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I have a traditional lightbox anchored at the studio that I use for viewing slides and negatives, and sometimes product photography as well. It's big, bulky and works great. But sometimes I want to work in other places as well. And in those instances, the iPad makes a great light source.

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There are several apps you can use to enhance this experience. I like Light Box - Illuminator Viewer that I bought a while back for 99 cents. It keeps the screen lit without the iPad going to sleep, and makes it easy to adjust brightness. Plus it has some cool grids available as well that I've used for product shots.

IMG_0029.jpg The 99-cent app, Light Box - Illuminator Viewer

Different iPad Resolutions

I have the original iPad that was released in 2010. And yes, it still works great. I use it for sleeving negatives and organizing slides. Because it isn't a retina display - only 1,024 x 768 pixel at 132 ppi - it isn't as good for critical viewing of negatives and slides via a loupe because you can see the pixels of the screen itself when magnified.

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It's great for sleeving negatives, however, because the illuminated surface is the exact width of 5 frames, which is the length that I cut my negative strips. And if I want a closer look with a loupe, I can certainly do that as well.

If you're going to spend a lot of time with the loupe, then you'll probably want to use a tablet with a higher resolution screen. My iPad mini 5 display has 2048 x 1536 resolution at 326 ppi, and it's great for examining image detail with a magnifier. The pixels aren't an issue.

So it really depends on what you're going to do and the needs you have. I actually use both devices for my work, and I have the Light Box app on each iPad.

Other Illuminating Uses

The iPads also make great light sources for product photography. And because we're just talking about continuous light output, the resolution doesn't really make a difference. Just position the iPad like you would any softbox and fire away. You can even use your smartphone as the camera (why not?) to complete the super mobile studio.

I also use the older first gen iPad as an illuminated platform for product work. For a high tech look, I sometimes use the Grid 1 in Light Box. It looks pretty cool.

Bottom Line

The continuous, adjustable illumination from a tablet can be used in many ways. I find it interesting that I leverage the iPad for traditional film work all the way to a modern photo studio. And the fact that a 9-year-old device is still productive today just makes it all the better.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

By the time Tim Cook and Phil Schiller took the stage on Sept. 10, 2019, most of us knew that the latest iPhone wouldn't support 5G connectivity. We had seen the pictures of the third camera, however, so it was time to learn about some of the details. And for the most part, they were quite good.

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The bottom line is, if you like smartphone photography and videography, then you're probably going to love the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. They are computational photography beasts. Starting with the A13 Bionic processor, adding a third camera that covers ultra wide (13mm equivalent f/2.4 5-element optic that provides a 120 degree field of view), and topping it off with a beautiful Super Retina XDR screen, iPhone 11 Pro has some serious game for picture lovers.

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Other noteworthy enhancements include night mode, beefed up battery life, and a few imaging tricks including Deep Fusion, which Phil Schiller gushed as, "computational photography mad science."

As Macworld more calmly described it: "It's Night Mode on steroids. When snapping pics in low to medium light, the AI engine will snap 9 images - 8 images before the shutter is snapped and then a long exposure shot when the button is pressed - to get every possible exposure. Deep Fusion will then examine every pixel to optimize the shot for detail and noise, creating the best possible photo."

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Pricing is about what one would expect, with iPhone Pro starting at $999, and iPhone ProMax weighing in at $1,099. If you're fine with just two cameras and more modest features (probably not many in this audience), then the regular iPhone 11 starts at just $699.

The big question for many of us is: do we want to hitch our wagon for the next 2-3 years to a smartphone without 5G? Unless you're the type to upgrade every year, the prospects of entering 2021 without a 5G phone that you're still paying for is worth thinking about.

If 5G isn't an issue for you, however, and you just love the thrill of computational photography, then the iPhone 11 Pro is a tempting device for sure. And I'm sure the images it produces will look great on that new Super Retina XDR screen.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

We've all experienced this. You're out in the world trying to load a web page on your smartphone, and you get the message: "Server not available." Here's the fix that works practically every time.

Turn off your WiFi.

That's right. Our mobile devices are adept at grabbing any network that happens to be in our vicinity. That's great, except that often those options are not functional for us. Even the pervasive Xfinity WiFi is a hit or miss option. So you've hitched your wagon to a horse that's going nowhere.

Since our phones tend to give WiFi priority over cellular, our connection to a funky WiFi network often leads to, in reality, no connection at all - except that we don't realize it. So we can't load that web page or access that service, and we don't know why.

turn-off-wifi.jpg Sometimes you need to turn off WiFi for better connectivity.

On an iPhone, go to Settings > WiFi and turn it off via the top slide button. This forces your phone to use the cellular network, and your web page or online service should now load seamlessly (granted that you do have cellular connectivity in that location).

Once you're done with the session, remember to turn WiFi back on, so it's available when you return home or to a useable connection.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Better Image Importing in iOS 12

Apple fixed one of my most frustrating nits with importing images from a camera card to my iPhone: those tiny thumbnails.

