Category Archives Apps

Welcome to my glorious and sheepishly anticipated “15th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide.” It’s an annual tradition here in the mag, where I share gift ideas for photographers based on the stuff I spent too much money on throughout the year. Being stuck inside with the pandemic and all, sadly hasn’t curtailed the amount I spent this year (perhaps, just the opposite), but nevertheless, I’ve got some great gift ideas in three different categories:

Stocking Stuffers: These are the perfect gifts for people you don’t really care that much about, but it would be awkward if you didn’t get them anything.

Great Value Gear: These are gifts that fall into that sweet spot of looking like they cost a lot, but they’re actually pretty inexpensive, so you look like a champ, but in reality…well, you can fill in your own blanks here. Good stuff, cheap. Well, cheapish.

Cha-ching!: These are my picks for gifts you’d buy the photographer on your gift list who’s a personal injury attorney, anesthesiologist, or perhaps a cloud engineer (nobody actually knows what a cloud engineer does, but it has to pay a lot because it has “cloud” in the name and the future is all about the cloud). Before buying any of these items, the process will go faster if the bank has pre-approved you for a specific loan amount.

Just remember, giving one of these gifts by itself isn’t enough. The real magic of the holidays is when you can use social media to make others feel less adequate by taking smartphone pictures of all the stuff you bought, and all the stuff you got, and sharing it online. It’s what separates us from the animals. So, without further ado, I present to you my “15th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide” and late night bag o’ chips snacking companion.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Uncommon Grit: A Photographic Journey through Navy SEAL Training by D. McBurnett

If the photographer on your gift list enjoys a good coffee table book, this one is pretty brilliant. It has fantastic images of Navy SEAL training operations taken by a retired former Navy SEAL and it’s really stunning (the imagery and the testament of what it takes to become a SEAL). Really nicely done, and they’ll love it (and you). 

Price: Incredible deal at $37.53 (link)

Carbon Copy Cloner 5 (software)

This has become my favorite software for backing up my computer, and since photographers are notoriously bad at backing up their computers (they must be, because people email me all the time with heartbreaking stories about how they’ve lost their photos forever when their computer died or was stolen), this will make it so easy. It literally reminds you to plug in your drive and back up on a schedule, and all you have to do is plug in that drive—Carbon Copy Cloner does the rest. This is a very pragmatic gift, so while it’s not flashy, and they won’t necessarily be gushing when you give it, they’ll thank you again and again all year long. At the very least, they’ll think of you in a semi-positive light. 

Price: Personal & Household license: $39.99 (link)

Hard Drive for Backing Up Photos 

This one is particularly nice, because it really seems like you spent a lot, but the prices for storage have come down so much that it’s shockingly low. You can get a WD 2-TB external hard drive for around $65, which is just insanely cheap. Get them at least a 2-TB drive, and if you’re romantically tied to this person, maybe even go for 4 TB for around $100. 

Price:
2 TB: $64.99 (link)
4 TB: $99.99 (link)

My New Book, The Digital Photography Book 

Okay, this is a plug for my own book, but it’s one I’m really proud of because I’ve heard from so many photographers who have told me that this is the book that turned them into a photographer. It’s the major new update to the #1-bestselling book in history on digital photography, and it’s been seven years in the making. I’m sharing all my latest techniques, tips, and tricks on how to make better photos, right away, today! It’s not a book on theory that challenges them to figure things out on their own; it’s the exact tools, settings, and techniques that will make a difference immediately in their photography. It’s available in print and eBook editions. 

Price: $28.50 (link)

Rogue Flash Gels: Universal Lighting Filter Kit

Most photographers hate cutting gels for their flash, and storing them for future use is even worse, which is why they’ll love these precut, super-easy-to-use, and clearly marked gels for hot-shoe flash. They’re very cleverly designed to make putting gels on their flash quick and easy, and the gels come in their own storage wallet with a tabbed organizer to make finding the right gel easy. Super-cool gift for the flash user on your list. 

Price: $29.95 (link)

ARKON 11″ Tripod Mount for iPhone

If they shoot with an iPhone, I think this is the best darn little tripod out there. It’s so light, yet so handy. Make sure you get the one that fits their model of phone. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for the iPhone photographer on your list.

Price: $19.95 (link)

B&H Gift Card

This is always the perfect gift because B&H Photo is the greatest camera store in the world, and whatever the photographer on your gift list wants, B&H has it, in stock, ready to ship. They’re the magical unicorn of camera stores. Get them a gift card from here, and they’ll follow you anywhere.

