Tag Archives: iphone

Where are all the pictures?

I read an interesting comment the other day that continues to dig at me a bit. Over on Flickr, a poster put up a complaint about how he could not shoot because of the weather. It had been pouring rain for several days and his excuse was the weather sucked so he could not shoot.

I countered that with a single image and pointed out that pictures are where you find them, not where you think they are. Here is the image. I used just the light from the window and LR3 was used for the post work.  This is a rainy day image that was not staged or planned, I saw her playing by the window, ran to my camera, ran back setting the camera settings as I went and managed to get about five frames.

Rainy Day Imp

Rainy Day Imp

I’ve shot all kinds of things when other say they cant shoot.  I’ve shot toys on my desk, pull cords on the window blinds and my coffee cup. There is no reason in the world that you can not shoot at any time of the day or night and at any place. The shot below of my window blinds was taken in the afternoon while testing my 70-200mm F2.8 VR lens.

Shade

Shade

I’ve used my pro cameras, my point and shoot, my phone and even my ancient film cameras. It’s all about shooting no matter what or where. Dont get locked into the idea that circumstances have to be perfect to shoot, many times my best work as been shoot on the fly or at the last second. I’ve gone out in the rain knowing full well it’s dismal conditions for shooting but I find a way.

Art is where you make it and sometimes it comes to you but sometimes you need to go to the mountain and find it. Art does not take breaks or vacations. Art is around you all the time if you just take the time and the trouble to see it. So the next time you have plans to go shoot and something interrupts them, take advantage of the interruption and see where it leads you. You very well might be very surprised and pleased at the outcome.

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Long Live the Pocket Camera, the Pocket Camera is dead

the top and sides of an iPhone 3G S.
Image via Wikipedia

Yet another single use device has bitten the dust or I should say, is biting the dust even as I type this. The “pocket camera” or “Point and shoot” is dying a fast and unlamented death. The cause of death is the smart phone of which no matter which one you use, iPhone, Droid etc, now have a reasonable camera built in. It’s the old “good enough” syndrome of the consumer. The smart phone hits the mark in convenience and is good enough for most consumers to grab that snapshot.

When I’m scouting for locations, do I pull out my Canon G11? Nooope.. I pull out my iPhone with the GPS and then shoot and tag. I use my G11 about once a month if that. I use my iPhone at least once a day to shoot a picture of something. It could be a reminder of a phone number, a product in the store, something I’m doing that friends would find interesting.

Just the other day, I replaced the seals on my medium format camera. As I did the job, I took the iPhone and shot pictures every  now and then and put them up on Facebook in seconds. Not real time but close and alot of people enjoyed it. Could I do that with my fancy G11? Not a chance. I would have to shoot, upload to the computer, resize and then upload. The phone literally took seconds to complete the entire task. And that included enhancing the images using software on the phone.

Facebook which has the most pictures online, even more than Flickr which is one of the best photo sites, has some interesting statistics.  Facebook at last count has something like 50 BILLION pictures uploaded on it’s site. Flickr shows that it’s most popular camera is the iPhone 3G with the typical Nikon/Canon DSLRs in the 2nd/3rd slots. Not a point and shoot anywhere to be found in the top listing. Personally, I take shots with my iPhone and load them straight to Facebook. I’ve become so used to that feature and the ability to shoot an email on demand, I would not consider any pocket or point and shoot that didn’t do this. Nobody wants to shoot images on their point and shoot and then take it home, transfer to the PC, fix them and then upload to Facebook or Flickr or whatever. They want to shoot and go right then. And so long as the image is good enough, they are happy.

Most popular camera on Flickr

Most popular camera on Flickr

PSExpress, CameraOne and Best Camera are three apps I use all the time on my iPhone. Between the three, I can normally get a “good enough” image out of my iPhone. Would I shoot a wedding with it? Nope.. but as a guest I would be happy to use it to get the occasional snap. I will say that once I used my iPhone 4’s video, I never shot video on my Canon g11 again. The phone was just that much better then my 500 dollar camera.

Does anyone want to buy a slightly used G11?

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A Scanners Tale

Fujitsu Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Paper is the bane of my office. I have magazines that I want to keep articles from, torn sheets from magazines that have ideas for shoots, bills, reference paperwork  such as maps from travels and more. All this information, no way to search it, no way to catalog it and no up to now, no way to digitize it quickly or easily.

