MoPho - your own mobile photo factory

You've just snapped the most adorably perfect photo of your three year old niece curled up asleep against your dog, using your iPhone. The lighting is just right, the dog is actually still for once, and your niece is looking uncharacteristically angelic. Now what?

Well you could email it to your sister, your Mum, your best friend, and your girlfriend's mother's cousin (who was the woman who gave you the dog), but it's far too good to leave it languishing in a digital format in someone's inbox. If only there were some easy way to turn it into something tangible, like a print, or a postcard, or a t-shirt, so that everyone can go 'Ooh!' and 'Ahh!' and a few others can ask what camera you used because of course, it's all about the camera. Guess what? There's an app for that.

It's called MoPho. (How much did the developers, Penguin Digital, enjoy coming up with that name?) It allows you to take a photo or select one straight from your camera roll and then see what it looks like on a bag, as a re-stick-able poster, or as a mousemat, keyring, or iPhone case - amongst many other things - and adjust it as necessary. Then you decide which you like best, enter your billing and shipping details, and leave them to deliver it.

To give you an idea of prices: mugs come in at $13.99, t-shirts are $22, and aluminium art starts at $12.99. So it seems pretty reasonable as well as convenient.

It doesn't end quite there, however. MoPho is based on Penguin Digital's Penguin SDK, which is something that they're opening up to other developers. If you've your own photo-based app, you can integrate Penguin SDK, and allow your users to turn their photos into products direct from your app. Interested? Sign-up is here.

Right now, MoPho only ships to the US and Canada. So there are no re-stick-able posters to be made on the fly for us Brits quite yet, but they are working on it. Just as they're working on an Android app too. And if the SDK takes off, who knows where it might go.

Film developing database

Back in February 2007, when I was working with a lot of darkroom and black and white developing, I had a brain-wave: Why is it so bloody hard to find a complete resource for film developing? And so, like the good little geek I am, the Photocritic Film Developmet Database was born. My black and white film development database is designed to look up times for combinations of black-and-white film and a specific developer. The extra special ingredient, however, is this: If there isn't a lookup for a particular film and developer combination, it does it best to calculate a likely development time for any given combination of film of developer.   

2389333790_fb82f70e87_o.jpgI came up with the idea when I was doing some processing with some obscure films. I could find processing times for a combination of film A and developer B, and I could find the combination of developer B and film A. However, I also found the combination of Developer B and film B. I thought: There has to be some way to interpolate the data so I can make an educated guess as to how long film A needs to be developed in developer A.

So I came up with a formula that calculates how long any given film needs to be in any given developer, as long as you have the information for a known film in both developers.

But how accurate is it?

Surprisingly, actually. Most of the time, I’d find the time to be off by up to 15%. Which is obviously not perfect, but significantly better than just taking a wild guess.

Of course, some times the times would be off by more than that, in which case I’d ruin my films, but at least the formula gave me a starting point.

As I started refining my formula, I discovered that some combinations of films and developers have predictable deviations (T-Max, for example, tends to need 15 % less than other films in similar developers), and I started adding this data into the formula, rendering it even more accurate

But you use lookup tables as well, don’t you? Damn right. You can’t beat looking up the developing time in a table. Which is why the Photocritic Developing Database first looks up the combination of films and developers in a database, before it tries to calculate.

This way, you are guaranteed either a 100% accurate processing time (provided I entered the information correctly in the first place, of course), or a very well educated guess as to how long the processing will need to be!

When you run the look-up, you are given a warning if I've calculated the developing time for you, or a 'congratulations' message if the developer time was done with a lookup.

Film X or developer Y is missing from your database! My bad. Send me an email with all the available information you have about the film, and I will add it both to the calculations and to the available lookup tables.

I want to give the developer Database a shot!

No problem it is right here!


Photo credits: The 'retro' camera and dev reels is (cc) by Jim Sneddon, and the lovely, scantily clad lass is Kelly, photographed on my favourite film, Ilford Delta ISO 3200 (cc) by Sean McGrath

Instagram hits 2 million users

Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 09.19.08

Late last summer, we wrote about what we considered to be the 10 best iPhone apps for photography. Instagram didn’t feature on that list, for one very good reason. It hadn’t yet seen the light of day. Doubtless it was a bit more than a twinkle in its developers’ eyes, but the general public had yet to welcome its picture-sharing prowess onto their operating systems with open arms. Now they’ve had the chance, there’s no stopping them: it took three months to reach 1 million users; and six weeks (yes six weeks) after that, it has a decent-sized city of users at 2 million.

When you consider that Instagram is available only on iOS – not Android, not Blackberry, not anything else – that’s, well, astonishing. So now the question is, will they be releasing an Android-or-anything-else version?

PicPlz has been making in-roads into the Android instant-photo-sharing market. Are we set for a explosive battle for dominance, or a growling detente with a division of the spoils?

(Headsup to TechCrunch.)

10 of the best: iPhone apps

Feet at the station

Did you know that since Apple launched the iPhone, over 200,000 apps of all kinds have been released? Just a few, then. From navigation to games, sports scores to language lessons, there aren’t many applications you can’t find in the AppStore.