Price: Starting at $25 (link)

Dogtography: A Knock-Your-Socks-Off Guide to Capturing the Best Dog Photos on Earth

This brand-spanking new book from the undisputed queen of dog photography, Kaylee Greer, is an absolute gem and, if the photographer on your gift list has a doggo, they’ll get so much out of this wonderful book. Kaylee is magic when it comes to photographing pooches (she even had her own TV series on Nat Geo Wild called Pupparazzi), and she shares all her secrets to getting the best doggie photos you’ve ever taken. Well, the person on your gift list will be so happy to get this book, and if you buy a copy for yourself, you’ll be happy too. Totally worth it.

Price: $45 (link)

A Couple of Spare Camera Batteries

Even if they have a spare battery, every photographer would still love another one (or two). It’s one of those can’t-go-wrong stocking stuffers. Today you can get a pack of two spare batteries along with a charger for around $30. Note: If you buy a battery from the camera manufacturer (such as Canon or Nikon), the prices are so much higher (like $60–70 a battery) that it will probably move you out of the stocking-stuffer range. I haven’t noticed a difference in quality or battery life whatsoever with these off-brand batteries, so save the money and buy them two of these instead of one of the name brands. They’ll love this!

Price:
For Canons using LP-E6 style batteries: $29.99 (link)
For Nikon Mirrorless cameras using EN-EL15b style batteries: $19.95 (link)

2-Pack of Lexar Professional 633x UHS-I SDHC 32GB Memory Cards

Memory cards are like batteries: photographers can never have enough of them (especially if they shoot video, too), and these fast SD cards will be so welcome by the photographer on your gift list. This is one of those things that photographers put off buying, so when you buy it for them, it’s hero time. Plus, these are so inexpensive now (around $15 for two), you can’t go wrong (and they’ll think you spent a lot more)!

Price: $14.99 (link)

GREAT VALUE GEAR

Topaz Sharpen AI

This is a freakin’ amazing sharpening plug-in from the wizards at Topaz Labs. Erik Kuna, our VP of Operations and instructor here at KelbyOne, and I have both fallen in love with this plug-in. It’s way cheaper than buying a new sharp lens, but it will make their images look like they plunked down $3,000. Since it uses AI and automatically does all the analyzing and applying, all they have to do is sit back and click a button to enter a whole new world of sharp, crisp images. Really good stuff (and it will help them prepare for when robots steal all our jobs).

Price: $79.99 (link)

Breakthrough Photography X4 Neutral Density Filters

Famous photographer (and my dear friend) Rick Sammon called me one day to tell me about these filters (’cause he knows I’m a filter freak). He was raving about the quality, and man was he right. He talked me into getting a set of the X4 Neutral Density (ND) filters, and they’re as good as it gets. They’re so well-crafted, and everything Rick said they were. Breakthrough Photography makes all sorts of different filters, all designed and built here in the U.S. This is a really nice gift. The 6-stop ND filter starts at $149 (based on the size of their lens in mm), and the 10-stop (my fav) starts at $159. Make sure you find out what mm size their lens is. (This is a tricky thing to ask without giving away the present—good luck with that!)

Price: Starting at $149 for the 6-stop ND (link)

MagMod Starter Flash Kit

There are a lot of great flash modifiers out there, but MagMod is their king for just how easy it is to use and switch between their different flash accessories. The secret? Magnets. You don’t attach them; they just magnetically snap into place, and they’re a joy to use. You’ll be a hero from the very first time the photographer on your list uses this system. The MagMod Starter Kit comes with the MagGrip, MagGrid, and the popular MagSphere. If they use flash, they will so love this system.

Price: $99.95 (link)

DxO Nik Collection 3 Plug-Ins

This is a long-beloved collection of special effects and production plug-ins, originally developed by Nik Software, who was acquired by Google, and then acquired by DxO (maker of PhotoLab). DxO has updated the software a bit, added a new plug-in called Perspective Efex, and just released a new set of presets. For many photographers out there, this plug-in is their secret weapon.

Price: $149 (link)

An “Epic Print” from Bay Photo Lab

This is a very special gift: a gift certificate so the photographer on your list can get a 16×24″ Epic Print (which is their name for this particular printing process). Here’s how they describe it: “Epic Prints are made from prints on Fujiflex silver halide photographic paper with up to 610-dpi resolution, for high-precision clarity that’s as close to ‘perfect’ as print gets. Mounted to aluminum for a sleek, thin profile, and a flawless presentation.” Seriously, who wouldn’t lose their mind to have one of their images printed and presented like that? They just upload their file, and Bay Photo does the rest.

