Shooting, Processing, and Publishing Images on the iPhone

There are many different mobile photo workflows. Some involve images imported to the phone from other sources, and processed in mobile image editing apps. Other images are shot with the phone, then downloaded or emailed to a computer, where more powerful apps can be used to process them, and where printing is more straight forward. Other phone photos are run through simple “one step” processing methods, to produce predetermined effects. But perhaps the most satisfying type of phone photography is when images are shot with the phone, cropped, processed and edited on the phone, and published straight from the phone.

There is an element of risk involved is this method, since it can be difficult to know how sharp images are, with no way to zoom in on them in most editing apps.  Color and shadow detail decisions can be problematic as well.  Although it requires a separate step, a final image review in Datacolor’s color managed SpyderGallery app before publishing can help assure that the shadow detail, neutrality, and color of images are as you see them on screen, as well as allowing zooming in to determine just how sharp the image is. Perhaps these features will be integrated into editing apps in future editions, eliminating the separate step.

Once the image has been processed and proofed, publishing to Facebook, Flickr, other photo websites, or to a blog can be accomplished directly from the phone. So the time from “snap” to “publish” can be a matter of minutes, while still allowing a significant degree of artistic control of the process.

The images shown below were all shot last November during the Merano Wine Festival, in Northern Italy, then edited in NIK’s Snapseed app, and published the same day directly from the iPhone 4. Despite the wine tasting involved, they are images which, at least at small sizes, hold their own against my DSLR-based work.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Light on Forms in Space

Light on forms in space is a standard definition of what photography captures. But it is also a description of a type of image that transcends standard content, and where the two dimensional graphic elements of the image are strong enough to compete with the three dimensional representational aspects of the image. The result can create a dynamic interaction between the abstract and the representational elements of the image. It can also lead to a type of visual puzzle, drawing the viewer into the image in an attempt to identify its content. More images from this series can be seen here.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

What will iPad 3 Mean to Photographers?

The announcement of the upcoming iPad 3 surprised no one; it would have been surprising if Apple hadn’t announced a new iPad, with a higher resolution screen and a more powerful processor. The question for the photo industry is: how will this impact photographers? Or more to the point: why should you get one?

Lets start with the key internal change. Quad-core is clearly the future of mobile devices, and offers the power needed for more powerful graphics and photo application. Its obvious that serious image editing will be the future of tablets, and this device will be the poster child for advanced editing tablets. Photoshop Touch, and NIK Snapseed will scream on a quad-core.

Next is 4G. Yes, for those who use their tablets via cell connections, and can afford the bandwidth this will entail, it will be advantageous, in those locations where higher speed connections exist, but wifi does not.

The other key feature is the “retina display”, if Apple chooses to use that description for a higher resolution iPad screen. There is no question that the current iPad’s screen is soft, especially when used adjacent to an iPhone. And for photography sharp, detailed display of images is king. Anyone who moved from an pre-retina display iPhone to a more recent model is well aware of the difference this entails, and even at the larger scale of an iPad this will be striking.

As a portfolio tool, a high rez iPad will be the most desirable image display choice on the market, and photographers will be one of the main markets for this upgrade. If there are any improvements in external presentation functions, that would add to the desirability of the new device.

Also, as a reader was so kind as to point out in the comments below, the iPad camera is currently the iPod camera, with an image quality far below what the iPhone4, and especially what the iPhone4s can manage. A camera update would be an important consideration for those not too embarrassed to hold up their great big tablet, and shoot a photo with it. Personally, I’ll use my phone whenever possible, and grab the file on the iPad.

So, to wrap up: increased editing performance, increased cell speed, improved editing and portfolio resolution, possible presentation enhancements and other, yet undetermined advances (likely to include a better camera)… plus the general appeal of owning Apple’s latest and greatest. That should be sufficient.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

It’s Spring in Barcelona, and the Sporks are Blooming

Each year the first hint of spring brings a crop of fresh new designs to Barcelona’s mobile conference. Since this event hosts the “Not Apple” crowd, these designs may be less elegant that we might prefer in our latest toys. This sometimes makes the process of determining which prototype may hold the essence of a great idea that much more difficult to determine; the ugly duckling may  well turn into a swan.

Or not. The design proposed in the linked article (if your German is rusty, you’ll need to make do with the illustrations) is for a cell phone that turns into a tablet, which turns into a laptop.  While the “Transformer” theme is interesting, the question should be able to be resolved from first principles. Let’s start at the back end: yes, a tablet can be attached to a keyboard, and turned into a functional laptop-like device. I’m typing this article on one, so I’d say that is a vote for that particular transform. And the processor and other electronics from a phone can be put into a tablet, as long as extra battery power is provided. The iPhone/iPad component relationship, amongst others, confirms that. And with quad-core processors, there should be no lack of speed and processing power in such a system; quite the opposite: the extra battery from the tablet might be very necessary to get a reasonable run-time from such a core.

Apple has certainly shown that syncing apps and data between a phone and a tablet can be fast and seamless, so the all-in-one’s lack of need for syncing is a minor advantage, at best.

