Here is an image that I took with my iPhone 4s at my sister's house. I found the fairy statue resting on top of a cabinet in the restroom and had to photograph it.
Notice the background. I tried finding a better background than the tanned, wooden blinds, but there was nothing else, unless I wanted to set up a make-shift background. AfterFocus to the rescue!
AfterFocus is an app that allows you to select the subject in focus and identify the background or other objects that should not be in focus. Additionally, AfterFocus allows you to set the intensity of the out-of-focus areas, which is extremely helpful when you are trying to fade the background out to the point where it is only a blur (which is what I did below in photo #2).
Continue reading below to see how I further edited this photograph and the finished image...
Photo #2 Using AfterFocus
After I processed the photo in AfterFocus I ran it through Snapseed, which is the top app I use for editing and my favorite photography app. Snapseed is an app developed by NIK Software, which, you may have heard, was purchased by Google two weeks ago.
I opened the photo in Snapseed and applied the grunge feature (texture 5), saved it, and opened the photo in PicFX.
With PicFX I processed the photo with te Light filter, choosing Bokeh #4 specifically. Bokeh is defined in several different ways, but usually, it means the blur or out-of-focus area of a photograph and how it is rendered. In the case of the fairy photo below, it is defined by the blurry circles that appear in different areas of the image. Normally, they are less defined, or may even appear in the background, but I've chosen to bring them to the foreground for my own effect and the mood I am trying to set.
Finally, I used Instagram to complete the image. I loaded the photo into Instagram and selected the brightness feature on the bottom left (looks like a sun). Then I selected the Lo-Fi filter.
Notice that by doing so, the fairy is further enhanced, adding contrast, as well, the fx give the image a definitive pop.
Try these edits on an image of your own and let me know how it turns out.
Feel free to share your link to the photos you edited in the comments box.
Below is an image I took with my iPhone at Lindo Lake in East County, San Diego. Part of the lake is full, and this part of the lake, not so much.
I saw this beautiful, teal, Ford Thunderbird parked at Cabrillo National Monument, and I had to look inside!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to explore life’s questions from anywhere? Well now you can, and you can do it by viewing and sharing photos!
The iPhone 5 and its improved camera is not the only thing that technology lovers and photographers get to look forward to on September 21st. Along with the anticipated launch of the new iPhone, a groundbreaking APP will hit the scene on the same day. The APP is called Blurtopia, and it can be best described as an amalgamation of Quora, Hot or Not, and Twitter, with a little Instagram on the side.
Blurtopia was conceived right here in San Diego in mid-June of 2012 when, CEO and Co-founder Ryan Bettencourt, was shopping in a department store. Ryan noticed a woman taking photos of shoes with her mobile phone. When Ryan inquired as to what she was doing, she responded, “I’m sending these photos to my friends to find out which ones they like best.” The woman was polling her circle of friends in order to make a buying decision on the spot. Bingo! Blurtopia was born.
Blurtopia has a simple premise; get and give feedback to questions instantly. The concept is not new. However, the user interface (UI) and delivery is. Blurtopia is designed for simplicity and the user experience was one of the trickiest aspects for the design team due to the limited real estate of mobile phones. Like Instagram, Blurtopia uses a simple horizontal bar located at the bottom of the page that the user uses to switch between their feed, to discover other members, to “Blurt”, review their own blurts, and inspect their profile. The horizontal bar on the top allows for a change in display of questions, a quick-select between those you are following and your inbox, and a refresh button. Blurtopia allows users to comment after posting their answer, allowing for a burgeoning sense of community.
Photographers will be satisfied to learn that Blurtopia allows the user to share two photos simultaneously in a single post. If you’re at a supermarket for example, you can snap a photo of two separate items you are considering buying (bag of chips A vs. bag of chips B), and ask your followers to give a thumbs up to the one they think you should buy. The experience is remarkable. Followers respond in seconds and you will be able to gauge right away, through a circular or bar graph, the percentage that voted for bag A vs. those for bag B. With Blurtopia, photographs become a catalyst for behavior and choice.
The only weakness Blurtopia has can be attributed to the profile section of the APP. Currently, members are unable to craft pithy descriptions about themselves or provide an external website for other members to explore. For photographers or creative artists in general, this feature is a must because the industry relies on information from knowledgeable sources. As of right now, if you ask a question, you could get a response from hundreds of users, but only a dozen of which you either care to receive an answer from, and the others from total strangers that you have no vested interest in receiving an opinion from. This weakness is already recognized by the development team, according to Bettencourt, and there is a build already under way to remedy it. The ability to “follow” authoritative or recognized personalities should be available in November. Before the launch date, Bettencourt says an update will be released that allows for further filtering (Similar to Google Circles), as well as the inclusion of hash tags (#tags), which greatly expand the filter-selection experience.
The temporary weakness aside, what benefits does Blurtopia have and how it can change your life?
As a behavioral driven app, Blurtopia makes decision-making easier and tolerable. Think about your first date. Do you recall all of the questions you had about what to wear, which perfume or cologne to spray on, or if leaning in for a kiss at the end of the date was going too fast? Now, think about having all of those questions answered before you left to pick up your date. For most, having the answers may have lead to a better first date experience. Well guess what Generation Z, Blurtopia just became your wing-man.