Price: $165.95 (link)

Loupedeck+

This is a hardware input device (nerdspeak) for super-fast editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. It replaces clicking all over the place with your mouse with an intuitive set of dials, knobs, and buttons that are just so slick and thoughtfully laid out. If you know someone who wants to speed up their Lightroom or Photoshop work, and wants to look really cool doing it, this is for them.

Price: $249 (link)

A Signature Photo Album of Their Own Images

If you want to give them a gift they’ll literally treasure for years, get them a gift certificate from Mpix.com to have their images printed in a high-quality photo book. It’s like a coffee table book, but of their own images, and the quality (and customer service) is off the charts. They’re not cheap, but that’s only because they’re super-high quality. This is a gift they’ll love on a level you can’t imagine.

Price:
$159.99 for the 8×8 book with 20 pages;
$184.99 for the 10×10 with 20 pages (Note: Go for the 10×10!) (link)

Luminar AI Automated Photo-Editing Program

If they’re not a postprocessing shark, this plug-in (which uses AI to analyze and edit your image automatically for you, or with some input from you), will help take their images to the next level, without the learning curve. It’s pretty amazing what Skylum is doing with this standalone app. It’s set to be available on December 15, 2020, so it’s right around the corner.

Price: $99 (normally $149) (link)

SlickPic Portfolio

Every photographer needs an online portfolio, but the process of getting and creating one has been either really limited, complicated, or both. SlickPic is a site designed exclusively for creating photography portfolios, and if you buy the photographer on your gift list a “Portfolio” level account, SlickPic assigns a professional designer to help them get their site up and running fast and looking great. I switched my portfolio over to SlickPic earlier this year and I’m loving it (though I didn’t need to use their designer as their templates are really easy and intuitive).

Price:
Pro: $14.95/month billed annually;
Portfolio (includes Design Services): $29.95/month billed annually (link)

BLACKRAPID RS-4 Classic Retro Camera Sling

I’ve tried a lot of camera straps over the years, and this is my favorite. I learned about this strap on one of my first photo walks (about 12 years ago) and I’ve been using one ever since. The strap wraps across their body (great for safety since a thief can’t just grab it off your shoulder and take off), and their camera is right at their side ready to shoot at any time. Really can’t say enough about ’em.

Price: $59.95 (link)

A 3-Book Bundle of My Greatest Hits!

Okay, I wanted to sound like a rockstar with that greatest hits title, but in reality, it’s three of my bestselling books: (1) The Landscape Photography Book (2) The Natural Light Portrait Book, and (3) The Flash Book, all bundled together at one incredible price as if it were designed from scratch from the book publishing gods to create the ultimate photography learning gift pack. If your photographer is a reader, they’ll super-dig my book bundle (thank you Rocky Nook for putting it together).

Price:
All three print books together: $45 (insanely low—that’s 50% off the cover price);
All three eBooks together: $35 (I should find a new publisher—that’s too low!) (link)

Tether Tools Rock Solid Tripod Roller

Nobody else will have this hidden gem on their gift guide, which is partially why it makes such an awesome gift (and one that will make their friends jealous). It’s a super portable and collapsible base onto which you put your tripod, and it becomes—wait for it, wait for it—a rolling tripod. You can’t imagine how great this is until you use one (I’ve been using one for years). It looks and acts like it costs a lot more, and they’ll be the envy of every studio photographer everywhere.

Price: $79.95 (link)

One of My Fine Art Prints

The gallery YellowKorner sells three of my fine art prints of classic interiors at various sizes (you can get some really nice large sizes) and styles; and I, for one, would be honored if you saw fit to give one as a gift. Imagine how tickled I’d be if you gave three or four? Or even three or four hundred? The mind reels, doesn’t it? Anyway, it would make a great addition to your photography collection (said the artist; so his opinion is marginally biased). If you purchase one, please post a pic on social and tag me in it, so I can share it, as well.

Price: Starting from $145 (link)

CHA-CHING!

Hand-Painted Backdrop for Portraits from GravityBackDrops

This is the second time these have landed in my Gear Guide, but I’ve been using them a lot lately, and felt they needed to be included again. These beautifully hand-painted backdrops are turning the industry on its ear, because they’re priced so far below their competitors, yet their quality is spot-on. These are giving photographers access to a level of quality, hand-painted backdrops that were out of reach for so many people; you can now own these backdrops for less than we used to rent them for the weekend. They’ll even custom-make whatever you want. Can’t recommend these enough (and you’ll be a hero to the photographer on your gift list).

