The Great Journey in Photography

Posts tagged “technology

Augmented Reality Brings New Dimension to Photography Apps

Seattle,WA – April 3, 2018 – Ron Boyd Design today announced new augmented reality features in three of his photography related applications. With the introduction of Apple’s version 11.3 mobile operating system comes the ability to virtually place objects on vertical surfaces like walls. The new technology allows users to view art and photographs in a variety of sizes and frames mounted on their own walls before going to the great expense of printing and purchasing products. With the Wildlife and Nature Pictures application owners that are considering a purchase of a digital download of an image can preview what the image looks like as a framed print in their own home or office. Image editors Get It Straight and Canvas Art allow users to see their own masterpieces with AR. When viewing images with AR, users have the option of three frame styles, light colored oak, cherry wood, or dark walnut, with the choice of no frame, thin, regular, and thick frame styles. Users can also choose from five different overall picture sizes to get an accurate feel for what large prints would look like mounted on a wall.

You can download a copy of  the apps at the link below.

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Get it Straight App bug

GISImage

I just want to mention that I have been seeing a few crashes in the Get it Straight application when users are trying to save their edited images to the Photos Library. I want to let everyone know that I have identified the problem and it has been fixed for the next update. The next update will come out when iOS 11.3 is publicly available which should be in about a week. Until then anyone who wants to save their edited masterpiece to the Photos Library can do that by using the Photo Editing extension right in the Photos app. Just hit the edit button then the circle with three dots inside it and you will see the Get it Straight icon where you can perform the same tasks and it will be saved to the Photos Library.

Thanks for your patience.

You can download a copy of Get it Straight at the link below.

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Augmented Reality Update

A quick note to let everyone know that testing is going well for the inclusion of augmented reality for three of my applications. I have a few screenshots to share. Please allow me to apologize in advance for the quality. It turns out making the screenshots is more difficult than I had expected. Rest assured that it looks much better on your actual iPhone or iPad.

IMG_1106IMG_1108IMG_0074IMG_0075

You can learn more and download my apps at the link below.

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Augmented Reality Coming to Photography Apps

 

Coming soon to the iPhone and iPad augmented reality becomes more powerful and will bring a new dimension to the three photography related applications I sell. Specifically, the next version of the iOS operating system, version 11.3, will include vertical plane detection in it’s ARKit framework. What that means for all you non-nerd folks is that your phone or tablet will soon be able to detect walls and place objects on them like paintings and pictures.

For the free Nature & Wildlife Pictures app, users will be able to use AR to preview the for sale images in a variety of frames and sizes in their own homes, on their own walls before making any purchase. Get it Straight and Canvas Art users will be able to use their edited images to mount in a variety of frames and sizes so they can see what their completed art looks like on the wall before going through the time and expense of printing the image.

Augmented Reality was first introduced to the iPhone and iPad in September of last year. At that time horizontal plane detection was fully functional and placing  virtual objects on floors, table tops, and counters was all the rage. I have been testing the vertical experience since it has been available and I can say it works quite well and as soon as the feature is available to the public new versions of my apps will be released. I am anticipating this to be in about 4-6 weeks.

You can download the Nature & Wildlife app or Get it Straight app today.

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Get It Straight

GISImage

Do you know what camera makes the most pictures in the world? It’s not a Cannon or Nikon, the camera that makes the most images around the world is the camera built into the Apple iPhone. But you probably knew that already. The thing is, good cameras on good phones are a great way to make images. Granted there will be no great bird photography on a smart phone in the foreseeable future, but because high end smart phones have so much computing power it is very possible to take high resolution images, edit them, and store or share them all from the same device with quality comparable to expensive DSLR cameras.

The last couple of years I have made a lot of pictures with my iPhones and often they are just fine after the edits I can make right in the Apple Photos application. But, there are times when I make a panorama or architectural photo and there is the lens distortion we see on most wide angle shots. You know what I am talking about, trees that are at an angle or windows that are not straight. It is common and easily fixed in Lightroom or Photoshop but I became really bothered that I needed to send images to the evil Adobe to make just one edit. I set out to build a better way to fix that distortion right on the phone and even better right in the app where the photo is stored. That led to the birth of Get It Straight tagged as The missing link to mobile photo editing. That’s because I really do believe it provides the one editing feature the native application does not have.

The standalone application offers users the ability to import images from many sources, adjust the horizon, adjust the perspective, set a crop, export and share the edited image. As a Photos Editing Extension users are able to jump into the extension while editing the image and adjust the horizon and perspective while making all the other light and color edits the application offers.

Get It Straight is available for a one time price of $1.99USD on the app store for iPhone and iPad. You can download it here.


Defining Moments

Photo by Chris Gardner

Photo by Chris Gardner

Back in the day, on a job long since gone I was told to lie to customers. Not a one time thing to get out of a jam but as a matter of policy. A matter of policy when some extra effort on behalf of other workers would have eliminated the temptation to lie in the first place. That was a defining moment for me, they way the order so easily left the senders mouth, no hesitation, no level of discomfort or angst. I knew that I no longer wanted to be associated with that business or the person running it. For better or worse it is the moment that put me on the path to where I am today.

Another defining moment, one for bird photographers, is the day one puts down the money to own a top-notch lens. Back in the day that was pretty clearly defined, a top-notch lens was simply considered to be the longest lens the camera manufacturer makes with only a few exceptions, but today that is different. With skyrocketing prices and a flood of third party lenses that suspiciously all get rave reviews that step forward gets cloudy. Stay thirsty my friends, in the end the moment is clear-cut and a well defined moment, all be it a very expensive one.

