Relight, a New HDR iOS Application

For the last two months I have had the pleasure and privilege to beta test Relight. During that time the application underwent many changes and from what I have been told by the developers at Code Organa, there are a few more additions coming real soon in future updates.

Relight is not only a real-time HDR camera application, with eight unique modes, with fifty-three artistic and photo enhancement/corrections presets, but Relight is an application with an extensive post-editor, allowing the user to import other regular non-HDR photographs and edit their photograph to bring our the very best results possible.

One of the many things Relight accomplishes is being able to adjust all settings live before taking the exposure and seeing the effects right on your iPhone screen. This feature alone makes Relight very a valuable application to have in one’s toolbox. Now not everyone has the time to edit prior to taking the image, so don’t worry, take the photograph before the action is lost and do the editing afterwards.

Shot with Relight - Non-HDR version JPG file

Shot with Relight - HDR version TIF file
Not dark areas are naturally lighter. Default setting Enhance #1

Now everyone has a different opinion about HDR and what I like about Relight when using the application to capture images, is that the results look natural and appear more like how the human eye sees and renders the scene. Of course if you prefer a more HDR appearance, that can be accomplished by going to Settings and selecting your preference in the Default Mode. The default mode is Enhance 1. Currently there are fifty-three preference modes available to the user can set to have consistent images to their liking.

Using Relight Post Editor to edit previous HDR photo

Though the iPhone’s native camera does provide HDR, Relight goes far beyond, by providing the user with ample control over the appearance of the end result of the photograph.

Even if you are not into HDR photography, I seriously suggest that you should have a serious look and consider trying Relight because it improves the over all look of your photograph, especially since a great percentage of one’s images suffer from some kind exposure imbalance and this is were Relight comes to the rescue. 

Final version
Russian Orthodox Church, San Francisco, California

Check out and to purchase Relight at Apple’s iTunes store by clicking here.

Code Organa’s mantra is “We make high tech fun” and Relight makes it easy and exciting to create HDR images with ease.

NOTE: All images shot and edited with Relight beta version.
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved - iPhone 6


The ShoulderPod R1 Pro is Coming

Last year, Enrique and his design team introduced us to their successful ShoulderPod S1 3-in-1 Smartphone Grip (link to my review). Now they have developed the Shoulder R1 Pro Smartphone Grip for the mobile photographer, filmmakers, journalists and travelers. They also developed R1 Go, a smaller version of the R1 Pro.

Right now ShoulderPod is taking orders for the R1 Pro and R1 Go, limited to 1000 units, with plans to ship to those who have preordered by/around the end of November.

All images are of the R1 Pro

The two handle R1 Pro (from the images provided) reveal that it is designed to hold multiple accessories, such as light(s) and/or microphone and the single handle unit R1 Go, handles only one accessory. 

While I have not seen or tested either the R1 Pro or the R1 Go, I am looking forward to receiving both units for extensive testing under numerous situations, especially since the S1 3-in-1 Rig has been my go to accessory when shooting a portrait, macro, product or editorial still-life.

If you wish to to get yours before they are gone, I suggest that you click on any of the links below.

ShoulderPod Home Page
ShoulderPod R1 Pro
ShoulderPod R1 Go
ShoulderPod 3-in-1 S1 Rig

©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


OlloClip 3-in-1 Macro Lens system for the iPhone 6/6Plus

OlloClip graciously sent me their entire line of lenses for the iPhone 6/6 Plus for testing and I was very keen on trying out the macro 3-in-1 as I had not used it before. I was also curious as to how OlloClip solved the iPhone’s lens now projecting beyond the surface of the phone.

Previously the OlloClip was securely attached ‘snuggly’ to an iPhone, yet I never felt comfortable unless I also had a finger or two touching the older lens system. With the redesigned clip-one version for the iPhone 6/6 Plus, the designers at OlloClip have designed a system that solved the iPhones lens projection, while establishing a very secure connection between the macro lens or any other OlloClip 6/6 Plus lens system.

When you first use your new OlloClip 6/6 Plus system, note that all their new lens systems are sent ready to be used on an iPhone 6, but those with a 6 Plus will need to make one simple and permanent adjustment. You will need to remove a small plastic item that was inserted on the inside base of the attachment clip and replace it with a similar one to make the lens system work with your iPhone 6 Plus. Unfortunately OlloClip did not provide instructions in how best to remove and replace this item for iPhone Plus users.

The 3-in-1 Macro Lens System comes with two lenses, of which one serves a dual purpose 7X, 14X, and one, 21X magnification lens, both of which are clearly marked and utilize OlloClip’s new securer clip design that attaches to the iPhone, along with OlloClip’s new pendent system. 

