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


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Top Five iPhone Apps for the Photographer (Podcast 177)

Top Five iPhone Apps for the Photographer (Podcast 177)

There were a few applications that I had loaded on my SmartPhone that really made it a useful tool for the photographer, and they were basically to help me calculate depth-of-field, and the time and location of sun and moon rise and sets. Before I could move to an iPhone with the abilities, I had to find good replacements for these apps. I noticed an app called VelaClock (now Magic Hour), that had been available for the Mac for a long time, and mailed them asking if they intended to add the ability to tell not just the time of the sun and moon rise and sets, but also the location or the azimuth. They told me that this would be available in a future update, and they did indeed add this functionality a few months ago.

There are also <a href=”#download”>download and subscription</a> options at the end of the post.

There was also an application called DoF Calc, which would help with, as you might imagine, calculating the depth-of-field, and hyper-focal distance. At first, this was made available as a Web page formatted for the iPhone, but required a network connection or phone line to update itself. Most of my photography when I really need this is where there is no network and rarely even a phone signal, so it wasn’t a viable solution for a while. Pretty soon though, they released a standalone version, so I was set. I could go to the iPhone and have the applications that I really wanted, and more. Let’s go through the whole five now, and take a look at each in a little more detail.

NDCalc

NDCalc

So, three of my selected applications are of direct use to the photographer. The last two not so much so, but they are great to have. The first I will talk about is ND Calc. This is actually created by a fellow Podcaster, Boris Nienke. If you never use a Neutral Density filter, this may not be necessary for you, but if you do, this can really help with exposure time calculation, especially for the really dark ND filters that cut out many stops of light.

NDCalc has a very simple interface. Basically with two dials in the bottom half of the screen. One of them is to select your shutter speed, and the other to select the density of your neutral density filter. So imagine you have set up your camera and you have selected an aperture of F11 or F16, and you intend to stick a dark ND filter on to your lens to get a really long exposure time, you meter the shot without the filter, and find your shutter speed, which might be say 1/25th of a second. You use the dial on the bottom left to select 1/25th of a second. Then you need to select the density of your filter. If you are using an ND8, which has a density of 0.9, then you would select this from the main dial on the right, and you would then see that your new shutter speed should be a third of a second. To be honest though, an ND8 cuts out just three stops of light, and I’m sure everyone knows how to calculate a three stop slower shutter speed from 1/25th of a second. The easiest way to do this in your head is to half it three times. First from 1/25th to one 1/12, then again to 1/6th, and then again to 1/3, and your done.

NDCalc really helps though when you get out the big guns in terms of neutral density filters. If for example you are using an ND100, which cuts out almost seven stops of light, you would select ND 2.0 with the 100x in parenthesis to the right, and you’ll see that you get a new shutter speed of four seconds. An ND 1000 with a density of 3.0 would make your shutter speed 40 seconds. All of these examples are available on the dial, and I actually asked Boris to add a filter that I have but that was not included, which he kindly did, and that was a 1.5 density filter which is basically an ND 32. Most of the arithmetic can be done in your head, I imagine, but one other very nice touch to the NDCalc application is that once your shutter speed goes over 4 seconds, a countdown button appears at the top of the screen, below the new exposure time, and when you touch the button with your finger, the countdown starts. This means if you are using a cable release without a built in timer, then you can use the iPhone to actually time your long exposure, as well as calculate it. Very simple, but very useful if you do use ND filters in your photography, so I suggest you take a look at this in iTunes. Just search for NDCalc, with no space.

DoF Calculator

DoF Calculator

Next, let’s take a look at DoF Calculator from neyMedia. This is another great application for calculating your photography settings. As you probably know, I like to use very wide apertures in much of my work, for that nice dreamy bokeh, or out of focus part of the scene. The problem with this is that you can actually sometimes go a little too wide, and so it’s nice sometimes to get an idea of just how wide you can go without being so wide that it becomes impractical. You do of course become accustomed to just how wide you can shoot at with your lenses as you use them, but there is another important feature of DoF Calc that I use a fair amount, and that is to calculate the hyper-focal distance to shoot for any given focal length and aperture. If you are not familiar with shooting at hyper-focal distance, you might want to listen to episode 65 of this Podcast, in which I cover it in detail. Basically though, sometimes, especially for landscape work, if you want pan-focus, where pretty much everything in your image is in focus, but you then focus on the trees in the distance for example, you will be forfeiting some foreground detail. Rather than just focusing on something in the distance, you can find the hyper-focal distance for your focal length and aperture, then pre-focus to that distance and shoot away. Here’s an example. Imagine you are shooting a scene that you want in pan-focus and you are using a 35mm focal length. You could use DoFCalc to find out that at 35mm, with an aperture of F8, the hyper-focal distance is 5.35 meters. If you focus your lens at just over 5 meters, everything from 2.7 meters to infinity will be in focus. If the closest subject you want in focus is even closer than 2.7 meters, you can check to see how much you need to stop down to achieve pan-focus including your intended subject. At F16 for example, the hyper-focal distance comes in to just 2.7 meters, and your closest focus is now 1.34 meters.

The relationship is directly related to the focal length of course, with wide angle lenses giving much shorter hyper-focal distances, even at relatively wide apertures, and longer telephoto lenses having hyper-focal distances of many hundreds of meters. At 200mm even at F16 the hyper-focal distance is 87 meters. With a 300mm lens at F16, the hyper-focal distance is almost 200 meters out. All of this though you can calculate right there in the field with DoF Calc, and make the most of hyper-focal distance with your chose lens, so you don’t have to worry too much about whether or not everything is going to be in focus. It does also enable you to just play around and see the relationship for yourself, but if you don’t need to do this in the field, you can use an application like Barnack or the web version of DoF Calc in the comfort of your own home. The beauty of the iPhone app is that you can take it in the field with you and get it right when it really matters. I’ll put a link to a page with details of these apps into the show-notes, but again, you can search for DoF Calc in the iTunes App Store. This time there is a space between DoF and Calc.

