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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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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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