I am lucky enough to be able to do the school run occasionally. It can be a beautiful time of the day. Time and again I’ve noticed the quality of the light but have always been a little uncomfortable photographing near the school environment, even discreetly using iPhone photography.

Earlier this week though everything felt right. The light was beautiful. There was an element of solitude with lots of wide open space. There were no recognisable faces in the scene – I am always so careful where other peoples’ children are concerned.

I say everything felt right because the light was blinding. I knew broadly what the scene was and where I was aiming but I really couldn’t be absolutely certain of the specifics. I was acting partly on instinct and trying to construct what I thought was happening.

Looking at the finished image I’m quite happy. The boy’s stride is pretty much spot on and I got my daughter’s shadow as fully in shot as I could have hoped for.

iPhone photography apps used:

iphone photography - school run

{ school run }


Process and apps used

ProCamera7 ~ initial capture:

ProCamera was my preferred camera replacement iPhone photography capture app. In my article iPhoneography applications { most used } I explain why. ProCamera has since been updated to ProCamera7 and remains my firm favourite:

Filterstorm ~ with this image I was toying with the idea of a slightly more severe crop. In the end it was just a case of switching ratio to 1:1. There was no need to resize the image to maintain my minimum target iPhone photography resolution for printing of 2,000px x 2,000px:

Had I been certain in advance, I would have completed the crop in Snapseed:

Snapseed ~ standard drama filter applied but at a slightly reduced level. In addition, I allowed the drama filter to reduce saturation slightly which it does as standard but reduced the extent of the desaturation:

This is { image one } and is my base iPhone photograph from which all other iPhoneography edits will be generated:

AfterFocus ~ I wanted to introduce some depth of field (a.k.a. depth of focus) in to the iPhoneography. I therefore imported image one in to AfterFocus. With no masking I simply applied a Gaussian blur level to taste (quite a low level) with circular bokeh switched on:

This is { image two }:

Superimpose ~ image one was layered over image two within Superimpose and linear gradient masks applied to gradually feather in the out of focus areas from image two and create the depth of field effect:

AfterFocus has its own masking effects (both manual and automated) but in general I find working in this way with a blending app such as Superimpose generates smoother results:

I used AfterFocus to generate this effect in isolation in my iPhone photography tutorial ‘midnight on lincoln high street‘:

Screen Grab

Oggl ~ my final task was to set about converting to black and white. I use a variety of apps for iPhone photography black and white conversion including Snapseed, Simply B&W, Alt Photo, VSCOcam, Dramatic Black & White, Noir…

In this case I chose Oggl by Hipstamatic and selected Jane Lens and BlacKeys XF Film:

VSCOcam ~ I was unhappy with the blown out sky which when you shoot straight into the Sun is going to happen, especially if you are exposing for the foreground rather than looking to create full silhouettes:

I therefore decided to bring the image into VSCOcam for its final edit. I selected the B3 preset but adjusted it as follows:

  • Exposure: +3
  • Contrast: -3
  • Highlights: +6

My VSCO Grid can be viewed at skip.vsco.co (new window):

Skip - VSCOcam Grid


As always, I hope you enjoyed my iPhone photography workflow. Apparently I should now have a call to action but I make no demands. If you wish to share please do. If you wish to leave a comment please do. Whatever though, thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.



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  1. iPhone photography tutorial - { school&nbs... says:

    […] Morning light – iPhone photography using the low morning sun during the school run. Discusses achieving depth of field and black and white conversion.  […]

  2. Anthony Hutchinson says:

    Another excellent tutorial Skip, and a wonderful image. When I first saw the image I thought you might have used Lens Light to add the sun rays but it’s amazing how you were able to not only capture them but also really bring them out with the conversion to B&W. Well done overall.

  3. Chornukopia says:

    Great final image and an impressive workflow. Must check out the other blogposts.

  4. Simran says:

    Great tips Paul.. It has definitely broadened my perspective regarding depth of field and editing.. Thank u for sharing! 🙂

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