Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Even though I reviewed the app, I still find this app to be absolutely glorious. No, I’m not getting money put into a Swiss account by the developer, I just find the app incredibly useful. Plus, as I mentioned in the review, I’m a big fan of the cross process look.

Since downloading the app in mid-march, I’ve easily added about 400 new photos to my camera roll on my iPhone, and if the trend holds up I’ll either be deleting episodes of Archer from my video library or getting a new phone.

At anyrate here’s more photos from the cross process app:

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But I really enjoy  wildlife photography. You’re at the whim of nature. If a possum wants to walk up to you and act like you’re not there, it’s going to. If Vultures want you to fear for your life and circle above, they’re sure going to do so.

I spent Easter alone with my camera, so I went to Iroquois Wildlife Refuge. The refuge sits about 40 miles east of Buffalo on Rt. 77. The refuge is good stomping grounds for a few dozen species of birds and who knows what else. Here’s a few shots from the voyage:

I’m especially proud of the last shot, the Swallow (I’m pretty sure it’s a Swallow). They fly in unpredictable patterns and can change direction in a split second. Even with my 7d shooting in burst mode it’s very difficult to stay with them. I’m was quite ecstatic when I got back to the office and found that I shot a pretty focused shot of one.

I’m happy with the shots, but they’re nothing compared to a true master of wildlife photography. Moose Peterson is someone I’ve been following online for quite sometime and he is the guy you think of when you think of wildlife photography in the US. I’m sorry to those Norwegian wildlife photographers I may have offended with that statement, I just don’t know your work yet. Check out Moose’s site, it’s an invaluable resource for wildlife photographers.

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As I find myself getting more and more “into” studio lighting, I was looking for a resource for my iPhone to help me with the seemingly overwhelming process. I stumbled upon an app called Strobox, and it’s pretty impressive, yet still hasn’t come into its own. This app is significantly helpful for those who aren’t able to visualize a lighting setup. For me, since I only have a few Canon 580 & 430 Speedlites as well as some constants with softboxes my setups aren’t too tricky, but If I were actually good at lighting I’d be able to map it all out in my head and call it a day. Since I’m a mere mortal I need to see what my setup is going to be before I can actually function in a studio shoot. Strobox allows me to do that.
Strobox allows the user to place several objects on the screen and position them like you would on set. I can talk about what this looks like until I’m blue in the face, but its easier if I demonstrate:
As you can see, I’ve positioned my talent, added a hair light and a snoot and a white seamless. Pretty basic setup and one I easily could have done on the fly, but like anything affiliated with photography it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. You can several elements, pretty much any type of light you’d have in your studio is represented in this app. Everything from a ring flash to reflectors is packed in this free app.
But what fun is this app if you’re not able to share with collegues? Once you save your diagram, Strobox allows you to email it. No other fancy places to upload, just a simple email; and realistically I can’t see much of a need to upload it to one of the hundreds of social network photography sites out there. If that’s what you’re looking for just spend a second to email it to yourself and upload it to your favorite ad supported site.
Right out of the gate the app is pretty useful and powerful, but like everything it’s not perfect. How can the app get better? I’d like to see an update that shows the used the approximate focus of the light, as well as the intensity. For example, lets say I had a setup of nothing but speedlites (such as my next example).
For some this type of setup will likely seem like a mess. Even though in my head I may have my two  backlights at 1/128th power, my key at 1/16 with a 105mm zoom and my main speedlite at 1/32 with a 14mm focus. For anyone looking at my diagram they wouldn’t know any of that information without my explicit instruction. And yes I know that second setup is terrible, but for arguments sake it works. I’d also like to see the ability to put gels on the lights, just for mock up sake I’d imagine this would be useful to those who like stylized gel’d shots. Again, if you’ve been doing lighting for awhile it’s probably easy to visualize a gel’d light in your head, but for us novices it would be helpful to toss it in our diagrams. A third function is simple and missing, yet incredibly useful: notes. Just the ability to jot a quick note without having to leave the app and put your thoughts into the native notes app would help keep you focused on the diagram you’re trying to map out.
All that aside, I think the app is great. Its simple and effective. My proposed changes would still keep it in that genre and not overwhelm newcomers to light. Light is tricky for a lot of us. Most of us aren’t Joe McNally or the one and only Strobist, so we have to do the best we can. This app is, so far, the most useful lighting app for photographers on the iPhone. With just a few tweaks the app can truly become a necessity to any photographer who uses the iPhone for production. And what would make the app better? An iPad version.
Check out Strobox.