I have a friend that I met a Bosque del apache a few years ago. He recently made the decision to plunk down the funds for a new Nikon 500mm lens and then put the effort into learning the lens and his photos have never looked better. Today I present for the first time a photograph from another photographer, the hard to find Green Jay from Chris Gardner. Thank You Chris!


Nature & Wildlife Wallpapers

Nature & Wildlife Wallpapers

It is a little bit of preaching to the choir but today I wanted to mention the update to one of my iPad apps that was released this week and give thanks for the response it has had. Nature & Wildlife Wallpapers is an iOS application that went through a complete make over in that it has become just what it says it is, some nice photos included in the price of the app. The previous versions followed a model that called for packing as much features as possible, most of which only do an average job. Just like the operating system the app runs on NWW has gone through a thorough cleaning eliminating all the fluff and drilling down to do just one thing. The number of photos included in the app has been increased from 9 to 51 and all those images are full resolution and downloadable for users to use at their leisure as long as it is for personal use. It is a bit of preaching to the choir in that I presume that most of you readers are photographers in your own right and thus already have your own images, but I do think it is relevant in that this is really a way to sell our images and I bet a bunch of you would like to do just that right about now. Am I right?

In addition to making the images developing and marketing a mobile application requires a tremendous amount of skill and dedication and hiring some one to do it for you can be expensive but places like the Apple App Store are far-reaching and NWW is being seen by a lot of people who otherwise never could know about it. There is flexibility in the store too because in addition to the purchase price I can also attach a premium to certain images and users can purchase images based on size and usage as need be. If you are spending all kinds of money at a place like Smug Mug and noticing that they make no effort to reach out on your behalf you may consider putting some images out in the form of an application.

In the few days that the NWW update has been available I have had the best response of any application I have had to date. Thanks to everyone who bought or updated the app this week and to anyone who may be on the fence about buying I can tell you that the price is an introduction, in the coming weeks pricing will change and many of the images will no longer be available for free. Stay tuned in the coming months as I keep everyone up to date and show just how well Nature & Wildlife Wallpapers performs and adapts to the market.

Thanks again everyone. Learn more about NWW below.

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Recover What You Already Have

Great Egret at Bolsa Chica State Park-

I have tens of thousands of bird images there is no arguing about that. When I wander through the images of yesteryear looking for something it is rather easy to get side tracked going off on a tangent to find other images I forgot even existed. It is easy because I have tools that are so much better than just a few years ago. Not talking about cameras and lenses obviously as these are old photos, I am talking about the digital tools we need to process the image files. The toolbox has become a lot lighter for me too. I used to have suites of plugins and tons of junk to make my images look better. Almost all of that is gone now, I have one suite of color effects that I use so infrequently that I forget the name of it and my two most trusted pieces of software, Photoshop and Lightroom, and that is about it. There is also one piece of hardware that makes all this possible and that is the Solid State Drive typically referred to as a SSD. If you don’t have one, get one. Lightroom was generally thought of as an organizational tool but it o good now that it takes on the role of primary editing tool too. It is a cause of internal conflict whether or not to export an image to Photoshop for processing any more. Fact is that I really only need Photoshop for one specific routine process. All those expensive plugin suites have been replaced with custom actions.

As you can see now I am wandering off on a tangent about editing tools when the point I want to make is that when you have collections of images, store them rather than delete because you never know when you may be able to breathe life into them at a technical level. Once you have saved those images, make sure you go back and visit them from time to time too. The new life I am able to breathe into my old images primarily comes in the form of exposure and noise reduction. My tools are so good now at balancing exposures, bringing down highlights, recovering over exposed areas, and bring up light in shadows that many images that otherwise would be good are now useable. Associated with adjustments like this is digital noise and older cameras had lots of it. Lightroom and Photoshop(ACR) are now so good that many of those noisy old images are also just fine.

Hurray for technology! Take a second look at some old photos and please don’t delete.


Times, They are A Changing

Another Sandhill Crane in the fire

About a year ago my hopes were that Sigma would update the very long in the tooth 300-800mm lens. After working it for a week I came to the conclusion that it was heavy, slow, and a bit soft on the last 100mm (probably more a result of vibration). A redesign is in order to bring the lens in line with newer technologies. As of late Sigma and Tamron have made a charge towards the front in lens performance. Manufacturer lenses are getting very expensive and the demand for mid range super telephoto lenses is increasing. I don’t believe there is any genre more demanding of a super telephoto than bird photography so for me personally, midrange is where the scale begins. Today my attention turns to the new Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. I don’t see where the Nikon mount version is shipping just yet but I know there are some Cannon  copies in circulation. Borrow Lenses is showing availability for both versions in May. I will for sure try one out then and report in-depth about performance but for now I am going to give everyone a bit of an overview of the lens based on the specs and images currently available.

First, let me say that I for the most part use the Nikon 300mm f2.8 lens and consider it to be the best telephoto lens made, bar none. I also currently own the Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 zoom that I have had for a number of years. While I don’t use it much these days I have made tens of thousands of bird images before the 300mm came along. It is a good lens but has some drawbacks and is well, pale in comparison to the Nikon 2.8. Tamron did some good things with the new lens, the 600mm reach is a grabber that will get the attention of any bird photographer but they also added a lens based focus motor and vibration reduction. Both are pretty much required these days. Those three things cover a lot of area but I can tell you from the experience of the 200-500mm that there can be a very narrow operating window with telephoto zooms. The 150-600mm still has a very short minimum focus distance suggesting that its window may be similar to the older lens and that would be very sharp in close on the long end. F6.3 is good with f8 a little bit better. Sharpness and color are very good 10′-50′ (yes, that is feet!), after that sharpness falls off.

