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Innovations in cellphone cameras and software — and a wave of apps that add artistic finishes — have revolutionized photography. Now anyone with a cellphone can snap photos with a professional feel and share them. But are these tools making us better photographers? We discuss the new social art of photography, and explore the best apps, tools and projects that are changing the practice of photography and “phoneography.”
- Lisbeth Ortega Editor, Photojojo
- Matthew Barrick Professional Photographer; and Adjunct Professor, Catholic University
Matthew Barrick’s picks for best photo apps:
Lisbeth’s Picks For Best Photo Apps:
- Image Blender for photos that look like double exposures
- Diptic for putting multiple photos into a grid
- SnapSeed – You can use it to add filters, textures, and make more precise edits.
- Vignette (an Android app)
- iPad apps for editing Photoshop Touch, iPhoto, Adobe Carousel
More of my personal favorites:
- Postagram for sending photos as a postcard straight from your phone
- PostalPix for ordering prints of your photos straight from your phone
- GIF Shop for making animated GIFs on your phone
- LensFlare, add 40+ lens flare effects to your photos from dreamy-looking sunlight to eerie J.J. Abrams-esque lights
- Camera+ for basic editing – straightening photos, cropping, making minor contrast, color adjustments
- 360 Panorama for shooting interactive 360-degree photos that you can share with anyone online
- Pocket Light Meter and Golden Hour — I use these with my film cameras and DSLR.
- I haven’t played with this, but this is an app that gives you Instagram-like filters within Photoshop. So the idea is that you can use those filters on your DSLR photos. It’s called Photogram: http://pskiss.com/
- We’re always writing about tips on using apps and DIY ideas on our Instagram (@photojojo), We Love Phoneography blog, and our newsletter.
- Here are a few write-ups we’ve done on phoneography:
- How to Use Your Android as a Photo Tool + Top 10 Apps
- 5 Fantastic DIY Ways to Take Your Cell Photos Off-Screen
- 10 Tips to Make Your Phone Photos Amazing
- 10 Ways to Play with Instagram
- DIY: Turn Phone Photos into Mural-Sized Prints
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Tech Tuesday. Let's do a little time travel. A dozen years ago, if you carried a point-and-shoot camera to a family wedding, chances are you'd take some badly lit shots of the cake cutting, turn in your 35-millimeter film to a store and wait two days for prints. Five years later, you were cutting out the store altogether and uploading photos from your digital point-and-shoot to sites like Snapfish.
MR. KOJO NNAMDINow, it's 2012, and you are a true phoneographer. You churn out artfully composed images with apps on your smartphone that make you feel like Ansel Adams or Diane Arbus. And who can be bothered with prints when you can share your shots directly on Facebook? The revolution in photography seems like it's on time lapse. And, for better or worse, the Internet is taking photography from a fine art to a social art with each app.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut are these new tools making us better photographers, and what's around the corner? That's our Tech Tuesday conversation. And joining us to have it is Lisbeth Ortega, editor at the online photography newsletter Photojojo. She's also a professional photographer. Lisbeth Ortega joins us from the studios of Sports Byline in San Francisco. Thank you so much for joining us.
MS. LISBETH ORTEGAHi. How are you?
NNAMDIWe're good today 'cause joining us in studio is Matthew Barrick. He's a professional photographer. He's also a professor at Catholic University. Matt, good to see you again.
PROF. MATTHEW BARRICKGood to see you.
NNAMDIIt's a conversation we're encouraging you to join by calling 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, send us a tweet at #TechTuesday, or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. What are some of your favorite photo apps for your smartphone? 800-433-8850. Matthew, when we look at the popular phone apps out there, retro seems to be the name of the game.
NNAMDIApps like Instagram and Hipstamatic are so popular that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg just paid $1 billion for Instagram. With an endorsement like that, do you see Instagram going the way of Polaroid, or is it here to stay?
BARRICKWell, that's a very good question. I think that it's going to be going, in part, by the way of Polaroid. I think that it's a trend that's happening right now. I think that it's wonderful with the retro aspect that you've got with it. But at the same time, you know, it's like everything in fashion where it's cyclical or, you know, art where it's cyclical, and it comes back and trends and fashions. I would hope that it would stay for his sake.
NNAMDILisbeth, at Photojojo, you've been tracking all kinds of weird and wonderful ways that Instagram is being used in phoneography. What are people doing with this app?
ORTEGAYeah. People are doing all kinds of stuff. What's especially exciting and interesting, I think, is the community aspect. So one really popular thing that's going on in the Bay Area and in New York, I'm sure, and other cities are Instawalks. And what those are the idea of a photo walk where you go out with a group of people who are also interested in photography or, you know, just playing with the camera that they have and just picking an interesting location such as Chinatown, or I've done one in the mission.
