Before Snapshots Were Digital

As the old song says, the boys are back in town. As you may have noticed, there haven’t been many posts here in recent weeks. I’ve been out in California. My father passed away after a four month struggle with cancer. He was a cinematographer for many years (primarily working on documentaries with PBS), and then tinkered around with a new way to produce tempeh (he was a vegetarian for more than 40 years), created some great art, enjoyed modern photography, and played tennis every day during his retirement. I hope I can get as much fun out of my retirement as he did!

Back in the ‘old days’ of photography – when pictures were developed in darkrooms – he took a lot of great shots. Here are two that just show the simple joy of childhood.

Having nothing but fun on a sunny day by the farmhouse.

Having nothing but fun on a sunny day by the farmhouse.

Nothing more fun than running with a frisbee.

Nothing more fun than running with a frisbee. That’s me!

Now that I’m back in town…posting will resume once again. :)

If you would like to donate to a charity, he requested donations go to the Farm Sanctuary.

NightCap Pro Adds Artificial Intelligence!

NightCap Pro, a Universal app, was updated to version 6 a few days ago with a wealth of new features and an updated interface. This app is the one you need if you want to do light trails or low light photography. From the description:

Do you find your photos a little dark and grainy in low light? Meet Aidie, the AI camera operator at the heart of NightCap Pro. Aidie (Artificial Intelligence Derived ISO and Exposure) handles the camera for you like a pro, ensuring you get the brightest, clearest shots possible. All you need to do is hold steady and tap the shutter.

NightCap Pro also has amazing tools for serious photographers, including full manual control with a unique gesture based system that gives you instant access to all controls. Simply swipe to adjust. ISO can go up to 4x higher than any other app, and there are 2 special long exposure modes: one removes almost all noise, the other captures light trails such as night traffic and even the movement of stars in the sky!

I’ve used the latest version (currently $2 on iTunes) and was really impressed. The changes to the interface (and nice walkthrough when you first start the new app) definitely made it feel more intuitive than prior versions, and ‘Aidie’ made it simple to take photos in really low light conditions. The new manual controls (and their interface) works flawlessly. There are lots of great sample images on the NightCap Pro home page and below are just a few of mine (last three edited with Snapseed).

A hand-held shot of a remote control in a dark room (you can tell the remote needs a cleaning!). The image on the right is from the built-in camera app.

A hand-held shot of a remote control in a dark room (you can tell the remote needs a cleaning!). The image on the right is from the built-in camera app.

To compare the noise in the images this is a closeup of the '3' region. This was handheld in a dark room and there was very little noise in the NightCap Pro image.

To compare the noise in the images this is a closeup of the ‘3’ region. This was handheld in a dark room and there was very little noise in the NightCap Pro image.

'Moving Man', A shot taken in the afternoon as a person walked past the window of a local coffee shop.

‘Moving Man’, A shot taken in the afternoon as a person walked past the window of a local coffee shop.

'Porch traffic', I propped my iPhone on my front porch as the sun was heading down on a stormy day. Several cars passed by.

‘Porch traffic’, I propped my iPhone on my front porch as the sun was heading down on a stormy day. Several cars passed by.

'Underneath the tracks', Using the light trails feature let's you get some awesome shots like this one. This is a local underpass as a truck passed through. A tripod was used.

‘Underneath the tracks’, Using the light trails feature let’s you get some awesome shots like this one. This is a local underpass as a truck passed through. A tripod was used.

If you want some great long exposure, light trails, fireworks, or low noise shots you can’t skip getting this app (selected by Apple for the App Store’s Amazing Photo + Video Apps promotion April 2015). Be sure to visit the NightCap Pro home page to see lots more images including star motion for the astrophysicist in all of us.

Download NightCap Pro on iTunes

And for one lucky reader, here is a code you can redeem to get a free copy of NightCap Pro: NJ3KJYW9YW6P

And three more promo codes:
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Why I’m Buying an Apple Watch

Many people have been discussing the Apple Watch for the past months, but tomorrow is finally the day when you can pre-order the brand new product.

Some really want one, some don’t, and others are waiting to see one in person. I’m going to order one for one reason – the camera remote function. From Apple:

Apple Watch can be a viewfinder for the iSight camera on your iPhone. So you can take a perfect selfie or join the group shot. See a live preview of what your iPhone sees, then snap the photo or set the timer on the camera.

Besides just shooting a photo, I’m curios if we’ll be able to control/toggle video, or flip from standard video to slo-motion video using the watch. I have a feeling in this version 1.0 of the Apple Watch we’ll only get the ability to snap a photo. In future versions I’m hoping for more. I won’t be awake until around 8am Eastern Time so I won’t be one of the first to pre-order and may not get my watch on April 24th…but as soon as I do I’ll let you know how it feels. Hopefully before June. :)

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Update: I randomly woke up at 3:25am and ordered my Apple Watch. Shipping estimate…June. Ugh.

watch_ship

Apple Releases Photos, Retires iPhoto and Aperture

Apple let us know that Photos would be arriving in early 2015, and that day has arrived. Apple released OSX Yosemite 10.10.3 today which included Photos. This app replaces both iPhoto and Aperture (a high end photo app). I’m sure some will be happy but many others will be frustrated by the changes.

apple_photos

You can learn far more about it on the Apple Photos page. When you first start Photos an introductory screen will appear and start providing a lot of information. I’ve been an Adobe Lightroom user for many years on my Mac and have briefly played with Photos. I like Photos more than iPhoto, but am not yet sure if I’ll start using it.

What I’m more interested in is getting the new “iCloud Photo Library” up and running on my computer, iPhone, and iPad. The iOS operating system was updated to version 8.3 today and that includes fixes for that feature. I’m going to be sure to back up my iOS devices first, since when I played with the beta version of the new iCloud Library a few really strange things happened.

In a month or so I’ll let you know what I think of it all.