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Entries in photography (30)

Photosmith Goes 2.0 - Lightroom Users Rejoice

We are very excited to let you know that Photosmith 2 has been released today.

Photosmith 2 is the essential Adobe Lightroom companion for the iPad from C2 Enterprises.

We went in-depth in our review of Photosmith when it was released last year (be sure to read that review to find out more about what Photosmith does).

Version 2 brings with it a raft of new features including a re-designed UI and under-the-hood programming feats that make this app an absolute necessity if you use Lightroom and an iPad.

More about those new features in a moment, but first take a look at the new promo video below:

After being on the beta program for the first version of Photosmith last year we were very happy to be invited onto the beta program this time around too and we have to say this update is just what the (Lightroom) Doctor ordered.

New Features

Here's a rundown of those new features, many of which have been requested by users of Photosmith V1 (links in this list go to articles about that feature on the Photosmith website - well worth reading):

Photosmith 2 also has many speed enhancements and optimisations, which should be welcome news for any users of the 'original iPad' out there.

If you are at all interested in Photosmith, we would encourage you to follow the links in the list above and explore the website to read more about the new features and how the app works.

We will repeat what we said in our review of the original release of Photosmith just over a year ago, only with even more conviction this time:

"If you use Adobe Lightroom you need this app on your iPad. It's that simple."

Screenshots

To further whet your appetite for this app, we thought you might like to see some screenshots of Photosmith V2 in action.

Keywording in Photosmith 2 - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

The lovely Smart Groups in action - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

Sharing options work very well - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

Previewing RAW File & Histogram - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

Easy Collection creation, just select, drag & drop - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

Adding metadata to an image - Image courtesy of C² Enterprises

Win a copy of Photosmith 2

Photosmith usually retails for $19.99 and we think that is a fair price for the functionality and workflow enhancement it offers Lightroom using Photographers.

But you can win one of 3 copies of Photosmith 2 in our upcoming giveaway. Check out this post for details of how to win.

Painting With Time on your iPad

Here's an interesting and educational creative concept. Painting With Time is a free download and uses a simple idea to make you (and if you have them, your students) think about the changing landscape of our planet and the people on it.

The Concept

The basic idea is that there are a number of images for each scene in the Gallery. You choose your scene, then decide how you are going to paint in the detail, for example which season for landscape scenes, an age range for the portrait of a woman, or the time of day on a scene of San Francisco.

Instead of painting in the detail you can select the 'Slice' mode which splits the image up into preset and customisable slices so you can really mix up your image and get carried away exploring the effects of time.

It is a very interesting idea that is a lot of fun for the curious mind. It does get you thinking about the passage of time and its effects on the world around us.

Dig Deeper

The app is a spin-off from the Exploring Time project and US television special on The Science Channel. On their site you can watch the 2 hour special in segments, there are Teacher resources and other ideas to explore around the concept of time from billionths of a second to billions of years, it is well worth a visit.

App Store link: Painting With Time (Free)

Light It - Photography Inspiration for iPad Users

Scott Kelby is a busy chap, what with being Editor of the Photoshop User Magazine, President of NAPP (US group National Association of Photoshop Professionals), key contributor at Photoshop World every year, as well as being a Professional Photographer and Teacher.

Now Scott has launched a new iPad only magazine called Light It, and the first issue is free!

The strap line reads: A How-To Magazine for studio lighting and off camera flash. Here is the very nicely produced video promoting the launch of Light It, we're downloading it now:

Create Great Looking Photo Albums on your iPad with Album App

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We have been waiting for the Album App by Dreamix Studio to receive a much needed update because in our opinion it was missing some key features at release.

Following the recent 2.0 update though we feel the Album App is much more accomplished app and we recommend you have a look at it.

The app now includes essential features such as deleting pages (added in 1.1 to be fair), re-ordering pages, sharing to Facebook and Twitter, plus, importantly for us, AirPrint (so that we can create PDFs of our albums).

Whilst some of the UI interactions are still a little quirky, it is a great app to use for building personal albums that you want to display on the iPad or share with others, including some useful page layouts and fairly straightforward page editing tools.

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If you skip some of the more gimmicky bits and pieces and stick with a fairly plain theme you could even use the Album App to create your portfolio and share it with potential customers.

