September 18, 2016

iPhone 7+ Camera: All the new tricks.

The new iPhone 7+ camera is a game changer. While features like dual lenses are available in other phones, the fact that they’re in this wildly-popular phone puts them in the hands of the masses and has opened a new world to pro photographers and camera app developers. This article will help you get the most of the new features.

Ways to access the camera.

There are now three ways. 1) Home screen icon. 2) Swipe up for camera icon on Control Center. And now: Swipe left on your lock screen.

Jump from 1x to 2x

You get the full clarity of the prime lenses only at the 1x setting and the 2x setting when focused beyond 18″. All other zoom settings use the digital zoom and can downgrade the quality. To toggle between the lenses:

  • Tap the 1x button

In addition to the built-in Camera app, Manual is the only other app currently with the 1x/2x button.

Zoom slider.

There’s a built in zoom control for those that don’t like the pinch-to-zoom function. On the 7+ the zoom goes to 10x.

  • Hold the 1x button and the arc appears.


The new 56mm⇔ lens in the 7+ focuses down to about 18″.

The magnifier.

This is an iOS 10 feature that gets enhanced with 7+ Tele lens. To enable:

  • Home > General > Accessibility > Magnifier > On

To take a magnified still:

  • Triple tap the Home button to engage the magnifier.
  • Zoom with the slider
  • Tap the Home button to freeze.
  • Tap and pinch to compose.
  • Hold Home and Sleep (on right side) to take a screenshot.

Not as nice as a macro lens, but hey, it’s built-in.


The combo of the iPhone 7/7+ cameras and iOS10 allows you to shoot and save in Adobe’s DNG format, which is currently the top contender for a RAW standard. (And it’s supremacy is a pretty much sealed now that iPhone supports it.) Strangely Apple chose not to use it in their built-in Camera app yet. Third Party Camera apps that shoot RAW are popping up every day, but at the moment there’s no great app that makes shooting and editing in RAW easy.

Currently the easiest way to try out RAW is Adobe’s free Photoshop Lightroom app for iOS that can shoot and edit DNG files. You must shoot and edit your images inside the app.

It should be noted that DNG files that are unprocessed will often not look as nice as JPGs. DNG files need to be tweaked to pull out the detail and get an improved exposure. Since these files are three times the size of the iPhone’s JPGs, a good number of shooters will find that messing with the DNG format just wastes memory and time for most images.

More to come. If you have an iPhone 7+ camera trick you’d like to add, tweet it to me. Thanks.

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

September 4, 2016

Why it’s hard to gender neuter man from the English language.

As we de-gender language, what word do we use instead of man to refer to men/women/androgynists?

Some suggest that mankind should be replaced with humankind. The problem is that human stems from Latin homo meaning man. So how about using personkind? Persona originated in pre-Latin Etruscan and means actor’s mask. And while genderless itself, in Etruscan and early Roman theater, the word actors referred only to men.

The problem is that men dominated the world these word were born into. Etruscan, Roman and most Greek women couldn’t vote, hold office or own land. There was little need for terms for men and women as equals, since they weren’t.

So what about the silly-sounding peoplekind? It’s from the Etruscan populus and is actually closer to what we’re looking for, but it doesn’t work in the singular.

So here’s where it gets interesting: Before the second millennium mann in Old English was gender neutral, and used for both sexes. (Wif and wer distinguished female and male.) It was only after 1000 AD that man came to mean adult male. But over the next thousand years words like mankind (from Old English and gender-neutral mancynn) persisted and human (that re-affiliated both genders) has kept the genderless meaning of man alive. But then we can’t leave it alone, can we?

What seems logical to me (as the distinction between sexes get more blurred) is that the replacement word we’re looking for is being. It has a plural. It distinguishes us from creatures. And it has longevity since it can apply to intelligent aliens who may someday cohabit the earth with us and they’ll feel as equals.

Beingkind. Has a ring to it.

August 10, 2016

iOS Review: Ikiru lists, a productivity app that’s actually productive.

The number of bloated todo/task apps out there is staggering. Perhaps more staggering is how many I’ve tried that seem to eat up more time in learning how to use them and in formatting entries than they save.

Ikiru is Paperless: The Next Generation.

Jim Rhoades of Crush apps built Paperless for himself. Since it’s a labor of love, that’s probably why it’s the simplest and most powerful list app out there. I bring up the predecessor because any Paperless user like me will instantly feel at home in Ikiru. Literally no learning curve (not that there’s much of one for everybody else anyway.)

Lists as you like them.

Ikiru flexes to your style. It lets you create a super-simple listless string of items or create a complex architecture of lists within lists. And no matter how elaborate a structure you build, you can toggle the clock button and get a simple timeline of what’s due.

Notes. Finally.

A horrid omission by app developers in most list, todo, task and project apps is that notes are treated like a Dead-Headed stepchild (sic) with tweet-length restrictions and minuscule entry fields. Not Ikiru. Every list item is a full-length note with the full screen available for typing. If you require copious notes in your task management, the app for it is finally here. Hurrahlleleujah.

My take.