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The kids love this. Spaceballs quotes aside, in my quest for more and more iPhone photography app has led me to a great app by the people who bring us The Digital Photo Experience, a site everyone should visit daily. At any rate, I couldn’t turn down a free app, especially from such a trusted website I visit so regularly. What was amazing to me is how poor the ratings were for it.

One of the things that drives me nuts about the app review process is that anyone can simply rate an app upon deleting it. There is zero incentive to write anything out or give an app more than a one rating just because they want to be “that guy.” It’s so easy to to give a free app a one star rating just because you feel that your time was wasted. This is why I think that we can only take the ratings posted in the app store with a grain of salt and the best thing we can do is to download the app, especially if it’s free, or look for a review.

The DPE app is essentially an app version of their website, which is updated daily. Since there are no written reviews I can venture a guess that because the app is a condensed version of the website, that is the reason people are giving it poor reviews. I couldn’t disagree more (if that’s the case). I love the fact the app is essentially a condensed version of the DPE website because I try to avoid using safari if I don’t have to use it. In fact I find the DPE app is a more fluid version than their full site, and the full site is pretty sharp as well. The news feed posts on the app pretty close to when the full website updates, so you don’t have to worry about a lagging feed like other apps.

The app also features a section for the DPE podcasts which is  nice reference of their podcast library or sample an episode. You can stream the podcast, but for me, I already subscribe to it so the feature isn’t a deal breaker for me. Because I live in a lead box, my 3g signal isn’t the best. Thus I had a little trouble streaming through the app, but as I mentioned I already subscribe to the podcast so the ability to in-app stream is not a dealbreaker for me. DPE has a pretty extensive library of podcasts, therefore I would use the app to sample some of the ones that seem intriguing and then head over to itunes and download the full cast. I usually enjoy a good podcast and haven’t been disappointed with DPE yet.

Overall the app is not filled with gimmicks or glitz and glam, it’s simple information about photography at y our fingertips; and that’s all the app needs to be. While its a bummer that the App is only holding a 2-3 star rating right now I feel once its in the hands of people who appreciate the information legitimate reviews will be forthcoming. I think anyone whose into keeping up to date with photography trends and techniques will benefit from this app. It’s free, so you have no reason not to check it out.

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I’m obsessed with the  the Buffalo Central Terminal. If you’re unfamiliar with the Central Terminal, check out its history. The building is only eighty-one years old, but looking at it you’d think the building had been through a major war or ruins from the middle ages. The Central Terminal is a true testament on how we our society simply gives up on things we don’t like anymore. All this talk about high-speed rail in New York has brought a surge in discussion about restoring the central terminal to its old glory. Hypothetically, that would be great. It saddens me to see such a, once, prodominent structure simply rotting into the ground. Realistically though, the Central Terminal will not become a hub for hi-speed rail. That isn’t meant to be a dig at the great people and organizations trying to restore the structure, but its the sad truth.

Our neighborhoods, especially around the Central Terminal area, have been so neglected that there is no infrastructure in place to support it. Central Terminal now sits in the middle of a depressed residential neighborhood with one gas station and the occasional bodega. The streets are littered with pot-holes, homes are boarded up and the American dream abandoned. It’s easy for us to say that we can simply, with unlimited government funding, restore the Central Terminal and the surrounding area. Is it an achievable dream or just an idea that we’re floating around. The Central Terminal was being dismantled in the late 1960’s to save on cost, and in the 1980’s the terminal was placed on the State and National Historic Places registry, thus disallowing it to be torn down. So with all that, the Central Terminal sit.

While it seems unforeseeable that the terminal will see active rail transportation again, I think we should allow nature to continue to overtake the grounds. The Central Terminal now is a nesting place for several species of migrating birds and other small animals. Because humans have built and neglected magnificence, nature has found a way and embraced our poor decisions.

Here’s an example of what has become of the Central Terminal:

I feel that we had our chance to enjoy what we built. Our leaders in the past made a choice to allow this magnificent structure enter an era of decay. We allowed them to let it rot, much like other aspects of our society that we hand over to our leaders to ruin. While we can try to restore what we neglected, nature stepped in for us and is embracing our urban ruins. I think because nature found a way, we should allow it to thrive and perhaps that can be a model for tourism. The Central Terminal Urban Forest could be a future tourist attraction that the terminals governing body could capitalize on. I think because we live in a neglect, teardown and rebuild society, we over look opportunities to use what we have.

