Photography iPhone and iPad Apps Update (Podcast 370)

Photography iPhone and iPad Apps Update (Podcast 370)

Today I’m going to update you on some of my current favorite photography related iPhone and iPad apps. Looking back, I’ve done two previous episodes on photography related iPad apps, starting with Episode 246 back in June 2010, and then again in October 2011 in Episode 304. As these devices and how I use them continues to evolve though, I figured I’d take a little time today to update you on some of my current favorites, and thought I’d include some of the iPhone specific apps I use as well as iPad.

I’m not going to list every photography related app I have, but these are the main ones I use and enjoy regularly.

500px for iPad and iPhone

I’m still very much in love with the 500px iPad app, and it is now both an iPad and iPhone app, and both have been significantly refined since I first started using the iPad app. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I do like the grid of square icons for each of the images, and that’s probably why I’m not a huge fan of the Flow section. I am not one for using my phone for Social Media unless I’m traveling and checking in to Facebook etc. and so probably the other reason that I don’t like flow is because it’s full of what people I’m following are favoriting or commenting on, as I really just don’t care.

500px for iPad Editor's Choice

500px for iPad Editor’s Choice (Copyright of each image’s Author)

500px for iPhone Popular

500px for iPhone Popular

I use the 500px apps to get blown away by the quality of work that the editors select, or the images that are currently popular, usually for good reason, so I usually switch to the Popular or Editor’s Choice views, and just flick through screen after screen of beautiful, inspiring photography.

These are served up in the square grid format, which just feels better to me for this kind of presentation. When I want to see the full sized image in its native ratio I just have to tap on it.

The only thing I wish they’d change is that it would be great if they could use any spare bandwidth to download the full sized images in the background, so we don’t have to wait, looking at a low-res square image while the full sized image is downloading after tapping on an icon.I understand that downloading image after image with a low probability that the viewer will actually tap to see the full image is not practical, but it would be nice.

A great alternative to this though, if not something better, is that there is now a slideshow button on the iPad version of the app, which does load every image full-screen and fully res’d-in, so there’s no waiting, and the images look beautiful.

You can even select music from your device to play in the background. The slideshows have been really well thought out, and this is quickly becoming my favorite way to view, with a track or two of my favorite music for accompaniment.

It is also nice to be able to Favorite or Like an image, and even comment occasionally, right there in the app, and even during slideshows. Adding image to favorites enables you to view galleries of just your favorites images. You can also view your own 500px images, which could be useful for showing others your work, especially with the slideshow mode.

It actually turns into quite a sophisticated presentation. All in all, the 500px app just keeps getting better and better, and I’d hate to be without it, now on my iPhone as well as my iPad.

Pocket Light Meter

Pocket Light Meter

Pocket Light Meter

A great app that I think Chris Marquardt told me about when he joined me for one of my Winter tours this year, is the Pocket Light Meter. One of the most liberating things about the iPhone is that although it may not be quite as good as carrying a specific tool or device around, there are some things that it can do well enough to save you from carrying an extra piece of gear with you, and Light Meter is a great example of this. I own a $500 light meter, that I do use from time to time, but with Live View and the histogram in the camera, I don’t carry a light meter with me all the time. But, if I can have one in my pocket inside the iPhone that I always have with me, this is a great second best, especially for educational purposes, and it works surprisingly well.

Another benefits of this being a phone app is that you can save photos and a log of what you meter and even add notes to help you figure out what you were thinking or doing when you go back to your images later. This may not be so useful when shooting digital, but if you shoot film, this could even be used as an alternative to the EXIF data that is embedded into your digital photos, and that we have come to rely on so much as a way to learn about and correct our mistakes, as well as just general reference.

You can use Light Meter for free if you don’t mind the ads being displayed at the top of the screen, but for a dollar you can get rid of the ads, and for $5 you can buy the developer a pint, which is what I did, and it’s well worth it.

Shoot & Sell

One of the most expensive iPad apps I’ve bought so far is Shoot and Sell, at $79.99, but you won’t hear me complaining about the price. I’m not one for buying expensive things then complaining about the price, unless the product doesn’t live up to it, and that is not the case with this app. Shoot & Sell is a commercial tool to create mockups of your images framed or as gallery wraps, both single and multi-image displays, and enables you to show them in a display environment.