The 3-in-1 macro system comes with two frosted defuser domes but will only fit the 14X and 21X magnification lens. The reason the defuser dome will not work with the 7X, is only because the of lens’ diameter is smaller and therefore will not accommodate the defuser dome, besides the distance between lens and subject matter is greater, rendering the dome ineffective. 

I should point out that using any macro system with a mobile device requires at best a steady hand, especially as one increases the lens magnification, so it is preferred but not necessary to use a tripod. However when photographing flat material or very small items that will fit under the defuser dome, then the dome not only serves as a defusing the light source but also as a resting platform between the subject and the iPhone’s lens.

Regardless of the magnification of the macro lens, you will notice that lines in a flat object, like a stamp reveal barrel distortion on the other perimeter of the subject. This is not the fault of OlloClip, rather it is the iPhone lens in combination with the OlloClip that cause the distortion. To clarify, the iPhone lens to begin with is a wide angle lens when compared to a normal 50 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. When shooting the iPhone at 4:3 full frame format, this distortion is noticeable but at 1:1 square format, the distortion is only evident at the edge of the image.

Using the 7X

Between the 7X and 14 or 21X macro lens, the 7X is easier at maneuvering the iPhone to obtain the desired shot, since the area of focus is larger then the two other magnifications, but that is just natural, as the magnification increases, the area of capture drops off significantly.

You will notice that the barrel distortion with the 7X is evident when photographing a flat image as the 1 centesimo Uruguay stamp, but when capturing a three-dimensional object, this effect will not be seen, as the depth of field will now be effected.

Using the 14X

Because OlloClip has provided these two frosted dome defusers for the 14X and 21X lens, it makes photographing a flat object considerable much easier, as the height of the defuser is the required distance between the OlloClip lens and the flat object being photographed. The other benefit for using the defuser is that it also provides a soft and even light source upon the subject, especially when photographing a three-dimensional item that is able to fit under a defuser.

Using the same image as in the previous example, we now observe the lens barrel distortion is still evident, but only on the perimeter of the image and the over-all sharpness of the rider and horse engraving is exceptional.

Using the 21X

The 21X is the only lens that does not serve a dual function and renders the rider and horse engraving beautifully with only a slight drop off in sharpness around the very top/bottom edge and sides due to the barrel distortion that is a little more evident at the corners of the image. 

Other examples using the 3-in-1 OlloClip macro lens


First off I like the improved design of the lens system and how it securely attaches to the iPhone 6/6 Plus and the over all simplicity of how the lens handles when one is working with it in the field or at home. The inclusion of two frosted dome defusers is an added benefit to ones experience when using the 3-in-1 macro lens system. 

While the lens barrel distortion may be a factor for some, it really should not be, as I already have explained and particularly when working with three-dimensional objects, as it then becomes an issue of depth of field.

Since Apple has chosen to reinvent the wheel every two years, manufactures like OlloClip are forced to adjust and because of this, the life of this lens is between 2-3 years, unless the iPhone and/or lens is handed down to someone else.

Bottom line, while it takes a little getting use to working with a magnification lens to get the best results when using the lens system without the defuser domes, I enjoyed exploring with the 3-in-1 macro lens and cannot wait to actually be shooting with it more, especially doing a video.

I rate the macro 3-in-1 lens at 4.75 out of 5 stars and feel that individuals interested in close-up photography should have this lens as part of their extended equipment. 

The 3-in-1 macro lens system sells for US $69.99
This lens comes in only BLACK

OlloClip website

Technical notes: All images were captures using an iPhone 6 with the PureShot camera application from and no post work to any images other than resizing and adding a small white frame around the images for publication. Light source was natural northern light exposure. When using 14 and 21X lens, a frosted defuser dome was used.

This review first appeared in the preview issue of iPhotographer Magazine available for free at iTunes by clicking here.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 6 by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

Knowing When to Continue and When to Stop

When it comes to abstract painting, there is always a challenge for the artist to know when a painting is finished or it still needs additional work. Such is the case with the painting I spoke of in my last post and now titled “Bruised Chaos.” After seeing the painting throughout the day and especially studying the numerous close-up images, I realized it still was not finished.

During the various painting stages, the canvas went through numerous transitions, reflecting my many thoughts and ideas as to interpreting the photograph the painting is based on, though it is not a copy, it is based on the inspirations that I drew from the photograph.


Left: Stage 5 — Right: Completed Painting

With a few more brush strokes of color, the painting now began to bridge better between the soft background and the additional larger color patches were more visible from the distance, something that was so necessary. At one point, one steps back, takes a hard look and say it is time to hold off.

