October 16, 2015
October 10, 2015
Great photographers are made, not born, and even the best photographers have plenty of unimpressive shots in their collections. But in the age of digital photography, it’s possible to create a great photograph without being a great photographer. You can even accomplish this days after snapping your photo, so long as you have the right post-processing software and a little time to play around.
Macphun’s Creative Kit 2016 ($150) provides photographers of all skill levels with six different tools that make bland or imperfect photos look great. This year’s Creative Kit includes the Pro versions of Macphun’s Focus, FX Photo Studio, Intensify, Noiseless, Snapheal, and Tonality, each renamed “CK” and expanded with extra features. All six of the apps are designed to be super easy to use, yielding great results even without diving into the manual controls, though there are rewards for tweaking their settings. Better yet, the standalone apps now work as plug-ins for OS X Photos, Aperture, Photoshop, and Lightroom, and can easily be used in combination with one another for even more powerful editing…
October 8, 2015
When Apple ceased development of Aperture, a lot of serious photographers were very unhappy about Apple’s attempt to palm them off with Photos instead. Many headed instead to Lightroom, the photo cataloging and editing app Adobe created from the ground up specifically for photographers.
If you’re new to Lightroom, our review covers the process of converting from Aperture – everything from importing your existing photo libraries to where to find equivalent features. This piece is about getting the most out of Lightroom – especially when it comes to speeding up your workflow – via some recommended tweaks and tips.
Let’s start with my recommended settings … expand full story
October 2, 2015
Macphun, maker of elegantly powerful photo editing tools including Tonality, Noiseless, and FX Photo Studio, has announced the impending release of Creative Kit 2016 — a bundle of 6 of the company’s Pro apps for a discounted price of $150. Creative Kit 2016 includes:
Noiseless CK (reviewed here) and Tonality CK (reviewed here), separately capable of eliminating various types of noise from images, and converting color images into beautiful black and white versions — both highly impressive, as our reviews discuss;
FX Photo Studio CK, a filter, frame, and brush-based photo editing tool that lets you convert simple photos into pieces of art; and
Snapheal CK, Focus CK, and Intensify CK, apps to erase unwanted items from photos, add lens effects such as blurs, or enhance subtle details in your images, respectively…
September 28, 2015
I should open by saying I’m a tough sell where cameraphones are concerned. My primary camera is a Nikon D3 full-frame 35mm DSLR with a set of lenses that takes the total cost well into ‘let’s never do the sums’ territory, so the bar is set rather high.
But camera technology advances, and I judge by results rather than reputations, so I did recently switch to using a Sony a6000 compact camera for most shots – including travelling. This is a lot smaller and lighter, and also attracts less attention. It has an APS-C sensor, which isn’t quite in D3 territory, but is a lot larger than an iPhone sensor and has proven itself remarkably capable.
I’d love to have that kind of performance in an iPhone, but it’s not there yet in two respects: shallow depth of field, and low-light performance, both of which I’ll address below. So the question for now is: is the 12MP camera in the iPhone 6s a worthwhile improvement on the 8MP version in the iPhone 6 … ? expand full story
September 24, 2015
Adobe is out with its annual Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements updates, which let you quickly edit and share your photos and videos from the desktop. The consumer friendly Photoshop Elements 14 and Premier Elements 14 includes handy new features that everyday photographers will appreciate including dramatic camera shake and haze removal tools for enhancing images plus motion titles for creating profession looking movies. expand full story
September 23, 2015
Yesterday, a reader named Lesley asked me for an update on my earlier opinion piece, “Google’s new Photos may just have won my library away from Apple.” As you may know, Apple considerably lowered its iCloud storage prices last week. Consequently, the choice between Apple’s paid and Google’s free photo syncing services has become more difficult than it was when I wrote that article.
Lesley wrote, “I read your article on Google Photos possibly stealing you away from iCloud photo sync, and I would love an update to that article – if you chose to migrate, how did it go, and how is it functioning so far?… I am teaching a class on photo management in a retirement community – I am deciding which to recommend for cross-platform syncing, and which service to recommend for lower income seniors who are Apple based.”
I would much rather not share this particular tale of woe, but the topic of digital photo storage is important to me, and as Lesley indicates, many other people. What happened with my photo library turned out to be my biggest computer-related headache of the past year. So to help spare you a similar set of experiences, I’ll tell you what happened, so you can decide whether to pick Google Photos, Apple’s iCloud Photo Library, or — as I’ve reluctantly decided — neither…
September 4, 2015
Apple’s Wednesday, September 9th event is shaping up to be one of the largest in the company’s history. The Cupertino-based company is planning to unveil several major new products on stage, including a pair of new iPhones with revamped internals, a sequel to the Apple TV, a larger version of the iPad Air, a refreshed iPad mini, and new Apple Watch accessories. The company is also likely to discuss at least two of its latest software platforms: iOS 9 and watchOS 2. We’ve reported the lion’s share of what is to come at next week’s event, so this article outlines everything we’re expecting and adds some new details…
Steve Jobs, the Universal Pictures biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, gets its debut screening tomorrow at the Telluride Film Festival. This is followed by a screening at the New York Film Festival on Oct 3rd, before its national release on 9th October.