You can select from a series of stock backgrounds that come with the app, or you can buy additional sets of stock backgrounds from within the app. We’ll look at some stock background examples shortly, but in addition to them, you can shoot your own images and load them into the app from your Camera Roll, Flickr or from your Dropbox. I carry all of my best work around on my iPad, so it’s really easy to create a mockup of what an image would look like framed and on various walls, including of course a client’s wall. If you were actually visiting a client’s house or office, and they wanted to see what a certain image looks like finished and on the wall, you can create it right there and then, with the camera in the iPad.

Here is a quick example that I did in my living room when I bought the app, trying to sell my wife on the idea of a three gallery wrap triptych. It’s not quite straight with this shot from the iPad itself, but I’m sure you get the idea. I haven’t quite won this sale yet, as my wife values her white space downstairs. I won’t make a penny from this sale, but I’m going to keep working on that one. 🙂

Shoot & Sell Example

Shoot & Sell Example

Here’s another example, this time using one of the stock images from within the app. Note that this is a screenshot of the app so that you can get an idea of some of the controls and screen layout, but when you are using the app to create a commercial mockup, you export the images to your Camera Roll, Dropbox or via email. Note too that when you are shooting your own images for use in the app, they advise you to include something in the shot of a known length, so you can get the scale of your artwork correctly. This also enables you to show accurate dimensions in the label’s that are automatically attached to each display.

Shoot and Sell Example with Triptych

Shoot and Sell Example with Triptych

There is also a comprehensive array of simple frames in various sizes and a number of tasteful colors. The app also contains a series of Organic Bloom frames, which are to mockup the frames from a company of the same name. Now, if Organic Bloom Frames were a sensible bunch, they’d make these available for free, not $34.99. Why? Because if people like them, they are likely to want to hook-up with this company for their framing. Also, if someone is already buying their frames from Organic Bloom, why should they have to pay extra for these frames? I’m happy to pay a high price for a quality app that serves a very specific commercial purpose, but this is the only thing that I really can’t understand from a marketing perspective.

That one gripe aside though, here’s another example with a simple black one inch framed 22 x 50″ print, with a 3 inch matte, which I’d love to see on a real wall. Note too that in this screenshot I have the color adjustment controls visible, to show that you can change the color of the walls and furniture in the stock photos that come with the app, which is very useful, and increases the overall experience immensely.

As I don’t do a lot of paid portrait work, for me, the main use of this app will be to sell my fine art prints to potential customers, but if you are shooting for families and selling them prints, you could probably make your money back on this app during your first consultation. It just looks so good to see the finished work on the wall, especially if it was the customers own wall, and photographs of themselves.

Simple Frame and Color Settings

Simple Frame and Color Settings

I can also see applications for using Shoot & Sell to experiment with wall layouts for a gallery exhibition. You could photograph all the presentation walls of a gallery, and layout all of your work in frames or as gallery wraps to see how the flow and layout works, and make adjustments quite easily, without having to mock all of this up in Photoshop or Illustrator, which is what I did for my solo show at the end of 2010.

There are a few minor changes that I’d like to see in Shoot & Sell, but I’m also happy to say that when I mailed them, Ariana Felerni, the person behind Shoot & Sell replied in person, and was very professional and open to my requests. One thing was that I’d like to see a small grey stroke around the inside window of mattes, so that you can see where the matte ends and the image starts when using predominantly white images.

The other thing was the ability to create custom sized gallery wrap displays and also to be able to apply one image across multiple gallery wraps. These are mostly things that you can work around and I’m assured they’re slated for addition in a future version, so I’m looking forward to seeing these changes. In the meantime, I’ll still enjoy using this app. It’s very well designed and a pleasure, not to mention a lot of fun to use.

Diptic for iPhone

Diptic for iPhone

A Word on Preveal

I probably should mention too that I am aware of a similar product named Preveal, but I have not tried it. I went with Shoot & Sell mainly because it comes with the stock wall photos, and they’re highly customizable. As far as I can tell, Preveal does not have any stock backgrounds. If I’m wrong on this, I apologize, but I think that is correct, at least as of April 2013. I will put a link to Preveal into the show-notes for this episode though, so you can check both out for yourself and make your own decision.

