Merek Davis is not a coder. The developer never even made an app before 2013. Yet on his first iOS at-bat, he hit an App Store grand slam with Mextures, his photo-editing app that quickly became one of the top photo apps of the year.
Mextures is like Photoshop for your iPhone, only easier to use. The app’s editing tools and formulas let you tweak and re-tweak pics, adding light leaks, textures and color gradients that can turn even your crappiest pics into something majestic.
It’s a bona fide hit, with some of the most-followed names on Instagram using Davis’ creation. But it almost never happened.
This week's Gadget Watch has a special summer something for everyone. Fixing up the house? Laying around the house? Getting drunk and stumbling about the house? Then these toolboxes, breathalyzers and hands-free, in-bed iPad stands will serve you well.
The Flare pan looks like an oversized aluminum cupcake cup. It has heat-catching fins on the outside, like the opposite of a heat sink, and a regular-shaped inside. The idea is that the heat (not the flame – keep that turned down like you would for a regular pan) from your gas hob will stream up the sides and pump its energy into the pan through the increased surface area of those fins. The best part of all? It was designed by a real rocket scientist. $150
This magical adapter performs the seemingly impossible. Not only does it put Nikon (or Canon) lenses on your Micro Four Thirds camera body, but it also boosts the speed of the lens by one stop. That’s right – it doubles the maximum amount of light your lens can gather. It also reduces the crop factor of your lens by 0.72x. That won’t keep your wide-angle lenses wide, but it will stop them from turning telephoto. I’m in. $160
When I saw the Tablift, my first thought was “LOL.” And that was my second thought, too, if I’m honest. But as a person who uses his iPad in bed far more than is healthy, I began to see how the stable stand could help me. What’s better than hands-free viewing in the sack? Angle-adjustable hands-free viewing in the sack, that’s what. Yup, you can even tilt it down to watch while lying in bed. You might scare yourself when you wake up, but you’ll never fall asleep and drop your iPad onto your nose ever again. $60
I’m writing about this gadget mostly because of its name – Forked Lightning. It lets you charge two devices off a single USB port, which is certainly handy for those travel situations where you only have access to one power outlet (I’m looking at you, cheapskate hotels). You probably don’t want to plug two iPads 4 into one iPhone charger, but other combinations should fare better. $50
I don’t even care that RØDE makes great microphones, I just want the new Lightning-compatible iXY to play with. Look at those stereo mics: Don’t you just want to twiddle them? Or try to jam your finger between the barrels? No? Perhaps you’d rather record sound through the two half-inch condenser capsules and onboard analog-to-digital converter. You can totally do that. $200
These Japanese toolboxes, painted in bright blue enamel, are tough enough to use every day, but pretty enough to live in the house without anybody complaining. They go from a stackable small trunk-style box up to the big cantilever model with a double-hinged top level and movable dividers. From $20
Do you know how many drinks you should have if you’re driving? None. That’s how many. What if you had a couple and then you need to drive, for an emergency or whatever? Nope. Get a cab, or you’ll be killing a cyclist or a pedestrian to do whatever thing is so important that you’re happy to risk another person’s life doing it.
If you insist on drinking and driving, breathe into the BACtrack Vio Smartphone Breathalyzer first – if you’re not too far gone to use the keychain device. The Vio will measure your blood-alcohol content, send the result to your iPhone via Bluetooth, and even estimate how long it’ll take you to return to zero. $70
Let’s face it – the people you go to the beach with are boring. They either spend the whole time with their nose in a paperback, or they insist on annoying the rest of the folks on the beach by kicking a volleyball around the place, or whatever it is you do with a volleyball. So, you should either pack some weed and just get stoned, or bring along a Solio Sun-Powered Charger to keep your iPhone going in the bright sunlight, so you never have to interact with your “friends.” $70
Find out how a light stencil can put Bambi — or anything else you can dream up — in your pictures. Photo: Janelle Pietrzak
Photography is all about light, and photographers are all about light painting. There are many tricks to try, from isolating objects with incandescence outside the frame to shining light directly at the camera as in Janelle Pietrzak’s Bambi series, created using light stencils.
Creating this interesting analog photo effect doesn’t require any special equipment, just a detachable flash, some craft materials and a lot of imagination.
Bambi and the first hints of spring! Finally warm enough to take him outside.
Splicing a cute little animal into a photograph doesn’t take more than a few seconds for anybody with a copy of Photoshop.
But Colorado artist Janelle Pietrzak spends hours cutting light stencils with a razor blade, then uses a shoebox and long-exposure photography to bring Bambi and other cuddly creatures to life inside her home.
“If you look at my photographs there is fantasy world full of mythical creatures, floating orbs, ghosts and goddesses, all created by manipulating light,” Pietrzak tells Cult of Mac. “The catch is that I hardly use any Adobe Photoshop. What you see in the images is basically what I saw on the back of my camera.”