ORTEGAI've done one inside a museum, SFMOMA, and basically, going out and shooting photos, but the idea is to shoot through Instagram, so people are immediately uploading the photos and hash-tagging them Instawalk and other hashtags to keep track of them. And I think that's one really interesting way that people are using Instagram, yeah.
NNAMDIAnd, Matt, the Instagram Socialmatic Camera, lets users share digital photos and print out real paper ones. It's getting a lot of buzz. Could this Socialmatic Camera be the new Polaroid?
BARRICKI think so. Everyone wants to be able to see the images instantly. They want to be able to share. They want to be able to communicate. And I think this is definitely one of those apps and one of those pieces of hardware that they now have with the Instaprint where you can actually print through the camera that makes it quite wonderful.
NNAMDIHow do you think, Lisbeth? Is this going to be the new Polaroid?
ORTEGAI think it is. And, actually, Polaroid is already moving in that direction. They have two cameras out that do something really similar. They have their Z340 that came out recently, which is a digital camera that prints out Zink prints instantly. So basically, you can edit, and it has filters inside very similar to Instagram that you can add vintage filters and have your photos printed out. Another camera that they're coming out with is Android.
ORTEGAWhat do you call it? Android-powered digital camera. So it has a touch screen. It looks very similar to smart phones, but it's not a phone. It's a camera. It has higher quality resolution and filters. It lets you download apps on the Android market to apply them immediately and upload them to Facebook or wherever else you want to share them.
NNAMDIAlso, Lisbeth, there are so many cameras out there with kitschy fun functions. There are miniature panoramic and time-lapse cameras. There's a camera that only takes double exposures and one that puts two shots into one frame. Will there always be a demand for cameras like this, or will our cellphones eventually be able to do everything these cameras do?
ORTEGAI think there's an app for almost anything that you would want to do with your photos. And I think that there's a possibility that they could very well catch up with, you know, what analog cameras can do or what analog photographers have done in the past. There are apps like Image Blender that let you overlap photos, much like a double exposure. There are apps that let you combine multiple photos into one, like a grid, or you can choose different borders. I mean, there are so many apps out there. If you had an idea of something you wanted to do, you could probably just go in and search and...
NNAMDIThat's why I'm asking our listeners to share some of your favorite photo apps for your smartphone with us by calling us at 800-433-8850. In case you're just joining us, we're speaking with Lisbeth Ortega. She's editor at the online photography newsletter Photojojo. She's also a professional photographer. And she joins us from studios in San Francisco. In our Washington studio with us is Matthew Barrick. He's a professional photographer and a professor at Catholic University. Matthew -- by the way, 800-433-8850 is the number to call.
NNAMDIMatthew, you've heard me use the term -- and others have -- phoneography. I guess that's a take off on the word photography. It seems to be catching on as a legitimate art form. Last October, more than 300 people attended the first iPhone and mobile device photography conference in San Francisco where 2,000 people competed for prizes in a mobile photo contest. Do the fantastic pictures that amateurs are now creating with these tools, are those giving professionals a run for your money, so to speak?
BARRICKIn a way, I think, they are.
BARRICKI look at some quite often and go, wow, I really wish that was mine. The nice thing about it is you've got the camera, you've got the cellphone with you all the time, and you're able to capture life as you see it as it goes. And these apps are just fantastic in what they're able to do and what their -- the creativity they're enabling you to have. But, yes, in part, I do think that they are giving professionals a run for their money. But I also know that they still have a ways to go with, you know, certain applications of composition and the way photographs are taken. But, again...
NNAMDIBut you take photos for magazines. You take photos for print publications.
NNAMDIBut those publications are also catering to those of us walking around with our smartphone cameras.
BARRICKThey are. They are. They just take the -- you know, we're in an election season, where you've got, you know, people using their phones at different rallies and different, you know, functions. And a lot of these are getting picked up by newswires, and they're being put into print. I would caution people that, you know, your work is valuable and to take it as such, that, you know, you're not getting paid for it, and perhaps you should.
NNAMDIBut do you think anything can, at least in the immediate future, I guess, replace or displace what professionals do and that is that publications that need great composition, great lighting, that kind of thing?
BARRICKYeah, no, I don't think it will take the place of a professional photographer for specific purposes. Because, again, you're working with a piece of technology that really isn't quite up to snuff as far as professional cameras or even the midlevel or intro digital SLRs. We are able to...
NNAMDIWhich we'll get to.
BARRICKYeah. We're actually able to, you know, produce better quality images. And, of course, you're working with the lighting and the composition, the design.
NNAMDISpeaking of lighting and composition, let's go to the phones and talk with Joe in Charlotte, N.C. Joe, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOEHi. Thank you for taking my call.
JOEI studied architecture in school, and obviously, photography is a big element of that and photographing models and buildings. And what I've noticed is that with these new apps and kind of newer ways to take photography -- or take pictures rather, you kind of lose that sense of composition and lighting that was traditionally taught. And you kind of lose that keen sense for a certain angle or that, you know, that look and -- you know, when you see an image, you can just take it.