The painting remained a few more days on the easel, which permitted one to analyze the painting, making sure that any additional brushstrokes would only make the painting appear overworked. 

Bruised Chaos, Mixed Medium, 36x36 inches

Now that one has reached the finished line, there are still two more steps before the painting is truly completed and can be signed. Because I used Neupastels and NeuColor II Aquarelle sticks for the line work and accents and because of this, the surface now needed to be secured and protected by using a fixative spray before the painting could receive a coat of 2 to 1 mixture of Golden soft semi-gloss medium gel to unify all the elements and colors.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

An Accidental Discovery Leads to Painting

In my previous post I spoke of finding my adventure to Mare Island and the realistic abstract images I discovered and how they served as training the eye in composition and as inspiration toward another form of medium, such as painting. So four weeks ago, while attending an Open Show in San Francisco, I discovered a beautiful column full of texture and history.

Out came the iPhone and after selecting the camera application 6x6, it was down to business. At first one is overwhelmed and not knowing where to start isolating and framing a section of the huge column, I need to just take in a deep breath and visually map the column into sections and begin from there.

Untitled as of now

Since this was indoors, the lighting was horrible, but it did not deter me from capturing two to three dozen images which would serve as a study for a possible painting. While it is certainly possible to duplicate a photograph in another medium as a painting, the photograph is best served as inspiration and letting the artists emotions about the scene emerge and be part of the painting. This way the painting or drawing becomes more personal and meaningful.

During the shooting of the column, I framed each image according to the columns best feature and developing a strong composition, including going for a few detail close-ups were the information is more important then the composition.

After uploading the images to the laptop, the editing process began and the best images placed in a separate folder on the iPad to serve as a resource and inspiration.


In the end I selected a full frame image (3264x2448 pixel) that was only cropped on the top and the bottom so that it would become a square (2448x2448 pixel), considering the canvas I had prepared was 36 x 36 inches.

The general shapes were loosely painted with acrylic to cover the gesso layer and to see how these shapes balanced with each other. While this is only a general base, much is contemplated before the next layer is applied.

Painting in Progress - Stage 1

Painting in Progress - Stage 2

In stage 2, the color palette was more defined, including the different brush sizes that would be used when painting. After contemplating on the progress, I felt that another painting had started to emerge, rather than the one I had intended, that I almost considered continuing what I had done by making more distinct building shapes to reveal a cityscape. However in the end, I decided I needed to return to the original idea and be more bold and not too refined with my brush work, while retaining some of the earlier brush strokes.

Painting in Progress - Stage 3

One needs to be honest with one’s self, when it comes to judging a work of art in progress. One needs to set the painting aside, then place it in other rooms that are being frequented, before returning it to the easel for further study. It was just after such a process that I noticed the far left dark area was competing with the main dark shape on the right side of the canvas and so changes were being made to tone down the problem and make that area more homogenous with the rest of the canvas by blending the tones with each other.

Painting in Progress - Stage 4

Painting in Progress - Stage 4½ 

The following photograph is accurate in what it portrays but not in color. Since all images were taken outdoors with the canvas facing the North, the surrounding reflective light influenced the colors, making everything appear warmer.

By now I had taken a major step, using a stiff nylon wallpaper brush that was dipped in paint as to apply hard lines, marks of destress in the lower mid-left-center. If it did not work, I would have to react rather than move ahead with the vision to which I was locked in.

Now that there was major progress accomplished, it was time to hang the painting on a wall in the dinning room to see how it held up against the strong red wall. It also became clear that what had been done with the wallpaper brush needed to be better integrated with the surrounding. This was accomplished with a few blended brush strokes. Now I was ready to begin the next major stage of the painting by applying the horizontal brush work and adding color, including line work with non-acrylic material.

Painting in Progress - Stage 5

I had already spent about 36-40 hours or so painting from stage one through 4½ and stage 5 seemed almost ended up being another seven hours plus. Of course much of that time is also spent taking a step back to study ones progress. 

The question that remains to be answered is, is the painting finished?



After taking the above image, I realized that my brush work now appeared much larger and it gave the shapes more prominence, thereby realizing the painting is not finished and I would need to go back and add larger brush strokes so things would not be so subtle and be lost when viewing the painting from a distance.

This would mean that after doing this, I would need to go back and add a few more smaller brush strokes so that one layer does not stand out but all becomes integrated, appearing things happened over time, just as all the dents and bangs into the column took years to make.

