Under fake iPhone skies

I’m on my third iPhone: iPhone 5, iPhone 6s, and now iPhone 12 mini. It’s great to always have an easy-to-carry camera in my front pocket. With each successive model I’ve owned, Apple has improved the camera in remarkable ways that are plain to see in the images the camera makes.

That said, I’m not in love with the images I get from my iPhone 12 mini. They look extra saturated and extra sharpened, with contrast boosted too much for my taste. And the camera is clearly doing heavy processing of skies, or perhaps even inserting skies the software behind the camera is making up.

On my Ride Across Indiana last year, I photographed the Indiana Statehouse with my Canon PowerShot S95 and my iPhone 12 mini. Check out how each camera rendered the sky. The S95 is true to life, even though the clouds are a little blown out.

Indiana Statehouse

The iPhone 12 mini brought out a lot more blue in the sky than was actually there, and faded the clouds considerably.

Indiana Statehouse

I saw the same thing on my trip to San Diego recently. The day was mostly cloudy. A little blue sky peeked out from between clouds here and there. I made the same shot with two cameras one right after the other. The first was my Olympus OM-2n with the 40mm f/2 Zuiko lens on Kodak Ektar.

Paradise Point Resort

Look at what the iPhone 12 mini did with the sky!

San Diego resort

I never did this kind of comparison on my iPhone 6s, but I don’t believe it was as aggressive in processing the sky as my iPhone 12 was. The 6s probably enhanced skies a little, with the effect of making them look epic. Here’s a photo from somewhere in County Galway, Ireland, that I made with the 6s.

Irish landscape

I believe my iPhone 5 did little or no manipulation of skies. Here’s a photo of an old house in Hamilton County, Indiana, that I made with the 5.

Old house, Hamilton County

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Old brick road

Fading into the distance
Apple iPhone 5

State Road 39 parallels this brick road on the west side of Martinsville, Indiana. For reasons I’ve never been able to uncover, when this segment of SR 39 was rebuilt (including a new bridge across the White River), the old brick road was left behind.

500 feet of this brick road is still in use to provide access to the Morgan County Jail. You can see a tiny bit of the last entrance to the jail’s parking lot in the middle right of the photo. The bricks beyond are left for nature to reclaim.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Fading into the distance

Old State Road 39 in Martinsville, Indiana.

Road Trips

The Logansport City Building

Logansport City Building

Logansport’s City Building doesn’t look like much from the outside. I drove by it many times while exploring the Michigan Road without stopping for a photograph. You only get a clue that something interesting may lurk inside when you see the City Building letterforms over the doors.

Logansport City Building

I made these exterior shots on a Michigan Road day trip my wife and I made recently.

Logansport City Building

But in 2013 I got to go inside, for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association, and I made a few photographs with my phone. I haven’t shared them before because my phone struggled with the low interior light and I wasn’t terribly happy with how they turned out.

Inside the Logansport City Building

But I’m unlikely to get inside again any time soon, and imperfect photographs are better than no photographs!

Inside the Logansport City Building

Logansport built its City Building in 1925, at a time when the city was flush with cash thanks to the railroads that ran through town.

Inside the Logansport City Building

My research revealed nothing more about the City Building. It’s too bad. It’s a lovely building, lovelier than you’d expect in a city the size of Logansport.

Inside the Logansport City Building

What I like best about the building is the stained-glass skylights on the top floor. You can see one through these doors.

Inside the Logansport City Building

There is more than one skylight, but this is the most prominent of them as it is in the center of the roof, visible as you enter the building and ascend the stairs.

Inside the Logansport City Building

I did my best to hold my phone level while standing directly below this skylight.

Stained glass, Logansport City Hall

Returning now to the present day, my wife and I stayed in Logansport long enough for darkness to fall and the decorations to light up.

Logansport City Building

Canon PowerShot S95, iPhone 5

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.

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Evening light over the back yard

Evening light on the back yard
iPhone 5

It seems like ages ago that all of my ash trees died and were removed. But it was just two summers ago.

Before that, my wooded back yard was lit only in the evening, as the sun set. And what beautiful light I would sometimes get!

Yesterday I moved the last of my things out. I’ll spend some time cleaning the house over the weekend, and will close the sale on Monday.

Film Photography

single frame: Evening light on the back yard


steer in

Steer in
iPhone 5

I don’t know a Guernsey from a Holstein from a Hereford. I even had to look up cow breeds on the Internet to be able to write that sentence.

At one company where I used to work, we had an offsite management meeting at Traders Point Creamery, an Indianapolis dairy farm. They rent a small conference room for such things. We were a small company, so all of us managers fit.

While lining up for a group photo, these cows moved by below. Cows and corporate strategy. Not a natural fit.


single frame: Steer in


Camera Reviews

The Apple iPhone 5 camera

I’ve reluctantly retired my iPhone 5. I say reluctantly because it was a great phone, at least in terms of its size, usefulness, and usability. What caused me to retire it was one too many hardware problems. I’ll spare you the litany of woes. Suffice it to say that I’d had it with its unreliability. But the iPhone 5 camera was pretty darn good.

iPhone 5, left, next to the phone I had before it, a Palm Pre

That’s what I am writing about here — the iPhone 5 camera. I shot thousands of photos with it, because it was the camera that was always on me, and it was a perfectly competent point and shoot camera that occasionally delivered brilliance.

I got my iPhone 5 on the morning it was released in 2012. The first photo I took with it? A selfie, of course. I still have that shirt.


It was a great selfie tool.


Actually, I shot people with it more often than with any other camera I’ve ever owned.

IMG_3019 proc

The iPhone 5 did surprisingly well in low light. I loved using the it to capture sunrises and sunsets, and I wasn’t afraid to use it indoors without flash.

Marsh nee Sears

The iPhone 5 did reasonable close-up work.


It was also a great road-trip companion. I shoot mostly my Canon PowerShot S95 while I’m on the road, but the iPhone 5 had two great uses: if I wasn’t sure I’d remember exactly where I took a shot, the iPhone 5 would do that for me, because it geotagged each photo. And it was great for letting me update Facebook or text friends with what I was seeing, from the scene.

Brick Route 66
On the Dixie

But mostly I used my iPhone 5 to say, “I’m here, doing this, right now.” It was a whole new use of a camera to me: a way to casually record a moment, and if I wanted, to communicate it wordlessly and immediately to anyone I know. This led me to take all sorts of shots I never would have otherwise — shots that, years on, invoke memories I might otherwise have lost.

IMG_1221 proc

My iPhone 5 captured most scenes with great sharpness and color. Sometimes, when I shot a scene with my wonderful Canon S95 and followed it with an iPhone 5 shot to grab geolocation, I liked the iPhone shot better! And focusing by touching the screen is brilliant and works flawlessly.

But the iPhone 5 camera isn’t perfect. Highlights blow out with it all the time, as you can see in many of these photos. And it can be hard to hold steady. Firing the shutter is accomplished by either an on-screen button or by pressing one of the physical volume buttons on the phone, and none of these is placed conveniently. And the Apple software that automatically uploads shots to my computer doesn’t always work.

I’ve used this camera less and less lately because the lens had become dinged and scratched, and those marks showed in all my shots. When I had yet another hardware problem with it recently, I threw in the towel and upgraded to an iPhone 6S. It was stupefyingly expensive — my desktop computer cost as much. But I vastly prefer iOS over Android, and I’m taken with the cameras Apple makes. But memo to Apple: my new iPhone had better be a paragon of reliability, or I’ll defect to Android and never look back.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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