Diptic

Similar to the triptychs and other display types available in Shoot & Sell, an app called Diptic enables you to create great multi-photo layouts, but more for use as a layout tool creating a final image than to mockup something to help sell prints to potential customers. It’s a lot of fun though, and easy to use.

You can create all sorts of layouts, and round the corners of the resulting image files as well as the files that you include in the layout, such as this image with two portrait and two landscape aspect Snow Monkey photos. Note though that if you want to adjust the aspect ratio, you have to pay an additional $0.99 in app to turn on the aspect adjustment feature. The base app is just $0.99 to start with so this is no big deal, but I can’t help thinking that I’d have preferred to just pay $1.99 to begin with and be done with it. I’m OK with paying for add-ons, but this one seems a bit petty in my opinion. Still, Diptic is fun and works on both the iPhone and iPad.

To the right is a screenshot of the iPhone version of Diptic, and below is the iPad version. Both are easy to use and when you are done, you can export your images in various sizes, up to 2448 x 3264, which is a reasonable resolution. Note too that if you do buy the Aspect ratio adjustment on one device, you can Restore your purchase on the other. It’s not necessary to buy it twice.

Diptic for iPad

Diptic for iPad

ProCamera

OK, so last for today, but by no means least, is a camera app that I am absolutely head over heals in love with at the moment, called ProCamera for the iPhone. This has to be the most full-featured, customizable and easy to use iPhone camera on the market. I’m not going to touch on every feature, but here are some of the main features that I like.

Firstly, in Expert Mode you can very easily separate focusing from metering, for easy exposure control. If you just tap anywhere on the screen, both the focus square and metering circle move to where you tap, but if you drag from the center, the metering circle goes to where you drag it. A second drag from the middle moved the focus square, so you can place both of these anywhere on the screen. Or of course you can tap somewhere first to place both, then drag to move the exposure circle elsewhere.

ProCamera Screenshot

ProCamera Screenshot

As you can see in this screen shot, I have the metering circle on the cherry blossom trees, and the focus on the railing of the bridge. And before you wonder how I got such great bokeh with my iPhone, this is a photo of a photo on my computer screen.

Another thing that I love is that big orientation circle in the middle of the screen. This has become standard on DSLRs pretty much, and it’s great to have the same feature on the iPhone. It’s like a digital level and helps you to get your images straight. This also becomes a normal compass when you have the iPhone flat, either pointing downwards or upwards. I also love that you have a Live Histogram, and all of the controls switch seamlessly between portrait and landscape orientations.

The Settings menu offers endless control over the camera. You can set the compression applied to JPEG files from Low to High Quality, and turn on Rapid Fire to shoot continuously at a pretty respectably fast frame rate. If you are OK with lower resolution images, you can also turn on High-Speed Mode, for an even faster frame-rate.

ProCamera is $4.99 in the App Store, but note that it’s only for the iPhone. There is a slighter older iPad app available as a separate purchase, but I haven’t tried that. These comments are regarding the iPhone app only. Even just for the iPhone app though, it’s a steal at $4.99. I only wish I could have the iPhone start ProCamera from the Lock Screen, as I hate having to use the built-in camera app from there, as I do sometimes when I’m in a hurry to snap something.

MBP Podcast Companion Updated

OK, so I should just mention before we finish today, that we recently updated my own MBP Podcast Companion app with support for the Retina iPhone screen layout, and made a few other incremental changes too, such as updating to the new audio file server, so if you listen to this Podcast in the app, that is now fixed. I guess I should also mention that no matter how many Depth-of-Field calculators I try, I honestly do still thing that the one in my app is the best available, and probably worth the $2.99 that we charge for the app all by itself.

Google Plus MBP Community

I’d also like to let you know that we are winding down the forum here at martinbaileyphotography.com. Basically the spammers have won, we just can’t keep them out, so I’m migrating us over to Google Plus. I’ve created a great community page, and we already have almost 150 people that have joined, and we’re having a great time, discussing photographs, and I’m posting notices of new Podcast episodes etc. As soon as we have the system figured out, we are going to restart the Monthly Assignments too, which I’m really looking forward to, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there in the Google Plus MBP Community!


