. 

Focusing was accurate and fast to acquire and lock in good lighting and it performed really well in low light situations as well, I've only noticed searching for focus in really tricky situations, overall it's really good and you can adjust the exposure as well while at it. The camera also have the same modes as before, you can create time-lapses, slo-mo video and panoramas, nothing new here. 

RAW Format
If you  have an iPhone 6s, 6s Plus or the new iPhone 7 with IOS 10 installed you can now shoot pictures in RAW under the adobe DNG format. Lightroom for iOS already offers that feature and you can edit images using the app and export to jpeg, unfortunately if you don't have a creative cloud subscription you cannot upload the DNG file to your computer to edit the photos there, but it won't take long until other apps offers the option to shoot in RAW and let you upload the images to your computer. Shooting in RAW is a really welcome feature to the smartphone.

iPhone 7 1/15 f/1.8 ISO 64 unedited

iPhone 7 1/15 f/1.8 ISO 64 unedited

Better than DSLR?
Every time a new iPhone or Galaxy or other high end smartphone comes along people start saying that it will replace DSLRs, I keep seeing people saying that the iPhone 7 is like having a DSLR in your pocket, but let me tell you... "NO" it's not, that's an absurd!! iPhone 7 or a Galaxy S7 and etc. have very capable cameras on them but they are not even close to replace a DSLR, they can't even replace high end compact point and shoot camera for that matter like the Sony RX100 Mark IV. Now, if you come and ask me to recommend a point and shoot for about $200 then my answer would be, do you have a good smartphone? iPhone 7, Galaxy S7, LG G5.... and if the answer is yes, then I would not recommend a cheap camera, unless having lots of zoom is important to you.

In Conclusion
I'm really happy with the new camera on the iPhone 7, I can see myself using more often than ever before. Those who enjoy selfies will be pleased with the bump in resolution of the front facing camera and the quality of the images as well. This phone takes much better pictures than the iPhone 6 and 6s.

One last thing, you don't really need the best camera to take good photos, anyone can take good photos, just be creative, work on your composition, try to send a message through your photos, try different styles, move around to get the best angles, you can take good photos with nearly any camera, just know its limitations and make the best out of it.

Gallery - These images are jpegs unedited.

Portrait session with Gloria by Alex Gesse

Hello everyone, it's been a while.

So, two weeks ago I went with my beautiful friend Gloria to Wynwood in Miami to do a shoot with her. That place is spectacular for great portrait sessions, so many great walls by so many fantastic artists allowing you to explore your creativity and come back home with so many winner shots.

We had such a great time there, Gloria is such a great person to be around, funny and very spontaneous, she made my job effortless really, we communicated really well and shared so many different ideas for different shots.

We spent like 4 hours there and it flew by. I came back home really satisfied with the photos and had a really fun time editing them.

Here are some photos from our shoot, also please go check her gallery for more photos.

Also, use the contact page if you wish to know more information and book a portrait session with me. 

Shooting the Milky Way in South Florida by Alex Gesse

I grew up reading magazines on astronomy, watching tv series, reading science books, and my dad is also into that stuff and here and there he would tell me something cool that I didn't know and that would make me wonder about it for hours. The universe is just so freaking amazing ;)

When I started looking up photos online on web sites such as 500px and Flickr, I discovered photographers who were posting amazing images of the night skies, the milky way, star trail and etc. I think that played a major role in getting me interested in photography. I wanted to take those kind of photos, I wanted to take beautiful images of the milky way and say, I did that.. I took this photo.

However, to photograph the night skies it's important to go as far away from city lights as possible and I live in a well populated area, South Florida. I first thought it was impossible to take good photos of the milky way here in South Florida, most of the photos I saw online were from the west in places such as Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California.. especially in the desert and mountains, but I was wrong..

It's possible to get nice images of the night skies from South Florida as well, the Everglades National Park is a great location to capture the night skies. The Everglades is a huge park and the farther you go into the park the better it gets. This past year I went there with a friend, it was my first time there attempting to get a shot of the milky way, but we didn't really plan much, we just picked an area by looking on google maps and drove there. Once we got there and got out of our car and looked up, there it was, the milky way really visible to the naked eye. We spent about 2 hours there.. oh.. don't forget your repellent, seriously.. DON'T!!

With better planning and a better research on locations, you can get really incredible images of the milky way with nice foregrounds, something we struggled with, we didn't find a nice foreground when we were there, but again.. we didn't plan much.

There are 3 ways to enter the park by car, we drove to the main entrance located in Homestead.

