Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Image Backup

As the iPhone represents an ever increasing part of my photography I am interested in alternative ways to backup images while on the road.  Carrying a laptop for image backup is cumbersome. I have a connector which allows wired (fast) backup to the iPad and I use it but I'm always a bit nervous and as I manipulate some of the images on the iPad keeping them straight becomes a chore.

I was initially excited about the Photo Stream feature of Apple's new iCloud service.  Built into iOS 5 (and the 4S iPhone) this service automatically uploads images to "The Cloud."  This works as a behind the scenes automatic image backup, which is giant.  The "Devil in the Details" is that it works perfectly for 1,000 images in each 30 day period, after that it's full 'till the 30 day timer expires and then we get another 1,000 image capability.  It's really quite easy to fill this buffer on any decent shoot.  So now I'm once again looking for a practical backup workflow for images when I'm on the road.  If Apple allows us access to our image section of iCloud this will be true best solution I think.

It appears that there are presently some solutions.  I've found 4 -    2 are hardware based and 2 are cloud based.  Each have advantages and disadvantages.


Although there are a handful of hard drives presently available which are iOS compliant most of these are designed to download TO the iPhone or iPad but not upload FROM the iDevice. The advertising is catchy and exciting but reading carefully shows that they spend a lot of ink mentioning all of the types of information that can be transferred to the iPhone (movies, music, games), but are silent on uploads from the iDevice. I have e-mailed or called each manufacturer I found and all but 2 confirm that their product will not meet my needs.

Hitachi G-Connect hard drive.  500 GB, $200, needs to be plugged in for power.  I have been assured 3 times by a Hitachi rep that this product is a good solution but I find myself waiting 'till a company with an iron clad no questions asked return policy decides to sell it (like Amazon or Costco).  The connection is wireless and it can serve up to 5 devices.  It's a smallish box with a power cord.  This evidently also works as a wireless router or hot spot for up to 5 devices.

HyperDrive-iFlash Drive.  This is a solid state device (flash drive) with a USB plug on one end and the iPhone plug on the other, quite small.  I am assured by the manufacturer that the iPhone will read from this device and write to it.  It appears to be an excellent solution but in my opinion is still quite expensive.  3 sizes, 8, 16 and 32 GB.  Prices are from $100 to $200. ($10 off sale now for "cyber" whatever day it is).
The disadvantage here for me is that I can be assured I will lose it.  For the past year or so I have lost just about everything small that I own.  I am completely unable to find these items no matter how hard I look right up to the day I replace it and then it's right on my desk or some such place.  So for me the price doubles.


There are App based cloud solutions in addition to iCloud's Photo Stream.  DROPBOX is one many of us are familiar with and with a WARNING perhaps the best solution so far.  The warning is that although the upload is easy to set up, if WiFi is lost it will continue the transfer over the Cellular network.  This could lead to a very nasty surprise when the Cell Bill arrives.
The images uploaded to dropbox are right on my desktop Dropbox Folder waiting for me when I get home and Aperture reads from this folder quite easily.  It renames files with the date and time of transfer.  I haven't yet checked to see I can change that or if it strips image information during transfer but as a backup it works.
I had initially rejected Dropbox because it dramatically reduces file size for transfers to iDevices and the developers have no particular desire to change this.  BUT...transfers from the iPhone to the cloud are full resolution...cool.

There is another free cloud based service, www.Box.com.  Box offers a range of services and it appears they also give 50GB storage for free.  I am testing this service now but so far I am unable to upload multiple images at once.  If this is a one at a time transfer it's unworkable.  Their reps also tell me that this will search for a cellular connection if WiFi is interrupted so the same warning applies.

There are some other cloud based offerings, such as iDrive Photo Backup but I have had problems using them so I think they're not quite ready...yet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meeting friends for the first time

An interesting experience when using the "Web" is getting to know people whom you've never met.  I'm perhaps not alone in referring to people as friends even though having never actually seen them in "real life."

I've followed, admired and learned from the iPhone Photography of Harry Sandler for iPhone years.   I recently met and photographed with him in Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Thanks to fellow iPhone Photographer Teri Lou Dantzler for setting that up.  It was a great 2 days and it was wonderful walking with someone who has as much trouble as I trying to keep up with TL when she's bounding up a mountain.

One very interesting use Harry makes of his iPhone is as a view finder for his 60 MP Swiss Arca.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Toy-First Images

My iPhone 4S arrived today.  I was able to activate it right from iTunes...cool.  My first impressions of the camera are quite favorable.  It's clear and it's fast.

