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These 3 handy apps put a photo scanner in your pocket

Scanning apps will let you turn a pile of photos into a useful digital archive. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Scanning apps will let you turn a pile of photos into a useful digital archive. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

The 1940s hockey photos we found among my aunt’s possessions are a mystery she took to her grave. But with a little internet research and some sharing through social media, I figured I could put names to the players’ faces and stories that would bring the photos to life.

I needed a photo scanner. My smartphone and the right app puts one in my pocket.

For the hockey project, I tested three photo-scanning apps, each of which allowed me to digitize and share old photos without the need for computer equipment, Photoshop or the expense of a scanning service.

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Kites trump drones for aerial-photography bliss

Go fly a kite. Marketing exec Pierre Lesage finds the practice relaxing after a busy week overseeing operations at eight hotels. It’s also perfect for shooting photos.

“Since the drones came out a few years ago, kite aerial photography lost interest for a few photographers that are just looking for photographic results,” says Lesage. “I am also looking for results but I need that poetic aspect of doing it with a kite, and as long as there is wind I never have problem with batteries.”

Quadcopters are a thrill but flying kites is the zen alternative — and the photographic results are postcard perfect. It’s a way to mix tinkering with fresh air and can be as easy as picking up a prefab rig or as complicated as diving into the world of schematics and solder.

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Top iPhone photos show waning app addiction

Kenan Aktulun founded the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA) the same year the smartphone launched, when the idea that taking great pics with a camera phone was still pretty optimistic.

Seven years later, iPhone photography has developed to the point of documenting New York Times war coverage and tops four out of five of the most-used cameras on Flickr.

This year’s IPPA winners cover a suitably broad range of the world (54 photographers from 17 countries) and topics ranging from kids and architecture to landscapes and food.

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Add GPS to your dumb camera photos using your iOS device

Add GPS to your dumb camera photos using your iOS device

Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apart from letting you quickly edit and share photos (and always sitting, ready to go, in your pocket), the iPhone camera has one other great feature: It geotags every photo and video you shoot with the place you captured the imagery. You might not care about that now, but in the future when you wonder, “Where did I take that naked self-portrait?” or decide to take a look at your old vacation snaps, you’ll love geotagging.

Hell, half the time I use a map to find a photo — I can usually remember where I was better than when I was.

Lack of geotagging is perhaps the main reason I don’t take my regular camera out as often as I’d like, so I decided to do something about that. I’m using a combination of the iOS GeoTagr app on iPhone and iPad, plus a Fujifilm X100S camera and a Garmin EDGE 500 GPS bike computer.

Let’s take a look.

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Picture this: Selfie coup in Thailand


Thailand is one of the world’s most coup-prone countries. It’s also home to people who smile the most in selfies. So even when the tanks roll in, the urge to snap takes over. Better yet: get that shot with the soldiers. Or the tank. That’s what’s happening in Bangkok, where the smartphone set is taking keepsakes as the coup comes to town.

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Every vintage picture tells a story, don’t it?

Rachel LaCour Niesen’s passion for vintage photos started when she walked down her grandmother’s wood-paneled hallway to look at a bedroom wall that held a carefully edited family history.

There she saw a photo of her father standing proud in his cap and gown on graduation day, an aunt sitting poolside during a swim meet and a happy couple cutting their wedding cake. The imprint those pictures left on LaCour Niesen lies at the heart of her @savefamilyphotos project on Instagram, where she curates a collective history. She invites people from around the world to send her a digital copy of a cherished family photo and brief story that, in many cases, gives the photo its emotional muscle.

“The treasure is not just the photo but the story that comes with it,” LaCour Niesen told Cult of Mac. “I believe stories are the currency of our past, present and future. Without them, we are bankrupt. Our family photos trigger those stories. They are like glue that holds my story — and our stories — together over time.”

Throwback Thursday, Facebook and Instagram have made personal blasts from the past a weekly — if not an hourly — ritual. The web is awash in fuzzy Polaroids, vintage Kodachromes and black-and-white snaps, uploaded by individuals with hard drives full of memories and shared by everyone.

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Survivalist gear reveals individual nature of fear

Everybody packs differently for the apocalypse.

Photographer Allison Stewart reveals the fears and foresight of survivalists in her photographs of bug-out bags, the emergency preparedness kits put together by individuals ready to flee an impending disaster. In her photo series Bug Out Bags, the contents of the grab-and-go bags get splayed out against a stark white background, showing the wide variety of items deemed necessary by the preppers.

Stewart, raised on the Gulf Coast under the annual threat of hurricanes, comes by her fascination with the subject naturally.

“When I lived in New Orleans, I was stuck in my house for four days without electricity or fresh water,” Stewart told Cult of Mac in an e-mail. “The water in my street was waist-deep and lapping at my front door. I was very thankful for my water supply, my transistor radio, and of course the wine supply.”

No two packs in her Bug Out Bags photo series are alike, a fact Stewart attributes to the individual nature of fear. One is loaded with forestry tools; another includes a gas mask; a third is stocked with canned food. While basements from Tornado Alley to the Ring of Fire hold stockpiles of emergency supplies, she found bug-out bags truly explore the unique psyches of their owners.

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Epic husky photos will cure your cuteness overload

I have a personal Instagram filter that protects my eyes from all the cute pet pictures. But now and then, a dog or cat slips through. One pretty pooch in particular — an Alaskan husky with arresting, ice-blue eyes — has me looking forward to her daily adventures in rural New Hampshire.

Stare into the eyes of Bella, and you’ll get a glimpse into the heart of her owner, photojournalist Cheryl Senter.

“There is total love in every image that I take of her,” Senter told Cult of Mac.

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Abandoned amusement park gives photog a wild ride

Kris Van de Sande’s distorted pictures of Dadipark, an abandoned Belgian amusement park, weren’t made under ideal circumstance, but they capture the distressed carnival atmosphere of the decaying attraction perfectly.

The look comes from a stroke of bad luck: While on a 2011 photographic pilgrimage to the modern ruins, Van de Sande’s gear crapped out and he was forced to make due with a loaner.

“I was limited very much with the equipment so I borrowed a fisheye lens,” he says over FaceTime from his home in Hasselt, Belgium. “I’m not a big fan of the fisheye thing but I tried to shoot as if it was just a wide-angle.”

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Why iPhoneography accessories are sort of a waste of time

Quick-connect iPhone lenses are certainly less bulky than typical camera gear, but there's a price to be paid for convenience. Photos: Charlie Sorrell/Cult of Mac

Quick-connect iPhone lenses are certainly less bulky than typical camera gear, but there’s a price to be paid for convenience. Photos: Charlie Sorrell/Cult of Mac

One December years ago, in London’s Piccadilly Circus, a Santa Claus sat in a pavement cafe eating lunch with an elf. Santa had a pint of beer in from of him. I raised my old film SLR, which was prefocused and had the exposure already dialed in, and took a couple of shots.

I hoped they’d turn out well.

“Who are those pictures for?” said a guy, shouting as he jogged toward me. He’d come from somewhere nearby because it was too cold for just a shirt on a December afternoon in London, and he wasn’t wearing a jacket. I ignored him — there are a lot of nutters in Piccadilly any time of the year.

“Are you taking pictures of me?” he said.

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