iPhone and Android Get Photoshop Touch Versions

Last year’s release of Photoshop Touch for the iPad brought iOS image editing to a new level. However, the camera in recent iPhone models are superior to those in the iPad, and iPhones are the tools most commonly in-hand for photography. So, lacking a phone version of Photoshop Touch meant being marginalized as a mobile editing tool.

Now Adobe has remedied that situation with new releases of PS Touch specifically for the iPhone and Android. The iPhone version of the app clearly uses the same engine and tools as the iPad version, with new palettes and organization to fit the reduced format of the iPhone screen. This provides a level of control, including powerhouse features such as selections, layers, and warp controls, that have not been available in most iPhone editing tools to-date.


But are these tools what users need for the types of editing most likely to be done on a phone? Yes, and no. Yes, there are certainly times when nothing but powerful tools and localized edits will do the job. But no, these are not the features most often used for phone photo editing.


Phone editing, for the advanced user, has always been a game of hop-scotch, moving from app to app for special features or unique filters. Adding Photoshop Touch to the mix simply adds new, and often familiar, tools to the toolbox, without replacing the apps already used for other types of work.

The image below is a night shot of a tree against a dark sky; difficult territory for the iPhone, with its small sensor, and weak low light capabilities. Here the noise in the sky has been used as a feature instead of a flaw, by enhancing it though a series of edits in NIK Software’s Snapseed app, a leading iPhone and Android image editor.


Below is a version edited with the same intent in PS Touch. Touch allowed some amazing capabilities, including inverting the image for some adjustments, then reinverting afterwards. However, while the image retained more detail, the process was slower and more complex, and the artistic intent was not quite as well served. The lack of border effects in PS Touch also meant that the image would need to be saved and opened in another app, such as Snapseed, for bordering, if that was a desired effect.


Overall PS Touch is a welcome, and affordable, addition to the phone editing toolbox; if not a complete toolbox unto itself. With any iOS image editing, remember to check the image in Datacolor’s color managed SpyderGallery app before publishing, to be sure the color is as you intended it to be.

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

The PostPC Future of Photography

At Apple’s iPad 3 event Tim Cook referred multiple times to “the PostPC era” we are living in. So immediately I started rethinking that phrase, as it applies to photography. The simplest result is the title of this article. Another element of the same Apple event has already inspired an article from me on the release of iPhoto for iOS. The two items are not unrelated. Allow me to describe why.

Apple is often the company to come up with “the next big thing”… And even when they are not, they are often the ones who take a new thing, and turn it from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. Sure they didn’t invent the smart phone, or the computer tablet, but I hardly need to point out to you that they were responsibe for turning both into desirable products.

And Apple is cranking up the heat on integrated systems, where the hardware is only part of the deal: the software, the cloud storage, the automatic updating of libraries, the access from your other devices, and the publishing capabilities, are all part of the overall experience that keeps bringing people back for more.

Now Apple has chosen to move the name iPhoto to iOS. Not the other way ’round, as they did when coordinating Mac and iOS address books, or calendars, or do lists. This time the well known, heavily used Mac version’s name was the one selected. There are a number of reasons this makes sense, from the fame of the name, to the fact that iPhoto for iOS is not actually replacing Photos, it’s an App Store app, with a price tag.

Not all Apple products arrive fully completed, perfect, and waiting to blow us away. Some take time, and iterations. MobileMe was but a precursor to iCloud. AppleTV has yet to sprout a TV. iTunes has transcended the name iTunes. It’s often the complex, service-related products that take more generations to reach maturity.

So this brings us back to those two items in the headline: PostPC, and Photography. While this first release of iPhoto for iOS is a modest image editing tool, that does not stand out particularly amongst the third party editors already on the App Store, it has the potential to remake photography.

iPhoto for the Mac is not the pro photographer’s choice for image management or editing. But it is the overwhelming choice of other Mac users, who don’t have professional needs. It’s so successful that Adobe does not bother to build a Mac version of Photoshop Album; who would buy it when they have iPhoto for free?

