iPhone Photography: A Workflow Guide

My workflow guide details how I use Halide Mark II for RAW captures, Adobe Lightroom Classic for advanced editing, and Luminar Neo for creative touches, enhancing my iPhone 11 Pro photography.

As an avid photographer, I'm constantly exploring ways to enhance my craft, especially when using a device as accessible and powerful as the iPhone. In this post, I'll share my refined workflow for post-processing iPhone photographs, leveraging the capabilities of apps like Halide, Adobe Lightroom Classic, and Luminar Neo. I think my approach combines the ease of mobile photography with more involved editing techniques.

Halide has recently become my favourite app for capturing images with my iPhone 11 Pro. The current version, Halide Mark II, offers advanced RAW shooting capabilities, allowing me to capture more detail and dynamic range. Halide provides manual exposure, ISO, focus, and white balance controls, enabling greater post-processing flexibility and higher-quality images than standard HEIC or JPEGs.

Kingston Mill Historic District
Kingston Grist Mill, Kingston Mill Historic District · January 6, 2020 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

Luminar Neo offers AI-driven editing tools, customisable presets, and layer-based adjustments, catering to beginners and professionals for creative and efficient photograph enhancements.

I have used Adobe Lightroom in all its iterations since about 2003. I currently use Adobe Lightroom Classic via the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription. I get access to both Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Adobe Lightroom Classic is a comprehensive photo editing and cataloguing software. It offers advanced editing tools, colour grading, batch processing, and RAW file support. Key features include non-destructive editing, lens and camera-based corrections, detailed organisation, and robust preset capabilities, catering to professional photographers and photography enthusiasts.

Avalon Beach, Seven Mile Island
Avalon Beach, Seven Mile Island · August 23, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

1. Capturing the Perfect Shot with Halide Mark II

Shoot in RAW1 Format: The Halide Mark II app for iPhone offers robust RAW photography features. RAW images preserve more details, particularly in highlights and shadows, generally display more colour detail, and are sharper than JPEGs. However, can they be grainier in low light or night settings? The first step in my workflow is using Halide Mark II to capture RAW images. In the settings, I can choose between RAW+HEIC, RAW, and HEIC options. HEIC captures a processed file, while RAW+ HEIC captures both a HEIC and a RAW image. I have Halide Mark II set to capture RAW images. Halide Mark II uses the DNG format for RAW. This format retains all the data from the sensor, providing a wide range of possibilities during editing. RAW image capture is also the fastest capture mode in Halide Mark II.

Sourland Mountain Spirits
March 21, 2021 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

Lens Selection: Depending on the scene, I switch between the 6mm f/2 lens for a tighter frame (great for portraits) and the 4.25mm f/1.8 for wider angles, capturing landscapes or urban settings. The 6mm lens, with its tighter field of view, is perfect for portraits and detailed shots, offering a more focused perspective. The 4.25mm lens, on the other hand, captures more expansive scenes, making it ideal for landscapes and architectural photography. Both lenses provide superb image quality, but I prefer the 6mm f/2 for landscape and cityscape photographs.

Aperture: ƒ/1.8
Exposure Range: 171000 - 1s
Native ISO Range: 32 - 3072
Focal Length: 4.25mm (26mm FF FOV)
Image Size: 4032 x 3024
Autofocus Systems: Contrast, Phase
Flash: Yes

Aperture: ƒ/2.0
Exposure Range: 145000 - 1s
Native ISO Range: 21 - 2016
Focal Length: 6mm (51mm FF FOV)
Image Size: 4032 x 3024
Autofocus Systems: Contrast, None, Phase
Flash: Yes

In the Photos app, Apple labels the lenses by their full frame equivalent focal length: Ultra Wide Camera — 13mm ƒ/2.4; Wide Camera — 26mm ƒ/1.8; Telephoto Camera — 52mm ƒ/2. In Adobe Lightroom, Adobe labels the lenses by their native focal length: iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4, iPhone 11 Pro back camera 4.25mm f/1.8, iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2.

Apple labels the iPhone 11 Pro lenses by their full-frame equivalent focal length to give users a more familiar reference point, as full-frame measurements are commonly understood in photography. This helps in comparing the field of view with 35mm DSLR cameras. On the other hand, Adobe labels them by their native focal length, which is more technically accurate for the sensor size of the iPhone. This approach precisely measures the lens itself, disregarding sensor size or full-frame equivalency, which aligns more with technical standards in digital imaging.

Low ISO for Reduced Noise: In automatic mode, the Halide Mark II app automatically chooses the optimal combination of ISO and shutter speed. However, there are some tricky situations where you may override those settings. I strive to keep the ISO as low as possible, reducing grain and preserving image quality. The high end of the range is too noisy to produce usable images, even with noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom. Higher ISO settings are reserved for low-light situations where it's unavoidable. I set Halide Mark II to manual mode to adjust the ISO manually.

