The Ilex Press brings you the Photographer's Eye video app

Should you be the kind of learner who thrives using video, there's a brand new modular photography course available from the Ilex Press based around Michael Freeman's hugely successful book The Photographer's Eye. The course comprises six masterclasses covering camera and lens, framing and composition, exposure and light, light and colour, locations, and storytelling in pictures, broken down into 36 episodes, for example shooting into the sun, or coverting to black and white, and including over three hours of video and 150 images. As each episode is individually downloadable, you can build a learning experience to suit you and your needs.

A closer look at setting up a still life shot

The idea is that it's both creative and practical: giving you the resources to create images that are not only technically perfect, but also creative, and visually stimulating. There's a taster video to give you an idea of what's on offer.

The first episode is free and each one costs 69p after that.

It's ready to rock and roll on your iPad right now, and will be coming to Android devices very soon.

Is Adobe's Lightroom Mobile fully embracing the mobile experience?

Adobe: purveyor of world-recogned photo editing options: some for desktop, some for mobile, and some that enable cross-over between devices, such as Photoshop Touch and Photoshop, via the Creative Cloud. That was all well and good, but what about Lightroom? When would that be available on a tablet as well as a desktop, people were wondering. What was taking so long? As of today, that wait for a mobile version of Lightroom is over. But is the Lightroom that people were expecting? For a start, it's Lightroom for iPad. There's no alternative tablet offering. You need to be using at least an iPad 2 running iOS 7 to make use of it.

Second, it isn't so much Lightroom for iPad, but Lightroom for desktop with an iPad outpost. As Adobe puts it, it's a companion app. Whatever you do on your iPad will always come back to your desktop Lightroom catalogue via the Cloud. For the majority of Lightroom users who want mobile access (and are iOS-based) this is probably how they envisioned using Lightroom mobile, as something that works in tandem with their desktop version: a manoeuvrable dinghy tethered to much bigger-engined boat. However, anyone who might have been expecting a stand-alone app independent of the desktop, however hollowed-out that might have needed to be, will be disappointed.

I'm not sure that the full fire-power of Lightroom would function on a tablet without being scaled down and refined in some way (and indeed Lightroom Mobile is a limited version of Lightroom), and making those types of sacrifices to functionality is possibly not something that Adobe wishes to contemplate or existing users would accept without having full-scale back-up, hence this iteration. Are Lightroom users the mobile-only type? Yet, I do feel as if there's a degree of reluctance to embrace a truly mobile experience on Abobe's part. The Creative Cloud is there when Adobe wishes to take advantage of it and lock users into a subscription, but not necessarily to put users' interests first and give them a workable and truly mobile-only editing option in a world that's increasingly portable.

Amongst other things, Lightroom mobile will allow users to:

  • Sync mobile edits, metadata and collection changes back to the Lightroom catalogue on a Mac or Windows computer
  • Automatically import images captured on an iPad and sync back to a Lightroom catalogue on the desktop
  • Work on images, even when the iPad is offline, for a truly portable experience
  • Sync photos between Lightroom 5 and Lightroom mobile; synced photos can also be viewed from any Web browser

And finally, the synchronisation-based architecture means that the mobile version of Lightroom is only available if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud. That means if you want the option to edit on your iPad, you need to shell out either £8.78 ($9.99) for the monthly photography subscription, or whatever Creative Cloud package takes your fancy. There's no option for stand-alone Lightroom users.

I'm not an iPad-user so there's no decision for me to make here, but I would be interested to know if you think that this version of Lightroom Mobile fulfils your needs, or if you think that Adobe has missed a trick.

Review: Photoristic HD iPad editing app

When I first downloaded Photoristic HD to have a go at some editing on an iPad, I was expecting an all-round editing package that would be great for my parents to use to make adjustments to their photos on their iPad. They use a point-and-shoot, record everything in JPEG, my mother has a proclivity to take wonky photos, and my father doesn't understand the concept of 'getting closer' no matter how much I try to impress it upon him. They need a simple but comprehensive editing app. Photoristic HD combines general editing functions (white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance, saturation) with advanced colour adjustments and a barrel of filters. It can process images of upto 20 megapixel resolution, and saving and sharing is easy. It sounded promising. So much for my expectations. This was not an app that felt I could present to my parents to help them make their photos look better. It wouldn't meet their needs. But when I got past this disappointment, I realised that Photoristic HD offers something different for iPad editing and it might not be all that bad.