Also, this week the IDA or International Dark-Sky Association announced that they have recognized the first protected dark location in the state of Florida, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. This is great news for stargazers. I will plan a visit to this park later this year when the Milky Way will be at its best time to be seen, around the midyear. You can read the IDA article here.

Here are a few shots I took this past year from the Everglades National Park....

Photographer's checklist before a road trip. by Alex Gesse

Canon PowerShot S100 1/640 f/5.6 ISO 200

Canon PowerShot S100 1/640 f/5.6 ISO 200

In less that two weeks I'm going to start a road trip. This year I'm flying to Seattle and from there I will drive south to San Francisco. I'm really excited for this trip and the places I'm going to see. The west coast is stunning from start to finish.

As a photographer, I need to take some time to research where I'm going and what kind of photos I will be taking, of course it's impossible to plan and predict everything but having some ideas are a good starting point. With less than 2 weeks to go, I find this is perfect time to start preparing for the trip.

Things to prepare for:

  • Research where you will pass during the trip.
  • Decide what you will be doing in those places.
  • Research a bit about it. For example, I will be hiking some mountain areas in Seattle and I found out that in some places I need a "pass" in order to do it. Seems important right?
  • Check what the weather might be like to take appropriate clothes.
  • I have checked for sunrise and sunset times, moon phases and even high tides and low tides because I want to take some specific oceanscapes photographs. This might not apply to you.. but it only shows how far I went ;)
  • Check your gear to make sure you have:
    • Extra Batteries
    • Flashlight
    • Lens cleaner
    • Memory Cards
    • Tripod plate
    • Car charger for your cell and also your camera batteries
  • Find out coverage areas for you cell carrier and download offline maps for those areas with no data so you can still use your maps app to navigate.
  • Purchase equipment you might need sometime before your trip so you can test it, learn about it and if purchased online to arrive in time.
  • Take as much equipment as you can handle.. you never know what you'll need.

These to me are some of the most important items before going on a trip. One thing we really can't control is the weather, so make the best out of every situation.

Be safe!!

Hiking The Narrows!! by Alex Gesse

Canon 6D + Rokinon 14mm, 0.3 sec ISO 100

Canon 6D + Rokinon 14mm, 0.3 sec ISO 100

Last year I had the pleasure to hike The Narrows at Zion National Park in Utah. This was such a wonderful experience that I recommend anyone visiting Utah to stop by and try for themselves.

Zion offers shuttle bus to different parts of the park until a certain day of the year, this year is being offered until October 25th. Take the free shuttle until you get to the last stop at Temple of Sinawava. There are some restrooms and water fountains there. I recommend you filling up your bottle of water before taking on the hike.

The hike will start with a 1.1 mile one way through the riverside trail, a paved trail leading up to The Narrows. 

The Narrows is a 9.4 miles round trip trail, no permit is required to hike up to Big Spring. Most people will try to reach the "Wall Street" portion of the canyon, about 2.5 miles one way to get there. I went a bit farther, I think I went almost up to Big Spring before returning. The hike is stunning from start to finish and it never stops wowing you. It's jaw dropping at every corner and it keeps getting better the farther you go. You will be crossing the Virgin River at several points and some areas you have to hike within the chilling water of the river itself for quite a lot, especially farther ahead in which the trail also gets narrower. You will be amazed by those colossal tall sandstone walls that accompany you the entire time. It makes you feel so tiny and a bit cold I might add as the sunlight doesn't even reach the bottom of the canyon for the most part. There are areas in which you can hike through the sand as well, areas to get some rest, eat and recover some energy before continuing on.

When I went late October, the water was pretty cold so I stopped by a local rental store (Zion Adventure Company) outside of the park to rent some equipment. They have all kinds of stuff there for a good price. I rented the Cold Water Drypants Package which came with dry pants, canyoneering shoes, neoprene socks, and a hiking stick in which I strongly recommend but I did not use, instead I was using my tripod which was a mistake, by the end of the hike my tripod lost all their rubber from their feet.

Having good shoes is so important. For the most part this hike is filled with slippery loose rocks and sometimes the water is higher and you cannot see well, not having a good ankle support might ruin your day, so get good shoes. A hiking stick is also a must as you will for certain lose balance from time to time and without it you get fall down, especially because the river stream sometimes is also strong. For the most part the water reaches up to your knees, while other times it may go up to your waist or higher.

Also, make sure you protect your electronic equipment. Use dry bags or something to prevent water from coming in and damaging your stuff.

In the end, this is a must stop for those wanting a wonderful time at Zion. Remember, you can stop and come back and any point of the hike, so go as far you feel comfortable, take many photos and have a great time.

