February has flown by so quickly, that I’m left with just a few hours to put down some thoughts to share before we welcome in the third month of the year. Unfortunately, February 2022 is going to remain in the memories of many as the month that Vladimir Putin finally completely lost his marbles, and sent an already insane world into yet another downward spiral. I’m hoping with all my heart that we see an end to the current madness in the early days of March.
I’ve spent 98% of the last month trying to finalize a new iOS app that I’ve been working on since the end of December. I’ll share a few details today as I don’t have time to say anything else that I wanted to say. I’ve backed myself into a corner and my time management skills go completely out of the window when I start coding. This is partly because I really enjoy it, but mostly because it’s not my core-competence, and having loaded a ginormous three-dimensional map of how my app is organized into my gray-matter, there’s either little room for anything else or my fear of the structure shattering to the floor like a house of cards prevents me from walking away for any length of time.
For the last few weeks I’ve woken up pretty much every day telling myself that I must create a Podcast, and even today, on the last day of the month, I’ve spent until almost 4:30 pm messing around trying to complete my app. I wanted to finish it, get version 1.0 out of the door, and then spend a few days creating some quality content and a marketing page, etc. but it’s just proving very difficult to finalize a few of those devilish details. The main problem is that I decided to write my latest app using SwiftUI which is Apple’s newer programming language that is incredibly powerful, but almost nothing like the Swift programming that I taught myself a few years ago, and have become pretty proficient with.
Because of this, a good portion of my time was taken up by learning new technology, but the result is that I’ve built a highly responsive very lightweight app that looks great without any graphics other than the app icons embedded in the package. Another major advantage that I’m looking forward to exploring more is that this puts me a lot closer to an Android version than my Photographer’s Friend app which I’m still trying to port. Once I have my second app in the App Store though, I do intend to spend some time working on porting them both to Android, although I’ll start with my latest offering, not Photographer’s Friend, mainly because of the porting benefits that the SwiftUI architecture brings.
I did, of course, spend some quality time with my Patreon community in our monthly Question Time event, and I have done some private mentoring sessions, and I lost a day to an almost 39-degree fever after getting my COVID vaccination booster last week, but I was happy it was only one day. I lost two days to both of my first two jabs. As the month progressed almost every day I’ve felt as though I could push the new app out and see how it flies, but it’s still not quite ready, and I’m now trying really hard to complete a way to save and restore theme settings, but once this is completed, I’m going to release it, and add the other few new features that I have in mind after that. The themes seemed like a good idea and I got really close to getting it working in just a few hours, but that was four days ago now, so I’m regretting not leaving that until the first update as well.
Anyway, I don’t want to give away too many details and to be honest, it’s such a simple idea that you’ll get most of it anyway, I’ve basically created something that I’ve wanted myself for a long time but have never been able to find a good answer to my personal wishlist of features for an iOS-based desk clock. I have a charging stand on my desk that can sit my iPhone on at about a 70° angle in either portrait or landscape mode, and I have a similar stand beside my bed. I did buy a desk clock a few years ago, but it always seems to get in the way and has been pushed way under my iMac screen, almost out of sight, but my iPhone sits on its stand in a prominent position, so it would be perfect to display a nice looking clock. Here is are a few photos of what I’ve created, to give you an idea.
My biggest wish was for the ability to load images that would cycle through in the background, so I’ve designed my app with the ability for the user to load images from Apple Photos. I realize though that although photographers have lots of great photos hanging around, some people are going to want good photos but need an easy way to load them, so I have added the ability to buy additional packs of my images, all theme-based, like Winter Landscapes, Flowers, African Wildlife, etc. and there will be eight packs available at the time of launch, but I’ve designed the app so that I can add new packs by modifying a web page and changing the settings on Apple’s developer’s website, without updating the app itself, so I will add a number of new packs in the weeks after launch.
The clock face is so customizable, that I decided to build an automated demonstration of all the settings. This was another feature that took just a few hours to get completed, but that was actually what led me to start work on the theme presets, which has added this extra four days at this point. You can change the color of the clock face and opacity from 0 to 100% and you can also change the color of the frame, as well as the frame’s thickness, from no frame at all, up to a very thick frame, and as you can see, you can select Arabic or Roman numerals, and show all 12 numbers, just the 12, 3 6 and 9 o’clock numbers, or no numbers at all. You can also remove the second marker for a very minimalistic clock. You can of course change the size and position of the clock as well.
There are a bunch of other features as well, but I’ll save that all for the launch when I’ll create a walk-through video as well. Hopefully, it won’t be many more days or weeks now, but I’ve been saying that since the end of January, so don’t hold your breath. Anyway, I’m out of time. It’s six o’clock on the last day of the month, so I had to get this recorded and posted. We’ll get back to some regular episodes very soon.
For this week’s episode, I’m releasing a new tutorial for our Photographer’s Friend Depth of Field calculator, and I’ve included some practical examples from the field so this may be useful as a general tutorial, even if you don’t own Photographer’s Friend.
