iPhone 7 Plus Depth Effect Is Legit

Stu Maschwitz has a thoughtful, smart, and well-illustrated piece on the iPhone 7 Plus’s Portrait mode:

So don’t ask if Depth Effect is perfect. A better question is if its failures are distracting. And I have certainly taken some test photos where they are. But the funny thing about test photos is that there’s often nothing worth photographing in them, so you just stare at the problems. In my own testing, whenever I’ve pointed Portrait Mode at something I actually care about, the results have been solid.

So back to the question of whether we should care about a fake blur applied in post to a telephone photo. When I tweeted the above shot, someone replied with a reasonable question: wouldn’t I love the photo just as much without the effect? I replied no, and added:

Composition matters, and focus is composition in depth.

Portrait Mode photos aren’t just photos with a blur applied. They have the potential to be photos that are more about what they are photos of. It gets back to one of the oldest, most durable posts on this site: Less is More. We frame our shots carefully, and shallow depth of field allows us to frame our shots in depth as well.

Sometimes that makes the photo prettier. Often, it can make the photo.

Friday, 30 September 2016