Phone Apps for Photographers.

Here are my pick of the Apps that you can get for your phone to help with photography

Flickr – Top of my list because this is the one I use the most.  Flickr have generously offered to host over 1000 of my images on their server.  I can look through the images chronologically or I can arrange the images in Albums according to theme.  I can follow postings from my friends and join groups, like Australian Birds, or Blackwood Photography club.  I receive notifications when my friends post.  I can look for ideas from the general pool of photos by searching tags.  The phone app is quick and easy to use.  There are good search functions.  I am always using it to show off my photographs to family and friends.  I no longer need to store them on my phone.  In my opinion this is my favourite App.

DSLR Remote – Have you ever misplaced your camera remote control.  I have.  This little phone app means you need not fret.  It will trigger the shutter, hold it open in bulb mode for a predetermined time and even take a bracket of different exposures for HDR processing.  Unfortunately the IR burst from my phone is not very powerful and so it’s range is quite short.  Never the less very useful and my second choice.

Light meter – A beautifully retro-styled app that looks like a 1950’s light meter.  By setting the ISO and f stop it will calculate the appropriate shutter speed, or any combination of the above.  Could be invaluable in spot metering with model work, or shooting with film.   Yes you are right, most cameras will automatically meter.  Well I haven’t used it a lot, but it looks so nice, and it looks like it would be useful for throwing the camera into manual mode.

Manual Flash Calculator – This one is really just a multiplication table. Put in the guide number of your flash, aperture and ISO and it will tell you how far away (in meters) to put the flash from the subject.  This isn’t really necessary if you are in TTL mode.  However if you are using multiple flash units and you want to take the guess work out of setting up, it could be quite useful.

PHOforPHO – Another calculator.  This one will give you depth of field calculations for different focal lengths and aperture settings.  It has a page dedicated to calculating the hyperfocal distance.  This is the seemingly magical point that will give the maximal depth of field possible for a given aperture.   It is like focusing midway between a foreground subject and the horizon in order to get both in focus.  It is probably closer to 1/3 of the perceived distance.   This technique was used a lot by Ansel Adams to get his incredibly sharp modernist landscapes.

Bubble level.  This app is just a spirit level.  Place it on a flat surface to see if it is truly level.  There are also compass programs and GPS programs for finding your direction.

Exsate Golden Hour – This app tells you when to take photos.  No more “the light was not kind to you” comments.  It uses sunrise and sunset data for your location to tell you when the golden hours begin.  Interestingly it modifies it’s predictions according to whether predictions.  For instance this morning it correctly predicted  that there would not be a sunrise as it would be obscured by low lying fog.  It also records moon rise and set.  There is a map function which will draw a line from your current location towards the sun and moon.  Not only can you tell where the sun will rise, but you can predict the direction of shadows when it does.  Most importantly I can use it to predict the behavior of the heavens for future dates, like camera club outings.

There are a number of useful programs for naming things.  For instance Google Maps is great for geography. Star Chart is a fantastic star atlas.  You simply hold it over your head and it will name the stars in the sky above you.  Pity the bird app didn’t do that.  The bird app, Birds of Australia (around $30),  however has a record of the bird calls.  If you play the call of the bird you are looking for it may be attracted to sort out the “newcomer”.  Sometimes they come in very close and when it does you can get a good photo.  I managed to use this trick with a blue wren and a white browed scrub wren.  Unfortunately it didn’t work for the southern emu wren.  Plants and insects are harder to identify.   I have found you can get identifications  by posting your pictures in the appropriate Flickr group.  Never under estimate the eagerness of on line nerds who just want to identify everything.

There are Apps that are essentially a recipe book of camera settings for different circumstances.  There are essential guides for each brand of camera, for instance my Nikon D7000, has an app but cost around $30.  I might just get the pdf of the users manual and put that on my phone for free.  Click’o’pedia is free and seems to be quite good.  Photography Trainer is only $2 and provides a lot of detailed information on different photographic situations.   Learn Photo 365 combines this with a photo-challenge.  I like the concept but the free version is quite limited and continually asks you to upgrade.  It is only $6 to upgrade and you get a lot of ideas for photo projects along with tips on camera settings.

There is also an app with instructions for posing models.  Pocket Poser Lite is free and gives 25 poses for men and 25 for women.  This could be useful when you run out of ideas and want a different solution to a problem with creating a good portrait.  It also requests you to upgrade to get a larger library.  This seems to be the best reviewed of the posing apps and has a pleasing layout and on the whole gives good pointers.

Camera Connect and Cast allows you to download photos from your camera to your phone and then onto a web platform like facebook.  This could be handy when travelling.

Lightning Camera – I haven’t used this one yet.  It’s for shooting lightning.  It’s hard to predict when it will strike.  I’m always missing the moment.  This app controls the phones camera .  It will allow you to press the shutter release after a bolt of lightning has just struck.  The camera however will record the previous few seconds – allowing you a chance of catching the actual lightning bolt.  One reviewer was using this app to photograph insects in flight.

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