So envision a version of iPhoto for iOS that spreads its wings. A more powerful, wider range of editing tools. Touch functionality for many editing tools. Gesture controls for the rest. And lots of integration: edited photos would move to your Mac automatically, as would albums and slideshows. Wireless printing would be the norm. Geotagging would locate and map all your images. Social media buttons would post what you want, when and where you want.

Much of this is already implemented. Those items that are not, are clearly on the way. And third party photo editing apps may well be invited to the party, with images checked out of the library, processed and checked back in, so that they continue to have the convenience of the integrated system.

Which leads to the truly PostPC scenario of users going for weeks, or perhaps forever, without a PC. Actually shooting, editing, printing, publishing, and storing images on a tablet, or a phone and tablet duo, with no need for a desktop or laptop computer at all. And for many, no need for a camera, either; since the cameras in the phone or tablet are becoming good enough for many users.

The only ones not invited to the party would be the advanced photographers, with RAW files exceeding the system’s capacity, and professional library apps they need to organize their files in. Where these cutoffs occur, and what outside solutions become available to improve the pro photo workflow will be a burning question, as the pros look longingly in through the window at the PostPC party all those Jpeg shooters are enjoying.


The first image I edited and published on a mobile device; now it’s become a daily occurrence.

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

iPad3 Event Shakes Things Up with iPhoto for iOS

There have been too many new products this month to be able to decide which to write about. The list includes Lightroom 4, Photoshop Touch, the Nikon D800, the Canon 5D Mark III, and the new iPad 3, to name only a few. But in terms of impact on the photo community, iPhoto for iOS will certainly be at the top of the list. Image editing on the iPhone and iPad has been developing over time, with applications like NIK’s SnapSeed, and more recently Adobe’s Photoshop Touch. But the default photo app for iOS has long been the free Photos app that ships on every iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. The $4.99 price of iPhoto for iOS will change that; now it won’t just be advanced photographers, but a wide swath of iOS users who will have an advanced imaging app on their iOS device. For many, this will change the balance of where photo editing really happens.

Serious photographers have never been iPhoto users; Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and other pro apps have been their preferred applications for photo processing. But those apps don’t run on iOS, so they have been forced to use various less powerful tools there. The real question now is: will iPhoto be the most powerful, and most convenient app for advanced photographers under iOS? And the follow-up to that will be: will serious photographers be forced to start addressing iPhoto on the Mac to coordinate with iPhoto for iOS; or will they be able to piece together a workflow that will use iPhoto under iOS, but export directly to Lightroom or Aperture libraries on their desktop imaging workstations? The ability to run images through iPhoto on the iPad, and then move them directly to Lightroom or Aperture, still in their RAW format, would allow the iPad to move effortlessly into the advanced photographer’s digital workflow.

But there are some serious bumps in that workflow. The first is an apparent limit of for RAW files of 19MP in iPhoto for iOS. Given that the more advanced cameras today are producing files at 22MP to 36MP, that reduces the number of high-end photographers who could utilize a “camera to iPad to desktop” workflow considerably. And while there is some slight chance that the sidecar adjustment files for the RAW images (assuming that iPhoto even uses sidecar files to keep track of your edits) might be compatible with Apple’s iPhoto for the Mac, and possibly even Apple’s Aperture for the Mac, the chances of them being compatible with Adobe’s apps such as Photoshop ACR and Lightroom are slim indeed.

That would mean that a “camera to iPad to desktop” workflow would probably have to be rendered out, either in iPhoto on the iOS device, or in iPhoto on the Mac, before those files could be imported elsewhere. But those rendered versions would not be the RAW files… and pros demand the RAW files, not reduced bit depth TIFF or JPG versions. Alternately, the RAWs could be moved to your library on a desktop machine, but that would lose all the edits you had lovingly applied in iPhoto for iOS. No win-win option here that I can see.