JOEI guess, I see it as kind of a loss of the art with all this technology. While it gives you the opportunity to take photos, it kind of shortcuts away, and you lose a lot of that sense of kind of integrity and composition in a picture.
NNAMDIWell, Matthew, you teach photography at American University.
NNAMDIAre these apps cutting out all the rules of photography, like, as we mentioned earlier, lighting, composition, editing? Where do we go to learn those skills?
BARRICKWell, you can take one of my classes.
BARRICKBut -- no, there a lot of classes still out there for, you know, amateurs and, you know, people to learn more about photography. I think Joe is right in a way that it does shortcut, you know, the true art of photography and the composition, you know, that you really need to learn in order to become a better photographer. The apps are giving you options.
BARRICKOne of the problems is the apps are giving you, again, that shortcut where it's giving you that retro look or it's doing something that, you know, back in the day, it would take, you know, hours to be able to recreate that. Now, it's much more simplistic, and I can instantly, you know, do that on my phone.
NNAMDILisbeth, do any of these new tools coming into the consumer market, are any of them necessarily making us, well, better photographers?
ORTEGAI think they are and in a couple of ways. One of those ways is basically just the practice of photography.
ORTEGASo people who haven't necessarily shot a lot of photos in their life are now shooting photos all of the time. And I think that's what makes you a better photographer. And I think what's interesting about Instagram is that you're immediately uploading your photos, and you're getting, in a way, critiqued on it. So you'll notice if your photo gets a lot of likes from your friends or your fans.
ORTEGAAnd you'll notice some others as well, and so you kind of feed off of that constant feedback. And I think playing with the apps, you know, is a shortcut. It's never really going to compare to shooting with a DSLR, but it's just giving you something to always have at your side to photograph with. And I think that's one way.
NNAMDIJoe, thank you very much for your call. Matt, do you find in teaching that your curriculum changes depending on the apps and tools that are coming out?
BARRICKYes, it does. I teach a cellphone photography class at Catholic University. And one of the things I always ask my students is if you come up with a cool app or a different app or an app that does something that, you know, the rest of the class would want to participate in, please, share it. And it's a continual learning curve. The one thing about photography is, and always has been, that, you know, again, the practice makes for being a better photographer.
BARRICKBut also, the tools of the trade enable you to do different things. It enables you to grow. It enables you to expand your palate, and these apps allow you to do that. And I just see a, you know, a fantastic horizon of different apps and devices that you can use with the cellphone.
NNAMDIAnd if you want to know why it is that, therefore, people are still buying cameras that are not a phone, well, that's something we'll talk about when we come back. But we're still taking your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. What kinds of challenges have you found taking photos with your cellphone? And how have you dealt with those problems? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's a Tech Tuesday conversation on innovations and photography, what they're calling phoneography, and apps. We're talking with Matthew Barrick. He's a professional photographer and a professor at Catholic University and at American University. Is that correct also?
BARRICKNot at American, no.
NNAMDINot yet? We haven't gotten you over here yet?
BARRICKNo. If you want to, please.
NNAMDIStill at Catholic University. Lisbeth Ortega is an editor at the online photography newsletter Photojojo. She's also a professional photographer. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Lisbeth, despite all these fun features of cellphone cameras, there are still a lot of down sides, too. Grip and shakiness tend to be one basic problem many of us struggle with when we shoot photos or videos. What are some tools, what are some tips we can use to mitigate that problem?
ORTEGAThat's true. There are a couple. One in particular that I'm thinking of is the Glif. That's G-L-I-F. And it started out as a Kickstarter designed by two guys who are into design and photography, and they made this tiny device that hooks onto or grips onto your iPhone, on the corner of your phone. And it has a tripod mount built into it. So basically, you can use your phone the same as any camera screwed into your tripod and stabilize it.
ORTEGAThat's one major complaint that people have, is just that it's hard to stabilize just because your phone is so lightweight and small. It's a little difficult to hold sometimes. There are grips that have been made. We actually saw one in the Photojojo store. It's a button that actually goes over the volume button on your iPhone and that lets you use and hold your camera just like any other camera. So you can hold it horizontally, and it just makes it easier so you don't drop it since that's kind of a fear that a lot of photographers have.
NNAMDIMatt, iPhone sales have skyrocketed last quarter. Apple sold 35 million iPhones. And its camera is a huge selling point. But what are the camera's imperfections, and what apps and tools make up for those imperfections?
BARRICKOh gosh, that's a little bit of loaded question there.
NNAMDIDoes that mean you like iPhones?