One of the things that bugs me is the bravado that comes from the pre-release press. I suppose the intent is to get folks excited about the new product but lying, or just a hares breath short of it, is not cool.  All new design. No, not really. The new lens looks very much like the previous, so much so that I thought the press photos were the old lens. New Adjustment ring rubber. No. Same rubber just with some micro grooves cut in it. I guess you just don’t mess with perfection. Then there is the big one, the all new redesigned tripod mount. There was nothing wrong with the old one, it worked fine, does, because that is what is on the new one. A couple of improvements I suppose with a couple of finger ridges to make hand holding comfy. Here is a little tip world, when hand holding a long lens rotate the mount to the top and cradle the lens just like you would any other lens. No ridges required. I really want this to be a good lens, it would fit in my scheme very well and I hope it is close to the hype.
I have seen a number of photos made with the new lens, some of them birds and I can say without hesitation they are horrible. Not because of the lens, and I will leave it at that. Here are some, a video review, and the one decent image I could find. A little advice to Tamron, if you want to sell your lens to nature and wildlife people, in particular birding, push early copies of the lens to photographers who have those skills. I am just saying!!

I don’t doubt that the new Tamron 150-600mm lens is a big improvement and it may indeed find its way into my bag but there are a couple of things they would have done different. The zoom range is just way to big. I am sure it is a great selling point but I would rather have it around 300mm on the short side. Internal focusing is also something I really want to see. If those two thing were in place I would most likely consider buying one at 3 times the current price.

I guess I will find out just how good it is when I can use one in a couple of months.


Bang For The Buck

Sandhill Crane at Bosque Del Apache

420mm f4 200iso 1/2,000sec

Hi Gang, just wanted to give you a quick update about some the changes I made to my hardware and processing photos. At the end of last year I was faced with the dilemma of running out of storage space and processing power when on the road. Working with the D800’s huge images made my computer pretty much unusable. I have a three-year old Macbook Pro so it was not like I was flogging a dinosaur, but it was not cutting edge either. It was not a maxed out performance unit either. For around $250 I was able to bring the old Pro up to blazing standards. The first and cheapest change I made was to upgrade the RAM. Random Access Memory is basically a reservoir of computing power that is dedicated to handling the task at hand, the bigger the reservoir the faster everything gets processed. RAM is relatively cheap although the prices did spike with the tsunami and flooding in Japan and South East Asia a couple of years ago, and is usually easily accessed by the user in most computers. Check your specs and be sure you have the maximum amount of RAM installed, if not get some from a reliable source. For Mac I use Crucial. Running maximum RAM will give you the most bang for the buck.

Next is the leap into the 21st century and that is upgrading to a Solid State Drive commonly called SSD or Flash Drive. There are no moving parts and they are blazing fast in comparison to traditional drives but are also more expensive. Depending on the size, SSD’s tend to become very expensive and can cost 10 times more than their traditional counterparts for big storage. I decided to stay with the original size that came with the computer at 250GB and it cost about $175. This too I got from Crucial.
The only problem left was storage. This computer was equipped with only USB 2 and Firewire800 ports so fast external storage was not a good choice and I wound up using a “Data Doubler” from Other World Computing. It did just what is says it is in this case. Data Doubler is an adapter that converts the optical drive in the laptop to a second internal storage space. I used the traditional drive replaced by the SSD for that space and now I have 500 Gb storage. That second drive can always be replaced with a larger drive in the future but the additional 250 Gb is fine for now. OWC sells the Data Doubler for $35, and it is a great product but there are knockoffs out there as cheap as $7. Making all these improvements was really very easy to do with no hitches. There are a lot of videos out there from the manufacturers of theses products so it easy to figure out if the upgrades are over your head.

My computer is now a great performing machine. Comparing it to the latest and greatest Macbook Pro’s, it is not as fast, but it really is scary close! If you are getting frustrated by your computer, take a look at some of the alternatives, it just might make your life a lot easier.

Happy shooting. Follow me on Twitter  @RonBoyd


Post Up

Bald-Eagle-Photoshop

I have been playing around with a few images this week. I have several thousand to work on and I figure it was time to pick out a couple of them and see how they process out. I have heard over the years a number of professional say that if it can’t be processed in 5 minutes an image is not good. Don’t believe that, especially in wildlife photography. There are many great images that took hours to process out and taking time to optimize an image makes it that much better so today and next week I am going take you through the process of optimizing one of my images in Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5. First, let me say that the $9.99 a month subscription Adobe offers for Photoshop and Lightroom is a great deal and any one who considers themselves a photographer should take advantage of it.

Photoshop Screenshot

One thing about these softwares though, since they are being updated on an almost daily basis sometimes things get reset to default settings. One issue I ran into took a while to figure out and it is essential to processing bird photos. You will most of the time need to create a layer mask to separate your subject from the background. The quick select tool in Photoshop is a great way to achieve that but if you are working with larger images the function may become too slow to be usable. There are settings in preferences that can adjust the performance. Just go into Preferences>Performance and look to the right side of the pane. There you will see History and Cache settings. Select “Big and Flat” with Cache Levels between 4-6 and Cache Tile size of around 1024k and you should see the performance you need for making selections on large images.

