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

March 9, 2017 Food
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?

December 29, 2016

How to Create CameraBag filters on Mac for Fotograf on iPhone.

Fotograf remains my go-to photo editing app on iOS. It has a great set of basic controls (including vignette, edge blur and sharpening) for improving images along with a variety of fundamental filters. What I really like is that it’s much simpler to edit with than the built-in Photos app.

While Nevercenter’s Fotograf is limited to the basics, their CameraBag app for Mac allows you to create advanced filters that can be imported into Fotoraf. Once the filter is in Fotograf you can’t change it, but you can mix between the filtered version and the original, as well as use all of Fotograf’s built-in adjustments. In CameraBag you can create some very functional filters like soft focus, HDR, tints and a variety of super-tweaked custom filters.

How to create CameraBag filters and add them to Fotograf.

Any setting you create in CameraBag can be exporters as a custom filter.

  • Create a setting in CameraBag on Mac.
  • From the File menu choose Export Filter and save it to your Mac desktop.
  • Connect your iPhone via cable.
  • Drag the .cbf file into Fotograf’s File Sharing section in iTunes on your Mac.

The CameraBag filters will show in Custom Filters at the end of Fotograf’s filters. When using these filters, a Filter Amount slider appears at the top of the Adjustments tab that lets you blend between the original image and the filtered version.

Try out these free filters for Fotograf.

If you’re a Fotograf user and would like to see how these filters work you can add the seven filters below that I’ve created. You don’t need to buy the CameraBag app for Mac, but you’ll need to buy the Everything in-app filter purchase in Fotograf to turn on the import function. Once you’ve done that, you can download and add the filters below to Fotograf’s file sharing folder in iTunes on your Mac or PC to import them to your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

I’ve created most of these filters to be a little hot so they can be fine tuned in Fotograf. I’d recommend starting with the Filter Amount slider at about 75% and tweak from there (unless noted below.)

Definition A black line filter that looks like a watercolor paint-by-numbers. Best use is to back off the Filter amount until you start seeing color, then use the Saturation slider to add some pastel color back in.

Halo An HDR filter with a hint of soft-focus. Creates an edge-defining glow.

Ingrained A gritty little filter that mimics the grain of a pushed, high-ISO color transparency film. Slightly saturated colors and black, clumpy grain in the shadows.

Mr. Softee is an soft focus filter with nice sharp edges. Back off the Filter Amount in Fotograf’s Adjust panel until you have a result you like. It’s designed to sharpen and blur while retaining original color and tone, so you have the freedom to control everything else.

Norman Seeff Filter A tribute, not an imitation of the 70s style of the legendary rock photographer and his diffusion magic with Kodak’s black and white, High Contrast Copy Film. Nice stuffy grays and a soft/sharp yin and yang. Designed to be used full force. Can also be used as a color-muting filter by backing off Filter Amount in Fotograf’s Adjust panel.

Pinhole I don’t consider this filter done yet, but included it for experimentation. It focuses on the center of the image and severely blurs and darkens everything else. You get some nice effects by lowering the filter amount to about 50%.

SeeRed This is a color-splash filter that emphasizes pure red and turns everything else to black and white. This one works best best at 100%.

These filters can only be used in the Fotograf app for iOS. Note that the custom filters can greatly slow down Fotograf’s preview function.

Download The Filters

Camera Bag.

Camera Bag is a fairly straight-forward and powerful photo editing app for Mac. Unlike PhotoShop, it keeps the layers invisible so you don’t have that mess to learn. The app is fun for amateurs, but it helps if you have some knowledge of the various controls and curves available in order to get the most out of it.

More on improving photos in my book The Crap-Free Guide to iPhone Photography.

December 19, 2016

Olloclip gives you a 112mm lens for your iPhone 7+.

Until now you haven’t been able to get good results when shooting your iPhone beyond 2x optically. When the phone had only one lens, the 2x attachments (like the Moment Tele) were great. But longer lens lengths failed. The new Olloclip Active Lens attachment in conjunction with the iPhone7+’s built-in 56mm⇔ lens now gives you the first 4x optical setup. This is useful for portraits and for working at a distance from your subject. Here’s what you need:


Olloclip’s new Connect lens system is the first to allow you to use it with either lens. By default, it comes set for use with the 28mm⇔ lens. So you’ll need to push in on the button next to the 2x lens to remove it from the holder and flip it so the lens is closer to the center of the clip mount. This positions the lens over the 56mm⇔ lens.


The built-in Camera app will default to the 28mm⇔ lens when you put the lens clip on. But in the PureShot app, you’ll see the 28mm setting on the bottom left. Tap this and 57mm appears. It’s best to use the shutter-priority mode to avoid camera shake when shooting at 112mm⇔:

  • Set the dial at the bottom right to S
  • Tap the + next to the S and set the shutter speed to 1/200.


Camera+ also defaults to the 28mm⇔ lens. Tap the icon of the silhouette with the W. Then choose T for the telephoto. You’ll also need to stabilize the image:

  • Tap the + icon to the top right of the shutter button.
  • Choose Stabilizer.

There will probably be a growing list of apps that give you direct access to the iPhone7+ telephoto lens but these are the first two I’ve found.

How it performs.

The above photo is of a 1-foot-square sign shot from about 10 feet away at 4x. Olloclip’s new multi-element lenses are noticibly better than previous versions. The image of the Tele in the Olloclip Active is sharp, but not razor sharp. There is also some edge blurring on the 2x Telephoto lens when used with 56mm⇔ lens, but generally the 2x Telephoto gives consistently good results. There’s the slightest bit of pincushion distortion (lines bowed inward) but on most images you’ll never notice it.

Getting good results.

The minimum focusing distance on the 56mm⇔ lens is about 18 inches. With the 2x attached, this increases to about 4 feet. Since at 112mm⇔ you’re dealing with a real telephoto, it an be helpful to use a monopod and camera holder like the Shoulderpod or Reticam.

My take.

While certainly not flawless, the 2x Tele of the Olloclip Active lens gives you good results with the iPhone7′s 56mm⇔ lens. Most pocketable point-and-shoot cameras give you a 3x tele, so the 4x option now makes the iPhone 7 Plus a touch more useful for actual use.

Other Olloclip options.

It should be pointed out that the Olloclip attachment is designed to function best with the 28mm⇔ lens. While the Connect Olloclip lenses all appear to work with the 56mm⇔ lens, here a few that are useful:

Master your iPhone camera: The Crap-Free Guide to iPhone Photography