But finally, let’s look at the “spork” versus the separate cutlery in terms of cost. The screen, housing, backlight, battery, and ports of the tablet need to occur in the tablet component. So it’s really the electronics that are the savings in the spork scheme. How much does is really saved by not replicating those core items? Apple’s cost of components for an iPad must run under two hundred dollars, and the electronics alone, less still.

So does a hundred and change in savings make up for your tablet needing to be thick enough to fit a phone inside it, behind the screen? And having to put the phone in there every time you want to use your tablet?  And not being able to use the tablet independently? And needing to take it out when you get, or make, a call (unless you want to  make it a conference call). And needing to buy the phone, to buy the tablet? And having the tablet unusable if your phone is lost or damaged, giving you no backup device? And losing that great set of apps to find your phone from your tablet, and visa versa? And having to replace them both together, since they are a wedded pair? And not being able to loan out one device to a child (of any age) while using the other?

I could go on, but I think the point is made. There’s a lot of added complexity and compromise  hidden under the clever piggybacking, that might not be evident at first. And with the rise of AirPlay/thin-client types of streaming, puting your phone in your tablet/laptop may not really be necessary in the near future anyways; your phone may stream to any of your other devices painlessly; if they have their own brain. So I’ll chalk this design up as worth pondering, but more questionable in terms of actually building and marketing a product.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Back By Special Request; More Tuscan Images

The response (mostly direct, but some on Facebook or WordPress) to yesterday’s sample of my “Through a Lens Darkly” images was gratifying; thank you all. I have processed several more today, and will add a few below. The link to see the whole collection on my photo website is here: I plan to cover a wide array of image types over time, this is just the first set to be highlighted here. Others are in process, or awaiting processing time. Buon Appetito!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Dell is the latest Tech Co to Retarget

Dell has just announced that it’s changing its focus. While a number of companies have chosen to emulate, and compete against, Apple in their new plans, Dell has gone the direction chosen first  by IBM:  not focussing on the low profit PC market, and instead concentrating on the more profitable areas in business technology. HP has chosen both roads, first targeting Apple’s markets, then (after serious setbacks in the mobile field, and a change of CEO) abandoning mobile and PC to focus on business technologies. At this time the latest plan from HP seems to be somewhere in between, abandoning most mobile technologies, but not selling off it’s low profit PC business.

Even Cisco made a stab at consumer products, before realizing how far that was from is core technologies, and closing down it’s short-lived consumer division. Google has been moving in the other direction: shutting down its Google Labs, reducing its breadth of software development, and acquiring hardware capabilities (Motorola Mobility) to be better able to complete in Apple’s sphere. Microsoft has finally reduced its focus as well, at least a bit, cutting loose or shutting down various areas from pro photography to music players, but still targeting both business products, and the consumer market.

The general strategy seems to be to either take on Apple in its mix of desktop and mobile hardware, end user software, media sales, and other web services, or to retreat into IT and business products; or both, if you are Microsoft. The amazing part is that so many companies have difficulty determining which of these two strategies is appropriate for their organization.

So here is a quick quiz for companies suffering from a Post-PC Era identity crisis:

Do you make hardware?

If so, is it simple consumer hardware, or complex business hardware?

Do you make software?

If so, is it simple consumer software, or complex business software?

Do you sell, rent, or distribute media?

If so, is it low cost consumer media, such as music, movies, and eBooks, or high priced business media?

Do you provide cloud-based storage or services?

If so, is it consumer or business storage or services?

What parts of your current mix actually make a profit?

Review your answers. If it is not now apparent which field you belong in, hire a new CEO.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Score one for Apple

If you have not been following the Mobile Patent Wars (which are becoming as complex as the War of the Roses) then the simple announcement that Apple has won a round against Motorola Mobility (and thus against Google, who is acquiring MotoMo) won’t have much context. But this particular round appears to be an important one. A German Court (in the lovely little South German town of Karlsruhe) has shot down MotoMo’s attempts to get Germany to ban the import of Apple mobile products, based on patents that MotoMo owns. These patents were built into the 3G standards, and as such, must be licensed to all comers at Fair, Reasonable and NonDiscriminatory rates (hereafter: FRAND, if I am forced to use it  hereafter).

The question is whether attempting to charge Apple what Motorola feels is “fair” rates, but which don’t look fair at all to Apple, and having Apple continue the negotiations over the long term seeking fair rates, is grounds to ask Germany (not chosen by chance, but because they have very restrictive views on such things) to stop allowing the import of Apple mobile products that use this 3G technology.

The larger picture is: will Google (as owner of Motorola Mobility and its patents) be able to twist the arms of competitors such as Apple and Microsoft by using FRAND-based patents to either force their products off certain markets, or to extract large sums out of them to avoid this? The answer that appears to be forming is: no. No, to the degree that some analysts feel the entire purchase of Motorola Mobility by Google (for $12.5 billion) may have been a waste. I would like to think that Motorola Mobility has some value beyond this short list of patents, but it certainly appears that the short-term benefit Google would have achieved by wielding such patents is not going to prove useful. Here’s a PC World article with more on the topic, for those not yet tired of the subject…

Stay tuned, there are bound to be many more rounds in this match of the titans.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page