"I’m always with a camera, and usually with more than one camera, ready to shoot at all the Portland events I attend," says Olsen.
Grab a camera when the zombies come. They won’t eat your brains — they’ll strike a pose.
It’s a trick photographer Luke Olsen learned when he was surrounded on the streets of his hometown. His shots from the Portland Zombie Walk showcase the lean and mean side of his stylish but macabre portraiture.
The organized chaos of events like the zombie walk offers comic relief from formal photography sessions filled with intricate lighting, staging and models. Any opportunity to capture inspired lunacy is technically practice, but Olsen gravitates toward flash mobs to cut loose with his camera-wielding compatriots. He’s thrown himself into the thick of SantaCon, the infamous alcohol-fueled rampage that grew from absurdist San Francisco street theater into a national headache. The moribund Portland Urban Iditarod, where teams of costumed runners dragged tricked-out shopping carts from bar to bar, has also been shutter fodder.
“It’s a great deal of fun to wander into a large event with a group of friends, shoot the event and reconvene later to see what everyone got,” says Olsen. “It’s like The Bang Bang Club, just 100 percent less deadly.”
Ben Heine’s amazing Pencil vs Camera series artfully blends photographs and drawings.
Ben Heine is a magician.
Like David Blaine and Criss Angel before him, he has a special talent for blurring the line between reality and fiction. But instead of utilizing sleight of hand or his indomitable will to delight his audience, Heine keeps it simple by using just a pencil and camera to create his illusions.
Heine’s incredible art series Pencil vs Camera combines gorgeous landscapes and city scenes with hand-sketched drawings. The otherworldly images that result are both whimsical and intriguing, with a bit of mind-bending magic thrown in for perspective.
“I always try to express what I’m feeling,” Heine told Cult of Mac, noting that most of his inspiration for drawings come “mainly from people around me — friends, family, even strangers — and from every experience I live.”
This one is SOOC (straight out of the camera). Thanks to Jim Powers (alias Windwatcher), as well as Fany & Anthony (alias Nonsenz), for their previous Kaptures of the Colosseum in Rome. That really helped us to find out where we could take off for our KAP session this afternoon. (Google Earth was also very useful.) The weather was just beautiful, the light warm as Rome can be, the wind was light and strong enough for the only kite we had with us (Dan Leigh delta R8 Travel version) and for our dual-camera autoKAP rig equipped with a Canon S95 and GoPro HD. No authority to tell us not to fly a kite, KAP at its best. A great session we are happy to share.
We stayed in Iguaçu Falls for three days -- one day for a hike on the Brazilian side, one day for a hike on the Argentinean side and one day to hopefully KAP them. For the first two days the weather was just perfect: no clouds, beautiful light, a very pleasant temperature and humidity and ... no wind at all. The last day of our stay saw some clouds, wind and a very dull light, but at least we had some wind and KAPing the falls seemed possible, even if I knew that the results would not be the best. There is a very dense forest by the falls and the closest we could take off (according to Google Earth and scouting the neighborhood) was roughly 800 meters from the 'Garganta del Diablo' on the lawn of the Hotel das Cataratas. A bit far, but not much choice, and I thought that taking some height would be the solution. But of course we had to deal with the helicopters (which are supposed to fly at 500 meters or 1,600 feet) and Heidy was so stressed that the entire session only lasted 15 minutes. The wind was very unstable, the Fled was moving like the wipers on my car, the rig was jumping all over but nevertheless we managed to get half a dozen of almost "keepers." Time for a Caipirinha!
Faafaite Vaa is a traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe that can sometimes be chartered for private events. This was one our friend's (who is 99 percent blind) birthday and this charter was just a blast for him. Once out in the open ocean, we had a steady wind of 25 to 30 knots with very limited space to move.The sea conditions were pretty rough. We had to launch the kite from the back of the canoe but had to put a life jacket on (just in case). The PFK Nighthawk Delta was the ideal kite for the job and the dual-camera autokap rig (Ricoh GX 200 + GoProHD) was not that easy to launch as we had to protect it from seawater and while making sure everything was fine.
A very warm "mahalo, mauruuru, merci" to Tom Benedict, who guided us through the telescopes of Mauna Kea Observatories and, more specifically, the Canada France Hawaii which hosts a world-class, 3.6-meter optical/infrared telescope. The summit of Mauna Kea is 4,200 meters high (almost as high as Mont Blanc ... .4,852 meters) and the sunset above the clouds is a fantastic show to watch; the moving shadow of the mountain on the clouds is an even more spectacular vision. Just a perfect setting for a crazy KAP session where oxygen is lacking and the least effort is huge but Tom, just in case, had an oxygen tank in the observatory as well as a pulsometer for heart beat and oxygen level in the blood. KAPing at 4,200 meters altitude is a very interesting experience; the air is not as dense as at sea level and despite a good 15-knots wind, the Dan Leigh Delta R8 was just enough to lift the autoKAP rig (RC rigs would not be allowed so as not to interfere with the radio telescopes). This was way too short. I can imagine a time-lapse of the sun going down over the clouds, a time-lapse of the growing shadow of Mauna Kea, another, higher KAP session looking straight down. Some good excuses to come back!