How to shoot beautiful panning photos. by Alex Gesse

This type of shot is called panning, and what a better way to practice that than watching Formula 1 in person. 

As a fan of Formula One since a kid, I'm lucky that the United States now hosts one Formula One Grand Prix per year. It's now being held in Austin, Texas and I was there in 2013 to catch the action and freeze... or better yet, blur the moment with my camera.

Canon T3i + Canon 55-250mm @250mm 1/200th F/11 ISO 100

Canon T3i + Canon 55-250mm @250mm 1/200th F/11 ISO 100

One of the coolest photos you can get during an event such as car racing, bike racing, boating or even if you are into photographing flying birds is with panning. Panning is when you track a moving subject at a slower slower shutter speed in order to create a motion blur to both background and foreground while trying to keep the subject in focus, creating this effect of speed and motion to the photo. It's a really pleasing image to see.

This was my first time trying this shot and I did a few things wrong, two of them were: I shot in single focus mode and I was moving my arms too much as I was shooting handheld. 

I was shooting with my Canon T3i and a Canon 55-250mm IS. This is an entry level camera and a somewhat cheap lens, still I was happy to see I've gotten some really nice photos out of this package.

Important tips to remember:

  • Shoot JPEG - I shoot raw but for this type of event I was shooting in continuous shooting mode and I needed the speed to take as many shots as I could.
  • Shutter Priority or Manual - You need to set the shutter speed accordingly. As for fast cars I was trying to shoot around 1/200 sec. in shutter priority. The slower the more difficult to get it right but if you get it right the more you blur the foreground and background which gives you an even more pleasing image.
  • ISO 100 - Usually this is taking place during the day so the lower the ISO the better. 
  • Continuous Shooting Mode - As I mentioned, track the moving object while holding the shutter button taking as many photos as you can.
  • Use a Monopod - A monopod would be great to help you catch sharp image more often
  • Move your hips - If handheld follow the moving object by moving your hip from side to side and not your arms.
  • Turn Image stabilization on - If your camera or lens does have, use it.
  • Take tons of shots, it's digital and you can delete the bad ones later.
  • Manual focus or continuous focus mode - Like I said earlier. I was set to One Shot Focus when instead I should have been in Manual. I should have locked the focus to the area I wanted to do the panning or at least set my camera to continuous focus called AI-Servo on Canon cameras. AI-Servo will follow the moving car trying to maintain focus while you hold the shutter button down.

If you follow these simple tips you should be able to get some really nice photographs. Don't forget to shoot a lot and look at the back of the LCD from time to time to see how your pictures are coming out and make adjustment based on that.

More examples:

Organizing your images. by Alex Gesse

I remember a time when for me to find a certain image on my computer it would take a good few minutes and sometimes even hours because I would give up trying to find it. I would have all these "Untitled Folders" created all over my computer's hard drive, how can you ever find something that way?

When I started taking photos as a hobby I knew I had to come up with a system that would work for me, otherwise my life would be a nightmare trying to find anything. I will share how I manage my photos here and maybe this will help someone else as well. This method has been working for me, I'm sure there are other ways as well.

Folder Structure:

Under my "Pictures" folder I created and named folders with different years as their names and I populated those folders with more specific folder names. Let's say in 2014 I took many landscape photos, I name a folder "Landscape" and I place this folder under the folder "2014", that way I avoid to have thousands of folders under the same main folder "Pictures".  The same is true for all other photos.. I might have photos for cityscape, portraits, macros and so on.. each photo goes under their respective folder, under the respective year it was taken, easy right?
Now, let's say I have a folder for Portraits but  then I have 10 session with different models, what I do is, I create 10 different folders and I name them the same name as of the models and I place them all under the Portrait Folder.

This is how I organize my photos. I do the same on my external hard drive.

This is how I organize my photos. I do the same on my external hard drive.

So that's good so far.. but many years down road you want to find a session you did for a Model, let's call her "Carly" and you named the folder "Carly" as well. A simple search on Mac or PC should find it right? Yes, and if you only take a few photos or have a few photos on your computer then this simple folder structure ought do it, but if you are a photographer or take/have lots of pictures then you might need something more advanced to help you find photos faster.

Adobe Lightroom

I use Adobe Lightroom available for Macs and PC ($150.00) to both post process and organize my images. Lightroom is great because it askes you where you want to store your photos when importing from an external source such as an sdcard, and if you are importing photos that are already in your computer, lightroom will just add them to the lightroom catalog without moving them from their origin folder, although you can also copy and move files and folders to different locations if you prefer.