BARRICKThe sensors have gotten better. The optics have gotten better. The -- you know, it's able to generate larger file sizes. You are sort of regulated by what you can do with camera due to the optics of it. You know, the premise of how the iPhone works with the optics is a very small aperture, a very small array of lenses, which gives you more of a maximum depth of field, if you will. The apps allow you to now use selective focusing techniques, so that you can actually choose which area of the image you want to have in focus.
BARRICKSeveral different apps do, you know, so many different things. One of them is TiltShift Generator. So that's one that it acts like a view camera, if you will, where you have different planes of focus so that I can create, you know, a focus on an object that's 20 feet away, have an object that is, you know, 5 feet away in focus, as well as the 20-foot in focus. And then things in between and beyond are out of focus.
NNAMDIFascinating. And speaking of iPhones, let's talk with Jason in Washington, D.C. Jason, your turn.
JASONHow's it going, guys?
NNAMDIGoing well, Jason.
JASONSo I'm a photographer. I work for a museum in New York, and I do a lot of work in Syria. But I also have a 2-year-old daughter, and going on vacation with a multi-thousand dollar gear is heavy and cumbersome, and nerve-wracking, too, to be, you know, laying on the beach with a huge Canon and the telephoto and everything else.
NNAMDIAnd a 2-year-old crawling around. Yes.
JASONYeah, and the 2-year-old freaking me out over sand.
JASONSo I decided to take my iPhone. And what I figured out is if you know the absolute basics of photography, as far as composition and lighting, you can pretty much -- you can't get the resolution as the one guest was saying, but you can do a pretty decent amount -- a pretty decent job with your iPhone. And I love the app Snapseed. I don't know if you guys use that at all.
BARRICKYes, I use that.
ORTEGAYeah, I use it also.
JASONYeah. It's -- you know, I use their -- that company that makes it, Nik Software, I use their black and white conversion.
JASONAnd I actually love it. And it works well when your daughter's not...
NNAMDIFreaking out over sand.
JASONYeah, well, she's freaking out. I always say, do you want to edit photos with daddy? And then, you know, then we go and do it.
NNAMDISo your iPhone has now become your vacation camera?
JASONYeah, exactly. And, you know, I -- there was a really big debate on whether or not I wanted to get the smaller, and they -- Canon makes a really nice -- it's called the G12 pocket-sized camera, but it's really nice. But I like the idea of being able to edit everything that's not going to go into a large print book or on a museum wall or whatever. If it's just going to go on a camera or my computer, and my iPhone works great for it.
BARRICKYes, I do. I do.
NNAMDIDo you also approve, Lisbeth?
ORTEGAI approve also. I am the same way. I recently -- for Christmas, my -- I think, for some reason, my mom thought I wanted a point-and-shoot. And she got me a point-and-shoot, and I opened it. And I was kind of like, what, and then ended up returning it because I realized that I wasn't really going to use it just 'cause that's how I use my iPhone. It's like my point-and-shoot camera that I have on me all -- at all times.
ORTEGAYeah. Sorry, Mom.
NNAMDIJason, thank you very much for your call. Matthew, as much as we like to believe we're taking photos with a real camera when we take photos on our cellphone, we're not, right? Can you explain...
NNAMDI...the difference in optics between a cellphone camera and an SLR or a DSLR?
BARRICKWell, there -- again, the optics are the key with the resolution, the sharpness of an image. With the cellphone, it works more like a pinhole camera in the sense that the aperture is very small, giving you a lot of depth of field. A lot of things are in focus. But you don't have the physical ability to put into that camera enough optics to give you, you know, very good zoom quality, you know, some of the well light aspect that you're able to do with better optics. But, again, on the reverse side of it, you are working with a better chipset, in other words, better sensor that is in the phone now.
BARRICKI was telling somebody I think that, down the road, you know, within 10 years, the point-and-shoot cameras will be -- is going the way of the dinosaur where people are going to now be using the cellphone as their primary camera. The other thing that's going to happen is -- and, you know, I may be crazy in this aspect, but I feel that there is technology out there that will enable the screen to be both a capture device as well as a display device.
BARRICKSo, now, the screen will become a lens, if you will, and the camera can be able to capture a much better image. I know that you're aware of light field photography.
BARRICKAnd it uses some of the same aspects I was saying with multiple lenses on an array and capturing an image with all the different wavelengths of light at one time.
NNAMDISo they're going to figure out a way at some point that cellphones can have the optic capacity of DSLRs?
BARRICKIn a way -- in a different way, not truly the same way that you would have with the, you know, very fine glass that you have with digital SLRs, but I do think they will find a way to make it a much better product.
NNAMDILisbeth, once cellphones have optics, will that be the death now for the point-and-shoot market? What about the SLR market?
ORTEGAI think the SLR market will still be going even after, you know, the iPhone goes beyond what it is now. And I think the reason is that with DSLRs, there are just more -- what do you call it? There's more control, and there are, I think, more options in terms of the lenses that you can use. And I think the quality is probably going to always be better than an iPhone. And so, when it comes to shooting photos for magazines or, you know, if you are an artist and you want a really high-quality large prints, I think that's where the DSLR is going to keep going.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, Matt?
