Help from an unlikely source

Though I normally have my OM-D with me at all times, when I do use the iPhone and get a shot I enjoy, I like to see if I can improve the JPG.  I expect the iPhone to give me much less IQ than the OM-D, so to that end, I brought this iPhone photo into Aperture for possible tweaks. 

Since I particularly enjoy B&W anyhow, I like the 'Noir' effect from the IOS Camera App, at least when used in certain scenes.  However, the iPhone blew out the highlights ...and in fairness, a very bright morning sun was shining directly on the white facades of the buildings.  Since it was bright day light, I wasn't expecting the blotches in the sky, which I'd normally expect with poor lighting, but that may be a side effect of the Noir filter. 

Straight from the iPhone;  overblown highlights, blotchy sky, IOS Camera Noir filter

Straight from the iPhone;  overblown highlights, blotchy sky, IOS Camera Noir filter

The JPG format really precludes major editing efforts, but I was curious what Aperture could do with this.  My goals were to reduce the overblown highlights and I hoped noise reduction might remove the blotchiness in the sky.

  • Highlight Slider
  • Selective burn
  • Skin Smoothing

Of course, noise reduction won't do a thing to JPGs, not sure what I was thinking there, duh.  Moving the highlights slider to the right did reduce some highlights, but didn't really fix the building facades.  But, selectively painting in some burn (darken) effect on the facades and the aft ends of the boats did the trick.

However, the real trick was the skin smoothing.  On a whim, I tried this on the blotchy sky   ....and it worked!  In fact, it gave the sky an unexpected creamy texture, which is a nice contrast to the rough patterns of the facades.

From the iPhone via Aperture:  Burn effect on facades + Skin Smoothing to remove blotches in sky

From the iPhone via Aperture:  Burn effect on facades + Skin Smoothing to remove blotches in sky

Some may not enjoy the effects these changes produce and may prefer the original, somewhat grainy appearance. We all have our unique outlook, none of which is definitively correct.

Whether you enjoy the use of Skin Smoothing on the sky or not, this is just a quick tip for others who may be looking to do something similar.