The Secrets of Stunning Beach Photography on an Iphone

On July 5, 2012 by Kennethrobinson
iphone photography - dawn andy royston

iphone photography – All images courtesy of © Andy Royston.

While many of us like to snap a bit of quick photography on our mobiles – to remind of us of a special moment, or to share with friends – few can be as beautiful or as impressive as the work of iphone photography specialist Andy Royston. Proving that you no longer need to cart around a backpack full of heavy gear to produce the perfect picture, Andy has focused his amazing talent for image-making on capturing the special and spectacular character of the early morning Florida sunshine and the full splendour of Fort Lauderdale’s beaches.

What started off as a twitter project to share the stunning experience of a Florida dawn with the world each morning grew into a wonderful art project, where Andy could share his impressive visions of the local seascape within moments of grabbing the perfect shot.

Part the intuition of a photographer’s eye, part the power of modern technology and its ability to instantly share the wonders of an ephemeral moment, Andy’s unique brand of ‘fresh photography’ results in truly exceptional and evocative images.

iphone photography - cloudscape andy royston

© Andy Royston

Look at his photographs and you’d probably be amazed to learn that they are all shot on an iphone – no photoshop, no air-brushing, no real post-production at all. This is perhaps why so many are attracted to the authentic and direct vision that he presents. These pictures seem to give us access to those truly magical moments spent down at the shoreline on a Florida sunrise, it almost feels like you could be there. For Andy it is the beach itself that is the true work of art and there is something genuinely wonderful about feeling that you are somehow right there with him.

So what’s the secret to his gorgeous photography? “All my photos are taken with an iPhone4” Andy says. He likes it because it is light so he can easily carry it with him wherever he goes, never missing a great moment for a shot, and in the heat of the Florida sun, it’s a relief not to be carrying a heavy camera around. He also appreciates its robustness and the fact that he can play with the image right there on the beach, ready to upload immediately.

What is it particularly that attracts him to the Florida coastline? Well, he especially loves the early morning quiet. The beach can be a very peaceful and private place and the iphone’s discreet dimensions means that he never really feels like he is intruding on that very special atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. He also loves the skies there – huge, sweeping cloudscapes gilded by the glimmering rays of another beautiful day in the Sunshine State.

iphone photography - message in a bottle andy royston

© Andy Royston

Andy’s Top Tips For Brilliant Beach Photography on an Iphone

- For those ‘moment of sunrise’ shots he almost always uses the iPhone 4’s basic camera. It can be a little slow but there is usually time to grab a few shots to work on to get the best out of the scene.

- For close-ups of the beach, shells, turtle nests and the like, there can be a big difference between the dark shadows on the sand and the light sky. To deal with this he uses the ProHDR app which is great at balancing the exposure for dark and light areas. While great for skies, it’s not always so good for trees and silhouettes, they can gain a not so attractive halo effect sometimes when using this app. The app also contains a manual focus setting that is brilliant for close-ups. Also particularly good for close ups is ProCamera, an app often favoured by those using the iphone for street photography.

iphone photography - shell andy royston

© Andy Royston

- There are two filter apps that he finds especially effective, Lomora2 is a nice app good for high contrast photography and gives the images a lovely, retro, lo-fi feel in the style of a lomo camera. This is the app for good rich colour and a little drama – R/B film effect looks great for sunny conditions, Y/M or G/M for cloud.

The other filter app he likes is the classic Hipstamatic, particularly appreciating the Ina/JohnS combination for colour and the Claunch72 setting for monochrome shots. It’s particularly effective with Camera+Clarity for added drama. He uses the filterstorm crop to remove the borders with Hipstamatic to achieve the look he prefers.

iphone photography - gull andy royston

© Andy Royston

- For enhancing a shot once he’s managed to grab it, he sometimes uses IrisPhotosuite but finds it at times very slow.  For a quicker fix, PerfectlyClear can really lift a shot, or TiltShiftGen by Takayuki Fukatsu is a great app to add a soft vignette so to draw attention to the centre of a scene. To straighten and crop a shot, of the ap that he generally favours for a quick fix Photogene is fast and straightforward.

- For more substantial reworking PSMobile allows a ReduceNoise filter to minimise the grain in underexposed shots.

- For perfect sunrise photography, time can often be short, you have to work fast and sometimes be prepared to get wet, especially if you want to get really close to the waves as Andy does. How to do this? Travel light, don’t bring too much, keep it simple.

- Keep your kit dry – don’t drop your phone in the sea! You can hold the iphone in such a way as to cover the holes where damp could be most damaging. The iPhone4 allows you to shoot upside down with the lens at the lowest corner of the device – perfect for getting really close to the waves – covering the earphone socket with a spare finger! For those of a more nervous disposition than Andy, there is an Aquapak available to protect your precious iphone.

iphone photography - wave andy royston

© Andy Royston

- For uploading Andy prefers the simplicity of Twitpic. Whilst Tumblr is great he concedes, it is not without glitches and Twitpic delivers images straight to his twitter account without users having to open them in a new window – perfect if you are viewing it on an iphone.

For more of Andy’s insights, and more of his stunning photography visit where there are also prints of his works for sale, or follow him on twitter @FtLauderdaleSun.

Or, if you want to check out some of Andy’s locations first-hand, then why not take a fantastic holiday in Fort Lauderdale? And if you feel inspired by Andy’s work, we’d love you to share your favourite holiday photography with us here, especially if you snapped them on an iphone! Send them to us and we’ll stick the best ones up on our blog!