A favorite Camera App is ClearCam which takes 4 shots quickly, analyzes them and saves the sharpest.  With the 4S, ClearCam takes and analyzes 6 shots in exactly the same amount of time.  The images are larger, 8MB and they appear to be sharper as well.  Not bad for a sensor which is probably about the size of a grain of rice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mixing Processes

In the midst of an otherwise gloomy-stormy week we had a brief 10 minute blue sky window.  The fact that it was sunset made for a dramatic sky.  I took a handful of iPhone images which I am working now but also grabbed a shot with my new toy, the Lumix G2.

I processed the image with Film Lab, an Aperture plug-in made by DxO Labs.  The resulting image, an Ektachrome simulation, I sent to my iPad and processed in the App PhotoForge 2.  I like the results.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

G.A.S attack

Friend and fellow iPhone Photographer, John Barclay writes in his blog about a newly acquired, used Nikon D-300.  I have to admit to a rush of Gear Acquisition Syndrome myself...GAS attack.

After numerous "conversations" with photographer Chris Eastwood I followed his lead and purchased a used Panasonic G series micro 4/3 camera.

I have been on a steadfast path to smaller and smaller cameras ending with the best yet...the iPhone.  There are however a few things I miss about a larger camera.  Isolation of subject via narrow focus is perhaps what I miss the most.  Another thing I seem to need more and more often is a viewfinder.   Small cameras are terrific and getting terriffic-er all the time but having everything in focus all the time isn't always an advantage.  Also for the once or perhaps twice a year I need a long lens...this will work. 

At any rate, the tendency of digital equipment to see it's cost evaporate rather quickly worked in my favor.  I found a used G-2 for sale through B&H a trustworthy outfit.  The plan was (is) to use my Nikon lenses but B&H also gave me a $100 discount on a lens, so I picked up a pretty sweet f1/7 20mm pancake lens for $249...the same price as the camera body.  Good lenses seem to always hold their value.

The camera arrived the other day and I don't think it's ever been out of the box...it's not used at all, still had the manufacturer's registration/warranty card...sweet.

It doesn't fit into my shirt pocket but it does fit quite easily into a jacket pocket...and as we wear jackets 9 or 10 months a year up here there's always a pocket available.

Some images:  size comparison with my iPhone and my Canonet 17, a small film camera...and a few shots from the G2.

iPhone image
 Canonet, Tri-X image

iPhone image

G2 images

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weather Change

The winter rains are returning, time for B&W.  I still have a handful of Tri-X in the freezer and for digital I am liking the App Simply B&W more and more.  I think I'm set for the 6 to 8 months of winter we'll get.

Monday, August 29, 2011

more B&W

There are now happily a number of good B&W Apps available.  A few new releases have some moody/dark capabilities that are fun.  I particularly enjoy seeing what others are doing with these tools.

I've been doing quite a lot of B&W iPhoneography lately.  I use the App "Simply B&W" quite exclusively and for my money it's the best.  It seems to surpass all others in tonality and also has the most "Untz" to steal a phrase from another App developer...mid contrast I think.

I haven't been doing much posting so here are a few.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I believe many of the visitors to The Palouse travel the same route:  a flight to Spokane, WA and then a drive south on US 195 to Colfax.  A delightful trip...if one watches their speed carefully.  The State of Washington however is quite geologically diverse containing a handful of distinctly different areas, The Palouse is one of them, so are The Scablands.

In prehistoric times as the ice sheets withdrew,  the giant lake Missoula formed behind an ice dam and covered much of what is now Montana.  I'm told that when the dam loosed itself from the rocks  500 cubic miles of water rushed through carrying much of central Washington to the Pacific Ocean.  The flood had 10 times the force of all the earths rivers combined.  My son the geologist tells me this happened perhaps 90 times.  Somehow this water spared The Palouse...a few miles west though the story is different.  The western edge of The Palouse is bordered by harsher land.

Called the Channeled Scablands in the northern section, south of the east/west I-90 they tend to drop the fancy first name.  The life, the land and the people are different from their eastern cousins.  Where it's common practice to leave the keys in the ignition in The Palouse..."in case someone needs to move it"  here I am very wary of trespassing.  84 degrees and breezy in Colfax?, the gauge tickles 100 in the Scablands and the breeze is never called that.  Wind!  and wind with grit for teeth.  Anyone who has spent extended time "in the field" knows that grit, it gets everywhere.  Any body parts that touch each other while you walk grind grit between them.  I swear sometimes it even gets under the fillings in your teeth.

Where Hwy 12 crosses the Lower Dry Creek Road is the town of Lowden.  Decent hardworking folk.  That they grow crops here is testament to their toughness.  I stop for a few snapshots, and a few jokes with the lovely smile that refills my coffee mug and aim the headlights east again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A New Sheriff

Since it's introduction, over 2 years ago, VintBW was the undisputed home-run king of B&W Apps.  I've been using the newest contender, Simply B&W for a week and it pretty consistently slaps them outa the park.  Move over Big Papi.