Price: Based on size, but figure around $350 or so (link)

Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

I don’t have this camera yet, but it’s the one I’m about to buy for myself for Christmas. It has the sensor of the camera I wish I could buy, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III (I have the old 1D Mark I), so the low-noise performance is insane, but it’s got all the features of Canon’s latest mirrorless line, and a price that’s actually mind-blowing for what you get. Perfect for the Canon shooter on your holiday gift list. They’ll lose their minds when you give them this!

Price: $2,499 (body only) (link)

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens for Shooting the Night Sky/Milky Way

This lens is highly recommended by the real man, can of ham, eats lots of bran, friend of Jean-Claude Van Damme, big fan of Wham, and the real rocketman, Erik Kuna, who notes that this is an absolute favorite among the astrophotography crowd (which I believe are people that take photos of George Jetson’s dog) and, well, the price is so good, it’s hard to pass up. If the photographer on your gift list likes shooting the night sky, or heavenly bodies (stop snickering), or Milky Way bars, this will totally float their boat!

Price:
Nikon: $299 (link)
Canon: $399 (link)
Sony: $499 (don’t shoot the messenger Sony users) (link)

Westcott FJ400 Wireless Flash System

Westcott has a huge hit on their hands with this portable studio strobe. They can’t build ’em fast enough to keep up with demand, because the design is awesome, the wireless trigger is really fantastic, and the price is ridiculously cheap for what it does. You need both the strobe and the wireless transmitter, but they’re totally worth it, and the photographer on your gift list will follow you around like a puppy with unending adoration if you pick up this gift for them.

Price:
FJ400 Strobe 400Ws with AC/DC Battery: $569.90 (link)
FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger: $99.90 (link)

Nikon Z 6II Mirrorless Camera with FTZ Adapter Kit

A number of my Nikon-shooting friends have this camera and every one of them absolutely swears by it. If the Nikon shooting photographer on your gift list has been itching to go mirrorless, they’ll pass out and wind up in the fetal position on the floor when they open your wrapped gift, and they find this inside. They’ll have to go through a concussion protocol shortly after opening the box. True story. Get the one with the adapter so they can use their existing Nikon lenses with this new mirrorless. It really shows you care.

Price: $2,046.90 (link)

Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Camera

If the photographer on your gift list is a Sony shooter (or just wants to be), here’s a gift that will have them exploding into candy like a piñata. It’s the top-selling, most-wished-for, most-longed-for, sexiest (sexiest?) mirrorless camera with incredible specs and a legion of fans around the world. If you want to curry favor with your giftee, be the gifter that breaks the bank and gets them that once-in-a-lifetime gift. (I say that because you’ll never be able to afford things such as food, rent, and air again. You’ll be broke, but you’ll be a broke hero and that’s saying something.)

Price: $2,998 (body only) (link)

STUFF FROM US

Treat Them to a Ticket to Our Online Travel Photography Conference

It’s coming up in January, so the timing is right on the money, and if they’re into taking photos when they travel, they’ll so love this two-day, two track, all-online conference with a who’s who of brilliant travel photography instructors and postprocessing wizards. Plus, they’ll have access to the archive of all the conference classes for an entire year after the fact. These are super popular, and they’ll have a great experience, laugh a lot, learn a lot, and they’ll thank you again and again. ;-)

Price: $149 for a full-access pass (early-bird) (link)

A One-Year KelbyOne Membership

If they love online training, we have a special membership level that just focuses on the online classes, giving them access to more than 300 courses, and it goes for just $9.99 a month or $96 annually. Give ’em a 12-month membership and they’ll love you all year. If you really want to bowl them over, get them a KelbyOne Pro membership; it’s got more classes (800+), more features, and an incredible worldwide community of photographers helping each other get better. It’s for accelerated learning, and they’ll have full access to everything. They’ll love you (and so will I).

Price:
Plus Membership: $9.99/month; $96/annually;
Pro Membership: $19.99/month; $199/annually
(link)

Well, there ya have it, folks. Remember, it’s not how many gifts you get. It’s about how many gifts you get me! ;-)

Happy Shopping, Everybody!

-Scott

Hi Gang — and welcome to a totally awesome Monday! On Saturday, I shot with the Falcons Crew (three of the best guys, and lights out shooters, you’d ever want to meet: Jimmy Cribb, Michael Benford, and Lynn Bass) for the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the Falcons and the Seahawks (and the Falcons rocked it with a big win!).

I brought my standard remote camera rig (more on that in a moment), but I wanted to try something new for shooting goal line stands from really down low, which is a remote camera rig (Platypod Pro Max, 3leggedthing Airhed Neo Ballhead) but I did it by controlling the shoot from my iPhone using Tethertools “Case Air” Wireless Tethering System.