Wind blowing the leaves, Blue Spring Road
Wind blowing the leaves, Blue Spring Road · Thursday 15 October 2020 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro at 4.0 sec, · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

Manual Mode for Precision: Manual mode has become my go-to in challenging lighting or when I want more creative control over the shot. In Halide Mark II, I use the manual mode to gain control over ISO and shutter speed. To set the ISO, I swipe left or right on the ISO button to adjust the iPhone's sensitivity to light. For the shutter speed, I swipe on the shutter speed button to determine how long the detector is exposed to sunlight. This control is crucial, especially in challenging lighting conditions, as it lets me balance the ISO and shutter speed to achieve the desired exposure, whether capturing fast-moving subjects or shooting in low light, ensuring the best possible image quality.

Squash Soup
Squash Soup · February 15, 2020 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

2. Initial Edits in Adobe Lightroom

Choosing the Right Adobe Profile: Depending on my subject, I select an Adobe profile—Landscape, Neutral, or Portrait—to start the editing process on the right note. Adobe Lightroom profiles apply foundational colour and tone adjustments, offering a starting point for further editing and styling.

Balanced White Balance: Adobe Lightroom's Auto white balance corrects image colours based on lighting conditions for a natural and balanced colour tone. I initially set the white balance to Auto. Then, I make fine adjustments to ensure the colours in my photo are as true to my vision as possible.

April 22, 2020 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

Auto Adjustments as a Baseline: Adobe Lightroom's "Auto" tone automatically adjusts exposure, contrast, and other settings for an optimal balance in the image. The Auto setting provides a quick start to adjusting exposure, contrast, and other basics. I then tweak the shadows and highlights to suit my imagination.

Source Brewing
Source Brewing · December 16, 2020 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 4.25mm f/1.8

Enhance with Noise Reduction: Adobe Lightroom's Denoise AI reduces noise while preserving details, particularly useful in low-light conditions. I use the Raw Details feature if my image is exposed at low ISO. The Raw Details feature enhances the sharpness and clarity of RAW images, allowing for finer control over texture and edge definition, thus significantly improving image quality without adding unwanted artefacts.

July 4, 2021 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

Lens Corrections: Adobe Lightroom offers Lens Corrections profiles for the iPhone 11 Pro, automatically compensating for common optical issues like distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. When I import photos taken with the iPhone 11 Pro, Lightroom detects the specific lens used – wide, ultra-wide, or telephoto – and applies tailored corrections based on the lens's characteristics. This feature ensures that images look more natural and appropriate to what the eye sees, improving general image quality. It's useful for architectural and landscape photography, where straight lines and accurate colour rendition are essential.

September 1, 2022 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

3. Elevating the Image with Luminar Neo

Applying a Personal Touch: Once I complete all the basic edits, I import the image with the Raw Details enhancements into Luminar Neo. In Luminar Neo, I apply the long exposure preset from the "Easy Landscape Collection". This step is where creativity comes into play, using advanced tools to give the photo a unique character. I usually set the slider to 43% with this preset as a starting point for further changes via the "Edit" menu.

November 20, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro 6mm f/2

4. The Finishing Touches

Cropping for Composition: The final step often involves cropping the image to enhance its composition, focusing on the subject, or ensuring it adheres to the rule of thirds.

5. Optional Advanced Steps

I sometimes engage in local adjustments. The key is to enhance the image without overdoing it.

Conclusion

This workflow has consistently provided me with high-quality results, balancing iPhone photography's quick and intuitive nature with the depth and precision of experienced post-processing. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or just starting, I hope this guide inspires you to explore the potential of your iPhone camera and bring your creative visions to life.


  1. On iPhone 12 Pro and later Pro models with iOS 14.3 or later, you can take photos in Apple ProRAW. Halide Mark II provides this functionality for previous models. 

Pocket Camera

I always take my pocket camera on my walks.

A few months ago, I started taking 30-minute walks around my neighbourhood. I always bring my pocket camera. I use the native photo app, Halide by Lux, or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile app on my iPhone 11 Pro.

Halide is a powerful photography tool for mobile devices with advanced manual controls to fine-tune settings like focus, exposure, and ISO. It has an elegant user interface and high-quality image processing.

I subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography suite for $10/month, giving me access to Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop on macOS or iPad, and 20GB of cloud storage. I also get the mobile applications Photoshop Express and Lightroom Mobile.

Salisbury Road, Backlit Trees
Salisbury Road · October 25, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile is a pocket-friendly tool that packs powerful editing tools, RAW support, and seamless cloud integration. It allows me to capture, edit, and share stunning photos on the go.