This is the first list management app with due dates I’ve ever been hopeful about. Maybe since it evolved from Paperless, I feel comfortably at home with it and know it will be around for years. Maybe it’s just that it’s the first straightforward app that lets you be productive and stay inside one app to do it all. Or maybe someone finally got it right.

iOS Apps
August 4, 2016

Adding an Instagram Contact button.

You can switch your Instagram over to a Business Account and add a Contact button that gives potential customers and clients a quick way to find you by phone, email and/or physical address. This is useful for photographers, those who provide a service they illustrate in photos on Instagram (landscapers, knifemakers, etc.) and brick and mortar businesses (restaurants, B&Bs, etc.). Here’s how you do it:

  1. In Facebook: Create a Facebook Page for your business
  2. In Instagram: Settings > Switch to Business Account
  3. Connect to the Facebook Page
  4. Add a phone, email and/or address.
  5. Tap Done

Business accounts are free, but be aware that once you switch to a business account things change:

  • You can’t share on your Facebook timeline. Instead you now share on your Facebook business page. But you can use this IF recipe to automatically post your Instagram photos to your Facebook timeline.
  • You get analytics. You now have Insights on each new post. You can divide Reach (number of people who saw the photo) by Likes and get a clearer picture of how successful a photo is with your audience. (The lower the number the better your success. 1.0 is a perfect score. ) A new graph icon will appear at the top right of your Profile page, which takes you to weekly success analytics and audience insights.
  • You can easily promote a post. This is useful if you actually are using Instagram for business.

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

April 7, 2016

Review: Painteresque Photo Effects for iOS.

Photo editor from a parallel universe. ★★★★

Whatever photo editor you’re using—well Painteresque is the diametric opposite of that. It’s based on the way artificial intelligence sees things and intensifies detail in unphotographic-like ways. It’s set up to be exceptionally easy to use: just choose a style and save. But lurking under the hood are the robo-controls that are very different than what’s used in traditional digital photography, like the Blobby Retinal Model switch. While exceptionally easy to use for effecting your photos, there’s quite a learning curve if you want to monkey with Painteresque’s settings. But the results are well worth it.

+ Numerous preset styles + Quick preview of styles + Save your own styles + Tweak each style with Fine Tuning + Saves at full resolution

- Styles don’t sync between devices - Styles can’t be exported

Painteresque in the App Store

How to use Painteresque.

The create your own Style, choose Do Nothing from the Styles screen and then Fine Tune. While the effects you can create are wild, don’t discount Painteresque as a normal” photo editor. It controls color and contrast in a way that standard photo editors aren’t built to, often with results that feel like an intensified reality.

What the sliders do.

It’s difficult to explain these in non-robotic terms, but here goes:

Scroberizing section.

  • Retinal Model Blobby is a hybrid of AI and the way the eye sees. It can be more pleasing, while Sketchy is more pure AI. |
  • Gray Strength is probably the most useful slider. Up to +50 looks very HDR. Beyond +50 gets very gritty. Down to -20 softens. Below -20 blurs.
  • Red/Cyan Strength and Green/Purple Strength These increase or decrease the strength of these colors. Useful for emphasizing or muting specific colors. The colors remain balanced if you use the sliders in tandem.

Color Mayhem section

  • Grey Invert Flips the gray tones to negative.
  • Grey Contrast Drag right to darken the darker grays and lighten the lighter grays. Drag left to minimize the difference in the gray range
  • Gray Shift Drag right to move the mid spectrum into the highlight range or drag left to move it down to the shadow range. Works somewhat like an Exposure control.
  • Rotate Color Shifts colors across the rainbow. Useful for toning.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Invert These switches flip the colors. Used together, they have somewhat of a negative effect.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Contrast Adds contrast to the two colors selectively from the rest of the spectrum.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Shift Shifts the two colors separately.
  • Black Trim Have never really seen it do anything.

Some recipes for Painteresque.

Unfortunately Painteresque isn’t wired for iCloud to sync custom settings between devices, nor can you share your settings between users. Here are some of my custom filters. If a slider or switch isn’t mentioned assume it’s at zero or off.


This is a bolder version of Painteresque 2. Creates a saturated color sketch.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +80
Red/Cyan Strength +40
Green/Purple Strength +40
Grey Contrast +15
Red/Cyan Contrast +10
Green/Purple Contrast +10


This was designed as a photo enhancer to bring out raindrops on leaves. It’s useful for making images look more bold, but still normal”.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +20
Red/Cyan Strength +40
Green/Purple Strength +40
Grey Contrast +15
Grey Shift -15
Red/Cyan Contrast +10
Green/Purple Contrast +10


This is a BW graphic novel effect, somewhere between a photo and a painting.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +60
Red/Cyan Strength -100
Green/Purple Strength -100
Grey Contrast +30
Grey Shift -15


Works with most any image to make it look a little more real. It lightens the shadows and darkens the highlights while increasing contrast. (As mentioned, this app is not plagued by the restrictions of standard photo editors.) Gives images a slightly warm and saturated look, with a touch of life’s grit.

Slider Setting
Retinal Model Blobby
Grey Strength +60
Red/Cyan Strength +25
Green/Purple Strength +25
Grey Contrast -5
Grey Shift -5
Red/Cyan Contrast +60
Green/Purple Contrast +20

If you have filters you’d like to share here, send me the settings. Thanks.

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