The advantage is that I can set the rig down on the ground, and then see a live view of the field from my iPhone. I can change settings, set my focal point, do a time lapse, and even fire the camera all from my iPhone. The images go straight into my phone, so I could share them almost instantly if need be.  Here’s a closer look at the rig:

Above: The Case Air is that little unit sitting on top of my camera, in the hot shoe mount. It plugs into your camera’s mini-USB port (well, on my camera anyway, which is a 5D Mark III), and that’s the whole set-up hardware wise. Then you download the free Case Air app for your iPhone. The Case Air creates its own closed wireless network which you connect to (just takes a few seconds), and then you see what your camera is seeing, right on your app.

Above: The Falcons are lining up for an extra point when I took this shot using the Case Air. It was at that moment that I realized that a 14mm lens is WAY too wide for this task. Needs to be at least a 24-70mm, which is what I’ll try next week. This way, I can keep my 70-200mm ready for a pass to either edge, and the Case Air covers the center of the field (though I’m set up off center here, I won’t be next time).

We’re generally not allowed to lay down in the end zone (kneeling is fine), and the PocketWizard Route that I use for the player intros would work here too. It’s probably more responsive than the Case Air, but without lying on the ground (which I do in rare instances), the Case Air gives you a perfect way to set-up and focus the camera before the play. I can tell you — this is probably the last thing the folks at Tethertools ever imagined this being used for, but I wanted to try it anyway.

PROS: It’s super lightweight; it’s very cleverly designed, and all connects in seconds, and in the studio and for this field test I had zero problems getting it to work. I just hooked it up and it worked. The software is great, and the whole thing is fun, and I can go straight from my iPhone to the Web. Social Media folks for teams would eat this up! Plus, it’s only $149, which is around the price of just 1 of the 2 PocketWizard Plus IIIs that you’d need to fire a remote camera in an environment like this.

CONS: It was never designed for this. It’s really for wireless tethering in the studio or for portraits on location, or for a second camera behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. Because everything’s moving via wireless, the images have to transfer from the camera to the iPhone, so if you shoot a burst of images (like we do in football) you don’t see the results right away — you see a spinning status wheel as images are coming in, so you have to wait a minute to see if you “got the shot.”

Speaking of PocketWizard Plus IIIs
My regular remote camera shoot for the intros, which is usually a no-brainer at this point…wasn’t.

Above: My standard rig (except this was my 3rd camera, so it’s a Canon 5D Mark III — usually a Canon 1Dx). PocketWizard Plus III on top sitting in the hot shoe mount. Connected to my camera’s Remote Shutter Release port via a cable. 14mm lens on the camera (perfect for this); an Oben ballhead (got it from B&H), and a Platypod Pro Max plate holding it all steady.

Above: You can see my small rig over on the right, to the left of that Falcon’s logo, which soon will be spitting out fire and smoke, which is one of the reasons why you need a remote camera — you might burst into flames.

Above: Here’s the view from the camera itself. I do lots of test shots before the players come out to make sure everything’s working. The position seems pretty perfect, and it’s firing off test shots (I can see the little light on the top of the PocketWizard, and I see the image appear on the back of the screen, so even though I’m not down there on the ground, I can see it’s firing.

Above: I have a PocketWizard Plus III with me out at the center of the field to trigger that remote camera; it’s in my Hot Shoe mount, so when I fire my camera, it automatically fires the remote. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but on Saturday it only fired once — just this one picture above, and it never fired again. I have no idea why. Maybe I knocked the remote as we shifted positions after the cheerleaders came out, and the connection wasn’t solid — I don’t know — but I only got this one shot, which is pretty much worthless. This same exact rig worked perfectly at the Dolphins game down in Miami just a few weeks ago. The shame is — the positioning was on the money (at least I know for next week, right?).

Above: This was taken with my main camera with a 70-200mm — I darkened the scene except where I put that red circle so you can see where my remote camera was positioned. Oh well, it happens.

So, as far as Remote Cameras go, it was a miss and a single. I proved the Case Air can work even in an environment I doubt it was ever designed to work in, but I used a wide lens and didn’t have the one I needed with me. Luckily, I get to try again for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta next week.

So, that’s a little behind the scenes, and a field report on the Case Air. Here’s a link if you want more details on it (and I give it a big thumbs up overall for an affordable, solid wireless tethering system.