BARRICKI would agree. You know, there's nothing like a very good quality lens. I had my nephew, who's now into photography, ask me about some of my cameras. He said, oh, you know, I've been looking at, you know, an 11-by-14 view camera, you know, from 1903, and -- but the lenses are so expensive. And I said, well, I've actually got one of those lenses, but it doesn't work anymore.
BARRICKBut it's -- seeing the optical quality from where it began in the 1800s until now is fantastic. I think they're going to make the lens quality better. I think they're going to make it smaller. But I don't think that in the foreseeable future that there is a replacement for the SLR.
NNAMDIMatthew Barrick, he's a professional photographer and a professor at Catholic University. He joins us along with Lisbeth Ortega, editor of the online photography newsletter Photojojo. She's also a professional photographer. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Back to the telephones. Here is James in Clarendon, Va. James, your turn.
JAMESHey, how are you doing, Kojo? Thanks for taking my call.
JAMESI have a question. I am strictly an amateur photographer. I just do it for fun. I know years ago, there was just 1- and 2-pixel or megapixel cameras out there taking beautiful pictures. But with my cellphone -- one of the things when I choose a cellphone, I always look for the quality of the camera. Well, now you have cellphones with 5 megapixels, 6 megapixels, 8 megapixels, and I'm trying to find out what is enough for an amateur photographer with a cellphone camera.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, Matt?
BARRICKWell, again, I am an iPhone user. Love the iPhone. You know, Android makes one that's very good as well. The optics are getting better. The chip sensors are getting better. You're able to, you know, blow the images up larger. But, again, it just depends on what the final product is. You know, what is it that you want in the very end? Do you want a mural-sized photograph?
BARRICKOr do you want something that is a 3-by-5 to put in the family album? And, most definitely, all of the cellphone cameras that out there now can produce a very good quality, you know, 3 1/2-by-5, 4-by-6-sized image without any problem. It just depends on what you want as the final output.
NNAMDIThat works for you, James?
JAMESYeah, it does. I think that's pretty much the question. I guess my question is is that I guess they're going to continue to go up in quality.
JAMESAnd I'm thinking is my 8-megapixel camera good enough to, you know, have a 8-by-10 picture done?
BARRICKYes and no. You know, it just depends on the condition of the lighting, what the subject matter is. If it's taken in low lighting, you blow it up. You're going to see a lot of digital noise with it. If you've got a lot of light and, you know, it's very crisp, 8-by-10 would work just fine. But, yes, an 8-megapixel camera is, you know, just fine for an 8-by-10.
NNAMDIJames, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDILisbeth, we were talking about DSLRs and the DSLR market. What are the biggest changes that you're seeing there?
ORTEGAOh, with DSLRs?
ORTEGAI'd say the latest big change, which was actually probably a few years ago, is that DSLRs can now shoot video. And I just see a lot of people picking up on that, a lot of photographers who previously weren't into videography experimenting with that. Especially I see that in wedding photography. I just -- I see that in artists, photographers who are artists. And I think that's sort of the direction that was going in. It just lets videographers switch out lenses, have gear that is more lightweight.
ORTEGAThey're able to put cameras in places where maybe they wouldn't have been able to put larger video cameras in to get better angles. I've just read an article that they did that on the set of "The Avengers." They are using the Canon 5D and the 7D to shoot stunt scenes, putting cameras under sewers to get low angles and stuff like that. So I think that's the way it's going -- it's not -- I don't -- I wouldn't say it's moving very rapidly the same way that the iPhone is changing and evolving. But it's definitely exciting that the people are shooting video with DSLRs.
NNAMDIIt's exciting, but it can also be a little complicating for a professional photographer if you are shooting an event and all of a sudden now you're expected to shoot both still photographs and video. How do you combine the two, Matt?
BARRICKIt is difficult. I don't shoot video and stills at the same time, and I don't have the capability right now. I've got a video camera that I use. I use that when I want to shoot video and still when I want to shoot still. One of the things that's happening though, they're getting the photojournalist now to shoot both things and, again, at the same time. One of the things that you have to think about is that there are two different mindsets to it.
BARRICKYou know, when you're shooting video, you have to leave the camera parked in order for the subject matter to move within the frame, whereas, if you're shooting stills, you're moving the camera to put the subject matter in the frame where you want to put them. And, you know, shooting the two at the same time is rather difficult. I just downloaded an app for my iPhone which utilizes video but shoots stills from those -- from the video.