We first saw a trailer for the movie back in May, with a longer one shown in July and a modified version shown on TV last month. A leaked screenplay draft confirmed that the movie is set around three product launches: the original Macintosh, the NeXT Cube and the iMac … expand full story
September 3, 2015
A report from the usually-reliable KGI has repeated many of the details from our exclusives on the iPhone 6S, but additionally offered support for an earlier rumor that the front camera will be upgraded to 5MP. Surprisingly, it also suggests that the rear camera lens may not be sapphire, as it has apparently failed drop tests.
Aside from upgrading rear camera module to 12MP, Apple will upgrade front camera module to 5MP […] The new iPhone may not be equipped with sapphire cover lens, as it still has quality issues on the drop test.
Although sapphire is much more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass, it is more brittle, and thus at greater risk of shattering when dropped.
August 26, 2015
Apple has called the iPhone “the world’s most popular camera,” a title originally earned by aggregating all iPhones together for counting purposes. But while the exact sales numbers for each iPhone model are difficult to quantify, there’s no question that Apple has already sold over 750 million iPhones, and well over 100 million iPhone 6 devices. Those are huge numbers, and well beyond the typical sales of individual point-and-shoot cameras.
Few people appreciate that growing iPhone demand has created an unusual challenge for Apple: reliably sourcing the tens of millions of parts needed to meet first month demand for tens of millions of iPhones. To that end, Apple’s camera maker Sony had to upgrade its manufacturing plants twice this year to produce more of the CMOS image sensors needed for smartphones including the iPhone. Even with a partner as large as Sony, however, iPhone-specific engineering requirements and the risk inherent in brand new technologies have led Apple to hold off on using the latest and greatest camera innovations in its devices. Instead, iPhones go with thin, lower-resolution sensors that offer great overall image quality for their size, and never eclipse rivals on raw specs.
So what can we realistically expect from the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus cameras next month? Here are my educated guesses…
July 20, 2015
History will remember the early 21st Century as a turning point for photography — the point at which mainstream photos transitioned from chemical to digital, thereby becoming “print optional” for the first time. Although digital photography has taken small annual steps for 20 years, those steps have collectively evolved early, uselessly low-resolution digital cameras into superior alternatives to their film-based predecessors. Even the tiny cameras built into iPhones take much better-quality photos than Kodaks and Polaroids, and more of them, too: the days of 12-, 24-, or 36-exposure film cartridges and fading exposures are long gone, replaced by all but infinite burst-mode photos that can live on your computer forever.
But some photos deserve a more prominent display in your home than a vault in your computer’s photo library. Apple has known this since the dawn of digital photography. Since iPhoto launched in 2002, Apple has offered photo and book printing services, a feature later added to Aperture and OS X Photos. Yet even though Canon, Sony, and Nikon have introduced high- and ultra-high-resolution cameras capable of creating huge prints, Apple hasn’t updated its apps with new large-format print options. That’s where this How-To series comes in.
It’s possible to use Photos to create large paper prints, but there’s a lot of exciting large-format photo printing work being done now with other materials, including metal, glass, and canvas. Part 1 of this How-To guide looked at large-format metal prints, and Part 2 looked at canvas and glass prints, with tips on composing large-format images. This third and final part looks at several additional options: turning your photos into hand-painted art, printing on brushed silver aluminum, and large-format “behind acrylic glass” photo printing. Each is different from the prior prints we covered, and one is the most beautiful large photo-to-wall art process I’ve yet seen…
July 17, 2015
Apple introduced a new iPod touch on Wednesday as we expected after selling nearly the same model for almost three years, and today iFixit has shared its routine teardown to grade the device’s ability to be repaired and catalog exactly what’s inside Apple’s newest iOS device.
While the exterior of the new iPod touch remains largely the same aside from new color options and the removal of the Loop camera strap, the teardown does confirm the RAM upgrade caught in benchmarks earlier this week and a slightly larger battery than the previous model… expand full story
July 13, 2015
Your digital photos were never intended to remain trapped on your computer’s hard drive. Apple’s original 2002 version of iPhoto proudly included physical book and photo printing services, adding new books and various types of cards every 2-3 years. Since early digital cameras took low-resolution photos, Apple’s services focused primarily on small prints. But over the past decade, cameras have really evolved: there are now 36-Megapixel Nikons, 42-Megapixel Sonys, and 50-Megapixel Canons. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t update iPhoto or its later Aperture and Photos apps with additional large-format printing options to keep up with the higher-resolution cameras many people are using.
Even if you don’t have a high-end DSLR, there are ways to turn more typical 20-Megapixel images into large pieces of wall art — if you’re willing to look outside Apple’s photo apps for printing services. And amazingly, even recent iPhones and iPads can create 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas that will look stunning on one or more large canvases, as shown in the photo above.