Blue Spring Road ,Maple Trees, Fall
Blue Spring Road · October 18, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

52 Week Smartphone Challenge

I recently purchased an iPhone 11 Pro, and I am impressed by the images produced by the tiny cameras and the imaging software in these devices. The 1.54mm wide-angle lens in my iPhone 11 Pro has a field-of-view that is wider than my Fujinon 16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR and is excellent for landscape and cityscape photography while the “portrait” lens combined with imaging software makes the iPhone 11 Pro an excellent “everyday camera”. I don't want anyone to get hung up on the specs, but for photo geeks, the three rear cameras on the iPhone 11 Pro have the full-frame equivalent of 13mm, 26mm, and 51mm prime lenses.

To explore and help me learn to use this new tool, I am doing an iPhone Photography 365 Day Project for the first time in several years. From experience, I know that finding inspiration in every day can make a 365-day project challenging. Somedays, I may not have the discipline or time to capture new images. Some days, I captured several images choosing one picture only, to represent the day. I want to do something else with those images.

I am borrowing an idea from the Carroll County Camera Club which got the idea from Photography 52 Week Challenge and inspired by my long-running participation in Frank Jansen’s Tuesday Photo Challenge, I want to create a “52 Week Smartphone Photography Challenge” and do it along with whoever will join me. My preference was to limit the challenge to the iPhone, but after some thought, I realised that Samsung and other manufacturers make smartphones with excellent mobile cameras. So please, use any smartphone you want. You don't have to use the same one every week.

A theme/keyword will be provided for each week of the year. The full rules of this challenge are:

  • The week starts on Monday and ends the following Sunday.
  • You may capture as many images as you like but please select and post only one picture to the challenge.
  • Capture an image on any smartphone you own.
  • Write a post with a photograph for the week’s topic/theme/keyword.
  • Tag your post with 52WeekSmartphoneChallenge. Please review this WordPress article about how tagging works.
  • Create a pingback link to the weekly post (note: pingbacks may not appear immediately, as my site is set up to require approval for linking to it.)
  • At the end of the week, I hope to compile a list of the submissions so that you can find and comment on each others' posts.
  • Participation is voluntary.

If you don't capture anything at all in a particular week, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes there may have an unforeseen circumstance that pulls us away from committing to the challenge. Just proceed to focus on the next posting, or you can choose to post two photos next week to fill in the gap.

Let's have some fun! The challenge list below is from the Dogwood 52 Week Photography Challenge by photographer Dale Foshe of Dogwood Photography.

One more thing, the year 2020 has 53 weeks, with week 53 ending on January 3, 2021. For week 53 we’ll take a break to relax and ring in the new year with friends and family.

