Interesting Links Roundup: November 9th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

Interesting Links Roundup: July 20th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera Phone – New Ebook Review

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera PhoneAs a photographer and an iPhone fan, I love mobile photography. I was excited to read EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with Your Camera Phone, the latest photography ebook from Craft & Vision. Author Al Smith dives into the world of mobile phone photography, offering a great resource for beginning and intermedia mobile photographers. It’s a good read (with one minor nag that I note below) and I recommend it for anyone with a camera phone. Here’s my review of the book (along with some limited-time discount codes at the bottom of the article).

Introduction and Philosophy

The introductory section of the book offers up Smith’s overall views on mobile photography; he begins by recalling the situation in which he realized the value in the ability to create images with his phone. As it’s been said that the best camera is the one that you have with you, mobile phone photography can take advantage of the “always ready” scenario. From the beginning of the book, the emphasis is on photography over the gear itself, and the author attempts to present the material in a brand-agnostic fashion although his experience using an iPhone for his work is shown in many of his app and hardware discussions.

A quick look at the hardware limitations of even the best camera phone provides a background for a viewpoint that simplicity breeds creativity and that the relatively low quality (when compared with modern DSLR or compact cameras) forces a photographer to focus more on the artistic, rather than technical, side of photography. Smith notes:

…a tool is only as good as the hands it’s placed in and the hands are only as good as the brain’s ability to guide them.

The remainder of the book follows a three-step paradigm that also applies to mobile photography.

Shoot, Edit, Share

As the book moves into a discussion of shooting, it offers a huge plug for the Camera+ iPhone app, devoting an entire page to the merits of this offering. While I agree that it’s a good app, it’s not the only option. Smith calls out the ability to separate focus from exposure, a feature that also exists in Camera Awesome (and probably some other apps as well). There’s a good discussion of the merits (and drawbacks) of the flash available on current camera phones; using the flash in the “regular” way often leads to poor results, but Smith suggests a few modifications and alternative uses for the flash that can help diffuse the light and make it a useful photography tool.

I do question some of the battery-saving advice in the shooting discussion. Smith advocates the use of airplane mode which will disable the wifi, cellular signal, bluetooth, and other battery-eating features of the phone. I’d offer that if you don’t need any of those other features, you probably don’t need to use a camera phone and might be better served by a point and shoot. The advice about how to “quit” iPhone apps given on page 22 is simply wrong – the description reflects a misunderstanding of how multitasking works on iOS.

The portion of the book devoted to editing is decent, and provides a mostly app-agnostic look at photo manipulation on the go. Instead of going into detail about specific apps, the discussion focuses at a higher level on what sort of qualities one should look for in an application, such as the ability to work in multiple steps (and undo), the ability to preserve original files, and more. I enjoyed his take on things and he does recommend a few specific apps at the end of the section.

EyePhone - better camera phone photography ebook - Craft & Vision

One of the big advantages of a connected device is the ability to easily share, and the book wraps up by looking at this component of mobile photography. The author is a big Instagram fan, not so much for the photo filters but more for the same reasons that I’m an Instagram fan: it’s a great social network for those who enjoy nice imagery. Some words are said about deciding how much to share (hint: quality over quantity) as well as avoiding sharing too much.

Conclusion

Overall I found EyePhone to be a good read. For someone who’s looking to make better images and exercise their creative muscles, a variety of techniques and ideas are offered that will help a mobile photographer create, edit, and share photos that go beyond the basics and might lead to more rewarding photography experiences.

The Craft & Vision ebooks are a great deal at the regular price of $5. Buy EyePhone using this link.

Interesting Links Roundup: May 16th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

Why I’m Bullish on Google+ Again

I joined Google+ on the day that it became available, and have always enjoyed the service. I generally find the web interface to offer a nice, visual view that allows me to easily connect with and browse the work of other photographers. It’s a much nicer experience that some other leading social networks.

While the Google+ web browser experience was pretty good, their mobile experience (at least on the iPhone) was pretty bad. There was a lot of wasted space, navigation was cumbersome, and some serious performance problems made it an onerous task to do something as simple as post a status update or share a photograph. My mobile photo sharing continued to focus on other applications while I mostly ignored Google+ when I was away from my desk.

The lack of a good mobile app led me to question how much time I’d spend with the service in the future. I became skeptical.

And then last week, this happened:

Google+ photo display Google+ photo display

An update to the iPhone app brings a new, beautiful photo-centric display which makes browsing a Google+ steam a very nice experience… arguably even better than the Instagram stream which now looks a bit plain by comparison. It’s easy to +1 photos (just tap on the + count), easy to comment, and the performance when posting new items is improved. In short, Google got this mobile experience right. Mobile photography is a big deal ($1 billion for Instagram, anyone?), and a beautiful mobile experience represents a big plus (pun intended) for Google.

There’s one big piece that’s missing (still): an API for third-party apps. My current mobile photo workflow involves using Camera Awesome to upload mobile photos to SmugMug and then cross-post to social services (sometimes Twitter, sometimes Facebook, sometimes Instagram). If I could post the images easily to Google+ as well, that would be a huge time-saver that could only increase my usage of Google+ while on the go.

I’m on the fence about switching to Google+ as my primary mobile social network (instead of Instagram). The API would make it easier, but it’s not too bad now with the new app. There’s a local Instagram meetup in a few days; I’m curious to hear what other Instagram users think about the new Google+ interface…

Join me?