What you are going to want to do is make a careful selection around your subject(s) on a duplicate layer and then create a mask by selecting the “add mask” Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 9.39.16 AMbutton at the bottom of the layers panel. Make a couple of copies of this layer, turn off the visibility and save them for later. In the topmost layer select the image (not the mask) and now you are ready to do some basic editing of just your subject(s). Most often I will start with the “Shadow/Highlights” tool. Important thing to remember about the shadows and highlights is more is less. Really what you want to do is balance things out. Recovering clipped areas is not something you want to do here just smooth out the balance, you will have to fix the extremes in Camera RAW or Lightroom with the recovery tools or better yet cloning. On this layer you can also make all the otter adjustments with masks making the adjustment layer mask specific to that layer. You can do that by creating the adjustment layer, at the bottom of the pane is a small button click thatScreen Shot 2014-02-21 at 7.41.01 AM and you will see an arrow pointing down. That means your adjustments will only be applied to that layer.

Next is the part that I call magic because I spent many years doing things a different way and it took a very long time. Here’s the magic. Grab one of the layers you saved earlier, drag it to the top of the stack and turn on the visibility. Oops! All those edits you just made suddenly disappeared. To get that back click the layer mask on the layer you just put on the top of the stack and in the controls for that mask you will see a button that says “Invert”, click that and the mask inverts showing the edits on the layer below and effecting all the background area. Click the image in that layer and now you are ready to edit the background. Typically I would lower the exposure a little and do saturation and contrast adjustments, you can also apply some blur if the need arises.

OK folks I think that will do it for today. Thanks for stopping by and and be sure to come back next week when I finish processing the photo with some cloning and cleaning up the background.


Stupid Good

sandhills at Bosque Del Apache

420mm f4.0 200iso 1/1,600sec

Nah, not the photo. Its OK, I like it.
I have been hitting around the corners for years but now it is time to play for keeps. I am talking about running my own business. There are tons of amazing photos out there so what makes me think I can make a living doing it? That is a great question and the answer is that I don’t. I make great bird photos, you make great bird photos, there are plenty of bird images to choose from and I don’t have the inclination to photograph weddings or the patience to do studio commercial work. When it comes to photography I really want to be outdoors and hopefully traveling to some of the most interesting places on the planet.
“Oh I have it now” you must be thinking, not another one of those guys who are going to go out and become an instructor and travel the world on other people’s dime. I have great respect for some of those guys. I admire what they do and I actually think I could be a good instructor/educator but I have the nasty habit of wanting to pick and choose the people with whom I share.

The tech and creative industries are for the most part what is called a “gig economy” where many people don’t hold down permanent jobs but rather are hired for a particular task, a gig if you will, and move on when the job is finished. Harsh reality is that there are not many gigs for shooting birds and that is why I will not rely on bird photography for an income. A small amount is good maybe 20% max. I like to call my plan the “five legged stool” approach hopefully to be trimmed down to three legs at some point and it is all encompassed in the title “Media Technology & Assets”. The details are not important now, the point in this post is to say that it is all a lot of hard, time-consuming work. Holding down two jobs is tough under the best of circumstances and those fun  and enjoyable recreations like bird photography hold a special place. There are so many other things to attend to now that I no longer think about how an image could or should make money when I am out shooting. It is not work anymore and making time to go out and shoot is good. Not just good but stupid good!


To Crop or Not To Crop

Sandhill Crane coming in for landing

600mm f5.6 250iso 1/640sec

This is one of my favorite photos, not for any reason in particular, in fact it is somewhat unremarkable, I just happen to like it a lot. The first thing you will notice is that the subject, a Sandhill Crane is in the center of the frame. Yeah, we all know that is a no-no. But what if that bird was not the subject of the picture. What if you treated the background as the subject? And why not, the sky is what brought me to the location in the first place. Treating the background as the main subject makes the bird in the middle ok. The problem is that the bird is also a compelling subject, nice and sharp with the feathers blown out and great form with the feet and legs hinged at a great angle. Truth is that what I was really trying to do was capture the bird  between the clouds, that I accomplished. Too bad it is in the middle of the frame. Lets take a look at exactly how that bird wound up dead center.

The focus points of most cameras have differing levels of quality and very often the focus point in the center of the frame is one of few “cross” style sensors in the array of focus points. So here is a great flow to try out if you are in a low light situation or using a narrow aperture lens when focus tends to become difficult.  Set you focus point dead center but also set the focus lock duration longer than you normally would. With those two elements in place you can acquire focus and have some time to lead the bird a bit before it starts to hunt for a new focus point. Using the burst of three rule you should pick up the number of in focus images but you will also get a larger number of them with the subject in the center of the frame. When you are there, you can always crop if need be.

Next week we will take a walk-through on processing this image, how I got it to where it is and what we can do to turn it into the ideal image with a fantastic background and the subject exactly where you want it.

Until then, have a good one guys.