Hope you all have a great Monday (yes, it’s Monday and it’s going to be great!). :)

Best,

-Scott

 

 

adobepsapps

This week we were very fortunate to have Adobe’s own Bryan O’Neil Hughes in our studios (he was taping a KelbyOne class on using Adobe’s Mobile Apps, plus he did a live private Webcast exclusively for our members, and he was also my guest on The Grid on Wednesday). Basically, Bryan didn’t get much sleep  this week.

Anyway, if you missed any of this…
I’ve got the next best thing, which are some short clips where Bryan is giving you a glimpse of the power of some of these amazing apps (and once you see them, you’ll be even more amazed to learn that Adobe makes all of these apps available for FREE!).

Take a look at these three short videos (below) on these mobile apps in the Photoshop family: Photoshop Fix, Photoshop Mix, and Photoshop Sketch. (I’ll share some more app videos next week). A lot of folks were literally blown away at what these apps are able to do, and how they extend the power of editing your images to mobile. Really incredible stuff (and thanks Bryan for an incredible week of learning Adobe’s awesome free mobile apps).

We’re cooking up lots of cool training on mobile apps, including classes on Lightroom Mobile at this summer’s Photoshop Conference 2016 in Las Vegas (Bryan will be teaching there again this year), so I hope you can make it. If you’re a KelbyOne member, and you sign up before June 10th, you can get a full conference pass for all three days, with nearly 100 sessions to choose from, for just $599. Here’s the link with details.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see ya back here on Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m off to London today and I’ll be speaking at “The Photography Show” on Monday and Tuesday. I hope to meet you in person there. Can’t wait! :)

apostapp1

OK, it’s not technically for just Instagrammers, and there’s nothing in the app that says it’s for using with Instagram, but it’s so perfect for Instagram, I can’t believe Adobe wasn’t thinking that way from the start (even if they didn’t say it).

The App is called “Adobe Post” (it’s free, and available for iPhone) and it lets you create all sorts of custom graphics with text for social media. While there are a bunch of apps that already do this type of thing, this one is particularly clever, thoughtfully designed and very fast and simple to use.

It comes with a bunch of pre-made, nicely designed, easily customizable templates for use as your starting place, but the way you can tweak and change everything (including trying out new color schemes with just one tap), makes it not only fast but actually a lot of fun.

adobepost1a

Above: This is the opening screen which shows a bunch of different templates (there are way more than you can see in the screen cap — they appear when you scroll down) — just click on the one you want to customize or “remix” as they say.

adobepost2

Above: Once you choose a template to start with, you can use their built-in photos or your own. Here I took a photo and blurred the heck out of it first; and then imported it into the App as the background. Now you can choose different color palettes for the tint over your image and the text and the graphic (a rope circle in this case) separately. You can keep remixing these colors by tapping on the arrows over the color.

adobepost3

Above: You can change design templates any time, along with different placements for your text (everything is pretty much editable at any time — you can change text, fonts, size, colors, templates, you name it). Here I changed templates, and then I uploaded a different photo. Just tap on those thumbnails below the image and it changes the layout.

adobepost4

Above: I switched to an entirely different layout for a different photo (just a snap with my iPhone, and one of my favorite quotes from my wife — she said it to our daughter one morning and I still laugh every time I think of it). I changed the top text, the text below it, and tried different color palettes.

adobepost5

Above: Here’s how it looks when uploaded to Instagram (yes, you can take your edited image from Adobe Post directly over to the Instagram App for posting).

Adobe Post is available FREE for the iPhone on the App Store (here’s the link).

Hope you find that helpful. Have a great Tuesday everybody!

Best,

-Scott

First, a big thanks to everyone who has sent some love after watching my new online class  “How to build your audience on Instagram” — the feedback has been tremendous! Here’s one of my favorites:

I have watched the class and applied what you taught to my account (I started 2 weeks ago)… just today I have far more interaction on my images than any I have posted to Facebook. Great class!” —Jason L. Eldridge 

I’ve got dozens more along the same lines from Twitter and Facebook, and as a teacher any time you create a class that resonates with your students, it’s a great feeling, so thanks for letting me know (and I’m glad it’s helping). :)

Posting to Instagram From the Desktop:
Although I talked about it briefly in the class, one thing a lot of folks want to do is something that Instagram natively doesn’t really do, which is to let you publish to Instagram from your desktop or laptop computer. You pretty much have to post from within the phone (or tablet) app itself (there really isn’t an iPad app for Instagram — you just download the iPhone app to your iPad, and then run it at 2x size, so at least then it’s full screen, and you can upload from your iPad).