BARRICKBasically, it's video still graphed, and it's called Fast Camera. So what you do is you just take it, and it's use for things like, you know, if you're using a motor drive for a digital SLR where you're taking sport shots. You don't want to miss the scenes, so you just hold the camera up and press go. It takes, you know, 50 different shots, and then you've got all those sort of lined up. But, you know, it's, again, a different mindset, and it is difficult to put the two things in at the same time.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones, Bob in Owings Mills, Md. Bob, your turn.
BOBYeah, I was just a nature hike a couple of days ago. We were doing some bird watching and heard a lot of birds, couldn't see them. They were way up high. And a professional photographer, a nature photographer came along, and I was telling him about the birds, and he said, oh, watch this. And he pulls out his smartphone, has an app that plays bird calls. And within a minute, the birds were just coming at us.
BOBAnd next thing you know, instead of being 100 feet away, they were flying around just like mosquitoes. And, you know, it was a great way for me to get great shots of these birds that were now two and three feet away sitting in the bushes wondering what all this racket was coming from my smartphone.
NNAMDISo have you downloaded the app for yourself?
BOBNot yet. I got to get a smartphone first.
NNAMDIWell, that's two purchases for you. But, Bob, thank you very much for your call. On now to John in Lorton, Va. John, you're on the air. Go ahead please.
JOHNHi everybody. How are you?
JOHNOK. The best thing about digital photography can be also the bane, and that is the fact that you could take as many shots with as much abandon as you like. But what do you end up doing with all of these shots at the end? So I'm asking the panelists, what do you do to manage the reams and reams and thousands and thousands of photos you end up with over the stretch of a year or two?
ORTEGAYeah, I do it ruthlessly, so I regularly go through -- say I'm in an event or I'm on a photo walk or something, and I, you know, shoot a million photos of all the same thing. I immediately go through and just start deleting, deleting, deleting all the ones that I don't think are as good or the ones that are blurry or out of focus. And then the ones that I do like, those are the ones that end up on my roll, and I upload them to my computer. And I save them there.
ORTEGAAnd I guess uploading also, like, instantaneously helps me manage sort of what I want to keep and remember so -- either uploaded to Instagram or Facebook or wherever I want people to see it, Flickr maybe.
NNAMDIHow about you, Matt?
BARRICKWell, I'm of a different school of thought. I never throw anything away, unfortunately. So when I'm shooting professionally...
NNAMDIMatt, the photo hoarder.
BARRICKYes. Everything I shoot professionally with my digital SLR, I do end up keeping. I do go through and edit, obviously, shots that are not going to be good and toss those, but most everything I keep. And then the same thing with my iPhone, and they you can, you know, upload to an iCloud or, you know, another device, download them to your computer.
BARRICKI stress very much to my students that you need to have these images in three different locations where you've got something that it is on your local computer, you know, something that is on an external hard drive, and then something that is offsite so that you do have these backed up.
JOHNAre there any software programs -- Adobe Photoshop had Album, and they discontinued it.
JOHNBut are there any good applications that you can recommend that would help people more or less catalog their things, so they could say, hey, so my birthday was on March of last year and just go to March of last year to find it instead of looking for the DSL0056789?
BARRICKThere are. And I'll let Lisbeth speak to those who are definitively. But one of the things that you can do that I do as a professional is that you tag all of your images, and you put meta data to them so that you've got things, you know, you put tags of, you know, birthday, you know, or date or location. And now they have things that are, you know, the cameras have GPS possibility so that you actually have the location of where you are for the photographs so you can actually, you know, search for it that way. But, Lisbeth, what do you think?
ORTEGAYeah. Off the top of my head, I would say, might depend on what kind of operating system you are on your computer, but I know that you can arrange your files. So say, like, you open up a folder, and you can arrange them, I believe, when they were last modified and-or shot. I looked this up before, and I know there are ways to do it. I think if you do a search, you might be able to find it. But it'll basically pull up the photos in the order that -- hopefully that they were shot and...
BARRICKCorrect, by date.
ORTEGAIf you upload your photos to Flickr, this doesn't necessarily help for, you know, your entire catalog. But for your photos on Flickr, you can go to -- there's an archive option, archive view, and you can see your photos listed by year and month (unintelligible).
NNAMDIJohn, good luck to you, and thank you very much for your call. We've got to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this Tech Tuesday conversation about photography, what they're calling phoneography and apps, taking your calls at 800-433-8850. If you have already called, stay on the line. Speaking of which, how do you save and store your photos? You might be able to help John. 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's Tech Tuesday. We're talking innovations in photography with Lisbeth Ortega, editor at the online photography newsletter Photojojo. She's also a professional photographer. And Matthew Barrick, he is a professional photographer and a professor at Catholic University. We got an email from Roger in Manassas, Va., who says, "I think it is still true that the best way to grasp photography is to start out in black and white so as not to become intoxicated by color and not worry about context, composition, lighting. Shooting from the hip will always be with us.