Lost

sandhill crane in the menagerie

300mm f5.6 250iso 1/3200sec

You know how sometimes you get caught up doing a bunch of things and something gets forgotten about or left behind. Call that falling through the cracks. A lot of things can fall through the cracks in bird photography not the least of which are images. We have to make hundreds maybe thousands of images to get a really good one that is just a fact of life. Think about how impossible it is to give each and every image a good look. The last couple of days I have ignored some of the things I have to do, you know that endless stream of things that must be done, at a certain expense, money not made and that sort of thing, before my head exploded, and sifted through several thousand images I had made the last several months. I had already looked at these images a couple of times but I could not bring myself to deleting them because I knew in my heart that thee was some value there, hidden gems, backgrounds, stock, etc. I really like doing this because we are always trying out new software and editing techniques and I am always looking for an image for practice.

I had been thinking about something Moose Peterson said about photographing wildlife composed small in the scene. He said it is harder and more impact-full when done well. Scrolling through images I found a series of photos I had completely forgot. A single Crane flying through a menagerie of golden swirling clouds. Pretty cool I think and very little processing involved.

Hey everyone, I have to plug my latest iPad application Wildlife HD. If you have an iPad and want to see some great photographs, learn, and make great photos I recommend you give it a try. Available in the App Store for $1.99 today.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.Wildlife HD


Shameless Self Promotion

Snow Geese at Bosque Del Apache

800mm f5.6 320iso 1/500sec

Wait a minute! I have shame. No, not shameful but I have shame. I went to Catholic school so I am pretty sure I have a double dose in fact. I think many people have a hard time warming up to the notion of shameless self promotion, many are most comfortable when they don’t draw any attention to themselves. But that is in conflict with making great bird photos and getting others to see,enjoy, and maybe even buy them. So do we desperately search for painless self promotion? Sure we do, just look at all the websites and services that claim to promote your brand in exchange for your money. That begs the question: does any one do shameless promotion on your behalf? Not so much. Right?

I am currently in the process of dropping the Smug Mug service this month because I can’t justify the price. They don’t do anything to promote your work. I have been there for years paying the maximum fee and there has been no attempt to promote products. The interface is OK, main appeal is a shopping cart but setting it up is complicated and time-consuming. Spending hundreds of dollars and a cut of every print sale for a shopping cart is not that great, and besides, I am really looking for shameless promotion.

Flickr. What can I say about Flickr? I have heard “if you want a hug go to Flickr”. Once the hottest thing in town Flickr was the place a photographer had to be. There were plenty stories of photographers and artists getting work through the service but also many a stolen picture  that started public life on the service. That was back in the day though, as time passed Flickr became a has been and today is in the process of reinventing its self. Probably not going to end well as the official purpose of a social site is now data mining, where you are the product not your product.Grab a hug and move on.

500px and G+? Yeah, they are great places to be if you need other photographers to see your work. There is value in that, but you have to know that other photographers have zero interest in buying or promoting your work. Good for networking but not for selling or promotion.

Bottom line is unless you are a miracle worker or wealthy enough to hire an agent you will have to warm up to the idea of shameless self promotion. The two best ways to get your brand out in the internet are to a) build your own website and b) use a popular blogging platform like this one. You own website will be totally under your own control you can even have a shopping cart if you wish. The biggest drawback is that it takes views to get views. Somehow you have to drive some traffic to get a high enough Google or Bing ranking to be noticed. Good content and design helps a lot. On the other hand, popular blog platforms like WordPress generate a lot of views and rank well right off the bat. Combine the two and you will get your best results. Keywords and tags are vital too. The can make, and I firmly believe, break you. Be sure to keyword every photograph and every blog post, keyword your website with your specialty and location because that will help those who want you find you.

OK- So those are a couple of tips for navigating the web to get your images noticed. Next week I will look at some vintage self promotion and why it still works.Wildlife HD

Thanks for stopping by everyone, don’t forget to download my iPad application if you haven’t already. Wildlife HD is available in the iTunes store worldwide. Spanish edition is coming soon.

 

 


Community

Just another pair of sandhill cranes

800mm f5.6 250iso 1/6400sec

Seems like the most friendly and likable people I have met in my life happened when I was shooting birds. Stark contrast to some genuinely horrible humans I encounter on a daily basis. Dirty people with dirty minds are a drag. They are a drag and they bring others down to their low-level. Maybe because we share the passion, maybe it is because I only see them at their happiest or maybe it is because I live in the wrong circles, the people I really like are on the trail.

It all leads me to pause for a moment. I pause to think about recent events and the tornado that have hit Oklahoma and that two of nicest people I ever met are from Oklahoma city. I spent a few weeks there on vacation many years ago. I liked that but the people I met were at Bosque Del Apache last year. Such great ambassadors of their home state I left with the impression that everyone there was the same. So when I think about the devastation I think about millions of great people touched by disaster. It’s all about community I suppose, doesn’t have much to do with bird photography but is worth mentioning. Thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by the tornado.

Hey gang, big update to the Wildlife HD iPad application last week. If you have already downloaded it, Thank You, and make sure you update to the latest version. For those who downloaded and paid for the application in the last week there was a minor glitch in the files and the camera would not open on many machines. That bug has been fixed and is working its way through the iTunes approval process. Look out for version 1.1.2 and all functionality will be restored. Hopefully it will only be a day or two.icon

As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the picture as there is not a lot of substance to todays post. A pair of Sandhills from last years Bosque Del Apache adventure.

Have a great day and go out and get my app!