Week # Topic/Theme Description
WEEK 1 ends 5 January Self-Portrait Take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.
WEEK 2 ends 12 January Rule of Thirds You already know what the rule of thirds is, now is the time to use it.
WEEK 3 ends 19 January Black and White Your inspiration this week is to simply take an amazing Black and White photograph of any subject you want.
WEEK 4 ends 26 January Warmth Tell a story that makes us feel warm inside.
WEEK 5 ends 2 February Symmetry Landscape is one of the most practised types of photography. Use Symmetry in a Landscape to create a new viewpoint for this week's image.
WEEK 6 ends 9 February #NoFilter No limit on what you shoot this week, as long as the image is pure. No filters, presets or other edits. Basic exposure corrections only this week.
WEEK 7 ends 16 February Love Story Make us feel the love in this week's photo. Tell a love story in one image.
WEEK 8 ends 23 February Leading Lines It is easy to use Leading Lines to show depth in an image or guide the eye to a specific spot in the image. Instead, this week use leading lines to show the concept of infinity.
WEEK 9 ends 1 March Mood Your Artistic Inspiration this week is the mood you are feeling today. Take that mood and use it to create art.
WEEK 10 ends 8 March Hometown Tell us the story of your hometown. It could be a famous landmark, something the town is known for, or even just your favourite place to relax.
WEEK 11 ends 15 March Fill the Frame Using Fill the Frame is a great way to isolate your subject and create interest in your photo. Can you do it with only one colour in the frame? Fill the Frame with one colour.
WEEK 12 ends 22 March Trash Trash is your inspiration. Tell a story or create something beautiful.
WEEK 13 ends 29 March New Beginnings Our world is full of circular patterns; as some things end, others begin. Tell us a story of a New Beginning.
WEEK 14 ends 5 April Center Frame Center Framed composition is a great way to isolate your subject. Use this Portrait knowledge to create a portrait that exhibits loneliness.
WEEK 15 ends 12 April Anonymous This week's inspiration is Anonymous. Interpret this how you wish.
WEEK 16 ends 19 April Shadow Tell a story. Make it compelling while only using shadow.
WEEK 17 ends 26 April Balance Balanced composition is pretty straightforward unless you are trying to shoot in the "Accidental Renaissance" style. So shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style.
WEEK 18 ends 3 May Weight or Mass Heavy as a stone, light as a feather. Find inspiration and shoot an amazing photograph.
WEEK 19 ends 10 May Ageing Love it or hate it, ageing is something we all experience. So tell us the story of Aging in a single photograph.
WEEK 20 ends 17 May Negative Space Create a powerful landscape using Negative Space.
WEEK 21 ends 24 May Serenity What does Serenity mean to you?
WEEK 22 ends 31 May Stranger It is easy to tell the story of someone you know. So for this week's challenge, I want you to tell the story of a stranger.
WEEK 23 ends 7 June Leading Lines You have already used leading lines to show Infinity. Now try to use strong leading lines in food photography.
WEEK 24 ends 14 June Who inspires you Inspiration comes from many places. Tell us about who inspires you.
WEEK 25 ends 21 June Freedom Freedom means many things to many people. Tell us a story about what Freedom means to you.
WEEK 26 ends 28 June Geometry We live in a world surrounded by geometry. Use Geometry in your photo this week.
WEEK 27 ends 5 July Gratitude What are you grateful for? Show us.
WEEK 28 ends 12 July Your Culture Photographers participating in the challenge come from nearly every country and culture. Tell us the story of your culture.
WEEK 29 ends 19 July Depth of Field Depth of Field is a great way to isolate your subject. Instead, for the challenge though I want you to use DoF to make a subject appear part of something larger.
WEEK 30 ends 26 July Exit "Every exit is an entry to somewhere else". Be inspired by the Exit this week.
WEEK 31 ends 2 August Friends and Family Telling the story of someone you know well is sometimes the hardest story to tell.
WEEK 32 ends 9 August Frame within the Using only natural elements frame your subject. No actual picture frames allowed.
WEEK 33 ends 16 August Tell a Lie It is said that the "Camera Never Lies". Prove it wrong.
WEEK 34 ends 23 August Color without Color Tell a colourful story, but do it in black and white.
WEEK 35 ends 30 August Symmetry Portrait Symmetry is a strong compositional technique most often used in landscapes and architecture. So break the mold by using Symmetry in a portrait.
WEEK 36 ends 6 September Your Habits Some habits are good, and some are bad. Your inspiration this week is either.
WEEK 37 ends 13 September Seasons The weather is changing! Find inspiration in the seasons.
WEEK 38 ends 20 September Rule of Odds The rule of odds is easy enough to understand and employ. So use the rule of odds in an Urbanscape/Architecture photo.
WEEK 39 ends 27 September The Elements Earth, Fire, Wind, Rain, and Spirit. Find inspiration in the elements of our world.
WEEK 40 ends 4 October Modern Convenience What modern convenience of 2019 cannot you live without? Create an image that looks like an advertisement for your favourite Modern Convenience.
WEEK 41 ends 11 October Color Theory Color Theory is a huge part of a composition that most photographers don't explore. So it is time to explore it. Use Color Grading to create an image that looks like it is a still from a movie.
WEEK 42 ends 18 October Work Work Work Work, let it inspire you this week.
WEEK 43 ends 25 October Film-Noir Film Noir is a dark and moody type of photography well suited to storytelling. So tell us a story using Film Noir.
WEEK 44 ends 1 November Viewpoint Changing your viewpoint creates a different perspective and is often used by photographers to create interest. Shoot this week from the viewpoint of another person.
WEEK 45 ends 8 November Musical Music is part of the soul, so let it inspire you this week.
WEEK 46 ends 15 November 7 Deadly Sins The 7 deadly sins are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth. Tell us a compelling story about one of the 7 deadly sins.
WEEK 47 ends 22 November Rule of Thirds The rules of thirds is so popular because it is so versatile. This week use the rule of thirds to show emotion.
WEEK 48 ends 29 November Current Events What is happening in the world today? Be inspired by current events.
WEEK 49 ends 6 December Storms Storms are a powerful force of nature. Show us weather at its best.
WEEK 50 ends 13 December Patterns Patterns/Repetition are another well known compositional rule, but have you ever tried to use it in Macro Photography? Well, now you can!
WEEK 51 ends 20 December Food Be inspired by Food. Yes, it really is that easy this week. You made it this far you deserve the break. A sweet, delicious break.
WEEK 52 ends 27 December Self-Portrait In the first week, you took a self-portrait and told us who you think you are. To finish this off ,take a self-portrait that shows us who others think you are.