Show Notes

500px: https://itunes.apple.com/app/500px/id471965292?l=en&mt=8

Pocket Light Meter: https://itunes.apple.com/app/pocket-light-meter/id381698089?mt=8

Shoot and Sell: https://itunes.apple.com/app/shoot-and-sell/id550441549?l=en&mt=8

Preveal: https://itunes.apple.com/app/preveal/id519555211?mt=8

Diptic: https://itunes.apple.com/app/diptic/id377989827?mt=8

ProCamera: https://itunes.apple.com/app/procamera/id300216827?l=en&mt=8

MBP Podcast Companion: https://itunes.apple.com/app/mbp-podcast-companion/id370096838?l=en&mt=8

MBP Google Plus Community: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101105265892822137171

Music by UniqueTracks


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Podcast 304 : Seven Must Have Photography Related iPad Apps

Podcast 304 : Seven Must Have Photography Related iPad Apps

At the start of June 2010, about 10 days after I got my iPad, I released Episode 246 about the iPad for the Photographer. At the time, I spoke about a bunch of apps that I had sought out and started to use, from a photographer’s perspective.

Last week I got an email from Julian Roberts in London asking if I could update this Podcast with my current preferences and I thought that was a great idea, so thanks for the idea Julian. Let’s take a look at the main photography related apps that I’m currently using on my iPad.

I won’t go into detail again on the non-photography related apps that I use, but I do just want to say that I am still using Evernote, Dropbox and Zinio to access notes and documents, and read magazines. These apps all have Mac clients available, so there was no problem when I switched from PC to Mac in January this year. How I use these services hasn’t changed. If you aren’t aware of these apps, go back and listen to episode 246 for more details. Now, let’s look at the new apps specifically for the photographer that I’m now using. These aren’t ranked in any specific order, but I’m going to start with my favorite photographer specific app.

FolioBook Photo Portfolio

FolioBook started out a bit flakey, but it’s been tweaked and recoded a number of times and is now my chosen way to show potential clients images and videos on the iPad. I don’t carry my MacBook Pro around with me all the time, but when I think there might be a chance to show my work, I drop my iPad into my bag, and there have been lots of occasions where I’ve show my work to people on the iPad, and people are always impressed, and it has led to new work on a number of occasions.

Photo display on the iPad has just been renovated with iOS 5, and we can now finally create and reorder folders on the iPad, but there is still no native way to reorder images, and UI is still the standard Photo App. With FolioBook though, you can create albums and add links to a fully customizable background, with both vertical and horizontal versions, so the photo and position of the links can be changed depending on how you are holding the iPad. There’s also a plugin that you do have to buy separately, that allows you to play video right there in FolioBook.

FolioBook Horizontal

FolioBook Horizontal

FolioBook Vertical

FolioBook Vertical

(Note: Click on the thumbnails of the images at the bottom of this post to view them full size.)

I have created slideshows for most of the image that I want to show people, so I can just play those video, and as an example, I also recently created a subcategory for my new Motion Graphics intro and outro videos. You also have the ability to customize subcategories individually according to the kind of work you put into them. Another nice feature is the ability to lock FolioBook to changes until you turn the lock off in the iPad settings panel. This prevents clients from unwittingly entering the portfolio edit mode, which can confuse the hell out of them as they look at your work.

All in all, FolioBook is a very sleek way to view both collections of images and videos, and gives a very professional feel to your presentation, especially if you are careful about branding and how you categories your albums and content.

500px

500px

500px

Released just last week, the new free 500px app is simply amazing. I’ve received varying views on 500px since releasing episode 295, An Introduction to 500px but honestly, I can’t understand how any photographer could flick through page after page of photography of the quality that they have on 500px, and not be inspired. Sure, you do see the odd image that doesn’t quite meet the stellar quality of the rest of the work on the site, but in general, it’s simply stunning, and this new app feeds it to you in true 500px style.

If you login, you get to view your own images, which is another great way to share your work with friends or even clients, as it looks so good. You can also view a stream of recent uploads from people that you follow, as well as viewing your favorites. The Popular, Editors Choice, Upcoming and Fresh streams are breathtaking most of the time, available to anyone, even if you aren’t a member. The app is totally free, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy. I guarantee you will be impressed and inspired.