What’s the best large format to choose for your photos? That depends on the type of images you have, and the results you’re looking for. To illustrate the options, I reached out to a number of popular photo printing services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — large-format alternatives Apple doesn’t offer. Part 1 of this How-To guide looked at metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces. Today, Part 2 looks at large-format canvas and glass prints. And the last part, coming next week, will look at several additional options that provide unique twists on these options. Inside, you’ll see how each process has its own unique appeal…
July 4, 2015
Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the original iPhoto’s “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turned digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangible photos still had value in a digital era, and it subsequently added calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for Mac hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them, a shame considering how nice the results look.
But apart from including the poster options in 2002, Apple never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″ by 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for large prints. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Canon currently sells two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offers four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up to 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas. A large, properly-composed print from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazing hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.
I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated as Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos. A new Part 2 looks at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…
June 30, 2015
In addition to iOS 8.4, Apple has now publicly released OS X 10.10.4 to all users. The point update focuses on security and stability improvements with a fix for notable networking issues with OS X Yosemite as well as fixes for Mail, improvements to Photos migration from iPhoto and Aperture, and more. Apple first began testing the update to the Mac with developers in late April. expand full story
June 16, 2015
Alongside the updates to its mobile apps yesterday, Adobe has also updated its entire suite of Creative Cloud desktop apps and launched a new Adobe Stock images service integrated within those apps – something the company says “radically simplifies” the process of buying and using stock images.
“Adobe Stock extends Creative Cloud’s value as a vibrant global marketplace,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president, Digital Media, Adobe. “Eighty-five percent of customers who purchase stock images use Adobe creative tools. The deep integration with our latest Creative Cloud desktop apps, including Photoshop and InDesign, makes buying and using stock photos incredibly easy. At the same time, our customers – the best photographers and designers on the planet – will have the opportunity to contribute millions of new photos and images to Adobe Stock. This is really going to raise the bar in the world of stock content.”
Single images cost $9.99 for existing Creative Cloud subscribers, but Adobe offers two volume subscriptions offering significantly better deals … expand full story
May 29, 2015
My relationship with Apple’s hardware is simple: I’m happily locked in, and not changing platforms any time soon. But my relationship with Apple’s software is complex: I want to love it, but every time Apple decides to “throw everything away” and “start over” with an app, it’s disruptive — and for many users, unnecessary. From my perspective, users weren’t complaining that Apple’s popular photo apps iPhoto or Aperture were hopelessly broken or even deficient in major ways, yet Apple discontinued both of them last month to release Photos, a bare-bones alternative no one seems to love. On the relationship scale, I didn’t abandon Aperture; Aperture abandoned me (and a lot of other people).
So yesterday’s announcement of the free cross-platform photo and video storage app Google Photos couldn’t have come at a better time. Apple has struggled to explain why it now offers two separate photo syncing services, neither with the virtually unlimited photo and video storage Google is now giving users — notably all users, including Mac and iOS users. Moreover, Apple has offered no sign that it’s going to drop the steep fees it’s charging for iCloud photo storage. With WWDC just around the corner, Apple has a big opportunity to match Google’s photo and video initiative, thrilling its customers in the process. If that doesn’t happen, I’m moving my collection into Google Photos, and not looking back…
May 12, 2015
When Apple was designing the Mac app iDVD, then-CEO Steve Jobs directed his development team to build a dead-simple DVD-burning application: instead of a mess of options and windows, Jobs wanted one window with one button marked “Burn,” which would be pressed once the desired video file was dragged-and-dropped into the window. Years later, when Jobs wanted Apple’s iOS devices to be even simpler, he dumped the Mac’s windows and drag-and-drop file system in favor of a grid of icons. There wasn’t even a trash can to worry about — instead, iOS would automatically discard unused files as needed.
While that’s great in theory, the reality is that iOS actually leaves bits of trash sitting around on your device, and there’s no easy way to clean everything up at once. iTunes aggregates various types of lingering files as “Other,” but doesn’t have a trash can, nor does it provide direct access to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch file system so you can purge trash on your own. Consequently, your device may be holding a large collection of junk that could be dumped to free up gigabytes of space.
Below, I’ll show you how to clean your iOS device for free using two apps, one of which you definitely already have installed…
May 7, 2015
Particularly after installing OS X 10.10.3 with Apple’s new Photos app, you might be surprised to learn that you’ve lost a lot of hard drive space, and that there are suddenly tons of duplicate photos on your Mac. After installing OS X 10.10.3, the new Photos app converted my 90GB Aperture library into a 126GB Photos library, and left both on my hard drive. That’s an incredible amount of wasted space attributable to duplicates, so it’s no surprise that a $1 utility called Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has recently become the #1 paid Mac App Store app, while a superior alternative called PhotoSweeper ($10) is in the top 50. I’ve used both apps, as well as many others, and can help you choose the one that’s best for your needs…