Wildlife HD Ver. 1.1

Wildlife HD

Wildlife HD

If you have already downloaded my iPad application Wildlife HD, you will be in for a little treat tomorrow. There will be an extensive update and many improvements in version 1.1. Among the improvements you will see better accessibility with Voice over for the visually impaired and a left-handed option for the built-in camera and photo editor. In the original version it was possible to navigate the entire application, with only a few exceptions, with your right thumb. Now with the left hand controls, left-handed users can also enjoy the same level of comfort in the camera and photo editor. There is also improved social sharing too. You can now share any of your own photos throughout the app via Twitter, Facebook, and Mail, edited or original. There is also limited Google Plus integration where you can share messages and contents of the Photo of the Month. It also has improved photo preset filters with one that I particularly like called “Polly Beach”.

The camera now has a choice of three focal lengths giving it that prime lens feel where you don’t have the luxury of using a zoom lens. There is also the addition of timers and audio countdown  at 5 and 10 seconds with volume control for the countdown.

The application still has all the great photos, most with birds, and content from before but if you don’t already own it you are going to have to lay out a couple of sheckles. As much as I would like to continue giving it away for free we all have to earn a living and I really did not want to put advertising in the content. It is a reasonable price I think and if you are reading this today Friday May 17 I am giving you one more day to download the application for free.

Also, I want to give a big thank you to everyone who has already downloaded the application and who visit here every week to read my ramblings and look at my pictures. Thanks is hardly enough and I promise that the best is yet to come.

So go out and grab it if you can, I will appreciate it and I think you will enjoy the content a lot.

Viva la Vida!icon


Wildlife HD

Wildlife HD

Wildlife HD

For so many months, too many months by most accounts I have been working on an iPad application. It has been a ground up project and today I am going to do some shameless self promotion. I like the application, put a lot of time and effort into it, and made sure it works well with the latest devices and iOS 6.1. It is called Wildlife HD and you can download it from the app store here. It is a collection of high resolution Wildlife and Nature images I have made over the years that you can turn into wallpapers, download and share at your leisure.* There is also a learning center with online pages packed with information about photography and wildlife, Explore pages that have in-depth information about the collection, and Twitter and Facebook integration. It also has a built in camera and photo editor that will eventually be the most compelling features. Right now they are both configured for landscape orientation which you don’t often encounter in mobile camera apps and other features and filters. Rather than spending a lot of time telling you about it how about you head on over to the store and download it.icon

Right now it is free. It will be that way for the entire life of the 1.0 version but I will warn you that as soon as I can push out 1.2 we will be charging for it so go ahead and grab it up now. Just to tease you a bit rev. 1.2 is going to include audio cues, improved Social interaction, improved editing and filters and improved camera with shutter timer and selection of focal lengths.

Thanks for reading everyone. Go buy an iPad, download the app. It’s only money.

*Personal use only. Not for commercial use or distribution. Creative Commons non-commercial


Is Google+ a Minus?

Forsters Tern at Bolsa Chica

300mm f5.6 250iso 1/2,500sec

Hence forth known as G+, the social sharing service from Google has a slick interface and beautiful photo presentations that attract many a photographer but is it helpful to someone in selling his or hers photos? While it is picking up steam everyday it is also fair to say that G+ has for the most part been occupied by photographers and early adopter nerds. Google has in the past made attempts at social sites that all failed so there is a certain amount of  uncertainty with G+. If it does not meet Google’s expectations will it be killed leaving users in the dark? For right now it appears that they are “all in” and making every effort to attract a broader user group. Even at that, the question is how will it help you sell a photo? Maybe it won’t.

Not too long ago when the digital photo market exploded and everyone and their brother set out to become a “pro” photographer, the really clever and experienced photographers turned away from selling prints to selling their knowledge to those who want to sell their pictures. They became instructors teaching at workshops, festivals, conventions, and tours. If you are going down that road G+ is your very best friend. Circles, communities, and hash tags all allow the wise user to organize and attract the vast database of photographers who are using the service. The great presentations will allow you to show your work in the best possible light. Years ago when I wanted to take my first workshop I searched for a long time and one of the top considerations I had was the images the instructor presented. If the instructor has a crappy low resolution website to display their work it was a certain turn off and I was unlikely to pursue their services further. G+ allows an instructor to reach out to potential customers in an elegant and interactive way.

If you are trying to sell photos, G+ is not going to be your best friend. Neither is any other social service either. Yeah I know there are plenty of stories from people about how Twitter or Facebook has revived their business. I tend not to believe most of that, reality is if you get off your ass and do some hard work your business will improve regardless of the medium you are using. When I was much younger I took a fair amount of training in relationship selling. At the time I thought it was kind of stupid (it did not have a lot to do with my job at the time) but as I get older I am glad that I remember much of it and saved all my seminar materials over the years. To sell photos you need to make relationships with clients, you need to service those clients, and you need to do it better than the competition. Social sharing really doesn’t lend it’s self to that, now does it? Please don’t confuse that with the internet. The internet and all things digital has revolutionized all business and that is an entirely different thing than Twitter, Facebook, or G+ as a whole.

But still, if you are a photographer of any kind you need to be on G+, you need to be on it more than any other service in my opinion. Not to sell but to learn, explore, discover, and network, and that is where Google shines. There is a whole world of photography related communities, places to stay in touch with people you meet on the trail, places to solve problems, read about other’s experiences and critique photographs. I am going to say that the vast majority of photographers don’t have a formal education in the subject so you can think of G+ as the world’s largest classroom. It is all out there just floating around, all you have to do is reach out and take it.

 

Thanks for reading everyone. Happy Trails, you can check me out at G+ here.


