all sorts

You too can be a professional photographer with this app!

We receive all manner of press releases here at the Photocritic Outpost, from the interesting and exciting to the downright boring or even bizarre. I mean, why would anyone want to try to market crisps through a photography website? Some are fortunate enough to bask in our editorial glow; many are placed on a one-way ticket to the delete bin. And then there are the select few that leave us banging our heads against our desks in some crazed act of disbelief. One of those arrived this morning.

The press release in question is for an iPhone app that helps you to pose your models. It sketches out ideas for posing people in all sorts of situations, from kids to something a bit saucy, and groups them according to subject. At first glance this could be vaguely useful: ideas and suggestions for shoots are generally welcome. Sometimes we all need an idea from the aether to inspire our creative juices.

However, if you look at the screen shots of the app in action, you see that it isn't just a collection of pose sketches, but an overlay that you use to arrange your models before snapping them with your iPhone and applying one of the app's range of filters, if it takes your fancy. Thre's no creativity, no vision, and no skills involved. It all feels rather sterile. In fact, it's a bit like painting-by-numbers, but with photographs on your iPhone.

At this stage, the app has reached the 'Heading for deletion unless there's a stupendously redeeming feature in the next sentence' point. Then it comes and you encounter your head-meet-desk moment: the app's makers claim, without any sense of irony, that it can transform you from uninspired amateur to 'professional portraits photographer in only one minute'.

Well that's the 10,000 hours theory blown out of the water in half a sentence and I can probably start selling my Monet reproductions for millions.

In all seriousness, this could probably be a fun app for little 'uns and teenagers to mess about with; I can envisage ten year old me and my best friend having all manner of giggles posing each other and applying ridiculous filters. You would have to remove the more, ehm, suggestive poses from the roll first, though. But a fast-track to professional portraits? No, I don't think so.

(And if you're wondering, of course I'm not going to name the app, especially when the subject line of the PR email specifically asked me to recommend it.)

The Breathalyser Photo Booth

Hey Cindy, I think you're probably drunk enough to get your photo taken now. Cindy? Cindy? Oh well.

As I was writing up the user guide to the Triggertrap, I was googling around to find out what kind of sensors you could conceivably connect to the Aux port of the device. I came across a sensor I didn't even realise existed: An Alcohol Gas Sensor.

Brilliant. Spectacularly brilliant. Why? Because it gave me an idea for a completely novel way to use the Triggertrap that I hadn't thought up quite yet. You probably see where this is going already, because once you know that such a thing as an Alcohol Gas Sensor exists, the idea writes itself:

The Wobbly Photo Booth.

For parties, rig up a 'photo booth', connected to the Triggertrap, that measures the alcohol content of your breath. If you're sloshed enough, it'll take a photo of you!

To create something this awesome, all you need is a $4.95 Alcohol Gas Sensor wired to your Triggertrap, like this:

Now, you need to calibrate the device. You can either use mathematics, or you use a reference: Pick someone who seems quite inebriated, and get them to blow on the alcohol sensor. Set the Threshold on the Triggertrap's Aux sensor to the value they just blew, and get everybody to try.

Get ready to Facebook a gallery only of the most sloshed people at your party! Fabulous.

Of course, the Wobbly Photo Booth is simply one of many, many other sensors you could use to trigger your cameras.

This little project illustrates why I'm so excited that we included an Aux port on the Triggertrap - it opens up for all sorts of crazy and creative uses of the device, letting trigger the camera using literally anything you can think of.

What's your favourite crazy idea for the Triggertrap?

This article was first published on

Making food look yummy


Picture-3.jpgI know we’ve featured Still Life With… once before, but they deserve another mention, for being so damn good. This time, they’ve made a fabulous little guide to how you can make food look good, by using creative lighting techniques.

The great thing is that the tips and lessons learned from this post don’t just apply to food – it works excellently for all sorts of stills photography in a studio setting.  


Trainers, fruit, pens, bottles of ketchup, it all makes no difference: Stills photography is stills photography. Food poses its own challenges, of course, and it’s a good thing they are addressed in this article. Personally, I love food, but that’s beside the point: the tips offered are transferrable skills, and I particularly like to pick up new ideas and hone my skills by being challenged to new forms of photography – so why not food?

By using a “show and tell” approach, Still Life With manages to both show you what looks good, explain why it works, and finally take you through the motions of how you can copy the ideas yourself. It’s worth having a look at their Lighting Positioning: Shooting in the Kitchen either way – you won’t regret it!

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