Photos of Apps

Randomly Viewing 500px

September 21, 2011  |    0 comments  |  Apps Site-related

Certainly, if you’re into photography, you’ve heard of 500px, the upstart photo-sharing site from Toronto that’s starting to “put the hurt on” Flickr.  One of the great advantages of 500px is that the quality of the photography seems to be a lot higher than that on Flickr, mainly because it’s not a dumping ground for family snapshots, crap art projects and Instragram-esque drivel.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, there’s one feature that I’ve found lacking on 500px—the ability to randomly traipse through the photos on the site, discovering new favorites and making new connections with fellow photographers.  Sure, they recently added a button on the bottom of the screen that welcomes the user to “StumbleThru 500px”, but all that does is let you use StumbleUpon to view photos on 500px that StumbleUpon’s users have favorited.  What I wanted was a way to randomly move about 500px in an uncontrolled manner.

So I created a way.

Introducing Lefty’s 500px Randomizer.  Using it is simple: follow that link or go to, click “Randomize” and a new random photo page from 500px will load in an iframe below.  Click “Permalink” to open that pic in a new tab so you can bookmark it.  Easy, eh?

I can’t promise that the Randomizer is bug-free and there are a few features I’d like to implement still, but it’s yours to use.  Have fun!

Tools of the Trade – FlickStackr

August 17, 2011  |    0 comments  |  Apps Technique/Workflow

As part of my photoblogging/sharing process, I generally have photos scheduled to be published at 05:30 on my photoblog, where they sit and get viewed and commented upon all day. Then, in the evening, after 19:00 CDT (or 18:00 CST), I upload them to Flickr, giving my site roughly 13-14 hours of exclusivity. The reason for trying to upload to Flickr as close as possible to these times is because that’s when Flickr’s “day” starts (it’s on GMT), which means that uploading at these times is the best way to maximize daily photo views, which are part of the mysterious algorithm Flickr uses to calculate things like “Interestingness” (not that I particularly worry about these things). Also, most people in North America seem to do their Flickr viewing in the evenings, so this time hits a nice spot when my photo will be landing in their “Contacts” photostream.

But how to do the upload? Some people use Flickr’s native upload functionality, but I find this kind of limited. Another option–and one that I occasionally use when uploading from my Mac or my PC–is Flickr Uploadr. Flickr Uploadr has a lot of nice features including the ability to tag photos and put them in sets, but is missing one of the most important–the ability to add a photo to groups from the application, meaning that after you upload, you still have to go into Flickr and add to groups from their interface. Which is okay, but not a favorite task because, for some reason, I constantly get this error when trying to add a photo to groups on the site itself:

(Flickr! Fix your code!)

Another issue with trying to stick to these times is that I’m usually walking our dog, Winston, between 19:00 and 20:00 during these times. Luckily, I have an iPhone with me and can upload on the go. I used to use the Flickr app, but, like the Flickr Uploadr, you can’t add photos to groups. So, after a bit of research, I discovered FlickStackr.

FlickStackr is everything Flickr’s app should be:

  • Profile view


  • Actions/Activity view

But the most relevant to this blog post is “Upload” and here are screencaps showing how you can set titles, tags, groups, geolocation and more when uploading:

As you can see, it’s the perfect iOS companion for Flickr users.  And it’s a universal app, so it will work on your iPad at native resolution!

This Could Change War Reporting

April 8, 2011  |    0 comments  |  Apps Cameras Elsewhere

This Time write-up on the Condition ONE photojounalism ecosystem is extremely interesting.  Basically, it’s an iPad app combined with a custom ultra-wide-angle camera that allows a journalist to film action then pan around it for story-telling purposes.  Of course, that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, so just follow the link and there’s a nifty video that shows the system being used.

Condition ONE App: A New Way to Photograph War? – LightBox.

Dynamic Light for the iPhone

March 17, 2011  |    0 comments  |  Apps

As an active “iPhoneographer“, I love to try new photography and camera-related apps from the App Store.  I recently discovered a new one called Dynamic Light (99¢) that promises, in the words of the developer to “give you the best and most vibrant HDR-like look on any mobile platform”.  So I downloaded it and gave it a shot (no pun intended).