I was actually going to just release this video in the background, but with a bunch of stuff that came up and the fact that it’s supposed to be a holiday in Japan today, I decided to make this it for this week. If you are completely uninterested in our iOS app and have no interest in Depth of Field, I have a nice meaty episode lined up for you next week, so please stay tuned.
If you are interested in the new tutorial though, I’ve embedded it below, and you can also find it on our Photographer’s Friend Tutorials page. Also, a quick shout out to listener Ron Paynter in Australia, with a thank you for pointing out that I had a typo in the Startup Help for the Exposure Shift calculator. I can’t believe I missed out the “f” in Shift, but thanks for bringing some laughter to our breakfast table yesterday morning Ron.
I was actually working on a minor update to the app anyway, so the typo has been fixed in version 3.0.4 which is already on the App Store ready for people to upgrade. Anyway, here is the video, which I hope you enjoy, and I’ll be back with another episode next week.
I’m incredibly happy and proud to tell you that our iOS app Photographer’s Friend version 3 is now available on the App Store! I was able to create an upgrade option as well, so today I’m going to fill you in on all the details.
It took me a few weeks longer than I’d hoped because I decided to add one last feature that proved to be a lot more difficult than I’d imagined, but as I knew it would be necessary, I think it was worth spending the extra time. I also really wanted to provide a way for existing Photographer’s Friend 2 owers to get a discount on the upgrade, and this took a few more steps that also delayed this announcement.
But, I am really happy to tell you that Photographer’s Friend 3 is now available in the App Store, and I was successful in setting up a mechanism to get existing customers a discount, and you don’t see that very much in the App Store. Basically what I’ve done is created a bundle, which is usually a way for companies or developers to sell additional products to customers at a discount. Our Photographer’s Friend Upgrade Bundle though does just that—provides a way to upgrade with a discount.
How it works is this. If you bought version 2 and probably also if you got version 2 as a free upgrade from version 1, you should see the words “Complete My Bundle” when you visit the bundle page. The price of the bundle is $6.99 US, but the amount that you originally paid for Photographer’s Friend is automatically deducted, resulting in a discount.
Another cool coincidence is that iOS 12 has just been released and in the Control Center we now have a button to start a native QR code reader, and I love QR codes! If you start the QR code reader and point it at the code above, you will be able to automatically just to the Upgrade Bundle on the App Store to upgrade to version 3 at a discount. If you want to upgrade of course.
If you are happy with the two calculators in version 2, you are most welcome to stick with version 2, but please note that all new features moving forward will be added to version 3. We did just release a small update to version 2 though, to make the Depth of Field calculator a little more accurate, so you aren’t being left out to dry.
There were various prices for version 1 and 2 over the years, ranging from an introductory price of $2.99 which then changed to the regular price of $3.99. If you paid $2.99 for your previous version, that is deducted from $6.99, meaning you’ll be able to upgrade for $4, a saving of 20% over the cost of version 3 which is $4.99. If you paid $3.99 for a previous version, you will be able to upgrade for $3, which is a saving of 40% off the full price.
I love this way of providing a discount because it’s completely fair in my opinion. People who paid less earlier pay more now, and people who paid more, now pay less. There’s a beautiful almost Kharma-like harmony to that!
In version 3, I’ve just posted a minor update for review by Apple with some under the hood updates, and a few more tweaks to the number of decimal places displayed in the Depth of Field calculator, making it even more useful when working with very shallow depth of field.
Introducing the Exposure Shift Calculator
The major update, of course, is the addition of a third calculator that I’ve called the Exposure Shift Calculator, rounding out the team of photography assistants in your pocket, and removing any confusion over how to change your exposure, or finding good settings from a light meter’s EV reading.
Rather than going through all of the details here though, I’ve created a video to walk you through this new calculator, which you can see below.
This video is one of three that I’ll be creating to explain each of the three calculators, and these are now linked to an Online Video Tutorial page under the Links and Help sections in the Photographer’s Friend app, so I hope you find these useful. There is still a help section for each calculator inside the app, that you can reference without an internet connection, as I know many people use the app in situations where connecting to the internet isn’t possible, due to either location or cost constraints.
Do let me know what you think of the new calculator, and once again I’d like to thank listener Steve Jarrel who provided the initial idea for the Exposure Shift Calculator, although my implementation may not be quite what he had in mind. I know from experience of talking about exposure in the field, that these exposure shifts can be confusing to calculate, so I think this will have practical uses.
Also, I think it’s great as an educational tool. There are situations when teaching photography when I wished I had a way of graphically showing how the Aperture affects the Shutter Speed, or the ISO affects the Aperture, and I can now lock any one of the three dials in the Exposure Shift Calculator and show just that, as we move any of the two dials that are not locked. And the Exposure Value lock moves all both of the free dials as you move a third, which again, is a great educational tool, and a way to find good settings changes based on EV readouts from a light meter.
Of course, just playing with the calculator is a great way to get a better understanding of how exposure settings affect each other, so I urge anyone that buys Photographer’s Friend to play away, and build a better understanding, so that you don’t struggle with this stuff in the heat of the moment in the field.