I, of course, hope for brighter days for the Central Terminal. Would it be glorious to see the terminal once again used for its original intention? Yes. But, unfortunately politics and hope for change and high-speed rail will plague the Central Terminal area as long as it’s being printed in the papers. Thus, we should embrace the terminal as is as a monument for our society, and perhaps a reminder to not let our treasures suffer the same fate.

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While traveling to New York City this week for a video shoot I found myself bored while waiting at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport so I explored the App stre for new apps. I generally try to use my iPhone for work related apps, but occasionally novelty apps such as lightsaber pokes its head in from time to time. At any rate, I was sifting through through the App store and came across a nifty little app called “Cross Process”.

I’m a huge nerd about cross processing and old film stocks. I love the vintage flat look with marvelous tints and vignettes. I had been looking or a way to do things like this on my iPhone but never really found an app that would accomodate the look I was going for.

“Cross Process” is a very easy to use cross process generating app fo r the iPhone. The user simply launches cross process and after a brief screengrab of instructions you’re on your way. The app allows the user to generate cross processed looks from their iPhones photo library. This is nice because as a photographer who keeps a version of his portfolio on his iPhone, I can quickly make a cross process version of a photograps; perhaps inspiring me to go home and redo some color correcting.

The other awesome feature of cross process is that the app also acts as a camera when you launch it. So you don’t have to worry about jumping from the iPhones native camera app and just use the “Cross Process” camera.

The actual cross processing has four settings in the info tab on the main page of the app. Users have the ability to turn on/off red, blue and green channels of processing along with a basic process on/off option. This allows for quite a diverse collection of cross process options from just one photo.  The “Cross Process” app also allows you to keep the original unprocessed photo in your camera roll which will allow you to go back another time to process it with a different color channel or even use the photo in another app.

So talk is talk, lets see what this app cranks out:

As you can see, the results from the Cross Process app are pretty stellar, if this is the look you’re looking for. Apps like “Cross Process” are a testament to what a simple phone camera and creativity of developers can put in the hands of people. I’m so impressed with “Cross Process” that after playing with it for a few hours that I moved it to my first page of apps. I knew I’d be using this app for all my gorilla photography and most likely will use it to take any type of photo. Even though a lot of people think this look is a fad, I consider it a throwback to some of the classic photography styles we were traditionally taught on (yes, I’m just old enough to know what film is and was even taught photography with it. Simply shocking.) For $1.99 skip your Tim Hortons Double Double and pick up this app. I love this app, and I’m pretty sure you will too. If not then just buy an extra double double to make up for buying it. Either way, you’re buying this great app and a double double, so all in all it’s a good day. Check out the developers website, he does some pretty amazing things: http://greyscalegorilla.com

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So after buying the astronomically expensive iPhone because as I told my loved one “I needed it,” I finally started buying apps. I mean, why have a $300 phone if you’re not going to buy a $2.99 app, right? So I finally got around to checking out the photography apps. Many of the photography apps listed on iTunes are for uploading to photosharing sites, thus pretty useless to me. I searched and searched for a photo-app that would allow me to take notes from locations so I didn’t need to keep a log, mainly because my handwritting is awful and down the road I want to be able to read my notes.

I then found PhotoJot. PhotoJot is a $2.99 app that is absolutely remarkable. PhotoJot allows you to take photos right in the app, gps location, take notes from locations and a slew of other features. One of the great feautes is the GPS locator.  I have always said to my fellow photo-iPhone users that the Maps program just needs the ability to jot a not down so I can keep track of locations on a map. PhotoJot is great for doing this. The only problem is, and hopefully it gets fixed in an update, that the GPS coordinates are only in Lat/Long calculations. Thus you’re not looking at a physical map. Ideally the photojot program could have a dedicated map program so you could actually see where the location is, or be able to export the Lat/Long calculation to the Maps app so you can get directions to your shoot, or to a hotspot.

PhotoJot also allows you to note Aperture/ISO/Shutter/Flash/Flash Power ratings in each “jot” so you can go back to a location and know how you’ll be shooting. One not section I hope they add with an update is a Lens section, to jot down what lens you used or would use at a location.

The interface is very very simple, clean and easy. Many times these iPhone developers get caught up in the glitz and glam of building an iPhone app and forget that the iPhone is a tool for some people, PhotoJot does a great job complimenting people using the iPhone as a tool.

I recently used the app on a trip to a state park that had a lot of photogenic spots I want to revisit in the winter time and I was able to take very clear notes about location, what to bring next time, best time of day at that location. PhotoJot is a fantastic iPhone app that any iPhone using photographer should have.

For more information about PhotoJot, visit: http://web.infofission.com/photojot.html

Until we meet again,


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