IMG_3272.jpg Tiny thumbnails on an iPhone.

In previous versions, it was difficult to tell which shots I wanted, and those I did not, because I had to make decisions based on thumbnails too small to tell.

Now, I can pinch-zoom on any of the images to unlock a bigger view to make it easier to decide which ones I want, and those that I don't.

IMG_3273.jpg Relief! Bigger views of my images.

This improvement has made it far more fun to bring in images from my mirrorless cameras, then incorporate them into my Photos workflow.

I'm still learning iOS 12. But at the moment, this is my favorite photo improvement.

The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition

Updated for macOS High Sierra, the The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Ed. provides you with the latest tips, techniques, and workflows for Apple's photo management and editing application. Get your copy today!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

iPhone X in New York City

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This was a crazy trip from the start. Zach and I caught a red eye flight to JFK from San Francisco on Saturday night. Then we bused in to Midtown at 6 AM and were planning our day an hour later hunched over coffee at the McDonalds across from the New Yorker. Things never slowed down from that point.

I knew that this was going to be the ultimate Nimble Photographer trip. I had my laptop and Micro Four Thirds kit stashed in my backpack. But from the minute we checked in, until I caught the red eye back home 3 days later, my bag stayed in the room, and it was just Zach and I on the streets of New York.

Kids and Pigeons, Central Park "Kids and Pigeons, Central Park" - iPhone X. Processed in Photos for macOS and Luminar 2018. Photo by Derrick Story.

This is precisely the situation that motivated me to spend the extra money for the iPhone X last year. With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees F and high humidity, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of any type. Our kit for the day were shades, wallet, and smartphone.

Columbus Circle
"Columbus Circle, NYC" - iPhone X. Processed in Photos for macOS and Luminar 2018. Photo by Derrick Story.

The thing about it was... I was in NYC, one of my favorite places for street photography. So I wanted to be able to capture the world as we maneuvered through it. And the dual-camera iPhone allowed me to do just that.

I worked quickly and without drawing attention to myself. Zach and I kept our pace as we worked through our ToDo list (he's getting settled for a Summer internship with the NBA), while I also recorded images of us, New York City, and the people who make it interesting.

Inside Out
"Inside Out, Time Warner Building" - RAW file captured with iPhone X. Processed in Photos for macOS and Luminar 2018. Photo by Derrick Story.

I did process most of the images on my laptop once we returned to the hotel. I used Photos for macOS (the images were there waiting for me thanks to iCloud) and Luminar 2018. The changes were saved back to all my devices for sharing on social.

I could never be limited to a smartphone for all of my photography. Just like I could not survive with just a Phillips head screwdriver in my toolbox. But for this whirlwind trip to New York, the iPhone allowed my to stay focused on my son, yet come home with many wonderful visual memories.

After the second red eye home, I'm a little bleary-eyed today, but very happy.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

Also be sure to check out my new book, The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition. It's completely up to date!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

I read the announcement about Camera Plus 2 on DP Review and decided to give it a spin. I had been a big fan of the original, and thought the new version might be good for RAW capture with my iPhone.

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After an evening of testing, I do like the updated interface. I had no problem controlling my captures and getting the results that I wanted. As for RAW photography, as long as I shot RAW+Jpeg, the images showed up perfectly in Photos on my Mac. They appeared as RAW+Jpeg pairs with the Jpegs on top - the same way images come in from my Olympus and other interchangeable lens cameras.

If I shot the RAWs and Jpegs as separate files, however, there appears to be a bug where the RAW comes in as a thumbnail only. My guess is that this will be fixed soon. But in the meantime, I would stick with RAW+Jpeg as a combined file for Mac photographers.

All the other features worked great (including the wonderful editing interface). And for a one-time fee of $2.99, this app is a gem. I'm going to continue to test it during my assignment in Orlando. If I discover anything new, I will update here and on social.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

Also be sure to check out my new book, The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition. It's completely up to date!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

There was a time when working with RAW files in a mobile device seemed like a crazy idea. But the processing power of today's handsets like my iPhone X has made this proposition quite feasible. And one of my favorite apps for this task is RAW Power 1.1, just released from Gentlemen Coders.

raw-power-update.PNG RAW Power 1.1 on an iPhone X.

RAW Power brings to iOS the impressive RAW decoding and editing that was formerly only available in Apple's Aperture professional photo application. Using adjustments like Boost, you can improve your images using this powerful core technology. It works great for Jpegs as well. Here's what's new in 1.1:

  • New "RAW Images" Smart Album and ability to filter any album to show just RAWs
  • View complete folder and album hierarchy
  • Export images to Files.app as TIFF-8 and TIFF-16, JPEG, and PNG
  • DPI and Compression preferences
  • Delete image in the single photo view ("1-up")
  • Greatly improved Share features
  • Improved Layout and UI with larger controls
  • "Gear Down" sliders for 10x more precision when adjusting
  • 3D Touch in 1-Up
  • Full-size Curves adjustment in vertical screen mode
  • Show / Hide Thumbnails in Edit
  • Adjustable Thumbnail size in 1-up and Edit
  • Auto-histogram shows and hides itself to avoid covering the image
  • Revert Image feature greatly improved
  • Re-center button for Map

The improved user interface and the clever RAW Images smart album show that Gentlemen Coders is now focusing on our visual experience using the app as well as its under-the-hood muscle. You don't need an iPad to process and enhance your RAW files. I've been taking care of business right there on my iPhone X.