Why the iPad is Not a Great Photo Editor

I think it is safe to say that I have more experience editing photos than the average person and well, I have logged more hours on the iPad than almost everyone I am quite sure, so when I say I think it is not a good photo editor, it is with a heavy heart. The iPad is a remarkable device and Apple hit a grand slam when it was introduced, creating a whole new class of computing. For me, the Retina display gives the absolute best experience for looking at photographs, the iOS interface can be shaped into the most elegant wrappers anywhere, but when it comes to processing photos to their best, it falls short. It is not from a lack of trying though, as the iPad is actually a very stable and powerful platform for manipulating images and video.

Just to lend more credibility to my arguments, I am going to open the kimono a tad and tell everyone that I have spent most of the year exploring iOS5 and 6, specifically the Core Image Framework located in it. I have designed my own editor for iOS so I am up to speed on what the iPad can and can’t do. Introduced in iOS5 and continued through 6 Apple has made available a remarkable array of filters and functions to use, bringing over many if not most of the things available on the Mac Operating System. Processing power is also very stout with the A5 (and presumably better on A6) processor handling distortion, pixel bending transformations on larger full resolution images without any real lag. With the tools provided natively you can build a very credible Photoshop style editor with gradients, perspective, distortions, color correction, layers, and blending modes a lot like the big Kahuna Photoshop. That all begs the question, why is the iPad not a good photo editor?

There are actually several answers. I would say money is one of the big ones. Everyone knows a $100 plus app is not going to fly for the big market and the bottom line is that it takes a lot of time, effort,and cash to develop software, it is kind of a risk because it might not sell and if you are seriously limited in the price you can charge you will be seriously limited in the features you can provide. Say it ain’t so, but that is a harsh reality of business. We all have to put food on the table. Lets take the Adobe Photoshop App as an example. It is reasonably priced and packed with a lot of features I admit, but one serious limitation is you can’t import or export the native file format PSD. Well yeah you can if you subscribe to another service and pay for it. That is a serious limitation for me. So serious to me that I have never been able to use the application to my satisfaction and I have not opened it in months.

There is also that thing known as the human condition. About a generation and a half, by my math, have only known a keyboard and mouse. Graphics tablets are kind of anomaly as far as I am concerned and are not anything like a touch interface. The touch interface has only been widely distributed for about two years. It is going to take some time for people to get used to it and for developers to design touch styles that deliver the precision photo editing needs. Once again using the Photoshop example, the App has a lot of stuff but most of it is hard to find and clumsy to use which leads many users to the Instagram like preset selection and “dumbs” down the software to sophisticated users. The much maligned skeuomorphic design helps bridge the gap between touch and mouse and within the context a good touch interface has to be “in your face” but also out of the way. That translates to simplicity.

I think the only real solution for the two above problems is specialization The very definition of failure to some, the only way to be successful is to make a niche, create features that are cheap and simple and apply very well to a select group of discriminating users.

One other thing holding back the iPad for editing is a lack of histogram. Creating a histogram is not yet available natively in iOS and it needs to be. It is essential in my opinion. You need it to know that an image is balanced for all media, all computer screens, not just an iPad display. It will come soon enough, I believe.

So what does all this have to do with bird photography? Well, the world is moving towards tablets and sooner or later you will need to edit media on one of them. You are going to need to have an editor that works for what you need. You need find apps that sharpen eyes and blur backgrounds, bring out feather detail, produce snow-white whites and color corrects. In short you need to find the app that works, not the one that is the best or most comprehensive.

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Thanks for stopping by and a big thanks to everyone who came by last Friday, it was the busiest day ever for the blog.

 

 


New Gear Fear

Snowy Egret hanging in the wind

300mm f7.1 250iso 1/1,600sec

About 49.99% of the time I think my work sucks. 49% I think it is barely acceptable and a small sliver of the time I feel it is pretty good. It can be easy to slip into a funk working against those numbers. Just the few victories I do have made it all worth it though. What I really want to do today is write about the role new gear plays in making those numbers change one way or another. Bird photography is one of those places where the type and quality of your equipment makes a huge difference and then there is also the psychological advantage of using the gear you really want to have.

Most of my stuff is getting kind of long in the tooth and there is no doubt that some the newest cameras and lenses are items I lust for, but is it really needed? The difference between 5 frames per second and 9 frames is huge, that happened a while back for me. Megapixel and low light performance, not so much. I doubt there is any camera made that is tailored for wildlife photography, the megapixel wars during times when image size is becoming far less relevant is proof that camera manufacturers really care about making sales to those who are influenced by big numbers rather than real performance. Sure, there are improvements but nothing as dramatic as they would have you believe and certainly nothing that is going to dramatically change or improve how I make pictures. Ditto that for software. Every 10 months or so its a couple hundred dollars for this maybe five hundred for that, and the real kicker is that often it is not as good as the previous version. One new gimmick and you have to endure months of crashes and incompatibility, then they make the old version obsolete by not updating it. Yeah camera manufacturers and software makers really care about their customers. They do care about some, the elite few, those who actually help them sell products, they care about them a whole lot but you and I, the poor working folk who actually keep them in business, not so much.

It is kind of sad really because wanting, planning for, and buying new gear should be an exciting time. We should all enjoy the process knowing that things are going to be that much better when you finally make the goal and can get the prize we have been wanting so long. Big business taints all that though. I suppose the theme today is, be grateful for what you have, moderate your expectations, and expand your knowledge more than your camera bag. That is the best upgrade.