We have been playing with the app for a couple of weeks and the nicely produced video below from Dreamix Studio is a good representation of the app in action.

As always, we are interested to hear what you have to say, especially if you have tried the app yourself. Check out the video below, and let us know what you think.

AdoramaTV's Excellent Video Review of Photosmith for iPad

If you haven't seen our review of the Photosmith app already, or are still undecided on purchasing it to enhance your Camera to Adobe Lightroom (via the iPad) workflow, then Adorama's 10 min video review showing the app in action may be just what you need.

They cover all the main features of Photosmith and the few limitations that it currently has in the great video review below:

AdoramaTV cover quite a few photography related apps for the iPad, so be sure to check out the rest of the reviews on their YouTube Channel.

Exclusive Review: Photosmith - An Essential iPad App for Lightroom Users

Photosmith App Icon

If you use Adobe Lightroom you need this app on your iPad. It's that simple. We have been involved in beta-testing this app and we tell you why you should run and get it when it is released on Tuesday.

Every now and then an app comes along that solves a problem you have struggled with for a while. Photosmith is one of those apps.

It is the culmination of 24 months of toil and hard labour for Software Developers and avid photographers Chris Horne and Chris Morse plus Graphic Designer Jonah Cohen.

What is Photosmith?

Photosmith's Developers have this to say about the purpose of their app [bold text ours]:

Photosmith brings the ability to manage photos using collections, keywords, tagging, ratings, EXIF, and IPTC metadata. Photographers no longer need to wait until they get back to their main computer or drag a laptop to sort through photos or show clients their latest results.


With Photosmith, photographers can load their photos directly on the iPad, filter, sort, rate, and keyword while in the field/studio. When they get back to Adobe Lightroom on their Mac or PC they can sync all photos from the iPad to Lightroom and all of their tagging and rating will also transfer with no need to duplicate effort.

Photosmith FullScreen Portrait

As we have already said, this app is ideal for any Lightroom user but especially those who want to start their photo management workflow when on the move. That sounds a bit grandiose, but it applies to the holiday snapper on a day out as much as it does the Commercial Pro photographer doing a fashion shoot on the other side of the world.

Photosmith also enables a photographer to travel light, leaving the often heavy laptop at home, taking the far more svelte iPad instead with all of its multi-functional goodness included.

When would I use it?

Let's imagine you have just finished a day's shooting away from your main base (home or studio). You have gone ahead and loaded all your photos onto your iPad (you now have a backup too).

On your return train, car or plane journey, where you may have found it awkward to get a laptop out before, you can just fire up Photosmith on your iPad and start reviewing your shots.

By the time you get back home, or to the studio, you have already begun (and maybe even finished) the often painful process of making selects and adding metadata to your shots, meaning you can get on with editing and the rest of your workflow as soon as you get back in, no time wasted!

What's the process?

Here is a typical photographer-on-the-go workflow for Photosmith:

  1. After shooting, import photos to the Photos app on your iPad via CCK as normal, photos are placed into the Photos app album.
  2. Start up the Photosmith app. Photosmith will process the new photos it finds in the Photos app (including Saved Photos and Camera Roll on iPad 2), generate thumbnails/full 1:1 previews and extract the EXIF data.
  3. Wherever you are, you view, assess, rate, tag, keyword or reject your photos and add any meta data such as IPTC title you wish.
  4. When you are back at your main machine, start Photosmith on your iPad, then start up Lightroom on your Mac/PC
  5. Open the Photosmith plugin in Lightroom, wait for it to detect your iPad running Photosmith and hit Sync. All your photos plus any metadata you added in Photosmith will be transferred to your Lightroom library.

Ok, I want it, what's it like to use?

We have been using Photosmith for a few months now, being fortunate (foolish?) enough to be part of the Beta-testing program. The app has really matured over that time and in this release version (1.02) we find a highly useful, carefully programmed and lovingly designed app that will definitely enhance a Lightroom using photographer's workflow.

There is a lot to this app, but let's take a quick look at the main features.

The User Interface (UI)

Any user of Lightroom will feel right at home with Photosmith's user interface (UI). It doesn't copy but echoes the feel of Lightroom so that the controls make sense to the Photographer used to reviewing photos in Adobe's desktop app.

A lot of careful thought has gone into the UI of the app, especially by the designer  and it has been interesting to see how it has evolved over the Beta period.

