I attended last night’s Rush concert in Philadelphia. Generally I’m unable to get my big camera into concerts, and usually have to fall back to a point and shoot. The point and shoot died last year, and I’ve been unwilling to replace it since I’ll rarely shoot with it. I’ve tried to use my cell phone as a substitute, but it really produces awful images. I managed to get a few decent shots last night, and thought I could stylize them rather than just come up with standard concert shots. I have a few more I may work on this weekend. This one was my particular favorite as you can see lead singer/bassist Geddy Lee’s connection with the fans. They are a great band
If you have an iPhone or iPad, and would like to tweak your photos easily then check out Snapseed. It is the free app this week in Apple’s App Store. I have it on the iPad, and iMac, and love it. It’s free for the iPhone, and iPad this week, but usually costs $5.
For those of you familiar with Nik Software’s other desktop photo editing tools you will see the similarities in Snapseed. The desktop filters for Lightroom, and Photoshop allow you to select points in the image to base your edits on using slider controls to change the image. Snapseed is very similar although it streamlines the process a bit for the iOS version, and of course no other software is required as Snapseed is a stand alone app.
I wrote about it in a previous post if you would like to get an idea of the dramatic changes you can make to your photos.
I played around in Snapseed for iPad last night, and came up with another example of how Snapseed can dramatically change the look of an image into something more interesting.
How many times have you been somewhere with your camera in your bag, or turned off, and hanging around your neck? I can’t count the number of times that something happened, and in a rush to get a shot I neglect to check my camera settings. I shoot a lot of professional baseball for fun, and stadium lighting can be very changeable. The shadow from a cloud on an otherwise sunny day can take your shutter speed from 1/1600 to 1/800 fast. Throw an improper metering setting in, and you can end up with your subject either over or underexposed. For that reason I tend to shoot using center weighted metering which is the closest my Canon 50D comes to spot metering. I have been burned many times by forgetting which metering mode my 50D is set on, and I end up with the wrong exposure.
The example I am using here is a shot I took while on Vacation a few years back. I took a shot of Thomas Jefferson’s house at Monticello. It was midday sun which is hard to shoot in for starters. It was also very hot, and I found my desire to capture a good shot was overtaken by my desire for a cold drink, and some air conditioning. I didn’t pay much attention to any settings, my resulting image was very flat. However I had enough data in the image that I was able to chip away in Snapseed until I found something more interesting. Don’t forget that you still need to have a decent exposure to begin with. I lucked out with this shot as I had enough pixels across the various levels to be able to lighten and darken without strange color shifts or introduction of too much noise in areas that were too dark. Software can only do so much.
I realize this image isn’t going to win any photography contests. However the ability to rescue a flat image to help you remember a fun event is a prize itself. For this image the first thing I did in Snapseed were selective adjustments. I lightened the house up, darkened the grass, and increased saturation. I also darkened the sky, and boosted saturation a bit before adding some drama effects, and increasing structure. Snapseed is so much fun to use because it has such a simple interface.
I think touch based editing adds a feel to creating art that you may not have experienced since grade school finger painting. Perhaps collectively as photographers we haven’t had something quite like this since cavemen painted on walls. The ability to see a direct effect from touching spurs creativity, and I think allows you to more quickly try out artistic avenues that may have been buried under menus and palette options. I look forward to seeing tablet based editing’s evolution.
A few years back I visited Monticello in Virginia. It was the site of Thomas Jefferson’s estate, and is quite an impressive architectural feat. Jefferson also was an avid gardener importing a variety of plants from all over the world to see if he could cultivate them here in North America. There were amazing vistas in every direction when looking from his gardens. A feast for the camera. Unfortunately the images I took didn’t come out as I expected. Until now.
I had been curious about using Snapseed. I had read so many glowing reviews of Snapseed that I was very excited when I was able to finally get it for my first iPad. It was one of the first apps I downloaded from the App Store. After tinkering with a couple of photos I had to have it for the Mac as well. It has a simple interface, and is very easy to use. Within minutes of opening an image you can transform a blah photograph into something very interesting.
The above image shows the before, and after effects of using Snapseed on my iPad. The image was originally shot on a very hot, hazy summer afternoon that hid a lot of detail in the sky, and caused the foreground to be underexposed. I was shooting a lot of HDR at the time, and performed a 3 bracket sequence that never quite materialized the way I thought it would. Even if you carefully expose you sometimes cannot get anything decent out of the HDR process. I was pressed for time this day so I used the spray and pray method of shooting As a result the images I shot that day stayed dormant in my Lightroom catalog until now.
I exported the original images to my iPad, and began tinkering around in Snapseed. You can see the results on the right side of the image above. It’s not technically perfect, and could use some more refinement. However you can see how a tool with as simple an interface as Snapseed can set you off in a creative direction you may not have discovered previously. I have experienced this several times over the past decade as I have gotten better at editing, and as the digital darkroom tools have evolved. Sometimes it’s worth going back to revisit images you thought were long archived.
I am particularly impressed at how well Snapseed handles halos and artifacts of sharpening, and adding structure. Even zoomed in to this medium quality jpg I don’t see much in the way of artifacting. I am also impressed at how little noise was introduced by lightening the foreground. If I had done this as part of my HDR process I would have probably seen chromatic aberration (fringing) of which I see none. So Snapseed can offer a great way to achieve an HDR look from a single exposure. See below.
I look forward to using Snapseed to quickly come up with ideas for an image. I’ll probably continue to do most of my editing on the desktop in Photoshop and Lightroom, but will defer to Snapseed occasionally if I think it will help my workflow for a particular image. Something like this could even be used as a layer, and combined using blending modes, and opacities to come up with something in Photoshop that is novel. As the tools evolve, and expand so do the limits of our creativity.
I am still finding my way in terms of using the new iPad in my photographic workflow. I think any serious editing has to be done on a desktop, or laptop computer. However for fun, and creative exploration the iPad is an obvious choice. I used Snapseed a few days ago to edit my first “on tablet” photo, and I was impressed with the results. Since then I have been moving images over to my iPad to see if anything strikes me as I go through an old library of photos from a trip to West Virginia. Continue reading Using the iPad for Photography
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I’ve been playing with the new iPad, and Apple TV for 4 days now, and continue to be impressed. Last night I purchased Nik Snapseed for the iPad. It was released for Windows, and OS X in the past, and a version for Android is on the way. I thought that an app like this would be most handy in a mobile setting on my tablet so I refrained from getting it for Windows last month. I thought that I would hold off for the Android version, and run it once my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was upgraded to Android 4.0 – aka Ice Cream Sandwich. The surprise twist was that I ended up getting the iPad on Friday. I’m glad I waited. (Backstory – I became an Apple computer, and tablet convert in the past 5 weeks)