Change is upon me in the form of a new scanner from Fujitsu called the Snapscan S1500M. This scanner comes in two flavors, Windows or Mac. And unlike many shops that claim Mac compatibility, this really IS compatible with the Mac. The software installs easily and has been absolutely reliable, not a single crash or hicup. The scanner is not cheap compared to others but 400 dollars for a scanner that does double sided scanning of 100 pages in less than five minutes is pretty cheap. The processing that takes the scan and makes it a searchable PDF only adds another five minutes to the time of scanning 100 pages.

So I have this PDf now on my computer,  just what can I do with it? Well, what I do is what I had told to me by XXX. I got a premium membership with Evernote and I sync this folder and files up with Evernote so now everything is in the “cloud” and available to all my devices. This includes:

  • iPhone/iPad/iTouch
  • Windows
  • OSX
  • Windows Mobil
  • Palm Pre
  • Blackberry
  • Android

It’s searchable so I can run a search on a topic and get just those matches. I do not have to thumb through old magazines guessing where I saw that article at. Or look for the sticky hanging off the outside with a scribble on it.

Here is the user interface for the OSX application. Clean and to the point.

Evernote OSX Application

Evernote OSX Application

And Evernote is not just for scanners, you can clip from the web or use your webcam to snap a picture. I love SOHO Notes but this might just replace it for me. You owe it to yourself to check it out even if you dont want to scan anything.

Now I can either chop the spine of the magazine off and scan it all then clean it up with Acrobat or I can just razor out the pages I want and scan those. In the past day, I’ve cleaned out one year of Photoshop User magazines and a pile of razored clippings. I clean up my scans by deleting all the ads and stuff I dont want since there is a monthly limit to the uploading at Evernote of 500 meg. This sounds small but the typical razored article is about 3 pages cleaned and under a meg in size or a tad over if I keep the color images.

I just put the scanned files into one directory and I have that sync automatically with Evernote’s website and I’m good to go.

So in short:

  1. Razor articles
  2. Toss remains
  3. Scan articles
  4. Clean up ads
  5. Sync

So far so good, I can access my new files on my iPhone or iPad without any issues at all no matter where I am. I have copies locally on my MacPro and I have them in the cloud. I have pulled about 50lbs of magazines out of my office and more on the way. I can even find things now with Spotlight. This is a win all the way around as far as I’m concerned even more so at the modest cost involved.

  • Scanner = 450.00 from Amazon
  • Evernote = 50 dollars a year for the premium account, the entry level account is free
  • Supply of razors = 10 dollars

Optional cost would be a real nice guillotine cutter that can handle 200 pages at a whack to take care of the magazines but so far, the razor works fine.

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Call of the iPad

iPad with on display keyboard
Image via Wikipedia

Well, I’ve had my iPad for a few months now and my impressions are pretty much the same as they have been when I first got it. I still view it as a toy because of some limitations.  It has some outstanding features but the issues are important too.  I should preface this with the fact that I have about a dozen Macs around here and everyone in the family (the adults at least) all use iPhones and I have and love my AppleTV. So you might consider me something of a “fanboy” of Apple products. So when I complain about the iPad, it’s not a non-apple person whining, it’s a strong supporter of Apple products who feels that Apple seriously dropped the ball.

Good points of the iPad

  • It’s sexy.. oh so sexy. It has a nice feel and heft to it that has become the trademark of all things Apple of late.
  • Really nice screen (we will address a fault in a minute)
  • Long battery life
  • Stable IOS running it
  • Super easy user interface
  • Awesome way to show off pictures
  • Reasonably good e-reader
  • Works very well on WiFi
  • Snappy response to finger input
  • Never a crash of the IOS in the past three months

Now, the downside of the iPad

  • Zero expandability – no USB port (camera readers does NOT count) – no microSD – nothing
  • The screen shows every stinking fingerprint known to man. So showing pictures requires a cleaning each and every time
  • Useless is bright sunlight
  • Can not take decent notes on it with a finger tip and no provisions for a stylus. I dont know about you, but trying to write using my  finger tips is just about impossible.
  • Cost – The fully decked out 3G and Wifi with 64 Gig of memory is over 900 bucks. And since you can not expand it in any way, the 64 Gig is almost a requirement
  • Lack of native way to print (even the new wireless printing is going to be limited to the newest version of leopard)
  • Lack of any corporate account (according to AT/T)
  • A big fault to me is having to use iTunes to move things around and that the iPad is tied to a given copy of iTunes. So I sync at home but on the road, I can not sync something without wiping out everything already on the iPad or I can not given it to someone else to take on the road and they can not put anything on it unless a real computer where people can have their own accounts.