Magic Hour

Magic Hour

So, let’s move on now to the real biggy for me when it comes to iPhone Apps for the photographer. This, as I’ve said before is a must for any outdoor photographer. VelaClock (now Magic Hour), from the Vela Design Group, tells you exactly where the sun and the moon is going to rise and set at any given location on the planet, at any day, past, present or future. It also tells you the phases of the moon, and when each of the three twilights, civil, nautical and astronomical twilight, begin for both dawn and dusk. With a recent update, you can now simply use the GPS in the iPhone to find out exactly where you are on the planet, and give you data for that location. You can always see that as your Current Location and you can use the current location to record your home location. You can also add latitude and longitude coordinates to specify an exact location, and record that, meaning you can basically get data for anywhere on the planet. There is of course a large list of place names, and in my experience you can usually find somewhere close enough to where you’re going to make this accurate enough for my use. Then when you get to the actually location of course, you just use the Current Location to get exact data.

If you have a compass with you, you can use the azimuth to find out exactly where on the horizon the sun or the moon will be rising and get yourself in position for the perfect sun or moon rise. If you are planning a trip, you can also now specify any date past, present or future, right there on the user interface, which I also find very useful. There are online resources for doing this sort of research of course, but I find that more often than not, I really want this information right there with me when I’m in the field, so having it right there in my pocket just makes this whole thing perfect for me. I’ll put a link to the VelaClock (now Magic Hour) web page into the show notes, and you’ll notice, at least as of March 2009, that there is a testimonial by me on this page. Note that I am not affiliated with the Vela Design Group in any way. I’m just supporting a product that I like and believe in.

Audio Notes

Audio Notes

I did just want to quickly talk about two more applications that you can get from the iTunes App Store that I find to be very useful for the photographer, though not directly related to photography. The first one is created by someone called Petr Jankuj, and is called Audio Notes [Removed invalid link]. This is basically just a simple audio recorder. It’s what I use on my iPhone to record audio like that that we listened to a few episodes ago, from the snowy beach at the Inawashiro Lake. You can set it up so that it starts to record as soon as you start it, and then when you are done, you just press save to save the audio you just recorded to the iPhone’s memory. To get the file off of the phone you have to set up an FTP server, which is a bit of a pain, but the companion Web site walks you through this. It’s not that difficult to do. Anyway, if you are out and about and want to record a quick audio memo to yourself, so that you don’t forget to return to a certain place, or maybe you want to record the name of a location or subject that you just shot, so that you can properly keyword your images, then this sort of application can be very useful. Again, it’s called Audio Notes, and can be found in the iTunes App Store. 

Finally, there’s one more app that I am really enjoying having on my iPhone, and that is Felaur PDF. This is basically a PDF Reader, but unlike anything else I tried, it can read really big PDF files very smoothly. Even one’s with lots of graphical content. Why is this important for the photographer? Because you can stick your camera’s manuals in your iPhone. I have the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II user manuals on my iPhone in PDF form, and you can view them with no problems at all. You can even add bookmarks to certain pages that you reference regularly, and these are saved in the phone. To upload your PDFs to the iPhone you can either put them on a Web site and download from a URL or you can do a Google search right there in the application and grab them from the Web. Because I already have a copy of the PDFs on my PC though, my favourite way is to download them directly to the phone from my PC. To do this, you just enter an IP address to your browser, with the phone on the same network using a Wifi connection, and the browser becomes a file manager, with which you can upload and download PDF files to and from the library on your iPhone.

Felaur PDF

Felaur PDF

You can also rename and sort the PDFs into various directories, so I have one for Manuals, and another for Magazines. I loaded a bunch of Professional Photographer Magazine PDFs to the phone too, in case I ever find myself with some time to kill but nothing to read. I have found one issue with this application though, which you should be aware of if you are considering buying it, and that is that the PDFs that you copy to the iPhone can disappear. I had my manuals and magazines on there for a few weeks, when all of a sudden, they disappeared. I don’t know what caused it, but it was pretty annoying to have to put them all back on there. It even destroyed my customized library, which I wasn’t too happy about. Hopefully this won’t be something that happens often, but even with that said, as long as you check that your PDFs are still there before a trip when you might need them, this can still be useful I think. (Note: The disappearing PDF trick hasn’t happened again in the 6 months since recording this Podcast.)

So that’s my top five iPhone apps for the photographer. I hope I haven’t bored those of you that don’t have an iPhone too much. If you have an iPhone or are thinking of getting one, I hope this was useful.


Show Notes

Check out NDCalc with a screenshot, and jump to the iTunes store from this page: http://www.nsonic.de/blog/software/ndcalc-iphone/

Check out DoF Calc here: http://www.apptism.com/apps/dof-calculator

You can find the VelaClock app for the iPhone here, with a link to the iTunes Store: http://www.veladg.com/velaclockapp.html

The music in this Podcast was created and produced by UniqueTracks.

The music in this episode is from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network at http://music.podshow.com/


Audio

Subscribe in iTunesSubscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Michael Rammell

Posted on behalf of Martin by Michael Rammell, a Wedding Photographer based in Berkshire, England. Michael also has a long-standing passion for Nature & Landscape photography. To catch up with Michael, visit his Web site, and follow him on the following social networking services.

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