During import, Lightroom will present you with a few options and one of them will be to add keywords to the imported photos, that's the key element here. By adding keywords to photos you are importing, you can then later on search for them with extreme easy.
You can also add keywords to existing photos by going to the library module, selecting the photos and typing the words you want to add in the keyword box, as shown in the image below. You can add more than one keyword and use spaces between words.

Adding Keywords to existing photos. Click to enlarge.

One way to find your photos is by going to the library module, then on top you have this bar called "Library Filter", you can use different methods for searching here including "text" which would be useful if your photos have keywords. You can also use multiple variables here, you can search for a certain camera, a star rating, all while looking for keywords at the same time. A great way to narrow it down to what you are looking for.

Smart Collections have that little gear icon.

Smart Collections have that little gear icon.

Another way to find and this is really cool is by creating a "Smart Collection". In a smart collection you can also use more than one variable to find your images, you can create a collection in which lightroom will look for the filters you added such as keyword but also narrow it down to only photos you gave it a 5 star rating, a certain lens, shutter speed and so on. You can get really specific. The difference here from the library search is that you are creating a collection, and the collection will be here every time you open up lightroom. Also, any changes you make to your photos the collection will be updated automatically, if for example you changed the rating from 5 to 4 stars.. the image will no longer be in the collection if one of the filters is set to look for 5 star photos ;)

Adding Filters to a Smart Collection.

Adding Filters to a Smart Collection.

That's it, two really simple ways that helped me a lot. Of course that are other ways to organize photos and documents, this is the one I'm working with and it has been working ok. Hopefully someone will find this helpful as well.

Looking back!! by Alex Gesse

As I was writing the first entry for my new blog I was searching my computer for pictures taken with my Canon T3i. Back then I was still using Apple's Aperture to organize and post process my images and I found this picture. I've never posted or shared with anyone but it's a great looking photo, I really like how it came out and it's nice to know I did "ok" when I was just starting and experimenting with my gear.

Canon T3i + Canon 18-55mm IS, 1/8th f/16 ISO 100.

Canon T3i + Canon 18-55mm IS, 1/8th f/16 ISO 100.

This photo was taken at the Coral Cove Park in Palm Beach County. I took with me my recently bought camera still with my Canon kit lens, a Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. On top of that I had just purchased my tripod, I went with a Manfrotto 190XPROB 3 and Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head. The idea was to capture some gentle water motion washing up the rocks during sunset. I didn't use any filters and I was still shooting JPEGS at the time. I took several shots from different angles trying out different settings and this one is one of my favorites.

Farewell to my Canon T3i by Alex Gesse


It all started with my Canon 3Ti. Yes, I've had other cameras before such as compact point and shoot cameras and camera phones but my love for photography only started after I decided to invest on my first DSLR. Nikon or Canon? I went with Canon and after a few weeks researching a model and a good price, I finally found a sale going on at amazon.com and I went ahead and bought it. The camera came with a kit 18-55mm lens and for a discounted price I also bought the Canon 55-250mm lens.

The camera is considered an entry level model for the DSLR lineup from Canon but a very capable camera. I knew nothing about DSLRs back then, but my good friend Vinny showed me around a few things and from there I took on to teach myself. I spent countless hours reading, researching, watching tutorials and shooting, shooting and shooting some more. Many times I failed, then I tried it again and failed again, I got upset but then tried again and again, and when I got it right I always felt that great feeling of accomplishment... Oh and BTW, I read the entire user manual, it's very important to understand how your camera works and how to get around the settings.

Canon T3i + 50mm lens, 1/500th f/3.5

Canon T3i + 50mm lens, 1/500th f/3.5

A few month passed and I learned my camera really well and I could then start pushing the camera to what the camera could do while also learning about all this general photography rules, which sometimes you want to break to come up with something interesting. I was taking my camera everywhere with me and taking some really beautiful pictures while never stopping trying to improve. That was all fun to me. Photography made me then wanting to go out more.. travel more, meet new people and it even made me want to learn and like art more. Can't beat that!!

Today however I'm passing this camera along. I thought twice about selling it but since I have another DSLR, the Canon 6D which is a full frame and better overall camera I find myself no longer using my T3i. The camera won't go far though, I'm selling to a good friend of mine who will put this camera to good use while driving his truck around the United States. I cannot wait to see some of his pictures and I sure hope he enjoys shooting with this camera as much as I did.

Canon T3i + Canon 55-250 IS, 1/40th f/6.3

Canon T3i + Canon 55-250 IS, 1/40th f/6.3

Canon T3i + 18-55mm IS, 1/8th f/16

Canon T3i + 18-55mm IS, 1/8th f/16