|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
|While George spent an hour capturing a massive, high-resolution gigarama of Bryce Canyon from Bryce Point, Kathy snapped this with her iPhone 3G. Lightly processed in the Photoshop Mobile application, the image works great for e-mail transmission and web display, but it won’t generate a 20-foot-long print. So what?|
Apps For Androids And iPhones
Q I keep hearing about photo apps for the iPhone, but I’m planning to get an Android-based smartphone. Are there useful photo applications for that system?
Great Bend, Kansas
A Since the iPhone has almost 50 percent of the market, it stands to reason that more apps would be written for the Apple platform. Or perhaps it’s just that you hear more about the iPhone/iPad apps because more people are using them. One of the most popular smartphone apps for photography is the Photoshop.com Mobile application that’s free and available for both iPhone and Android users. You can use the program to crop, rotate or flip images; modify exposure, saturation or tint; make the image black-and-white; make it into a sketch; apply a soft focus or sharpen; and add a number of other creative effects. When you’re finished, you can save it, upload it and post it to Facebook. You’ll be able to access this and other applications through the Android Market icon on your new phone; you can get a preview of available applications at www.android.com/market.
Why would you want to use some of the more exotic apps? Well, as usual, my fellow Outdoor Photographer columnist Dewitt Jones has taken the possibilities to creative extremes. Take a look at the site he and his wife, Lynette Sheppard, use to post their iPhone creations, www.DigitalDivaDigitalDude.com. Their ideas will make you realize your smartphone is smarter than you thought!
Keep in mind that there are a lot of smartphone applications that aren’t specifically intended for photographers but that can be very helpful to us. Examples are GPS (global positioning system) locators, maps, sunrise, sunset, moon position and tidal data, weather information and satellite trackers for those who work in remote locations (see www.findmespot.com). Using a combination of these capabilities, Travel Photo Guides (www.travelphotoguides.com) and Wiley’s Digital Field Guides (www.wiley.com) offer apps that will tell you the coordinates to place your tripod for the best photo ops in several iconic photographic locations, such as Yosemite National Park and Washington, D.C. Thanks to smartphones, you’ll never be lonely again when you go out to photograph!
The Good Old Digital Days
Q It seems that every article I read talks about postprocessing with Photoshop, Lightroom and other software programs. Are the days of photographic talent gone, and is success now determined by graphic arts skills? I shoot an old Rebel XTi with a variety of Canon lenses and have produced quality images printed directly from the CF card; some have actually won awards! I’m always trying to improve my style and technique, but I’m overwhelmed by the amount of “postprocessing” that seems to be the norm these days. Is there hope for those of us who still enjoy the challenge of capturing what we see in front of us with what we have in our hands?
Via the Internet
A Aah, the myth of the simple, good old days of photography, where photographers were judged on their skills behind the viewfinder. Well, not really. It was the print that was judged, not the negative. We used to do our film “postprocessing” in the darkroom, or we paid someone else to do it for us. Think about that black-and-white photography purist, Ansel Adams. He considered the capture to be just half of the process. He reinterpreted his images again and again with darkroom techniques that improved quality, changed mood and reconveyed the reality of the scene he photographed. Do a little research, and you’ll find the contact print for the famous “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” photograph. Pretty dull. Adams worked on the prints of that image for several decades, and in the end, the prints tell us what kind of photographer and artist Adams really was.
But you’re working in the digital age with your “old” Rebel. And, just like in film days, your camera has limitations that need to be overcome; you, as a good photographer, take those limitations as a challenge to your skills. Nonetheless, your digital file still needs some “development” before it’s ready to be seen. If you shoot JPEGs, your camera is actually accomplishing some of the needed postprocessing internally. If you shoot RAW format, you must do some postprocessing, such as sharpening, to realize the basic potential of your image. Even the newest, most expensive and capable DSLRs produce captures that need basic processing. If you don’t want to do anymore, that’s fine. But I would hope that any good photographer who wants to capture what he or she sees (along with all the sensory experience the scene evokes) would also want to overcome the limitations of the camera by wisely using the capabilities of postprocessing software to correct unavoidable anomalies in exposure, color and sharpness, at the very least.
At every seminar I give, I ask how many people in my audience hate spending time in front of their computers, and a large percentage typically raises their hands. They want to spend their time outside, exploring nature and natural subjects, seeking the perfect light on a vast landscape or the most evocative expression on an elusive wild creature. There’s no doubt about it, we outdoor photographers get our greatest satisfaction from the capture, from that decisive moment when everything comes together and, with the release of the shutter, we own it.
Is there hope for you if that’s where you want to end your photographic experience? Sure, there is. You’ll continue to enjoy the decisive moment, but at a price. When you abandon your photograph after you’ve captured it, you’ve left it half-born, or perhaps half-developed is a better word. If you want to bring it to its full potential, you need to exercise the control that postprocessing software gives you. And it’s a fact of modern photographic life that your half-finished images will be competing increasingly against those of other photographers who overcome the limits of their photographic equipment by applying the postprocessing tools available to them today. (I’m not talking about graphic artists here, because graphic artists have a different vision, although it’s achieved with some of the same tools photographers use.)
In the shameless self-promotion department, I want to tell you about a new book that my wife Kathy and I have just finished that’s now available for preorders at all the major outlets and our website, and will be internationally released this fall. Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field is a retrospective of my favorite wildlife images and how they were captured. No postprocessing tricks discussed here! I loved working on this book because it took me back into the field, where I (and my wild subjects) experienced the thrill of the photographic experience. Despite all I’ve said above in answer to your question, that’s where I really want to be, too.
The Good Old Slide Projector Days
Q Can you recommend a computer program that will work as smoothly as the old slide projector systems coupled with a dissolve unit?
Via the Internet
A If you had seen one of my seminars in the “good old days” with six slide projectors, three dissolve units and a master controller, all mounted up in a huge rack, not to mention a dozen or so slide trays, you’ll know why I’m very happy with today’s digital systems. There are many software programs that will give you all the benefits of the monster system I once used, with only a laptop computer and a digital projector needed.
In choosing a presentation program, look for a lot of creative and flexible transitions. These will include the smooth dissolves from one image to the next that you remember. But wait, there’s so much more! Some digital presentation software offers effects that emphasize the beauty and flow of your program and/or enhance its educational purposes. For example, the Ken Burns effect allows you to scan across an image, giving the impression of movement. Some programs allow you to display multiple images on screen at one time, and to bring them on and off the screen in whatever sequence, or with whatever type of action, you wish. I’m especially fond of a feature of Microsoft PowerPoint, Photodex ProShow Gold and Boinx FotoMagico that allows me to slowly scroll a panorama across the screen. All major presentation programs make it easy to coordinate music and images.
How do you choose the best presentation software for your work? Experiment with variations that are especially applicable to the effects you’re trying to achieve and compatible with your style. For PC users, I’ve had good success with PowerPoint and ProShow Gold. For Macs, I recommend PowerPoint for Mac, Keynote (Apple), FotoMagico and Animoto.
For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.