Photoristic is easy to use: you swipe left or right to adjust the values of whichever function you've selected, be it the like of contrast, shadows, or highlights underneath the balance tab, or one of the eight colours sitting beneath the hue, saturation, or luminance tabs. You can convert to black and white with the toggle of a button and you can apply one of a huge selection of filters—black and white options, selective colour choices, and colour filters—with two taps.

I'm not a frequent filter-fyer and I actually found many of Photoristic's too harsh or intense for my tastes. I wouldn't want to let my parents loose with these. All their photos would come out too brash, too sharp, too in-your-face. Photoristic does, however, let you save your own presets, which is moving well beyond the realm of my parents' use, but does present it in a different light.

The Polar Sun preset doesn't do it for me

This gives you the chance to combine its split tone function, colour controls, and the adjustments in the balance tab to create your own effects. Now that I've taken a step back, I wouldn't hesitate to name Photoristic's fine colour control and ability to save presets as its most valuable feature. No, it isn't an all-round editing package; it's something else. I was able to create my own cross-processed effects or add a bit of golden hour magic to a photo taken nowhen near sunset or sunrise. And I was able to save these as presets to apply to any photo I process through the app.


Having fun with split toning

There are buttons that allow you to sequentially undo your previous edits or compare your current version to your original image. When you're content with your handiwork you can save your image to your photo library or Dropbox, email it onwards, send it to print, or share it to Facebook or Twitter.

Should you get a bit stuck, the help button is towards the top left corner.

The most critical omission that prevents Photoristic from being a comprehensive editing package is a crop and rotate feature. With every photo that I put through the app I felt frustrated that I was unable to straighten it or slice off a few extraneous pixels. And my parents, with their skewed horizons and distant subjects, definitely need it. It's all very well being able to bring out the blue of a sky, tone down the red of someone's nail polish, or help negate a green cast, but crop and rotate is one of the basic functions that we rely on in an editing suite.

Standard edits are fine, but oh for the love of a crop function

I was so surprised by the omission that I emailed the developers to check that I hadn't missed it anywhere. They confirmed that there isn't a crop and rotate function yet, but it is expected in a future iteration.

When you realise that Photoristic isn't a basic editing app but instead offers more sophiscated controls to adjust colour and create your own filters for your photos, it takes on a different complexion. If you're looking for an iPad app to let you take control of your photos' colour effects and filters, then do consider downloading Photoristic. It's £2.99 in the UK and $4.99 in the US.

I shan't be showing my parents how to use it.

(All photos courtesy of my parents.)

Snapping pictures of pictures. Why?

Over at Gizmodo on Saturday, they asked the question 'What's so wrong about taking photos with an iPad?' I've covered the 'using the iPad as a camera' issue before, so I'm not going to rehash it because that would be boring and actually it rather misses my point because what caught my eye was the image choice to illustrate the article. It was of a young woman using her iPad to photograph impressionist paintings in a gallery. This. This is something that I just do not understand. Not specifically using an iPad to photograph multi-layered, complex works of art, normally exhibited in carefully controlled environments, but photographing them at all. What's the obsession?

It wasn't just the Gizmodo article that got me thinking this; it's something that I've noticed before now in various galleries. Rather than taking time to absorb a piece, to let its colours and its story and its brushwork wash over you, people seem to be intent on looking at it through their three inch—or in the case of a tablet, slightly larger—screens, grabbing a quick photo and moving on from it. I cannot determine any pleasure in that I'm not certain how appreciative it is of the artist's skill and talent.

Stuff taking photos with an iPad; how does taking photos of works of art do them any justice at all?

When you have a Renoir worth millions hanging before you, you pay it the attention it demands and the respect it deserves. That doesn't come from a photo snapped hastily with a miniscule-sensored camera that you'll probably never actually look at again. Even if you do look at your snapshot again, it'll never be able to entrance and captivate you in the same way that the original can. I promise you, a pefectly lit, carefully composed medium format reproduction of a Guardi, a Stubbs, or a Fantin-Latour cannot, in any way, compare to the real thing. So don't think that your iPad-snap or point-and-shoot shot will. You're in a gallery to observe the art, why not do that?

It's almost as if people are taking photos to remind themselves that they've actually seen something, rather than really looking at it and being able to remember it for how glorious it is.

Yes, I suppose that people can waste their time and money photographing delicate, intricate pieces of art with cameras of varying quality in far-from-optimal lighting conditions, rather than gazing at it, enjoying it, and absorbing it if they want to. But can they damn well make sure that they do not stand directly in front it, obscuring my view, when I'm trying to do just that?

