May 28, 2017

Review: Bluristic Camera App for iPhone.

Turns camera blur into an artform. ★★★★★

Your iPhone Camera app is designed to freeze a moment in time, which is normally what you want. But Bluristic gives you a unique visual storytelling technique: capturing 8-16 seconds of time in a single image. Developer Johannes Pfahler has concocted an app that blends multiple photos for a fluid, poetic image.

The best tracking.

Bluristic’s superpower is the ability to track a moving subject. (Most blur apps struggle and usually leave you with unintelligible color streaks.) Just tap the subject on the screen and hold the shutter. Bluristic will do its best to keep the subject in focus. You’ll get the best results if you use the single focus setting in the toolbar and keep the red tracking dot close to the focus rectangle.

Manual save?

Like most blur apps, you must manually save the image in Bluristic. (Since the technique is experimental, there will be failures you don’t want cluttering your Photos app.) In Bluristic manual save can be useful, since you have some post processing options. Once the image is captured you can tap the sliders icon to set the image’s black, white and gray point or let Bluristic do this automatically. (I’d turn on the button on the bottom of the sliders and leave this up to Bluristic.) In Bluristic’s settings (gear > wrench) you can save your image as an Ultra big, uncompressed PNG file, which photographers will find meets the standards for professional editing.

A word about RAW.

Bluristic essentially shoots a movie and creates your final image from it. You can save the RAW images as a .DAT file in Bluristic’s iTunes File Sharing Folder or save a hi-def .MOV video. But that’s all added work that can detract from shooting images.

My Take

Bluristic is a real dream for long shutter” experimentation. I’m getting so many nice results hand-held that I’m not relying on the tripod for blurred images as much. Nice to b able to experiment without having to bring anything along, but the iPhone on your pocket.

Technique: The yin of stillness and the yang of movement.

When you blend stillness and movement in an image it can help balance as well as strengthen both. The Blend mode in Bluristic gives you nice even exposures with blur, as well as focus, and is a good place to start. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Tripod with moving subject. Mount your phone on a tripod to get a still background for your subject to move against. This is useful for blurring waterfalls, streaking car headlights and contrasting moving subjects.
  • Follow a moving subject. If you move with the subject and keep the red tracking dot near the focus box, the subject will remain in focus while the background blurs. You can follow the subject as it moves or walk in an arc around still subjects.
  • Move in a pattern. If the subject is bold, try moving in a pattern, like streaks or tiny circles. Less will be in focus, so your results will be more abstract. This can create patterns that become the composition. For example, lights will take on the shape of the movement.
  • Just hold still. Hand hold your iPhone and hold the shutter for the full 8 seconds in normal light or 16 seconds in dim light. While a still subject will stay in focus, you’ll get soft focus on the edges.

Get Bluristic in the App Store

Get The Crap-Free Guide to iPhone Photography at iTunes

May 28, 2017

Crap-Free Pix .com now part of wolfewithane blog.

My book, the Crap-Free Guide to iPhone Photography was first published in 2015 and updated for the iPhone 7 and iPhone7+ last year. This ongoing project has been a lot of fun and has been the book I’m most happy with. With minimal marketing put behind it, sales have been moderate (which is considered exceptional by self-published eBook standards.)

Though the book is updated regularly, I also created the companion site to post more in-depth articles related to topics in the book. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to devote the time to a really serious site, I started as a series of articles on DayOne’s Publish platform. This was extremely simple to make happen, but DayOne seems to have abandoned Publish.

I’m in process of moving over as part of my occasional blog. Much thanks to David Merfield, owner of my blogging platform Blot. David did some magic behind the scenes to make my iPhone photography articles all get indexed on a special page connected to the URL. If you’re not familiar Blot, it’s an automatic blogging platform that turns a Dropbox folder with text files written in Markdown (the de facto content markup language of the web) into blog posts. It’s convenient to write posts on my iPad in ByWord app and move them to Dropbox. At $20 a year, Blot is a real bargain for those looking for control and editorial freedom a notch above what you get on Tumblr and Medium and for who don’t want to deal with the quirks and complexities of WordPress.

Slowly new posts are being added and current Publish content is being revised and moved over. If you want to bookmark the page, it’s up in the nav and at Your comments are always welcome and Twitter is the best place for those.

Oh, the book. (Wouldn’t be much of a marketer if I didn’t get in a plug for that.) The Crap-Free Guide to iPhone photography is available on iTunes and DRM-free, so it’s readable on any ePub reader on any device. Updates are free forever. You can expect those shortly after the release of a new iPhone or a new iOS.