So how do you get the numbers flowing in your direction? Clearly it is not by going out and buying the stuff everyone says is “must have” new gear. Get what you must have by all means. With experience comes the wisdom of knowing what you really need and knowing the difference between hype and reality. Get more experience. That always works.

Thanks for reading-I hope you liked todays picture. You can see more of the every week so subscribe and enjoy. — Caio.


10 Great Things The New iPad Will Do For You

Sleeping-Canada-Geese

300mm f5.5 200iso 1/500sec

As I wait for my new iPad to be delivered, I fondly remember all the great things my original iPad has done for me. I am anxious, believe it or not my new iPad has been sitting in a warehouse only a couple of miles from me for over a week now. I didn’t buy an iPad 2 and some of the things about the new one are true for the 2 but I think the radical improvement will be just like starting a new. So let’s go.

1) Retina Display. People can explain and argue about what is really a retina display till the cows come home, and that is all fine but it really does not matter. What really counts is how good the new display looks. Judging from what I see on the iPhone and the history of excellence Apple has, this will be the most stunning display in the history of computing. It might not be much a couple of years from now but for today it will be the window to reality, everyone will be talking about the display. It will bring your images to life in a new way, they will now have all the color and crispness they deserve. At 2048x 1536 pixel resolution, you will want to show only your best work as flaws and heavy cropping will also become that much more noticeable.

2) New Cameras. 5 Mega pixel stills and 1080p video are an upgrade to the new iPad and bring the cameras up to an almost pro level, certainly to a point that the images can be used as part of a professional project. We all have lenses and DSLR’s for the most part and can do pretty much all we need, but imagine how easy it will be to grab an iPad and make a wide-angle shot or a quick 38 second video without having to swap out lenses. It’s going to be a lot easier.

3) Apps. iOs5 and the new iPad are ushering in a new class of touch based photo editing applications. iPhoto, Snapseed, and Photoshop Touch to name a few, all give the kind of editing power of their big brothers but allow the user to live within the iOS ecosphere. Pretty cool not having to hand off images between computers so much any more. There are other apps too. Want an education? Head over to iTunes U, one of my favorites is still iBird Pro which has evolved into a stunning iPad application that is informative beyond description. If you are in North America it is really a must have.

4) Mobility. It was not all that long ago that devices like the iPad were nothing but science fiction. With LTE the new iPad is functional pretty much anywhere. It just works! Need I say more.

5) Publishing and Sharing. Twitter integration, Facebook, Google+ and a whole plethora of social apps work almost seamlessly on the iPad. If you can’t get your word out now there is no technical excuse for it. Probably the biggest part of the iOS 5 ecosystem is the new iBooks platform for the iPad. iBook author (a Mac OS application) allows any would be author to put together a stunning multi media book and even sell it if wished. One thing that some people may not know about is iBooks don’t have to be published in the store, you can install you own books on individual devices making sharing among family and friends easy.

6) Portfolio. I actually think that a traditional print portfolio is still the best way to show your work. Two reasons for that, you don’t crop for a screen size and high quality printing is still the best resolution to display images. That said, a retina display iPad is the best digital solution for a portfolio. I have tried a few portfolio apps and quite frankly a lot of them are horrible, so be wary. In the end I landed on the Smug Mug app. You have to be a subscriber to the service but he app is free. It is a high quality, always working, no-nonsense way to display your pictures.

7) Connectivity. The new iPad is available in 4G LTE for both AT&T and Verizon. PC World shows both AT&T and Verizon are averaging about 25Mb speeds with peaks as high as 40 Mb. Even with lesser quality connections 4G transfer rates are equal to or better than most home internet service. With reasonably priced data plans and hot spot tethering the new iPad becomes as useful as a laptop in most situations. Not just for scanning the internet it now becomes a go to device in the field for both consumption and creation.

8) Presentation. The iPad can now connect to televisions, projectors, and other computers both wired and wireless giving the user the ability to do a presentation in almost any setting. Keynote and soon PowerPoint software will allow one to display high-resolution images and 1080p video and now recent iOS upgrades allow mirroring which lets the presentor see exactly what is being displayed on the big screen.

9) Multimedia. For years I have heard about how video is going to consume the still image experience and have not really seen it materialize, but I think that time has come being led by the iPad and iOS operating system. Not just video either but rather a true multimedia. I am talking about graphics, quality audio, voice over, and interactivity too. These are all things that we all want and will have to do. With iPhoto, iBooks, iMovie, Garageband, and a bunch of third-party applications he new iPad is going to be incredibly useful for both consuming and creating that content.

10) Storage. I really don’t recommend doing it but with a camera connection kit you can download images directly from your DSLR, edit, share and store them all on an iPad. I think there are much better solutions but with the larger capacity devices you can store a lot of photos. I see the iPad as a far more valuable device in its ability to interface with cloud storage solutions. Mobile Me Gallery actually worked pretty well but that is going away in favor of iCloud. iCloud is a confusing mess right now and I won’t use it, but other image storage cloud services like Dropbox and Smug Mug work great with the iPad. Beautiful crisp resolution and the ability to selectively download pictures for local storage are two features I really like.

So there are 10 reasons why I am anxiously awaiting my new iPad. How do I know it is going to be so good before I have even seen one? Somethings you just know!

*Update-Yup after my first day with the new iPad, it is everything I thought it would be!

Full disclosure–I am a shareholder of Apple Inc. and that has me feeling pretty good right now.
If you are still waiting for your new iPad you can check out some more of my photos at www.ronboyddesign.com