However, photography apps have taken the market by storm and there are currently over 2,700 available for iPhoneographers across the globe. David here has installed fifteen of them. With so many to choose from, finding the right apps can get a little tricky. Let us save you some time and with David Smith’s help, show you a few of the best ones we’ve come across.

Photo-editing and camera apps



Hipstamatic is one of the better toy camera apps available in the AppStore. The developers really tried to make this app feel like you are holding a camera in your hands instead of a phone. The design is sleek with a simple but unique UI, complete with virtual shutter and flash buttons. Users are also given the option to swap virtual lenses, films, and flashes to provide numerous possible combinations, giving Hipstamatic exposures a very distinct look.

There are, though, some downsides. First of all, you can’t edit photos that are already in your camera roll. Second, the small virtual viewfinder makes it difficult to know exactly what’s fitting into the frame of your shot.



A solid film simulation and experimentation app, Lo-Mob has 39 preset ‘filters’ to choose from. While not necessarily the most options to play with, the filters that are provided are very clean and high quality. Lo-Mob is a good app to have when you don’t want to waste too much time fumbling through countless filters and films to edit your shot.

Take a photo (or import one from your camera roll), select one of the preset filters, save the new photo back to your camera roll, and you’re off and running.

Film Lab


Just as the name might suggest, this app’s emphasis is on film simulation. Film Lab provides users with 13 popular film brands, such as Kodak and Ilford, along with several types of film under each make. A simple toolbox allows you to adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, hue, and saturation through the use of sliders.

Best Camera


Best Camera may not have the greatest variety of effects and filters to apply to your photos, but where the app shines is through its online sharing community. Like most photo apps, users are able to share their work via Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, but Best Camera brings their app to a new level by displaying a live-stream of images on their website,

Users can not only create an online portfolio, but can also browse and rate other photos taken with the app, as well as see what effects were used to create those photos. The talent seen in Best Camera’s live-stream is brilliant, and if you don’t want to pay the sticky price for the app, at least check out the most popular uploaded images here.

Adobe Photoshop Express


The world’s most popular photo-editing software has arrived in mobile form. While the original Photoshop app was released some time ago, a completely upgraded version hit the AppStore earlier this month. PS Express gives users a strong selection of editing features to choose from, including crops, color control, contrast, sharpening, borders, and several preset effects. Each adjustment can be made with the use of sliders, a familiar feature to all Photoshop users. An all-around solid app on its own, and the price tag makes it a must-have for all iPhoneographers.

Speciality photography apps



For photographers, one of the greatest things about smartphones is the ability to whip out your portfolio in seconds, right there in the palm of your hand. The Flickr app for iPhone makes this simple to do. Users can browse their own photostreams and view recent activity on their accounts, as well as search for photos within the entire Flickr community. It’s a free app and if you have a Flickr account, there’s no reason to not have it on your iPhone.

Project 365

Free or £0.59/$0.99 for Pro version

The idea of this app is simple: “Take a picture every day of the year, become a better photographer and never forget a day in your life.” Project 365 allows users to attach one image to each day of the year, giving them a colorful calendar of photos to look at. Not only is it good practice for photographers, but it’s also fun to go back and look at the pictures you took six months ago that you’ve already forgotten about.

iTimeLapse Pro


I’ve always been fascinated with time lapse photography, so when I saw this one in the AppStore, I had to get it. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical about how well it would work. But it surprisingly worked very smoothly and did exactly what it said it would.

Granted, you’ll need some sort of support method to keep your iPhone perfectly still, as well as a good hour or longer to kill. You’ll also want to make sure you disable the auto-lock feature as it seemed to kill the app when my phone went into sleep mode. Phone calls, text messages, and battery warnings will also stop the time lapse process, so putting your phone in ‘airport mode’ is a must. Minus the few inconveniences, this app makes for a fun project on a boring Sunday afternoon.

Just for fun



My sister showed me this app a while back by sending me a picture of what looked like me after eating a dozen of these.

While this may not be the most useful photo-editing app out there, it’s still fun to see pictures of your friends weighing 300 pounds and then embarrass them by posting the pics on their Facebook walls. And if you don’t have any friends, you can always spend a few enjoyable minutes fattening up George Clooney a little.

App of the Dead


If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a nice cappuccino at your neighborhood cafe, taking your two-year old nephew to the zoo, summer trips to the beach, and watching mindless flesh-eating zombies tear the limbs off unaware bystanders during an end-of-the-world zombie apocalypse.

App of the Dead was created in part to help promote famous zombie-flick director George A. Romero’s latest film, Survival of the Dead. Like FatBooth, this app essentially alters a portrait of you and your friends, but instead of adding a hundred pounds to your face, this one adds soulless eyes and rotting flesh, turning you into one of the walking dead. The effects are pretty decent and although a bit pricey for such a one-dimensional app, it’s quite fun for any of you flesh-eater fans out there.

And finally

There is almost an app out there for anything you want. If you’ve come across one that has revolutionised your life, or perhaps gives you a good giggle, please let us know!