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Smartphone Apps That Will Change Your Life

Smartphone Apps That Will Change Your Life Smartphone Apps That Will Change Your Life

While Google and Apple battle for supremacy in the smartphone application wars, photographers have more mobile options than ever to manage their portfolios.

Photographer Rosh Sillars lists some of the latest smartphone applications and discusses how they may change the way you manage your portfolio.

While your camera will take that great shot, it's the ubiquitous "smartphone" that will organize the rest of your life, including your photos. These little wonders can browse the internet, get your e-mail, keep track of your schedule and contacts, navigate your route to the shoot — and, if really necessary, make phone calls.

But what photographers like best about them is that they can run applications that will make your life easier. For instance, photographers can take advantage of the smartphone for preproduction and scouting. All smartphones have cameras — some with an image capacity as great as eight megapixels — offering relatively clear images and large files.

The battle for dominance is still being played out between the Google Android platform and the Apple iPhone. So far, the Android is passing the iPhone in sales, but the iPad is holding strong in the tablet race. Google is pushing to have apps hosted via the web again so the code and services will be more universal for every phone.

Until then, however, there are still several different general platforms, so not all applications can run on all phones. Your best bet is to go to your app source and see what they have. Since there are so many apps, it usually pays to search such categories as "photography" or "business" or "travel" rather than wade through all of them (although that also can be quite enlightening if you have the time).

These days, smartphone applications for photographers go far beyond the obvious field tool applications, such as CamCalc (GoVisualINC.com) or Photometric, which allow you to calculate the aperture and the exposure time from a given ISO sensitivity and exposure value. Many apps are designed to support and educate budding photographers.

Some new applications contain tutorials demonstrating classic compositions, lighting and techniques. For instance, Light Studio (LightStudioApp.com) and Photo Studio Buddy (pixvision.com) provide examples of 3D modeling systems. Many well-known photographers and photographic publications are starting to share tutorials, references and support articles through free or low-cost apps. It's a great education for the price.

Organizational apps

Some of the most pressing needs for many photographers are smartphone apps to help them organize the thousands of images in their portfolios. One handy organizational smartphone function is the ability to store and tag images with GPS coordinates for future use. With (Geotag Photos Pro), photographs and video may be sent directly from a location to share with art directors, editors, friends and family.

Having a portfolio at the ready is valuable to most every photographer. Whether you are an amateur or a pro, you never know when an opportunity to share your images will arise. Both smartphones and the hot new tablets offer great platforms to present your images.

Tablets tend to offer better portfolio presentation experience through tools such as FolioBook (foliobook.mobi), MediaPad Pro (MediaMobile.com) and Portfolio (ipadportfolioapp.com). The larger, clearer screens found on the tablets are impressive. For optimal presentation, you will want to read reviews and test apps to find the best one for your needs.

Flickfolio is an uploader and viewer for Flickr.com, a popular online photography sharing website. The application downloads your photos from Flickr so you can view them or show them on your smartphone.

JustPictures (kounch) is designed to browse and upload photos from multiple photography storage locations. It enables you to browse photos from sites such as Flickr, Picasa, Smugmumg.com, Facebook.com, Photobucket.com, Tumblr.com, DeviantArt.com, Imgur.com and your phone's SD card through a clean user interface.

Editing and postproduction

On the editing side, Photoshop has a basic Photoshop Express (photoshop.com/products/mobile/express/ios) application, and picSay (picsaypro.com) is used by many photographers around the world. But in general, the phone is currently not the most practical place for photography postproduction. That said, smartphone applications offer the ability to touch up images created with smartphones, make quick adjustments to your portfolio or apply fun effects to family photographs.

New applications for the photographer are being released every week. Many of them are either special-effect applications that create valuable effects such as panoramas (Pano), apps that leave the shutter open for long exposures (Magic Shutter) or tilt-shift creators (TiltShift Generator).

Many apps are used only occasionally because they can be a bit gimmicky. Artify (Kodamastudios.com.) and Camera Illusion (mobileillusion.com) are examples of apps that use filters to turn your photograph into an artistic masterpiece.

Color FX is an app that creates spot color effects for your images, while others turn your image into a collage or add retro effects (see "High-Tech Goes Low-Tech," PhotoMedia, Summer 2010).