Since I only paint one to two days a week, it will take at least another 10 days before the painting will be actually completed and signed and yes, what about a title, that still needs to be accomplished also.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

When Photographs Seek Alternative Mediums

Last month on April 21, was The iPhone Art’s third anniversary, a moment that just went by without much fanfare and that is all right. At some point one no longer counts the birthdays or anniversaries, rather just enjoys the moment. While a number of iPhone dedicated websites have closed, TiPA plans to stay around a few more years and like with every anniversary, there is a reflection of looking back to see what has been accomplished, that which is still on the drawing board, and then focusing on the future.

After mobile photography having played a major roll in my creativity at the cost of other creative interests, the pendulum having reached its zenith, it has slowly begun a descend into the opposite direction. 

By no means is this signaling that mobile photography is taking a backseat, it simply means that photography is looking for an alternative way to express itself, for most creative individuals express themselves in a number of different ways and various mediums. 

So when Fletcher called me a little over one week ago, asked if I would join him on a trip to Mare Island, Vallejo for a few hours, revisiting the pier we were at a couple of months ago, I said yes and the next day we were on route.

Unfortunately, Mare Island is one of those places where everything is fenced off and you see more “No Trespassing,” and “Trespasser Will Be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law” signs then people. Then you are dealing with Vallejo’s Public Works, Private Security and of course the Vallejo Police Department, who are actually more understanding then the other two.

We just arrived and I went to the far end of the pier and setting up, when my cell phone rang and Fletcher said, “We’re busted” before a single exposure was taken. Undeterred, we searched for an alternative location within the island. Thirty minutes or so later we reached a place I knew would be less visited and the next ninety minute or so, we were both lost within our visual creativity.

Photography is not only an art form in its own right, it is also a tool with which to explore and record visual ideas to be applied in other mediums. What I am eluding at, is that while honing by compositional skills by carefully selecting segments of a wall into their own rightful artistic expression, I’m also having numerous images that would serve not only as inspiration for other forms of artist expression, even reinterpreted in the form of an abstract painting, as with the two previous photographs, which could serve as the foundation of a painting. 

Even just capturing segments of a building which one finds interesting can serve as a compositional layout as we see in the following two examples.

But now my photography is longing to find a new path in which to express itself, for I’m no longer satisfied just taking photographs, post processing them on my iPad and printing out a few. My photographs and future images want to live in another environment, another form other than just being illuminated on the screen or viewed was a print.  

Therefore I now stand at the precipice, carefully measuring my next step, because that which I have left untouched for four years and counting; several unfinished canvases and numerous concepts that have not left the pages of notebooks, the old books I have collected to convert into altered book art or use some of the pages in a collage, are all waiting for my return.

And just as the images long to be converted into beautiful brush strokes of splendid colors living on a large canvas, or other photographs intertwined amidst a variety of papers, or a letters from a son mixed in with a few different ephemeral materials, which have been assembled into a collage; or reconfigured into an image transfer and applied to a multi-medium surface. The photographs also desire to live along side of words, telling stories and filling one’s imagination, then to be stored as a digital file on a hard drive and given a number for easy retrieval. 

So for now and through the summer months, when opposing mediums come together through a symbiosis, mobile photography will be playing a supportive roll, so that it may find a new voice.

All photographs ©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


First Friday of the Month - Brussels HipstaPak Revisited

Earlier this month I reviewed the HipstaPak Brussels and despite my few reservations, I had recommended the lens and film combo. I still stand firm on my review, so why am I revisiting this HipstaPak? Just because I have reviewed an item, it does not mean I do not continue to test and try an item after publishing my findings and so it was with the Brussels combo. 

During a walk, I came upon a pond with numerous wonderful Koi of various splendid colors and sizes, that within seconds the iPhone was engaged and I quickly decided to use the Hipstamatic Classic camera application. After my first exposure and having a look at the results, I was intrigued and decided to continue  shooting. With every additional exposure I became more and more excited, now finding myself workings seriously at various elements to obtain that one image where everything comes together as one.

The Brussels lens and film has a tendency to turn areas into solid color by stripping any detail from the subject. While I did find this irritable in general, under the circumstances in which light, shadows, reflection and movement of the Koi, magic happened.

Not every image shot that afternoon was a success. There were many failures and just as many “just” alright, but then a small handful on the other hand were better than just alright.

The other reason why I am so excited by these results is that the movement of the water interacting with the reflections, created the appearance of a special effect that was achieved in post production. 

A few weeks later I came upon another pond with Koi fish and after a couple of exposures, it was clear that light, shadow and reflections were needed to be able to achieve the kind of results I had a couple of weeks earlier. 

When I have the opportunity to return to the original location, I can only hope that I will have perfect condition between light, shadows, reflections and movement, in order to have a chance in achieving the perfect photograph.

Note: All photographs in this post have not been altered or retouched in post production, except for one, “The Solitary Koi.” 

The Solitary Koi

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
©2015 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

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