However, there are a few other options (none of them awesome):

Sharetoinsta

There is a App for the Mac OS called “Uploader to Instagram” that I bought for $4.99 that lets you right-click on any image upload directly from the desktop. Once you right click on the image (here I right-clicked on an image on my desktop), you go to the bottom of the menu, under Services, and choose “Share to Instagram” as seen above.

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Then this tiny windows appears on screen, which shows you a preview of your image, and it has a slider below it for resizing your image before posting (or you can take a live photo of yourself using your laptop’s built-in camera). This window is really, really small (and I have no idea why they made it so small — that is about actual size that you’re seeing above). Once you click done, the following appears:

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A window pops down from your menubar with a Share to Instagram window. Again, it’s a very small window with a very small field to enter your caption, but you enter your caption and hashtags; hit the Share button, and you’re done.

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Since it doesn’t give you any kind of confirmation that it actually posted, I went to view my Instagram account on my Web browser (instagram.com/scottkelby) and there it was. If you scroll down you see the captions and hashtags, and you can see it worked.

What’s missing? 
Plenty. You can’t simultaneously post to Twitter and/or Facebook, so you have more steps to do manually, which kinda stinks. Also, you can’t add a location, which stinks big-time. Also, it doesn’t suggest any previous #hashtags you’ve used, and all the windows are wayyyyyy too small, and of course there’s the fact that there’s no confirmation that it even posted in the first place, so you have to go and check.

Worse yet — if you don’t post a square photo (you use the slider to post a wider image), it doesn’t tuck your image, and the text, up to the top of the post, like the Instagram App does — instead it leaves this awkward gap of white space above and below your image (see the above image of it on Instagram’s site). Not a good look! This was the deal breaker for me. I’m out.

So, does it work? Yes, but it’s got a long way to go to really be a truly helpful tool. It’s more of a “Well, I might use it as a last resort before my phone battery is dead” type of feature.

There a FREE service called “Gramblr”
It ain’t great. It’s a browser-based service that pretty much suffers from the same problems as Uploader to Instagram, but it has two advantages: (1) It’s free, and (2) it has scheduling, so you can set a time for your posts to release. It does have some decent image editing features built-in, and it lets you freeform crop, and add overlay graphics and stuff, (sadly, it continues the theme of making the smallest text field possible), but it’s still missing enough critical stuff that I’d be hard-pressed to use it.
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So, what do most people do?
It’s all about getting the images from your computer to your smartphone so you can post directly from the Instagram App, and there are a number of ways people do this:

(1) They save their images to Dropbox on their computers, and then access their dropbox to save the images to their camera roll, and then upload from the Instagram App (or see below).

(2) You can save your image to Dropbox and then use the Dropbox app to post directly to Instagram, which just saves you the step of saving it to your camera roll.

(3) You can use Apple’s iCloud (on an iPhone) to transfer images from your Desktop to your iPhone and then save it to their camera roll, and then post from the Instagram App.

(4) A lot of folks email themselves the photo they want to post; save it to their camera roll, and then post from the Instagram App.

(5) You can upload the image to Google+ and share to Instagram from there.

(6)  You can upload an image to Adobe’s Creative Cloud (like you would on Dropbox), and then share it from there.

(7) You can upload directly from Flickr to Instagram

(8) You can use a social media management scheduler (like Hootsuite), but all the ones I’ve seen are pretty expensive, and all but one are still kinda clunky (I thought Hootsuite was going to be the answer, but it still makes you pretty much post it yourself through Instagram — it’s just kind of an elegant reminder).

(9) Export from Lightroom to Dropbox, and upload from there

(10) Insert your workaround here (well, down in the comments).

You know what would be ideal?
The ideal thing would be that Instagram itself let you upload from their Website (or they put their API out there allowing third-parties to upload directly that aren’t phone based). Will this happen? I think it will one day before long (and I’m encouraged by the fact that Twitter is expanding its 140 character limit), but hey, ya never know.

Anyway, just a quick look at a question I’ve been seeing a lot since my class came out.

Hey, speaking of my class:

instaclass

The class is designed for photographers, and if that’s you, here’s the link (if you’re not already a KelbyOne member, you can sign up for a 10-day free trial and watch it now).

That’s it for Monday – hope yours is a good one!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Thanks to all the enthusiastic, kind and just plain fun folks who came out to my Richmond and Atlanta seminars last week. Over 600 of you came to spend the day with me, and I’m very grateful that you did. Next stop? Houston, Texas on Feb. 19th. Hope I get to meet you there. http://kelbyone.com/live/

 

Welcome to the first Monday of the year (you can stop cheering now), and I thought I’d kick off the new year here on the blog with a look at my favorite iPhone Apps from 2015. Let’s jump right in! (Note: these are in no particular order).