I know there are apps and hacks to get around some of these and I have used them but my point is that you should not have to hack your PDA to get what is considered to be basic functionality. I am serious considering moving to an Android based tablet with real hardware options such using a thumb drive and using microSD cards to shuffle files around. I’m thinking about some kind of screen protector that might still let me show off images but keep the finger prints to a minimum. The iTunes only management is a real pain in the butt. Since I’m allowed five computers on a given iTunes account, why can I not sync from ANY of the five systems without having to wipe the iPad?

Note: There is a HACK to get around this but we are back to my original point, you should NOT have to HACK your system just to do something as basic as syncing between the five authorized computers.

I have found a few very useful apps for the iPad to help get around some of the issues. Dropbox is one of the biggies. I can move things around from all my computers and get PDFs and images onto the iPad without too much difficulty. Along with Dropbox, is a cool note app called “Elements” where as you write notes, they are put into Dropbox automatically. Since I’m on Facebook, the app called “Social” is perfect for me and lets me manage my Facebook presence very nicely. I use Wyse PocketCloud to remote desktop into a Windows server I have. My display app of choice is called “Foliobook” and does that job very well. For the printing, I use ACTprinter successfully.

So will I give up my iPad?, not yet. But, I see some serious competition on the near horizon that begs a close look. And when I find a tablet that offers real choice, I’ll drop the iPad faster than a hot match. For now, the iPad is the only real game in town but that certainly does not make it perfect by a long stretch.

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Photoshopworld 2010

So I survived Vegas with it’s 30 dollar lunches, 25 dollar shots of Scotch and my cheap room at Mandalay bay. I guess it all balances in the end since I did not give a nickel to the slots. The keynote was awesome, the Tweet up was alot of fun, the Expo was crazy good fun and I did sneak out early because of the holiday and trying to fly home on Friday.

I split my time with several class this time. I noticed that in 2007 which was the last time I was there at PSW, I saw 95% software based classes. This time, the tracks were split between real photography classes and software like Painter, Photoshop and such. I ended wishing I could attend them all but settled on a mix of classes

My preconference class was “The Art of the Digital Canvas” with Faye Sirkis and I had high hopes for the class since I really wanted to see how to make CS5 work with the new bristle brushes. But, the class fell short of my expectations between a lack of real meat in the class and technical issues with CS5. The good news is that was the only class that fell short in my opinion. The two classes I took with Joe McNally were awesome to be in and Joe has a very good sense of presentation with humor and solid information.  I took a Fashion Portrait class with David Cuerdon who I found relatively recently on Kelby’s training site and have decided that I really, really like his style and teaching methods.. The fashion class was a wealth of info on how to shoot and more importantly, retouch the shots effectively.

Zack Arias did a couple of classes but the one I went to was “Stuff you need to know to be a photographer” and as always, Zack did a bang up job of getting down to the nuts and bolts of being successful as a photographer and to figure out what is really important to you and and your craft. A hint, passion only gets you so far as a photographer.

I did the concert and event photographer on something of a lark and it was very interesting to hear how it works behind the scenes as it were. Also the choice of gear, how to get the pass and what to expect as a photographer at a concert. Alan Hess did a very good job at showing the class the real world of Concert photography and proving that yes, you can have fun while working for a living 🙂

Here are some random shots from the trip. I split my shooting between my Canon G11 and my D300. Both worked well but the Canon struggled with the low light in the classes. The D300 would work but only but shooting at 2.8 with ISO 3200 or 6400. I was really wishing for a FX camera and ISO 25,000 🙂 The NAPP Keynote was completely shot using the G11 and it did very well considering I had the zoom maxed out and the lighting was so bad. The class shots of Joe McNally were taken with the D300 at ISO 6400.

Zack Arias

Zack Arias

Mac Classic and Photoshop V1

Mac Classic and Photoshop V1

Metal prints were the hot item

Metal prints were the hot item

Scott giving away his Flying V to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

Scott giving away his Flying V to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

JohnnyL Adobe GM Digital Media

JohnnyL Adobe GM Digital Media

Photoshop Keynote

Photoshop Keynote

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Home Base

Home Base

Mandalay Bay Lobby Entrance

Mandalay Bay Lobby Entrance

Photoshop TV LIVE

Photoshop TV LIVE

Joe McNally

Joe McNally

Small Flash Class by Joe McNally

Small Flash Class by Joe McNally

Joe McNally in action

Joe McNally in action

My view while blogging at Mandalay Bay

My view while blogging at Mandalay Bay

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iPad, Love it and hate it

iPad 64 GB Wi-Fi with the case.
Image via Wikipedia

So I have my very own iPad with Wifi , 3G and 64 gig of RAM. Yep, I went for the gold when I got it. And now that I’ve had for several days and traveled with it via Southwest airlines, I have a few thoughts on it.