Light It Digital Magazine

Light It Magazine

Light It Magazine

The Light it Digital Magazine from Kelby Training was released a month or so ago, with the first issue free. Future episodes will be available on a pay per copy or subscription basis, but if you do any kind of studio lighting, do grab the app and check out the free first issue. There was only one article that I stopped reading part way through, but I read every other article, and that’s very rare for me. There was a little repetition, but even that was interesting enough, because the articles were written by different people, and they are all well know photographers like Frank Doorhof, Jeremy Cowart and the first Feature Story was by Zack Arias, so you really can’t go wrong for $0. I will be buying future issues as they come out though. So far I’m impressed with the quality of the magazine.

KelbyTraining.com

Kelby Training

Kelby Training

If you subscribe, as I do, and you own an iPad, I’m sure you already have the Kelby Training app, but it’s certainly worth a mention. This app is basically a window to your online Kelby Training material for the iPad and iPhone. Basically, if you have Internet access, you have every video that Kelby Training has released right there in the palm of your hand. I was recently asked if I’d recommend Kelby Training, and to answer, I checked my subscription history. I first subscribed on Sept 1st, 2009, and I’ve renewed within two weeks of that date for the last two years. I guess this tells me that there’s rarely more than a few weeks goes by before I want a fix of education and inspiration, so I just keep on signing back up.

The quality of courses is top notch, as are the instructors for each video. Some help me learn new stuff, some affirm old skills, and then others are simply great for getting inspiration and keeping me steeped in the world of photography. I highly recommend Kelby Training and the iPad/iPhone app is a great way to consume it.

PhotoVerse

PhotoVerse

PhotoVerse

PhotoVerse is basically a list of Photography related blogs and Podcasts, that shows you all of the content in one place. It’s well organized into a number of different categories and the guy that wrote this just told me that he’s recently updated PhotoVerse so that he can update the blog content now without releasing updates of the app itself, so it should go from strength to strength now. I’ve found a number of blogs that I would not have known about without PhotoVerse, so I’m happy to have this.

 

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

The Photographer's Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

When it comes to getting times and azimuth for the rise and set of the sun and moon, I still use VelaClock on my iPhone more, because my phone is always with me, but on the iPad, especially when working with a group, I use The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It’s great to have a full sized iPad app for this, and the lines that are automatically drawn on the map, showing exactly where the sun will rise and fall, and you can move a slider to track exactly where it will be at any time during the day, which is great for planning, though I have never taken my iPad out with me and used this feature in the field. This app is definitely worth picking up though, even if you only intend to use it when planning where you need to be on photography trips.

Snapseed

Snapseed Help

Snapseed Help

OK, so last, but by no means least, is Snapseed from Nik Software. Now, I have to tell you that I resisted buying this app at first because I couldn’t see the point of working on images on the iPad. If I want to work on an image, I’ll do it on my computer, with the full sized RAW files, or a 16bit TIFF or Photoshop PSD file. But I decided that for the price, which is less than $5, it was probably worth buying just to see what is was like, and I was totally impressed.

I still won’t use this as a way to edit images in my digital workflow, but you know what? This app is so quick and fun to use, that you can just sit there and show people the sort of effects that you can get with the full blown Nik Software plugins, as a demonstration. I can pull up a color image for example, and in just a few taps, create a Color Efex Pro 4 style high contrast, high tonality image, or a Silver Efex Pro 2 style high structure and contrast black and white. The sliders to vary the amount of the filter applied, and ability to be able to switch between effects by sliding up and down on the screen are very intuitive, and I can literally show someone what I can do with there images right there, and we can see the effect real time.

Snapseed Before

Snapseed Before

Snapseed After

Snapseed After

There’s a Compare button, which shows you your original image before changes as you add each filter or effect, and once you are done, you can save your image and move to another module to build on your changes. An added bonus is that you can also have all this fun on your iPhone as well if you have one. And that’s exactly what it is, a lot of fun. I sometimes crank up Snapseed now when I’m on a train, and before I know it, I’m at my destination but I don’t want to get off, I’m having so much fun messing around with Snapseed. So, although I still don’t consider this part of my workflow, it’s a great way to demo what can be done to people on the go, and to just have a lot of fun with your images. Well worth picking up in my opinion.