Photosmith LoupeView Moutains

There are three main views to the app:

  • Grid view - see thumbnails and select and organise your shots into collections
  • Loupe view - (pictured above) gives a 'film strip' along the bottom and metadata/info on right
  • Full Screen view - (pictured below) Focus on the images, interface elements are minimised with slide outs for colour, rating and reject selections, but touching the screen anywhere else will bring up the usual UI elements like the filmstrip and title bar, as in Apple's built-in Photos app.

Photosmith Mountains FullScreen FullZoom

Reviewing and Updating

Once the previews have been built, we found Photosmith surprisingly quick at running through the images, even on the original iPad. If you have hundreds (or worst-case thousands) of shots to work through quickly and find the 'keepers' then there is a very handy Auto advance option (as in Lightroom) which moves onto the next image automatically once a rating, colour tag or 'Reject' setting has been added to an image.

The iPad screen size seems just about perfect for this process and by double-tapping anywhere on the image you can zoom in to a full 1:1 view of your image, even on massive 20+ megapixel RAW files!

This really helps you check the detail and sharpness of an image and interestingly is better, or closer, than the full zoom on the Apple Photos app (for more on this see the Photosmith Grand Tour page).

Collections

You no doubt know how powerful collections can be in Lightroom. Photosmith supports creation, editing and organising of collections that are then synced to your Lightroom library. You can select an image or a number of images using the multiple image selection technique described here. Alternatively, use two fingers to tap an image and toggle its selection.

There are a few Smart (or Special) collections automatically generated for you such as Last Import, Rejected Photos and the extremely useful Unmarked Photos so you can see which shots you still have to edit.

Photosmith DragAndDrop Wildlife

Filtering

When this feature went fully live during the Beta we were so pleased. Like most photo management apps you can use these options to filter by colour and rating and the great thing is that the filter setting is retained as you switch between view mode so that you don't need to keep reselecting your options. You just have to remember that you are filtering your photos or you could panic that photos have disappeared (or maybe that's just us!).

Keywording

A big part of any photographer's library management is Keywording. Photosmith allows a pretty much unlimited number of keywords (they tested up to 10,000 with some Beta testers) and around 2000 keywords per image being theoretically possible before slowing things down.

Adding a keyword is a simple case of selecting the keyword box which brings up the Keyword selector. From here you can select a keyword to add it (or if it is already applied deselect it to remove), do a search if you have lots of keywords or add a new one. You do this by typing it in to the search box and, because Photosmith recognises it as a new keyword, it will highlight it in green text and put a + sign to the left. Selecting the green text adds the keyword to the photo and keyword database.

We would dearly love to have the ability to add keywords to more than one image, but in this first version of Photosmith that is not included. However, the feature request has appeared on the new Support forum for the app, so we are hopeful this feature will be added in a future version. It is a bit of a bind adding the same keywords over and over again, especially if you have a lot of photos to edit.

Syncing to Lightroom

New keywords, along with any other updated information you enter against your photos is sent over to your Adobe Lightroom library when you Sync with Photosmith. Rejected photos are not synced but left on your iPad.

Syncing has been one of the main things that changed with nearly every Beta release and we know that the Developers have done a lot of work on this as there are so many variables. On the whole, it seems to work well in this release and in our last test we had a no problems at all.

Photosmith Lightroom Plugin

A nice touch is that you can even choose where you are syncing to (Destination Directory), how the photos are organised and the Date Format, so you can match up with your Lightroom library and also choose to have the photos synced from Photosmith placed in another folder by checking the 'Into subdirectory' option, although we chose not to.

Once these selections are made, you hit Sync and leave Photosmith running so that it can transfer your photos and metadata via WiFi.

Advanced Syncing - For When You Have Lots of Photos

If you have got hundreds or even thousands of photos to sync to Lightroom you may find WiFi too slow. In this case you can import your photos directly into Lightroom via USB connection (like you normally would with a Camera/Card as a source). Once that import has finished then connect Photosmith to Lightroom via WiFi and only the edited metadata is transferred to your library.

The Photosmith plugin and sync function is clever enough to match up your photos with their amended metadata coming in from your iPad.

This way, no photos are sent from Photosmith, as they are already there.