I started with a shot of my office building:

The Dynamic Light interface allows you to move a dial to adjust the amount of “HDR-ness” being applied to the image:

As you can see, you can apply this effect anywhere from 0% to 100% intensity to the image.  For drama, I applied it at 100%:

It turned out surprisingly well, giving the photo a great dramatic insensity, especially on an overcast day like today’s, which rendered the original photo flat.

You can also choose other effects to overlay on the photo:

These are pretty decent and I was pretty happy with the B&W conversion applied to my photo:

All in all, this app does have promise, but I did find two niggling issues: the first time I took a photo using the in-app camera function, it worked great.  However, every time after that, until I rebooted, it would take the photo, but then the interface just showed a black screen where the photo should’ve been.  I was able to negate this by taking the photo with the iPhone’s own Camera app then importing it into Dynamic Light, but I shouldn’t have to do this.  Hopefully this bug will be addressed by the developers soon.  Secondly, one time when I did try to save a photo, it acted like it was processing then saving the photo, but the photo was nowhere to be found in my Camera Roll.  I only had this happen once out of the ten or so photos I tried, so I’m willing to put the blame on iOS for this one.

All in all, I think this app has some great features and functionality, but a little more polish would make a huge difference.

My Favorite iPhone Photo Apps

March 8, 2011  |    1 comment  |  Apps Elsewhere

As you may know, I’m an avid iPhone user and burgeoning Apple fanboy (I finally made the leap last October and bought a Mac…best computer I’ve ever owned.  When they say “it just works”, they mean it).  One of the best parts about owning an iPhone are the thousands and thousands of apps available, including photo-related apps.  Today, I want to touch on just a few of these and let you know why I love them so much.

(On sale for a limited time for 99¢)

This is a great replacement for the standard iPhone camera.  First off, pressing the shutter release button lets you snap pictures instantly–no waiting for the stupid “iris” animation like on the bog standard camera app.  Secondly, photos shot in this app are saved to a lightbox within the app that lets you do editing before saving to your iPhone’s camera roll.  Editing options include “Scenes”, allowing you to adjust white and color balance and exposure at the touch of a button (choices include such things as Flash, Backlit, Cloudy and Auto, amongst others).  There’s also an “FX” zone that lets you apply color effects (“Vibrant”, “So Emo”, “Purple Haze”, etc.) and retro effects (“Lomographic”, “70s”, “Ansel”, etc.), special effects (“HDR”, “Faded”, “Polarize”, etc.).  You can also buy other sets of effects through in-app purchases.

The app also allows you to crop, flip and rotate your photos before saving.  In addition, you can share your photos to Flickr, Facebook and Twitter from within the app.


($1.99 )

Photogene is the Swiss Army Knife of photo apps.  Any image in your camera roll can be cropped, resized, color-adjusted, sharpened, levels-adjusted and so forth.  It’s like having a nice subset of Photoshop in your pocket (in fact, it’s much better than Adobe’s Photoshop app.  The only thing I don’t like about Photogene is the B&W filter, which is entirely too-contrasty.



Sure, the iPhone camera has built-in HDR functionality and it does an okay job of taking two photos in succession at different exposures and blending them together into one final image, but Pro HDR is so much better.  It does a great job of pulling out shadows and properly exposing highlights.  The only downside is that the timing between the two photos is a tad slower than the native camera, no doubt because Apple’s using some sort of secret internal API, so you need to have a steady hand and a static scene.


Best Camera

Well-known commercial photographer Chase Jarvis is the creator of Best Camera.  The name of the app isn’t a boast, but rather ties into Chase’s philosophy that “the best camera is the one you have with you”.  Meaning that having any camera, in this case an iPhone’s camera, with you at any time is better than having no camera at all.  Chase even released a book expounding this philosophy with a collection of his best iPhone photos.  This app allows you to shoot photos, add effects and upload to Flickr, Facebook or TheBestCamera.Com–a photo sharing site just for users of this app.  The effects are pretty neat, including a retro-feeling contrasty black and white one and a couple of great color effects.  For some reason, I find myself coming back to these effects time and time again, because I just love the results.


There’s not much to say about this app except that it’s an excellent way for you to upload your iPhone photos to your Flickr photostream.  It supports tagging, geo-tagging, adding to sets, etc.  You can also comment on photos and explore other users’ photostreams.  My only gripe:  No way to add photos to groups!  Perhaps Flickr will fix that soon.


So, there you have it, my favorite iPhone photography apps.  If you’re interested in becoming a better “iPhoneographer”, then check out iPhoneography.


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