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RAW Power 1.1 is free to download in the iTunes App Store on your device. I recommend purchasing the one-time in-app purchase, Advanced Adjustments Pack for $4.99 that unlocks Curves and a couple other controls. This software is a great value and a joy to use.


Nimble Photographer Logo

RAW Power 1.1 has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

I've been on the road for a week now. And having moved from one island to another with lots of exploration along the way, how does the iPhone fit in with the rest of the gear I've packed?.

beach-bike-1024.jpg Beach Bike - iPhone X back dual camera 6mm f/2.4 - Photo by Derrick Story

As it turns out, the iPhone plays quite nicely with the other kids, but not in the ways that you might think. First, it has been a wonderful reference camera. In other words, if I'm shooting a scene with the Leica Type 109, then I also record it with the iPhone to capture the location data so that the Leica images are organized correctly in the Photos library.

rock-stacks-leica.jpg Cairns on the Manoa Falls Trail. (Gaelic for heap of stones.) Leica D-LUX. Photo by Derrick Story.

For example, I know that I captured the image of the cairn on the Manoa Falls Trail because I have an iPhone image with a similar timestamp and the location data. Speaking of timestamps, it's imperative that all the cameras are in sync for this system to work. So in essence, the iPhone becomes my journal for all the photographs I capture, regardless of which camera I use for the final image.

I've also been transferring shots from all the cameras to the iPhone via WiFi for social sharing. The images you've seen over the last week on Instagram were recorded with other cameras. I've been shooting RAW+Jpeg, and I love the flexibility of being able to share any photo, from any camera, online virtually from anywhere. And the iPhone is the hub that makes it all work.

I'll also use it to document my film project, which starts this week. So anything that I shoot with the 35mm Contax, gets recorded with the iPhone, and organized in a journal with notes about the subject. I've been using Day One as my journal app for nearly two years now, and I love it.

I do take the occasional final picture with the iPhone itself. It's inconspicuous and handy. But with all the great gear that I get to use for work, my smartphone is more of a facilitator than it is the star of the show.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Changing Portrait Mode on the Fly

The last thing that photo subjects want when we're taking their picture is for us to waste a lot of time fooling with our camera. If you're using Portrait Mode on a recent model iPhone, you may be tempted to scroll through the options at the point of capture. There's really no need to... that is if you're using Photos for macOS High Sierra to manage your images.

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When you open your Portrait Mode image in Photos, and go to editing mode, you'll see all of the same options that were available at capture. So if you recorded in Natural, but decided later that you wanted Studio, you can make that change in Photos. No pressure, no problem.

So, just make sure you're in any Portrait mode, then fire away. Your photo subjects will thank you.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

A New Way to Charge My Smartphone

Just like most folks, my smartphone is an integral part of my working life. It's the camera that I always have with me, my lifeline to clients, the controller for the Spark, my navigation system, and my #1 information source. So keeping it charged is critical to all of these activities.

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In the waning days of my iPhone 6S, it would only hold a charge to about 5 pm each day. My routine had been to plug it in at night, then unplug it the next morning and use it until it ran out of gas.

At first that routine lasted me an entire day, unless I was engaged in something unusual, such as serving as navigator on a road trip. But over time, it began to lose its endurance.

I did a little research on the subject, and I made a few notes. I can't substantiate any of these because I am not a Lithium battery expert. But here's what I came up with.

  • The best time to recharge a battery is when it's about half empty.
  • Leaving a battery in the charger long after it's reached 100 percent capacity puts it through unnecessary cycles, thereby shortening its life.

Based on this, I decided to try a new routine with my iPhone X. Here's my current approach:

  • Do Not plug in the iPhone at night and leave it charging until morning. Instead, I put it in Low Power Mode (which is very easy via the Control Center).
  • During the day, I give it a quick top off when it's at 50 percent level. I can do this at my desk or with the portable charger that's always in my bag (since the firestorm). This usually only takes an hour or so. Then, I unplug it when it's at 100 percent.
  • When I don't need the phone, such as at the movies, I put it in Low Power Mode at the same time I silence it. Again, the easy access via the Control Center makes this simple.

That's all there is to it. I've made a few minor adjustments that are already natural. And over time I'll be able to gauge their effectiveness.

The iPhone X seems to have an excellent battery. I'd love to keep it that way for years to come.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.