Tried the BJP iPad app? They've made a video to show you what you're missing

The British Journal of Photography has been around since 1854 and has evolved from a weekly to a monthly magazine with a website and a fairly-recently launched iPad app. The journal definitely works to keep itself relevant on all platforms so if you've not tried out the iPad app, they've just released a video to show you what you're missing. (Assuming that you have an iPad, of course.)

The BJP app brings readers the highlights of the monthly print editions, as well as iPad-extra features, photos, and multi-media content, every quarter. BJPOnline can be accessed from the app and there are the usual sharing options for articles. The moving image cover was created by Reed+Rader. Where the iPad app probably stands out the most, however, is in its ability to cover motion picture news and features in a way that a print magazine can't.

The shell app is free to download and there's an entire range of subscription options to meet your needs.

New iPad photo magazine: Photographer's I

The front cover. It even has my name on it. Score.

If you've ever held an iPad playing full-resolution video, or showing a slide show, you would be forgiven for thinking "Screw magazines, this is the future". I'm not sure if I completely agree - for one thing, that would do bad things to my fun-to-write column for Photography Monthly, but there's also something tactile and wonderful about magazines in general - but there can be no doubt that an iPad is fantastic in many ways.

So, if you were to design a photography 'magazine' for the iPad, what would you do? I would ensure that it contains top photography writers and contributors (like Abbas, Paul Harcourt Davies, Natalie Dybisz, Michael Freeman, Bob Krist, Steve Simon, my good self, and many other talented 'togs). I would include a load of video content, I would make sure that the iPad's screen gets a proper work-out with glorious high-resolution images.

And once all of that is done, I'd call it Photographer's I. Ladies and gentlemen, fire up your iPads, turn to the App store, and get your copy of Photographer's I today. It's funny, you'll definitely learn something, and it's easily the best thing since some dude sliced a loaf of bread with the sharp edge of his MacBook Air.

Get it here. Go on.

Digital Foci aims itself at the European market


How do you like your pictures stored? Small and neat? Easily viewable? Well, Digital Foci, a digital photography accessories company, recently announced the expansion of three of its leading products into the European market in 2011. They’ve three offerings, which they hope will cover the various needs of anyone who takes photos. Let’s have a closer look.

Picture Porter 35

The Picture Porter 35 is a portable photo manager that comes in 250GB and 500GB capacities. Marketed as a portable hard drive for use during vacations or on photo shoots, this 5.4 inch storage device features a memory card reader with a 1GB per 90 seconds transfer rate and a 3.5 inch color LCD screen to view your photos on. It also supports RAW images as well as various music and video formats.

While it may have two features that most portable drives do not (LCD screen and memory card reader), the availability of countless other drives with twice the capacity (1TB) at one third of the price ($170) **cough** Western Digital **cough** makes me wonder if those features are really needed. If it does float your boat, though, expect to pay somewhere around $399 for a 250GB one and $499 for 500GB. (There aren’t any European prices yet.)

Photo Safe II

The Photo Safe, at $159 or $219

Okay, so the Picture Porter 35 may be a little pricey for what you get. Well then, the Photo Safe II is your solution. Also available in 250GB ($159) and 500GB ($219) capacities, the Photo Safe II can be seen as the Picture Porter’s little brother with a length of only 4.6 inches. It also supports most memory card types and transfers 1GB in 3.5 minutes. But again, with many other competitors offering more storage capacity for cheaper, price is something to consider here.

Photo Book

Can the iPad do this better?

One of Digital Foci’s hottest sellers in the U.S. for 2009, the Photo Book is a digital portfolio album for photographers to showcase their photos. The Photo Book comes with 4GB of memory, available in two different versions: a “Wedding” version (Pearl White) or a “Professional” version (Black). All for $189.

The device is ideal for wedding photographers (or other professionals) to display their portfolios to potential clients, or for non-professionals to simply show off their vacation pics to friends and family. While the Photo Book may be suitable for such purposes, the success of Apple’s iPad combined with the future release of upcoming touch tablets may make photographers think twice before buying this glorified digital frame. For just a few hundred more dollars, you could buy an iPad with no ugly buttons and a beautiful 10-inch touch display, not to mention the bajillion other things (video, music, apps, email, time-traveling) it can do.

What do you think then? It seems as if you’ve got to be able to offer something really special to be able to crack this market.