The results of these 2 Apps are very very similar.  In fact whenever I've thought I discovered a difference it turned out to be a mistake I had made.  The App though is a whole lot more convenient to use, and for that reason I will use it a whole lot more often.  For one thing it doesn't just throw everything away if you happen to leave the App before it's done, for another it will process saved images.

The ability to throw a thin white border around the image (or black if you like) is really helpful.  The filters it offers are fun. I've taken real advantage of R, Y, O to "dramaticize" cloudy skies and I was playing with the Blue filter in the garden today.  Yes I did say Blue.  I found I was able to do 2 interesting things, turn blue flowers into white of course but also the blue really darkened the green background foliage dramatically isolating the flowers.

The wind picked up on the following 2 images and the focus was slightly off (my fault), I sharpened them (twice actually) and can see now that they are oversharpened.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yarn Bombing

Billed as perhaps the next "thing" after graffiti, yarn bombers knit covers for all sorts of statues, trees, vehicles etc.  This is Elliott Park in Seattle, several trees, lightposts, a kiosk roof have been yarn bombed

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fireworks II

One of the OOF images further processed on the iPhone.  AutoPainter, Van Gogh


I used my iPhone to photograph fireworks last night. Slow Shutter Cam, Light Trail mode.  I set the shutter to B, started it when I heard the "Whump" and stopped when I thought the painted image looked about right.  Real scientific process here.

One of the things I remember from DSLR shots of fireworks is that it's really easy to overdo it. A few bright flashes and the image is a mess.  With the iPhone on Light Trail it paints the image onto the screen so it's a bit easier to judge.  About a third of the time the camera was pointed wrong (I was close, almost directly under the display), and about a third of the time the brightness of the firework just overwhelmed the sensor.  The other third I got what appeared to be a good image, but when I got home I discovered about half were out of focus.

I haven't figured a way top pre focus this App but have written the developer.


I'm a big fan of B&W photography.  Perhaps like others I find myself immediately attracted to B&W when reviewing thumbnails.  This is pretty great since with digital photography we get a B&W as well as a color image.  All we need to do is throw away the color...de-saturate.  Turns out that in order to make a good B&W image it takes a bit more than that, quite a bit more actually.

Enter the iPhone and the formula changes once again.  There are many Apps which will de-saturate the images and several more that give us various controls over the process.  Each has strong points, none work perfectly in every situation and many are almost tedious.  None that is but an App Vint B&W.

Vint was last updated Feb, 2009, an Ice-Age ago in iPhone time, and hasn't been updated since.  The developer Erik Pettersson has other things on his plate evidently.  Time after time new B&W Apps are released that seem to be as good as Vint but soon show that they are not.  There are some cumbersome problems with Vint though, it's a camera only App, it doesn't work on saved images.  So if after working a color image I decide to look at a B&W rendition I can't use Vint.  It also is kinda slow and won't work in background.  Now I am happy to discover that a new App finally seems as good as Vint...Yipee!!

Simply B&W produces images that are pretty much as good as Vint, and the images are easily improved.  It's a camera but works on saved images as well, in fact it will save a B&W image as well as a color image if used as a camera.  It has 2 areas that it falls a bit short compared to Vint, Contrast and Vignette, but it's tones, shades mid contrast etc are very very good.  It has a contrast control that quickly makes up for the shortcoming in this regard and also has 2 additional features.  It will apply color filters, R, O, Y, G, B and it applies a thin border, either B or W which goes on the outside of the image...which is a cool feature.  The program I use to apply Vignettes recognizes the border and doesn't apply the darkening to it.

The combination of features and being able to work on saved images is what I had been hoping for.  The developer Mr B Ware has a great product.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cloudy Days

Well now that it's summer the temps here will rocket up to almost 70, but then the clouds cruise on bye and the temps are back in the mid 60's.  The clouds though are great.  I'm shooting a TON of bracketed shots on the iPhone, this is one of them.  I was struck with how WW II -ish this building looked, contrasted buy the bright red porch (?).  I used iCameraHDR to bring out the saturated reds but wasn't crazy about the other colors being saturated also.

An App called PhotoWizard is my go-to masking tool, I masked the building and then desaturated.  PhotoForge filter Sin City removes colors with a slider, I removed 'till I had the mottled look I wanted, sharpened and called it good.  I tried a version without the yellow in the sign but didn't feel any differently about it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coffee Tasters

Oliver and Sam hard at work.

VintBW image processed in Snapseed on the iPad.  Crop, a touch of bright on their faces, textured, Vintage Film look and framed.