NNAMDI"But rarely will it produce real quality photos. But many, many people will now appreciate a good photo when they see one." And this we got from Chris in D.C. "I'm a professional photographer based in D.C. I shoot editorial and advertising. One thing I find interesting is how the aesthetic of popular photography, produced on cellphones, has changed what art directors and art buyers are looking for, even for high-end campaigns. The difficulty comes in when trying to recreate the look of some of the apps with my $5,000 DSLR." What do you say to that, Matt?
BARRICKIt's true. You know, things like photo stitching and techniques, filters, different frames, you know, it's very easy with some of these apps to create it instantly. If you do this in Photoshop, it takes hours. It actually takes hours to get these things completed, which, you know, that's -- you know, time is money, and, you know, people aren't going to want to pay this for that expense.
BARRICKSo you get these apps that instantly produce these types of vintage looks, sepia tones, a lot of things that are based around 1970s Kodak types of film and cameras and toy cameras, that sort of thing. But, again, the quality isn't quite there as far as the resolution is concerned. So there is a give and take to that.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones. Here is Adam in Rockville, Md. Adam, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ADAMEnjoying hearing it. I called to comment. I'm a digital image processing engineer, and I actually work with a lot of different data that comes off a lot of the sensors that are on board the cameras. And what's interesting, though, to me is, you know, with this new dimension in digital photography, everyone -- there's an emphasis on the cellphones. And everyone seems to think -- well, I shouldn't say everyone. A lot of people seem to think that it's -- you know, that point-and-shoot is going to go away. And that might very well be.
ADAMI just wanted to kind of emphasize that -- you know, I'm coming from a traditionally film background and to, you know, couple on to what you were just mentioning from an email, you know, the really great thing about photography at its roots is the ability to understand things like f-stops and how light behaves and depth of field and the theory of composition.
ADAMMy greatest concern with the -- all the technology and the gadgets and the apps is that those things are really great. And they're novel, and they're -- you know, they're really great to play with, and they're really available to anyone who wants to try and experiment with them. However, I really don't think those things are ever going to take away or even, you know, change the face of what professional photography really is at its heart, which is really based upon the film principles. We've just gone to electronic sensors.
ADAMThe other thing I just wanted to point out is the problem with these sensors, OK, is that they're -- a lot of times, they're, you know, charged, a couple of devices or these different types of optics -- not the optics, but, you know, chips that are in there. And it's based off of -- you know, unless you're shooting in the RAW, you're always going to have some kind of exchange between resolution and file size. If that's understood, you know, that's definitely not a problem to anyone who's using it.
ADAMBut I think the wonderful thing about the new applications that are out there and the -- and a lot of the pictures being taken with the cellphones is that it has created this, you know, more enthusiasm, resolution for more people to try it. With that said, I think we should also keep an eye out to understand if someone's becoming serious or they want to become a professional photographer, you know, we're still going to always have those basic principles of how light behaves, f-stops.
ADAMAnd, really, I think even films in my -- I'm an old film guy, so, you know, I always seem to think that, you know, film is always going to be one of those greatest things that the mind's eye can always see, we've always tried to strive for. And, so far, I know it's headed, but I have not really seen -- maybe in the digital SLRs, but I have not seen cellphones really approach that kind of film look that you can get using, you know, 35-millimeter film.
NNAMDIWhat do you say to that, Lisbeth?
ORTEGAI think that there are a lot of apps out there that attempt to -- so I know there's an Android app, like Vignette, that tries to imitate certain film looks. But, yeah, I think you're right. It's never really going to quite do it in the same way. There's something -- there's a quality about film that I think just can't totally be imitated. But I know not everyone has that same opinion, but, yeah.
NNAMDIAdam, thank you very much for your call. Matt, let's talk about some new things: light field photography.
NNAMDIMIT's Technology Review just named light field photography as one of the top 10 emerging technologies. Could you tell us more about it and how it could change camera design?
BARRICKI'm a novice with this, and I've looked at it. I actually started to read the person's dissertation on the technology.
NNAMDIIt allows you to adjust the focus of the image after you've taken the picture?
BARRICKIt does. Here's the layman's term with it. It's sort of a shotgun effect to lighting. And the way I would describe it is if you've got a garden hose with a nozzle on the front of it and you first open it up and the nozzle spray is going, you know, really far and wide, and then, as you start to press it down, it narrows it down and gives it a more focused look to it, what's happening with this device is it's capturing all of the wavelengths of light and all of the light in all the different directions at one time.
BARRICKAnd then, through digital processing and a small lens array that is within the device, it's allowing it to manipulate those focal points. And with traditional cameras and traditional aspects of photography, you've got the lens, you've got a focal plane, and you've got a lens plane. And when the two line up, whatever you're focusing upon, you know, that becomes in crisp focus. What this is doing is grabbing all of the wavelengths of light at the same time and allowing you to select the focus later on.