What We Didn’t Include

Before we finish, I know that some of you will be wondering why I didn’t cover apps that help you to shoot remotely or transfer your images directly to the iPad etc. and the reason for that is that I’ve not had a need for this kind of workflow, and so haven’t looked into this. I do use my MacBook Pro and shoot tethered straight into Lightroom, where I can apply presets and start building preview files as soon as the images are shot. And I quite often use the Canon EOS Utility to shoot remotely, though Canon are currently a bit behind in updating this application for Mac OS 10.7, Lion, so I’m missing that right now, but not to the point where I’ve looked into creating an iPad based workflow, so I’m not including anything about that today.

If you hadn’t heard of some of these seven apps though, I hope that you give some of them a try, and find them as useful as I do. If you have any killer photography related apps that you’d like to share, by all means, post about the app in the comments below.

End Notes

As it’s not a native iPad app, I won’t include this in the main topic, but I did want to quickly mention my MBP Podcast Companion before we finish, as I do use the Depth of Field calculator a lot on my iPhone and iPad. I actually wanted to mention my app I’ve recently been asked to add a few new cameras, and some of the people that asked had a typo in their email addresses, so I couldn’t let them know that I’d updated the camera list. I also recently added a number of generic film sizes, so you can now use the app to calculate depth of field for film cameras too. These will be added to the app in the App Store soon, but for now, or if you ever request a camera to be added in the future, just go to the Camera list and click the Update button in the bottom right of the screen and you’ll see all new cameras in the list from that point on.

I also wanted to quickly mention that I was one of the co-hosts on the This Week in Photo Podcast last week with Frederick Van Johnson, Syl Arena and Alex Lindsay, so do check that out at www.thisweekinphoto.com if you are interest.


Show Notes

Music by UniqueTracks


Audio

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Podcast 295 : An Introduction to 500px

Podcast 295 : An Introduction to 500px

Last week, I started to use the photo sharing web site that everyone’s talking about, 500px. Initially it was the incredible quality of work that drew me to the site, but I was unsure as to whether or not to get involved, because I don’t make enough time for social sharing of images already, and I didn’t want to start something that I wouldn’t continue. The more I looked though, the more it drew me, so today I’m going to share some of my thoughts on this amazing photo sharing site.

The Buzz!

It seems like everyone is now talking about 500px, and a number of friends had asked what I thought of it too. Although it sounded really cool, I’d initially resisted, simply because I didn’t want to commit to spending time on yet another photo site. I’ve been a Flickr member for a number of years now, but I’ve never really fully engaged on Flickr. I upload my images because  it’s so easy to do, thanks to Jeffrey Friedl’s amazing plugins. Because I can do it with ease, I have, as a way to reach more people with my images that I’m sharing anyway.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the way some people use Flickr. There are some amazing photographers sharing incredible work, but some people just empty their memory cards to Flickr, and that makes looking at peoples’ work too tiresome. This though, is what makes 500px different. You only have to take a look at the Popular, Editor’s Choice or Upcoming sections at 500px.com, and you’ll see what I mean. The pages are full of incredibly high quality work, covering many genres.

The Quality!

The quality is so high that I honestly was a little apprehensive about getting started, and have thought very hard about what I upload, but this is what I like about 500px. People think about their selections and only upload their very best work. This is why it’s worth spending time there. Every time I take a look, I am inspired by what I see. Most of the time I feel as though I have to comment, because I have something to say. If you haven’t already, just go to 500px.com/popular, and take a look at the images displayed. You’ll be blown away, I guarantee you.

The Interface!

Now, the imagery is incredible, but I’m also sure that the interface at 500px is also behind the way it affects you. Firstly, every thumbnail is square, regardless of whether the original is landscape, portrait or even panoramic. This means that pages of thumbnails are cleanly laid out grids of images, which is very aesthetic and seems to enhance the photos even more.

500px Popular Image View

500px Popular Image View

Photoshelter introduced a way to easily create a grid of images on your top page about six months ago, and I found this very appealing too.