So, while the ability to use your finger to brush an area of an image lighter, or darker, or more or less saturated, and other great iPhoto for iOS functions, will be tempting, they will really only fit into the workflows of point and shoot users, or that group who own DSRLs and use them like point and shoot cameras. Those who shoot RAW, and need a library of those RAW files, will gain little from iPhoto for iOS that they don’t immediately lose when the file moves to their desktop image library. This would leave iPhoto for iOS as a way to process images quickly on site, to show to the Art Director or the Client, or to down-sample and upload to the web, but this would be a side trip in the digital workflow, not a link directly between RAW capture and RAW library steps, and any quick-edits applied in iPhoto for iOS would not be part of the final editing process.

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

Events that will Speed Apple’s Migration to Solid State Drives

A number of largely unrelated events will have the combined effect of moving Apple onto an even faster track in adopting solid state drives instead of spinning hard drives in their devices.

The first and foremost of these is the floods in Thailand which damages a significant portion of the world’s hard drive manufacturing facilities. While solid state drives will continue to be more expensive than hard drives, the price difference, and perhaps more importantly the availability, will continue to be effected by this natural disaster, thus making the use of solid state drives (which are also faster  and more durable than spinning hard drives) even more desirable.

A smaller  factor is the change in Apple’s relationship with Samsung. Samsung previously was a key supplier of components to Apple. However, Samsung’s entry into the Android Mobile Device market has let to increasing friction between the two companies, and a string of lawsuits in both directions, leading Apple to look for other sources of components previously supplied by Samsung. Screens are one of the key items on this list. But indirectly, hard drives would qualify as well; since Seagate, the company currently rated as the leading hard drive manufacturer in the world, has recently  merged it’s hard drive business with Samsung’s. Though this occurred under the Seagate, not the Samsung, name, the relationship is close enough to make Apple uncomfortable.

Next is the changing nature of computers. The shift from a field dominated by desktop machines, to one largely composed of laptops occurred several years ago, but evolution continues, with increasing numbers of tablet devices, smart phones, and thinner laptops. Apple’s MacBook Air has become a winning product line, and the next generation of MacBook Pro laptops may also make the move to a thinner form factor without an optical drive slot. Such ultra-thin laptops need solid state drives to save space, and reduce battery drain, which in turn allow for smaller batteries and further space savings. iPods have also migrated to a solid state drive-only lineup. iPhones and iPads have been solid state since their introduction, and have helped Apple to have such high solid state drive purchasing power that they can negotiate better rates than other competitors, further leveraging their ability to move to an all-solid-state lineup.

The rumors of the demise of Apple’s MacPro towers are greatly exaggerated, but a slimming of the MacBook Pro line could leave the MacPro, iMac, and Mac Mini as the only remaining hard drive-based Apple products. And even these benefit from replacement, or addition, of a solid state drive.

Consider Apple’s history of cutting the cord to older technologies sooner than other manufacturers. They eliminated the floppy drive with the iMac, the optical drive with the MacBook Air, the CRT monitor from the entire product line, and the various ports from their computers long before others could imagine life without them. So don’t be shocked to hear the news, some day in the not-to-distant future, that Apple has eliminated the spinning hard drive from its entire product line.

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

Ponderings on Phone Photography

As phone cameras, and phone image editing apps, improve the field of mobile phone photography is growing madly. I’m not talking about the photos people take of their friends at parties, or their families at events, or their new car when it first comes home, or even their dog or cat being cute. I mean serious photos, possibly even art photos, taken and processed by people that also own real cameras, and real copies of Photoshop and Lightroom… but who choose to work in this new and interesting medium as well. Much more will be said about it, but what matters more than the words, is the images. I’ll be posting a number of camera phone related photos to my website in the coming weeks. But here are a few from one of my series (Through a Lens Darkly: Altered images of Tuscany) to get the conversation started.

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