Take Better iPhone 3GS Photos with TrueHDR

(This sounds like an ad, but it’s not. I have no affiliation with the makers of the TrueHDR iPhone app, other than as a satisfied and impressed user. 🙂

If you’re a photography nerd, you know that HDR stands for High Dynamic Range – where you take multiple photos, some with the bright areas exposed correctly (which makes the darker areas underexposed, really dark and unviewable), and some with the dark areas exposed correctly (which makes the bright areas overexposed and “blown out” – usually pure white), then combine the multiple shots in software to get wider “dynamic” exposure range than you could otherwise. It’s a cool effect, and so far, I haven’t found a good way to do it on the iPhone.

There are lots of “HDR” apps in the App Store, but all the ones I’ve looked at, like “HDR for Free”, don’t actually do multiple exposure HDR – they just tinker with the exposure and saturation levels to produce an effect like HDR. They fake it, in other words. Then, over the weekend, I stumbled across an app recommended by TUAW called TrueHDR, that actually does HDR processing – you take multiple shots, one correctly exposed for the brightest area, one for the darkest, then it combines them. It was $1.99, so I sprung for it, and I’ve been quite impressed with the results.

Check out the shots above – I noticed the sky was really colorful this morning on my way to work, so I took the first two shots (light and dark), then merged them into a nice HDR image with TrueHDR. Pretty nifty, eh? I never would have been able to capture all that color in just one shot on the 3GS camera. I also used it to take the photo of the Monoprice $15 iPhone battery in my last post. Even though it was only on my desk, the photo came out looking better than a single shot would have, in my opinion.

Be aware that, because it requires the ability to take multiple shots of the same thing with different exposures, it will only work with the camera on the iPhone 3GS (where you can change the focus and exposure by touching a specific area), though it says it will work with photos from your photo library, if you wanted to load them from another source on an iPhone, 3G, or iPod touch. Also note that it does align the pictures if they’re not exactly the same (which is going to happen if you’re not using a tripod, and who uses a tripod with their iPhone?), which is a nice touch.

So, TrueHDR has earned a spot on the page of photography and imaging apps that I keep on my iPhone 3GS. Do you have any great photo apps, tips, or tricks to share? How do *you* do HDR on the iPhone. Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, etc. I’m always on the lookout for nifty new apps! 🙂

Update: Here’s another (blurry) one I took on the way out of work last night:

Another TrueHDR iPhone 3GS Image