For photographers and that is my viewpoint here, the iPad offers some tantalizing possibilities. Some of these possibilities apply to other folks as well and some of my observations are a more “corporate” viewpoint. The iPad is very well made with some excellent controls and one or two glaring omissions. The slide switch to lock the display is brilliant. The lack of a switch to shutoff the 3G is stupid. Why do I have to drill through several menus to turn of the battery sucking 3G?

The iPad displays pictures really well.. better than alot of other devices I’ve seen and that I can show off pictures even with the screen locked is an excellent idea. The built in photo support is OK.. nothing to really get excited about but there are other apps that really amp up showing off your images.

Speed is life

When the 3G is enabled, it is slow. The app store will barely function and that is within a 20 miles radius of my home off at different locations. Even the WiFi is slower than I expected. I run my Macpro daily off wifi and will get a full 10Mbps download/1Mbps upload. On the same wifi connection, the iPad barely ekks out 3Mbps download and about 900Kbps on the upload side.

Speed Test Results iPad

Speed Test Results - iPad

Casing the joint

Lets talk about cases shall we? I got the Apple case when I ordered up the iPad, I mean, how bad could it be? Turns out it can be pretty bad. The case is junk.  The only thing going for it is that it’s none slip but it literally hurts to hold it since the hot sealed edges are rigid stick out a 1/8 inch and then cut into your hand. You can charge the iPad but not dock it when it’s in the case and the case is a pain in the butt to get on and off so doing this daily is a non-starter. And did I mention the really flimsy “stand” on the back? the one they show int he picture that rocks back and forth with threats of leaving your pretty iPad laying face down on the tabletop? There are two settings, low and high and neither is useful. the low is a about 1″ off the table and the high rocks like it’s ready to fall down at the slightest breath. This was a wasted 20 bucks.

App here, App there

One app that really brings the iPad into the realm of being useful is from Wyse and is called “Pocket CLoud“. This is one of the nicest RDP clients I have used to push a windows desktop out to the iPad. A second really useful app is called “Print Central” and lets you print from the iPad via WiFI. 3G or other. It does require a free piece to be installed on the PC/Mac sharing printers called “WePrint“. You might wonder why I’m suggesting apps that do not look like “Photography” apps? Well, to run a business, it’s more than showing off pictures and listening to music. You have to do WORK and things like remote desk and printing allow you to WORK and be productive with the iPad. Another very useful app is Keynote for the iPad. You can make some amazing slide shows with Keynote and the price in the app store is pretty reasonable. Another slide app is “slide Show Builder Lite” and I found a cool tutorial on it at Granny Joans blog. I will add that it’s nice but you can not share the slide show unlike Keynote.

Alot of apps say they are “iPad” compatible and they are but they are not. What they mean is that they RUN on the iPad but not necessarily take advantage of the large screen etc. Some apps are so useful, that does not really matter but on some it is a pain in the butt so be warned that all iPad apps are not created equal.

You need some kind of cover for the iPad, it’s just too thin and slick to hold on to. Sexy but dangerous to use unprotected. Like I said earlier on, the Apple cover stinks. I have not found a replacement for it but I’m looking.

One thing the iPad excels at is playing back podcasts/videos for training. My lunch times are now “training” sessions where I prop up the iPad and watch it while I eat. I’ve used podcasts, MPEG files and ripped DVDs to play and it’s all good. I have watched movies solid for over four hours and still have over 60% battery life left. That is pretty amazing no matter the rest of my complaints.

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iPhone Camera, toy or real?

One of my biggest complaints against the iPhone is the dinky fixed focus camera that Jobs had put onboard. With most other phones, five megapixals is pretty much the current standard but Apple for unknown reasons, went with a 2 megapixal camera and not even a high quality one at that.

Of course, this just adds to the challenge of taking a quality picture with it and in truth, once you work out a few things like how to trigger the shutter without moving the phone, it can take a decent enough picture. My old Nikon 950 was only 2 megapixels but it had really nice glass and not a chip of plastic as a lens.