Imagine you are an internationally recognized business, and you are about to launch a revolutionary product called the iFlab, a device that you stick to your skin like a patch, and all of your physiological numbers (height, weight, BMI) are beamed to your mobile devices or straight to your doctor’s office. You need to know what price-point to set, but you are not exactly sure what the public might be willing to pay for a product as unique as this. You decide to propose the question to your followers - but not all of them - because your target market is going to be individuals in the medical field and those that fall into the health and fitness categories. With Blurtopia, you can ask your question using one of its three selection types (Thumbs Up or Down, Rate from 1-5, or This or That), post a photo of the device (exclusive sneak peak anyone?), and select tags or groups for context. Additionally, you are able to share the question simultaneously with Facebook and Twitter followers. Instant polls save businesses money. To the companies of the world, Blurtopia just became your top consultant.
Finally, imagine you are a photographer and you are having a difficult time selecting between two images, one of which you are looking to submit to a gallery or a client commission. Or, you simply would like to know which one your followers would likely place on their office wall. Blurt it! Blurtopia just became your curator.
INTERESTING THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BLURTOPIA
Blurtopia is enjoyable to use, highly addictive and keeps you coming back for more. Bettencourt and his team have found that within the test group, the majority will return to post their own questions after answering only five questions from other users.
Users posting commentary are often very helpful as well as engaging. There is no question that there will be divisions within Blurtopia, those that engage in highly sophisticated question and answer, and those that use Blurtopia for general life-style purposes. Fortunately, there is plenty of room for both in the world of Blurtopia.
Blurtopia is highly recommended for businesses, photographers and creative artists, and anyone that has a question that needs an immediate answer – is that you?
When Bettencourt was asked about what he envisioned for Blurtopia, he responded, “Blurtopia can literally change the world and we want that experience to live with everyone.”
Will you be downloading Blurtopia on its release date?
Here is a photograph I took when I was on a photo-walk with Pacific Photographic Society. It was a beautiful day and the clouds were cooperating.
I missed my Daily Photo for the day... don't fret, I was shooting a concert late. To make up for it, I've uploaded two photographs that I snapped today. Enjoy!
Last week the term heard all over the internet was SmugMugged. Chris MacAskill (aka Baldy), released a video to announce a SmugMug price increase as well as the reasons behind it. The commentary (good and bad) is active and can be found with a simple Google search, however, the focus of discussion has been primarily on the increase itself and whether SmugMug's features and benefits justify the increase, rather than the landscape of photography, and how in one-fell-swoop, SmugMug has turned those that would call themselves professionals into amateur or enthusiast/hobbyist photographers by default.
In San Diego, the reaction has been mixed. Scott Burns of Scott Burns Photography, posted the SmugMug changes on the San Diego SmugMug user group's Facebook page. Surprisingly, the feedback was cold - only two photographers responded, both with opposing opinions. Dave Veit, a local photographer, says, "It's pennies and insignificant next to how much they make me." Many would disagree, as the price increase is $100 more if a photographer wants to resume with a PRO Business (eCommerce) account vs being re-categorized as a Portfolio user only.
Irrespective of the costs associated with doing business for SmugMug, which are many and not only related to storage, SmugMug's price increase has to be a good thing.
For one, the cost of doing business as a photographer has not changed for years, additionally, not all photography needs to be up for sale. You read that correctly - not all photography needs to be up for sale. For the photographer complaining of price-hikes in order to sell their photos, why should SmugMug be expected to bare the burden of storage costs constantly on the rise due to changing technology (increases in megapixels for example). Moreover, for the enthusiast SmugMug user that does not earn their living from photography sales, why should SmugMug be expected to offer the same menu of features it offers to PRO grade members that offer SmugMug a percentage of the return on each sale? The bottom line is that if you're not a photographer that is actively selling fine art photography, wedding photography, or licensing images, you have nothing to complain about, and if you are a professional, you should be grateful that those that might jump ship from SmugMug are likely to go somewhere else that does not offer all of the professional features and fine customer service that SmugMug does.
SmugMug has come a long way over the years. If you have been in for the long haul, you would be hard-pressed to find a better, more generous and user-friendly service. You would also agree that SmugMug, while sometimes a little slow at updates, listens to its clients and eventually releases important updates to stay ahead of competitors.
I published the above article on The Examiner and it can be read here. Below I've included MY OPINION...
I have not been using SmugMug for very long. In fact, I had considered Photoshelter for quite some time, but Photoshelter is geared more for the photographer focused on licensing images (which may be a need for me in the next couple of years). I also ran a test on both companies anonymously by submitting a help request, and SmugMug responded whereas Photoshelter did not respond at all. I'm not suggesting that Photoshelter is is bad as a result, but at the the time, I wanted to see who was more responsive. Another reason I went with SmugMug was because I already hosted my own site and was not concerned about paying more for site features with Photoshelter (although they are quite beautiful and should be checked out for those of you without a website).
I'm staying with SmugMug. When I first watched the video after seeing the email in my inbox I was very surprised. I also thought, WTH, just like that, they are going to increase the price!? But I let the news sink in for a week, and then into the weekend. I considered what SmugMug offered me as a photographer; I considered that it was a family owned business; I considered that this must have been a very difficult decision for them; and... and this is a big AND... I considered that I will be uploading photographs from super-high megapixel cameras like the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D Mark III, as well as video in 1080p from GoPro HDHero2 cameras! SmugMug saves those for me in full resolution to access and download anytime.
I realize everyone is in a pinch right now and the economy is not great, but SmugMug is effected by the economy also, and to a greater extent, as a service provider. SmugMug has just given every member an opportunity to look at themselves and their photography and ask, am I a photographer because my photos are for sale, or am I a photographer because I take photographs? Not everyone can be both.
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