Anyway, as I say, I won’t try to explain this all in words, as the video will be much easier to understand, so please do take a look. If you don’t yet own Photographer’s Friend, but would like to buy it, you can use the QR code here to jump to the App Store or simply type in https://mbp.ac/pf3 in your browser on your iPhone or iPad, or search for Photographer’s Friend in the App Store. Do make sure that you buy version 3 though, and not version 2, unless you really don’t need the Exposure Shift calculator and want to save a dollar. If you’d like more written information before deciding if Photographer’s Friend is for you or not, the product page is here.
Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.
Android Version on the Way
I also wanted to say before we finish, that I am looking into a way to port the code that I have to Android, and hope to be able to bring you an Android version before too long. I know you want it, it’s just a matter of making the time now to make it happen, but I am on it.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you that I have now released the update to our iPhone app, Photographer’s Friend. We now support iPad in addition to iPhone and iPod touch, as well as landscape and portrait orientations.
As I mentioned in an update a few weeks ago, from the end of August I started studying how to develop for iOS, and following a week going through an online course, I set about the task of rebuilding our old MBP Podcast Companion app, as it was a little too long in the tooth to support iOS 11, which has now been released.
I picked up the Swift programming language relatively quickly with the aid of the online training, augmented by other invaluable resources such as the Hacking with Swift and Stack Overflow websites, I was able to create the app that I’d designed in my mind, and even add a number of features that I didn’t think I’d be able to do at this point.
I submitted Photographer’s Friend for review last Thursday, and it was passed as I got up on Friday morning, and I’ve been delighted to see hundreds of updates from the previous version happening across the planet. Although I put a lot of work into this, I really wanted to make it a free update for all of the users that had been kind enough to buy the original app, so I’m also very pleased that I was able to achieve this.
Anyway, I’ve put together a video to walk you through the features of Photographer’s Friend v2.0 which I’ve embedded below. If you’d prefer to read, scroll down for a summary or visit the product page for more details.
[custom_font font_family=’Open Sans’ font_size=’19’ line_height=’26’ font_style=’none’ text_align=’left’ font_weight=’500′ color=” background_color=” text_decoration=’none’ text_shadow=’no’ padding=’0px’ margin=’0px’]Photographer’s Friend is the only app on the App Store as of Oct 9, 2017, that has both a Depth of Field calculator and a Neutral Density filter calculator. [/custom_font]
I’ve gone into great detail as I implemented both of these fundamental photography calculators, and I’m very proud of how they’ve turned out. The settings of the Depth of Field calculator can all be adjusted with your thumb while holding the app in one hand because sometimes you only have one hand free.
Depth of Field Calculator
To calculate your depth of field, you just set your Camera Type, which is your film or sensor size, and choose an aperture and focal length, and set the approximate distance to your main subject. So basically everything is set with the four dials across the bottom of the interface. The two blue labels indicate that there is some functionality there. You can toggle between feet and meters by tapping the [Focus ft/m] label.
If you tap on the other blue label which displays the Hyperfocal Distance calculated from your selected settings, that Hyperfocal Distance is transferred to the Focus Distance dial, and the display is updated to show your near focus limit, the actual focus distance, and at Hyperfocal Distance, of course, the far limit is infinity, as you can see in the left of the three screenshots (below). All of these settings are saved, so even if you don’t use the default 35mm Camera Type, your selection will be restored whenever you open the app.
Photographer’s Friend DoF Calc and ND Calc
I even built in a NightView mode for the Depth of Field calculator, so if you are using the DoF Calc at night, and don’t want to lose your night vision, just shake your device to toggle in and out of NightView, which you can see in the center image (above).
Neutral Density Calculator
The Neutral Density calculator, which you can see to the right of the three screenshots (above) takes your base shutter speed and calculates the new shutter speed that you have to set after attaching Neutral Density filters to your lens to slow down your shutter speed. Simple to use, you just dial in your base shutter speed on the left and tap any of the filters on the right, and your newly calculated shutter speed is displayed at the top of the screen.
If your calculated shutter speed in 5 seconds or longer, the Timer becomes active, and we’ll sound an alarm when it finishes to let you know. The first time you start a Timer running, you will be asked for permission to send you notifications via the Notification Center, and if you grant that, if the app is closed or in the background when the timer ends, you’ll see an alert on your device instead. This works even if you force close the app or restart your device.
Links and Help
There is also a scrolling list of links to articles on Depth of Field and Neutral Density filters, as well as a link to open our podcast in the iOS Podcasts app, which now displays images again as we progress through various topics. There are contact us links and I also added some help screens to walk you through how to use the two calculators, in case some of this theory is new to you.
Anyway, that’s a quick summary for you. I do hope you’ll check out the video that I put together or have a look at the product page for more details. For the introductory price of just $2.99 for two epic photography calculators, I think Photographer’s Friend is a steal, so I hope you’ll pick up a copy, from the App Store.
Note that if you’ve updated to the latest version of iTunes on your computer, you will not be able to buy iOS apps unless you click through from an iOS device.
Please Rate and Leave a Review
If you find Photographer’s Friend useful, please do consider giving us a rating and leaving a review on the App Store. I’ve reset the reviews for version 2.0 and we need some high ratings and positive reviews to start ranking highly in searches.