If you always have a lot of photos to import after a shoot or holiday, then this may be your preferred way of syncing.

Photosmith SendToMain

Social Sharing

Although Photosmith is not an image editor, if you are skilled enough to get a good enough image straight from the camera, or you want to send your images off to an online backup site, you can still share photos from the app to usual suspects such as Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox and via email.

You have a few options such as image size and destination for most of these sharing options. It is not something we have used really with Photosmith, but it is useful to have these sharing options if and when we need them, pre-editing.

Will Photosmith work with my camera?

Most digital cameras will work fine with Photosmith, especially if you only use JPEG files. Even RAW shooters shouldn't have many issues, but due to the odd variations with file formatting in RAW images, there are a few cameras that have been identified as problematic during Photosmith's beta testing.

This affects things like rendering previews and interperting EXIF data in the RAW files of those cameras (JPGs shot with these cameras should be fine though).

There are very few cameras with known problems, but  a current list can be found in the Photosmith Knowledge Base and you should check this out if you shoot RAW.

Photosmith and Adobe

Although Photosmith is not an official Adobe app, there has been some input and assistance from Adobe's technical team. After tweeting about some of the difficulties they had with the Adobe's plugin SDK, Tom Hogarty (Lightroom Production Manager) replied on Twitter and put the Photosmith team in touch with one of his Developers who has helped the team out a great deal.

The experience of developing functionality to work with an Adobe desktop app seems to have been overwhelmingly positive, Chris Morse told us:

"Adobe is clearly interested in supporting the 3rd party developer community and Photosmith has been no exception."

"One amazing thing about the contact we've had with Adobe, even though they are a large company they are as approachable as a small one. Senior managers are visible, and responsive, right on Twitter."

Final Thoughts

We would unreservedly recommend Photosmith and in our opinion any Adobe Lightroom user will find it indefinitely useful. Its appeal and functionality will meet the needs of snapshooters through to professionals running big commercial studios. It should be on the home screen of every iPad owning Lightroom user.

We would like to congratulate the Development team on bringing this project to fruition, we have only seen a small part of the hard work and extraordinary effort that has gone into getting Photosmith this far, and we know there are big plans to continue to develop the app in the future.

Photosmith will be launched on the App Store on Tuesday 26th April, at 12:01 EDT.  The app will be $17.99 (£10.99), pricing for other countries can be found here

Getting Creative with iPad 2's Camera

By all accounts, the iPad 2 camera is fairly useless for anything but the lowest quality and generally unusable stills, we have to be honest. But what if you chuck a healthy dose of creativity into the mix?

John Biehler (officially an E-Business analyst, but also has his fingers in other pies) has done just that with his new iPad 2 and the Photo Booth app's Kaleidoscope effect. He posted some of the results to his blog and uploaded a few of the photos to Flickr.

Image courtesy of John Biehler via Flickr (click image to see original)

John said:

"I think the results turned out pretty cool, if not a little Inception-esque. Being on top of Vancouver probably helped too... A little low resolution but interesting art nonetheless."

We were quite captivated by these images and would agree, they are quite artistic and definitely have an Inception quality about them.

Whilst your average point & shoot doesn't have anything to worry about from the iPad 2's stills ability, John's post goes to show what fun can still be had with any camera and a bit of creativity.

Image courtesy of John Biehler via Flickr (click image to see original)

You can read the full blog post on John's site and be sure to check out the rest of John's photos on Flickr.

Image courtesy of John Biehler via Flickr (click image to see original)

This Week on iPad Creative - 13 to 19 Mar 2011

We know you are busy, so in case you missed anything, here are this week's posts all in one place.

First Ever Music Video Shot on an iPad 2 We brought you this story including an exclusive interview with the video makers Remedy Films, this time last week.

Why it's unlikely that you'll even consider a Xoom, PlayBook or TouchPad? Three major advantages that Apple has over its competition now, and in the future.

The Penelope Rose HD: A motion hologram effect 3D adventure book A quick look at this really impressive new motion hologram children's book.

Isle of Tune: The award winning music creation website coming soon to the iPad A fantastic and novel way to make music on your iPad be sure to watch the video.

ZX Piano: A nostalgic 8-bit synth that even Sir Clive could use A brilliant retro synth based on one of our favourite nostalgic computers.