Business apps

Everynote is one of the apps I use most. The website and application give you the option to save ideas and information in one location. These ideas may be typed or bookmarked into the system via your web browser. The app takes it further: You also can record your voice and take photographs of things you find interesting.

Photographers often find inspiring signs, scenes or locations. With Evernote, you can snap images and tag them for later use. How often have you awakened in the middle of the night or had a flash of genius hit you while driving? You can record your thoughts anytime and know exactly where to find them later. Evernote also is great for keeping track of receipts. I'm on the road a lot and am prone to losing half of my travel receipts. Now I immediately snap a photograph and save each to Evernote.

Dropbox is a huge help for every photographer who transports large files. This service works as your phone's external hard drive in the cloud. Photographers can store images or share a Dropbox file with friends or clients to deliver big documents, images and videos.

To-do lists are popular applications used on smartphones. I've tested many of the applications available for the Android platform. The current version of Taskos (taskos.com) fits my workflow the best. I recommend testing a few of these before settling on one for daily use. Other applications to consider are Wunderlist, rememberthemilk.com and Astrid (weloveastrid.com).

If you're like me, you're always running out of model releases. Easy Release eliminates the need for paper model-release forms and contracts. The photographer can collect all the required information and signatures on the Android device. One nice feature is that it will e-mail a PDF copy of the release to your inbox. It is also pre-bundled with industry-standard model and property releases available in multiple languages. Plus, it is approved for use by Getty Images and Alamy contributors.

Banking online or from your phone has been a convenient service for years. Some apps will even help you accept credit cards on location. Quickbooks and Square both offer reasonable credit card processing systems that you can connect to your smartphone. I use Square; you simply sign up and download the app, and Square will send you a small card reader that plugs into your phone for free.

Travel apps

Travel applications can be helpful too. Most smartphones now have GPS turn-by-turn voice navigation. This is very useful to the photographer in unfamiliar or complicated locations. Even simple compass applications can help point you in the right direction.

In addition to websites such as Tripit.com and Kayak.com, there also are multiple apps such as FlightTrack Pro that will help photographers keep track of your flights, travel details and delays.

I have found applications for the New York train system to be valuable in finding my way around the Big Apple. You can find similar applications for bus, subway and train systems around the world. You will never have to guess where and when the last train leaves.

Among other uses, Yelp.com can help you find a place to eat. Point your camera at a restaurant or store, and Yelp's "monocle" feature will tap into the social community and offer starred reviews of the place.

Translation applications also are helpful. Services such as the open-source project Onesky.com make it easier to communicate with people around the world. Although the effectiveness of the current version of Word Lens is under debate, it is a great application designed to read signs and translate them instantly into your language on your phone's viewing screen.

Many applications are helpful for niche photographers. For example, iBird Explorere Pro is a bird identification app available for both iPhone and Android platforms.

Other apps, such as Focalware, Sundroid Sundroid and GoldenPicLite, are designed to keep photographers up to date on the sunrise and sunset and when the golden light is at its best. They also calculate the position of the moon.

Social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all have applications that help you stay connected with your social community and client base when you are away from your computer.

Applications, however, don't seem to work exactly the same on every manufacturer's phones. I would recommend that you read the reviews in the app stores to see if there are any major complaints or concerns related to your phone before you download.

The future

In the next few years, photographers should be able to control household appliances and studio and photography equipment from their phones. Google recently released open-source Android hardware for manufacturers, which will allow the Android smartphone to control products such as TVs, lamps, washing machines and garage door openers.

New and better smartphone applications continue to be invented every day, offering services we never knew we wanted, needed or desired until the apps for them appeared.

It's a great time to be a photographer.

Rosh Sillars
Story Author: Rosh Sillars

Rosh Sillars is a professional commercial photographer based in Metro Detroit Michigan. He specializes in Photojournalism events, people, Healthcare, food architecture and interiors. Rosh uses Octane Photographic (9mile/Woodward) in Ferndale, Michigan for his home studio. He offers a blog and podcast at newmediaphotographer.com.

He is also the co-author of the book "The Linked Photographer's Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media." For more information on his work, visit rosh.com.

Website: www.roshsillars.com E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it