The other thing though is that when you click on an image to view it, the screen has no clutter to speak of. The pages are very clean, and everything seems to be where you’d expect it to be. The folks at 500px have really got the interface right.

Getting Started

So, if you decide that you want to get involved at 500px.com, all you need to do is to first create a free account. This will allow you to upload up to 20 images per week. This is probably fine for most people, but there are a few advantages to upgrading that we’ll get to later.

Once you’re signed up and logged in, spend a few minutes to go through your settings. It’s worth uploading a profile photo too, and writing a little bit about yourself, so that people know who you are and what you’re up to photographically.

Full Resolution if Selling Prints

Then, select some of your best, totally awesome shots, and upload them. You don’t have to resize them first unless you want to. If you ever intend to turn on the shopping cart feature though, so that viewer can buy prints of your images fulfilled by Fotomoto, then you’ll need to upload full resolution images.

I only sell original prints, i.e. created by me, so I’m resizing to 900px on the long edge to make the upload faster and this requires no resizing time either, but if you do intend to sell images, you’ll have to spend the extra time.

As far as I’m aware, at the moment (Aug 2011) there are no plugins to enable you to upload images directly from Lightroom or Aperture. I heard that the 500px team are working on an API to enable plugins to be built, and I’m sure that Jeffrey Friedl is waiting for this with bated breath, but at the moment, it’s a bit of a manual process.

You can only upload 10 images in one batch, but at least once you’ve hit the Select Files button, you can select all 10 image at once. Then you just hit the Upload button to start the process. Because you’re only supposed to be uploading your best work, this isn’t as tiresome as it might seem, but a nice little Lightroom plugin would be nice, especially if it tags images that have already been uploaded, like the Flickr or Photoshelter upload plugins do.

As your images are uploaded, you will be able to add titles, captions and keywords etc. If you take the time to do this in Lightroom or Aperture beforehand, 500px takes this information from your images’ IPTC data, so you won’t need to add this again. Then you need to add your images to one of the preset categories. Once you’ve done this for each image, you hit the save button at the bottom of the page and your done.

Likes and Dislikes

Once your images are online, people will be able to see them, and hopefully you’ll start to see what people think of your images. Hopefully some people will comment on them, but there’s also a very simple Like button to the right of images. There’s quite a complicated algorithm to produce a rating for your images. Apparently you get more points to begin with, then the points added per like drop as you get more clicks. Also, the score diminishes over time.

The cool thing about 500px as well is that they have a Dislike button. I don’t know exactly how this affects the score, and with the quality of work uploaded, I’m not sure it even get’s used that much, but it is nice to have a way to give and receive negative feedback without having to actually write it in the comments. The problem with written feedback is that you never know how the receiver will react. Some people don’t want feedback, and some welcome it. Some people only want it from other photographer’s they respect, but how do you know if you are respected or not? A nice simple button is a good idea.

The interface is very intuitive, so I’m not going to go into detail on how to use every part of 500px, but let’s move on and look at some of the settings that you can play with.

Username in Site URLs

Your username will be used to create a number of URLs that allows people to directly access your images, so choose a good username. The good thing is that you can change your username as often as you want, as long as no one else is using the new username. I started out with mb-p, because you have to use at least four characters, so mbp was out of the question. I went through a few other permutations as well, trying to find something nice and short, but in the end, I reverted back to martinbailey, so you can jump straight to my 500px images with the URL http://500px.com/martinbailey.

Another way that the username is used though, is for your Portfolio page. For the portfolios, the username is put before 500px.com, as a sub domain, so my Portfolios pages can be seen at: http://martinbailey.500px.com/. [I no longer use 500px portfolios]

MBP Portfolios at 500px

MBP Portfolios at 500px

Portfolio Themes

There are a number of themes that you can select for your portfolio site, some of which are only available with paid accounts. The free one’s are amazing though, and I think I’ve stayed with a free theme, even though I’ve now upgraded my account.

Advantages of a Paid Account

Pretty much everything we’ve touched on so far can be done with a free account, but there are some things that require you to upgrade. The cost to upgrade is currently just $50/year, so it’s not a huge amount to lay out, and although I initially resisted, as I built out my site I realized it would be better to upgrade.