Stereolizer - Let's Radio like it's 1984 More nostalgia, this time our full review of really great radio streaming and audio recording app from French developers Lesmobilizers, we love it!

How to take better photos with your iPad 2 The iPad 2 camera is not great, but we have a way you can get half-decent stills from it, try this out.

iPad 2 + GarageBand + Talent = Amazing A fantastic video example of what can be done with the new GarageBand app.

GarageBand: Teenage Dream Another impressive GarageBand video, this time with some fine keyboard playing skills.

Mobile Artists Hit the UK A quick look at the iAMDA Mobile Artist conference last month with a video created by the galant organiser Paul Kercal.

Ellen Once Again, spreading the GarageBand love So, it is no secret that we love GarageBand for iPad, we can't quite get over how awesome an app it is, at the price point of much lesser apps. We are not the only ones though, here is Ellen Hinton's take on Apple's bar-setting app.

Memory of Colors - Beautiful Photography, Great Price

Fotopedia's new app 'Memory of Colors' contains a gorgeous collection of photographs by Artist and Photographer Jaime Ocampo-Rangel. The app is based on his personal project of the same name which culminated in an exhibit of 100, 2 metre tall, images and several short films.

The website describes it as:

A 12-year project that assembles a rainbow of 1,300 photos from 40 unique cultures in 18 countries (from Algeria to Yemen) and across 5 continents.

The colours are intrinsic to these endangered cultures and the colors are used as a way of organising the photographs within the app, along with other keywords such as ethnic group and country. There is also a fully zoomable map view with the customary pins representing the ethnic groups, an interface which should be familiar to any iOS user.

But it is the stunning photography and the awesome physical and emotional detail it reveals about its subjects that is prominent in the Memory of Colors app. This results in a mesmerising journey through the faces and characters from these ethnic groups. The iPad screen displays these images wonderfully in crisp, colourful detail, really showing off the iPad's strength as an art portfolio viewer.

If you want to dig deeper, information on the ethnic groups appearing in the photos is also available in-app via a dropdown menu, with links out to Wikipedia for more extensive information. This adds another element to the app making it more informative and educational.

Memory of Colors is currently available at an introductory price of $0.99 (59p) in the app store which we think is well worth it.

Even at the intended asking price of $2.99 there is so much to justify the price, the photography is outstanding, there are some truly delightful images here that will keep you in wonder for a good while.

Gritty Photos from Jeff Bridges in Free iPad App

It was a pleasant surprise to find this free app featuring the photography of Jeff Bridges. Apart from being a very talented actor and appearing in two of our favourite geek films (Tron and Tron: Legacy), he is also an accomplished Photographer (as well as a Guitarist/Musician).

True Grit: Through the Lens of Jeff Bridges is a promotional iPad app for his latest film, a Cohen Brothers re-envisioning of the classic John Wayne Western True Grit, which is yet to be released here in the UK. 

We are given, for free, over 60 black and white photos taken with a Widelux camera, a unique film camera with a wide angle swing lens that rotates through 140 degrees, letting the light through a small slit which exposes the film as it moves across the negative.

Bridges describes his love of photography and the Widelux in an extract from his photography portfolio book Pictures, it is a heart warming read. The results from a Widelux can be a bit hit and miss (no manual focus control and dodgy viewfinder) but the True Grit app's panoramic, monochrome images, some of them quite beautiful, are an attractive way to record the event.

Some images are accompanied by handwritten notes by Bridges himself (the handwriting matches that found on his website so we are assuming this is true). We like that there is a mixture of 'character' shots of the actors with behind-the-scenes images showing some of the crew and off-camera moments during filming.

The app also has a stark, monochrome interface, which fits nicely with the black and white images. As far as promotional apps go, we like this one a lot. It is interesting to see an app like this produced exclusively for the iPad, no doubt because of the wonderful way that the iPad presents photos and enables casual browsing of a portfolio like this, book style. 

The True Grit app is a free download from the App Store and features a couple of video trailers (streamed to the app), so it is worth checking out. It would have been nice to see more video but you do get 60+ images in the app which look gorgeous on the iPad's screen.

It may not stay on your iPad for long after you have seen all of the photos, but we found it was a good demo app to show off the device and we are keeping it around for a bit longer.

Let us know if you have seen the True Grit app, and any thoughts you have about it, in the comments below.