May 20, 2017

Shift-Line Force Freezeverb

Shift Line Force PedalShift Line Force Pedal

This cool little pedal from Russia takes the EHX Freeze concept and adds high-feedback reverb and the option of a sub-octave blend. Together these give the frozen effect ambiance and a nice modulated quiver. The only controls are a knob for effect volume and a toggle to control momentary or latch (tap the footswitch to resample.) I really like the sub-octave mode. To get to it: Hold the footswitch and flick the toggle down.

There’s also a Shadow mode that automatically freezes what you’re playing and fades it in and out under your dry signal. Really useful for ambient playing without having to mess with the footswitch. To access the Shadow mode: Disconnect power > Hold the footswitch > Plug it back in > Release the footswitch. Shadow mode is up. (There’s an ambient delay demo when you toggle down.)

My take: For me this tiny pedal replaced my EHX Superego (and POG, chorus and tremolo chained to it.) The sound varies from organ to choir, but is always earthy, yet other worldly. A beautiful harmonious swarm to back your playing, so you’ll probably find you’ll use it more than you think. 9v and burns 70ma.

If you want it, ya gotta order it from St. Petersburg. Oleg at Shift-Line got mine to me promptly.

March 9, 2017

The chess game of managing Instagram.

For those trying to grow followers Instagram doesn’t make it easy and neither do most app makers. You can only follow 7,500 on Instagram and of those maybe 2,500 will follow you back, keep following you, engage with you. So when you hit 7500 you have to figure out how to get rid of the deadweight of 5,000 people who don’t follow back.

The annoyance of third party apps.

Instagram has no easy features for spotting those who don’t follow back, those who have unfollowed you or those who don’t engage, so you must resort to a third-party app to do it. There are thousands of third-party apps for this, but there are many pitfalls:

  • Many make you purchase coins” in order to delete followers/unfollowers.
  • Many charge monthly fees to delete follows
  • Instagram regularly changes its terms of services and blocks apps that don’t comply.

The reason for all the annoying coins and monthly fees is that many Instagram users want to grow their accounts, so the third-party Instagram management app market is extremely lucrative for developers. Even more unfortunate for purchasers is that apps that use coins or charge monthly are just as likely to stop working as apps that charge a one-time fee. With Instagram continually limiting more and more access to developers, authorization for these apps can disappear at any moment. So you may find a great, inexpensive app, but one day it’s just dead.

Cleaner for Instagram.

At the moment Cleaner is working. It’s been around for quite a while and all features are just $2.99. This app has many tricks, but the two most important are:

  • you can easily unfollow those who don’t follow back.
  • you can easy unfollow ghosts.


Ghosts are people who follow you but don’t comment or like. It’s logical that you’d unfollow those who don’t follow back in a reasonable amount of time, but why unfollow people who follow you, but don’t engage? Instagram penalizes you for having lame followers. The more you have that don’t engage with you the more

And eventually you’ll neared to figure out how to get rid of your ina

January 30, 2017

If we’d just had this ban 112 years sooner.

No, I’m not anti-Muslim. Some of my best friends are Muslim. So let me explain:

In 1905 just nine years before the outbreak of World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II was rattling his saber in Germany and Field Marshall von Schlieffen had already developed the plans to attack France. That same year a 36-year-old German man and his three-month-pregnant wife were booted from the land of their birth for his failure to serve in Germany’s looming war machine. He didn’t serve because at the age of 16, this industrious young man had come to the United States to find his fortune in the Alaska Gold Rush and returned a rich man to Germany.

But 20 years later, this man was deported for Fredrich’s failure to serve in a military about to be responsible for 17 million deaths. He wrote an appeal Bavarian Prince Luitpold pleading on behalf of himself and his German-born wife Elizabeth, but was denied. So as two more in the millions of huddled masses, they turned to the United States to take them in. Now if this event had happened in 2017, this couple from a hostile country that was threatening war on the world would have been banned from entering the United States for certain.

The reason I say this ban is a little late is that if we had had it back in 1905, Fredrich Trump and his wife Elizabeth (pregnant with Fred Trump, Donald’s father) would have never been allowed in to the Land of the Free and the family never would have made their mark on American history. Incidentally, in 1905 Teddy Roosevelt (a great president, a fine president, a true Republican president) admitted over 100,000 immigrants from Germany and Austria-Hungary.

So, I guess we cant make this ban retroactive, huh?