Multiple Categories in Portfolios

As I said, you can only upload 20 images a week with the free account. This is actually relatively easy to live with, especially as you are only uploading your best work. The thing that tipped me over the edge was the fact that you can only have one Category in your Portfolio with a free account.

Once you start to build out a portfolio of your work, it becomes difficult to do with just one category. Of course, say if I was to only display something like my Nature of Japan portfolio here, then one category would be fine. This is also definitely something to consider, as we should be striving for nice tight selections of our work, but the chances are that you will probably have more than one portfolio to share anyway.

I’m still playing with my Collections, and so people listening to this in the future may well find something totally different, but currently, I’ve created a few different portfolios for Landscapes, Wildlife, and then more narrow selections of Red-Crowned Cranes and Snow Monkeys.

As time allows I’ll probably upload other images and create new Collections, but this will depend on how much I ultimately decide to use 500px. I think I’m here to stay, but it’s also possible that someone listening to this in a year or two’s time will find nothing in my portfolio but cobwebs.

User Your Own Domain

One last URL related topic is that you can use a custom domain for your portfolio site, instead of the username as sub domain setup, although the username as sub-domain URL remains active. I had a domain called www.martinbaileyportfolios.com that I registered a few years ago, and was redirecting to martinbaileyphotography.com, but I figured this would be a good way to use the domain, so I switched it over to 500px.

It’s pretty straight forward to point a domain at your 500px account, as long as you have access to the DNS settings. If you click Domain under your Portfolio settings menu, there are clear instructions on how to do this, whether you are working on an existing domain, or registering a new domain for this purpose.

Other Advantages

I’m not going to go through them all. You can see a full list of features only available with paid accounts, but other things that I thought were cool are…

You can embed a Google Analytics number, to track people visiting your portfolio. Now, as far as I can tell, this is only the portfolio site that you set up, and does not include image views in your normal 500px account.

Although maybe not an issue, once you have a paid account, you can upload as many images as you like, just make sure they’re good!

You can also add a custom logo to your portfolio site. This can add a nice touch to really personalize the site.

You can also remove the 500px logo from your portfolio site, though I think it’s quite cool and have left mine there, for now at least.

Conclusion

So, that just about covers all that I thought to be pretty cool and worth touching on with regards to 500px. Although these guys have been around for a number of years, it’s kind of surprising that they haven’t made such a splash sooner. Or maybe it’s just that the world wasn’t ready for 500px until now.

Maybe we’ve come to the point where people do want to see quality work, without all of the junk that often surrounds it. I include myself in this to a degree of course. I’ve never just dumped my memory card anywhere except my own hard disk, but my Flickr account and my main gallery at martinbaileyphotography.com needs some serious work. Although I have always been careful to only upload work that I’m happy with, because I’ve used my main gallery as an image library to hold images for discussion in Podcasts etc. as well, I’m kind of hand-tied as to what I can delete too, as my work improves. I’ll figure out what to do about that later, but for now, I’m happy do a bit of work on 500px and present a tighter selection.

If you have a 500px portfolio or account that you’d like to share, by all means post a comment against the blog post for this episode. I’ve already caught up with some of you over there, but it would be nice to see what you’re are posting.

End Notes

Just a quick note before we finish that we actually announced a second Snow Monkey and Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop in 2012. I’ve teamed up with a friend, Wolfgang Dreher who is going to lead a group around the same locations that we usually visit, but this new tour is going to be run totally in German! So, if you are a German listener, but were hesitant to join my tour because you weren’t so confident in your English, then here’s your chance to come along anyway. Please note that I won’t be on the tour. We are running our main tour a week later, so it will overlap with this tour. I do intend to come to dinner the night before you kick off though, so if you did want to meet, we can do that too. Wolfgang has translated all of the details of the tour for you too, and it’s linked from the top page at www.mbpworkshops.com [no longer live] and we do still have some places left on the English tour that I’m running too. Details of both tours are on my workshops Web site, so do take a look if you’re thinking of joining us.


Show Notes

Martin’s 500px Account: https://500px.com/martinbailey

Images and Transcript: https://mbp.ac/295

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


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