BARRICKAgain, with this, you're using the technology of digital to make this happen, where you've got -- in Photoshop, you have -- when you're sharpening a photograph, it's not actually sharpening it. It's actually taking adjoining pixels and creating contrast between them, which makes it look like it's more sharp -- same basic principle with this.
NNAMDILight field photography. On to David in Leesburg, Va. I think David may have an app question for you, Lisbeth. David, go ahead, please.
DAVIDYes. Thank you, Kojo. I'm a longtime listener and a longtime fan.
DAVIDI want to ask your panelists if they could recommend an app for me. A long time ago, I had a Hallmark greeting card application, and one of the wonderful things that it had on it was a conversion of pictures into drawings. And I was wondering if any of your panelists had any good apps that do that they could recommend.
NNAMDIConverting pictures into drawings, Lisbeth.
ORTEGAHuh, let's see, like a sketch drawing? I think, off the top of my head, I have one called CamWow...
BARRICKThat's a very good one.
ORTEGAYeah. It's similar to Photo Booth on, like, a Mac. So it has, you know, a bunch of different kind of fun filters, sort of like the Andy Warhol look, a mirror. And so I think one of those is -- what do you call it? -- a drawing. It, like, converts your photo to a drawing. And then you can sort of do -- you can sort of probably fake it with other apps like PicFx and, I think, Snapseed.
ORTEGAThey let you add sort of texture, and you can play with the contrast...
NNAMDIAre you writing this down, David?
DAVIDI'm trying to. What was that first one?
NNAMDIWhat was the first one?
ORTEGAKind of like ShamWow.
NNAMDISpell that please.
BARRICKCam, C-A-M, and then W-O-W.
NNAMDIAnd you can find a lot of great links to apps on our page at kojoshow.org, and we will be adding more when the show ends today. So check back for specific app names recommended and discussed by our guests in case you didn't get the, well, spelling correctly. But, David, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIOn now to Roxanna in Fairfax, Va. Roxanna, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ROXANNAHi. Thank you for taking my call today.
NNAMDIUh-oh. You're breaking up, Roxanna, so...
ROXANNA(unintelligible) older camera. It was (word?) and the color quality...
NNAMDIRoxanna, you need to start over again. We missed the first part of your statement. And we're missing the second part of your statement. Roxanna, I'm going to put you on hold. And if we have time, I will get back to you. In the meantime, here's Cathy in Bethesda, Md. Cathy, your turn.
CATHYHi, this is Cathy. And I'm interested to know, if you were going on a trip to Africa, would you take your cellphone or your little Lumix point-and-shoot camera? Or should I buy a serious camera?
NNAMDIWell, first and foremost, I would take my favorite local talk show host. That's who I would take with me.
NNAMDIBut let's see if our panelists have any other recommendations.
BARRICKI would take both. I -- you know, again, this is a very nice trip that you're going on, and memories, if you miss them, are gone. And I think there are positives and negatives with each different thing. The digital SLR, bulkier, you have to carry that around. Cellphone camera is compact, but it doesn't have the same capabilities. I would honestly do both, and I would have a digital SLR with me. It doesn't have to be anything, you know, grandiose, but you could have something that's an intro model.
CATHYAn intro model, OK.
CATHYGreat. Thank you very much.
NNAMDICathy, thank you very much for your call. Lisbeth, before we go, what are the best programs we can have on our tablets and laptops for editing photos? Give us some ideas for novice editors and maybe some for those who are more advanced.
ORTEGAYeah. So for the iPad, I know iPhoto recently came out with a touch-edit app so -- similar to iPhoto on the Mac, basically a lot of the same features as, you know, straightening, cropping, color editing. I haven't played with it totally, but I know that that one's a lot of people are using.
ORTEGAThere is also Photoshop Touch, which is similar to -- it comes with the Photoshop, I think, CS6 and similar ideas, so using your finger and swiping on the screen to edit your photos. One that I know is for photographers who are a little more serious about editing is Adobe's Carousel. It takes the idea of Lightroom, which is a program that photographers use to save their original photo file without -- it sort of...
NNAMDII'm afraid we're running out of time very, very quickly. In 30 seconds, any suggestions you have, Matt?
BARRICKI just downloaded one which is called 360 Panorama, and it's fantastic. You can do a 360-degree panoramic image. So I'm interested to play around with that one.
NNAMDIAnd we're going to do our best to figure out how to get that on our website kojoshow.org 'cause he took pictures of the studio while we were broadcasting using that app. Matthew Barrick is a professional photographer and a professor at Catholic University. Matt, always a pleasure.
BARRICKAlways a pleasure with you. Thank you.
NNAMDILisbeth Ortega is editor of the online photography newsletter Photojojo, which should be called Photokojo, but we're going to discuss that. She's also a professional photographer. Lisbeth, thank you for joining us.
ORTEGAYeah, thank you.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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