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Enlight
Apple themselves chose Enlight as one of their Best of 2015 (in fact, it was chosen as “Runner Up” here in the US, which is sayin’ somethin’, but it was Apple’s #1 App Store “App of the Year” in many other countries), and I have to say, it’s perhaps the most robust one-app-does-it-all editing app out there.  It does just about everything — from toning images manually, to adding filters, to automated fixes, to adding text overlays to create memes, all with a very straight forward, easy to use interface. It’s one of those Apps where you can take it as far as you want to go (kind of like Snapseed, another top photography App).

Price: $3.99 on the App Store (For iPhone or iPad)

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Lucid (Perfectly Clear)
If you’re looking for an app that will automatically fix, or even retouch your images automatically, this is the one. There are other automated fix apps out there, but I don’t think there’s any that do as good a job, and the little slider that shows you the before and after is just flat-out fun to use. You can tweak things if you like, but if you’re going to do a lot of tweaking, you might as well choose another App — this one’s strength is doing it for you.

Price: $2.99 (for iPhone or iPad)

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Adobe Post
This App just came out in late December and it kind of snuck out there so not many folks know about it yet, but it’s pretty sweet. It’s really a meme creator for Instagram (since all the images it creates, at least at this point, are square so it seems like it was made for Instagram where these text-over memes are very popular). Again, this isn’t the only app out there that lets you create this, but this one lets you fix and tweak these in a really flexible way, and I think that’s it’s strength — you start with a template, but then you can tweak it really easy, and the results are great — especially for the price (free).

Price: Free

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500px
It’s one of the best sources for photographic inspiration out there, and they keep tweaking it to make it better. The App itself is free, but to get the most out of it, you’ll need a 500px account, but you should have one of those anyway. They’ve got a great community there, and this app is a nice extension of it.

Price: Free

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Photoshop Fix
This would probably get my vote as the #1 App overall, because the technology going on here is pretty serious. It’s “Photoshop quality serious” and what it does best (and it’s the best I’ve seen at it), is portrait retouching. It does lots of regular tweaking, but where it soars is the quality and ease of the retouching. We’re talking Cloning, Retouching, Liquify type of effects — Adobe really outdid themselves on this one — one of their best apps ever, which makes it that much harder to believe it’s free.

Price: Free

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Mosaic
This one is very different — it’s not an editing app. It’s a photo book app, and one that’s designed to create beautiful, hardcover photo books in literally just minutes (we’re talking 5 minutes — not 60). Basically, here’s how it works: You pick 20 images from your camera roll and it creates a mosaic of them for the front cover, like you see above top (the cover has cut outs that show the mosaic on the first page). If you don’t like the cover mosaic, you can have it instantly refresh and show you a different one. On the 20 pages on the inside, it lays out your photos automatically (though you can drag and drop them into the order you want — see above bottom); and when it looks good to you, hit the Place Order button and in a few days, you have a hard cover book of photos you would probably never print otherwise, which is why this is such a wonderful app (and the books make amazing gift — I’ve given three of them so far in just the last few weeks). It couldn’t be easier to use. The only downside? The price of the printed books are $25 each (so a little over a $1 a page), but the printing is pretty decent (you’re just using iPhone photos), and the overall presentation as a gift is top notch. Send someone one of these and you’ll be a hero.

Price: Free (for the app). Photo books are $25.

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Lightroom Mobile
You know I would have to include this App, because it’s one of my favorites, and one of my most-used apps, and it keeps getting better and better, and more powerful each time they release an update. You don’t have to use it with Lightroom desktop (that’s new — you can download it free and just use it for tweaking your iPhone camera roll photos), or use it with Desktop for extending your Lightroom workflow (that’s what I do). This is also some of Adobe’s best work, and you can jump right from LR Mobile over to Photoshop Fix, and you’ve got a seriously powerful mobile workflow.

Price: Free (for iPhone and iPad, and Android)

Well, that’s our kick-off for 2016 — looking at some of my favorite photography apps from 2015 — hope you find some gems in there.

Have a great Monday everybody. Welcome to 2016 — we’ve got a clean slate — it’s a new chapter in our lives. Let’s make it a fun, adventurous, awesome one!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m kicking off my 2016 “Shoot Like a Pro: Part II” (Reloaded) full-day photography seminar in Richmond, Virginia on January 27th, and then in Atlanta on the 29th. I hope you can come on out and spend the day with me (here’s the info). 

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