Software can go a long ways to improving a picture and the iPhone is not any different. You can get a free version of Photoshop on the iPhone and it really can work wonders on these pictures. I have an unretouched image of my Thinktank International V2 bag sitting at Sacramento Airport and then one after I did some enhancements in the iPhone Photoshop app. It made a very noticeable difference.

Before iPhone Photoshop

Here is the retouched image

After iPhone Photoshop

I did all this just sitting in my chair with my iPhone and my finger. No special hardware, software or anything else. I just snapped it then loaded the mobile version and touched it up. Now I just need to find a noise reduction app for the iPhone. I dont know about anybody else’s iPhone, but mine makes very noisy pictures unless it is a brightly lit picture. This is one of the weaknesses of the iPhone camera, it’s junk in low light. No other way to put it but simply, it’s simply junk in low light. I have been able get a few nice shots at night or in a dark room but it’s more luck than anything else.

On the other hand, I have been surprised at times with what I can get with the iPhone. This image was taken out of the plane’s window while buzzing along at speed and in the low light of twilight.
Flying over Oregon

This is a pretty usable image all things considered. And given that it was taken with a phone and not a “real” camera, all the better. But that last comment is a bit unfair I guess. I have taken very nice images with the iPhone, remembering it’s limitations and working around them. This next image was taken in the dim light of the waiting area for Captain Eo at Disneyland. I did some touch up in iPhoto to color balance it and raise the saturation a bit, nothing more than I do for most of my images nowadays.
Captain Eo Redux

I think it is perfectly acceptable to send around to friends and family as a decent snapshot. And I had the added luxury of not lugging my DSLR around for the day 🙂 So once you work out the constraints of the iPhone, it is a very usable tool. Not perfect and Apple could have certainly done better, much better without too much effort on their part but I get the feeling that Jobs is not a big fan of cameras in phones and so it was added very grudgingly. Thats a shame.. because a “Apple Quality” camera would have just about made the phone perfect.

What is very cool about the iPhone camera is the ability to shoot and send it right away via email or SMS. There have been times where I found something for sale, shot it, sent it with a question and gotten a response back in time to grab a deal. You can shoot barcodes and get the lowest price in the area for the widget, talk about leveling the playing field. I have used it to shoot impromptu location scouting trips where I see a place that I like and I rip off several images to keep on the phone. Some complain about the lack of a flash but then I have not really seen the need or even one that really works well so I dont worry about it too much. In the picture below, you can see how I’m documenting a photo shoot with my iPhone in part because I had a 70-200 F2.8 slung around my neck and I wanted a close but wide shot. This is what I call a “personal reference” shot, normally seen only by myself to provide some visual details on something. But here I’m sharing it and I’m sure you can see the value in using the iPhone for something like this. And it’s a pretty good image given how bright the backlighting was.

Flashing Fundy

So in one way, I happily bash the camera and Apple but then I use it in some key ways that I could not easily do with my Razor or Treo in spite of them both having cameras. The iPhone integration just makes something just so much easier than anyone else. I just wish it was better.. but then I always think that about most of my toys 🙂

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iPhone can do it

Monorail Controls, originally uploaded by wybnormal.

I get really tired of being told that the only reason I can take “good” pictures is that I use expensive cameras. So every now and then, I intentional take a point and shoot or my cell phone camera to my favorite site to shoot, Disneyland. You can find ANY kind of shooting you want there, fast, slow, dark, bright, people, places and things.

In this case, I was in the front of the Monorail with the kids and just the iPhone. With a couple of simple tricks and honoring the limitations of the camera, I was able to get several very usable images of the kids, the Monorail and the castmember pilot.

More and more established photographers are doing the same thing using their iPhone as an extension of their creativeness. It’s not the hardware that makes a good picture, it’s the person using the hardware. A bad picture with a 5,000 camera is just as bad as one made with a disposable point and shoot. Maybe sharper and color balanced but still bad.

And I have to say that shooting with the iPhone and not the 10 lbs of D300 and F2.8 lens is very liberating in some ways. The iPhone has a fixed lens, no flash, no VR and no finesse.  What you see is what you get IF you are lucky and know how to work with the limits in place OR how to bend the limits. Turns out things like borrowing a friend in a white T shirt to reflect some light works just as well with the iPhone as it does with the DSLR. Holding a polarizing sunglass lens in the front of the iPhone lens can work pretty well also. So stretch out your skills and imagination and use a cheap camera and see just what you can do with it.

What ever you do, dont blame the equipment, it is rarely at fault.

Monorail Pilot, originally uploaded by wybnormal.

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