Sunrise on Raimiti seen from a kite with a Leica M9
This morning, Dec. 27, 2011, sunrise was at 5:12 a.m. and not a single cloud in the sky, Northeast trade winds blowing steadily at 20 knots, the ideal strength to lift the autoKAP rig and the Leica M9 with its 24 mm Elmarit lens. I was not totally satisfied with my previous sunrise with the Sony Nex 5 and thought the Leica M9 would give me the sharpness I was looking for. ISO 200, f4, 1/1500 sec. When looking at the original size, the difference is stunning. This session is one that probably gave me the most satisfaction since I started KAP a few years ago. Satisfaction with the light, the R8 flight, the subject, the ambiance, the pleasure and the results."
The Blue Lagoon in the atoll of Rangiroa is about an hour by speedboat from the main village, and is a pristine and virgin spot on the west coast of the atoll. Baby sharks grow up in the shallow waters before joining the hundreds of adult blacktip sharks in deeper waters. Baby blacktip sharks are curious and always hungry; it was just pure magic to feed them and watch the seagulls fight with the sharks for food. It just took us a few minutes and some dead fish to attract both sharks and seagulls, time to position the kite, the camera and to take a few pictures. I was not too sure about having both the seagulls and sharks on the same picture but I suppose it was a good day.
The sun was out by 7:40 a.m. and we only had a window of three minutes of perfect light. The kite was already up in the air and as soon as the sun rose over the ocean the rig was up above the Moais. It was interesting to see that a dozen other visitors had also made it for sunrise, but all of them were facing the sun, we were looking for the shadows!
Organized by the population of the island of Maupiti once every 10 years, this traditional fishing technique is a collective effort where the entire population of the island (1,200 people) participates. Over 200 boats and rafts circle the island’s lagoon, each throwing in the water a stone held on a string, to hopefully push the fish inside a 3 kilometer long vegetal net which will be brought back on the beach.This year, this “stone fishing” was the conclusion of a South Pacific UNESCO symposium on sustainable development and the fish were released except for one caught by French Senator Richard Tuheiava, born in Maupiti. Maupiti is an island 20 miles west of Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
KAP over Taro Fields in Areva, Rurutu, French Polynesia
Taro is a tropical plant grown primarily as a vegetable food for its edible corm, and secondarily as a leaf vegetable. It is considered a staple in oceanic cultures. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. The name "taro" is from Tahitian or other Polynesian languages; the plant is also called kalo (from Hawaiian), gabi in The Philippines, dalo in Fiji, seppankizhangu in Tamil, Arvee in Hindi and Karkalo in Nepali.This KAP session was probably one of the most challenging we ever had. The taro field is located right behind a 100 meter high cliff protected from dominant winds but creating incredible venturi and vortex between the ground and 150 meters. "Clean air" is about 200 meters high and the whole challenge was to get the R8 delta up to this stable altitude before attaching the camera to the string.
The SV/Star Flyer set sails from the lagoon of Raiatea.A very intense KAP session, at the begining there was not enough wind to lift the camera but quicly the white storm in the background brought rain and Beaufort 5 winds and we only had a very short window of 5 minutes. Considering this is AutoKAP, I guess we were quite lucky !On this picture the storm is almost here !Thanks to the Star Flyer for a wonderful break and a special "merci" "mauruuru" to the Polish Captain who accepted that we launch our kite from his ship!!!
Rising Sun AutoKAP on Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, Namib Desert Namibia
Dune 45 raises roughly 120 meters ( 400 feet) above the ground; It is one of the few dunes where the ascencion is authorized.At sunrise the colors are absolutely exceptional and a few visitors have already climbed the Dune to admire the sunrise from the summit.
We studied maps, tides, weather forecasts as we wanted to shoot a vertical wide angle image right above the Angel on top of the Mont St Michel.The Angel (Michel Angel) raises at 157 meters (520 feet), and the idea was to bring the kite and camera right above it. This was my first VHF radio assisted autoKAP session... with Heidy radio-guiding me on the other side of the Mont. (almost as efficient as a video link!)The Ricoh GX 200 was attached 100 meters (300 feet) below the Dan Leigh Delta R8 to get some “clean” air, most of the shots were made from 15 to 50 meters (50 to 150 feet) above the angel and I had close to 400 meters (1300 feet) of line out. Thanks to Emmanuel (alias Maneke) for his assistance!
KAP on Sydney Opera House 2008 – Act III… Oct 25, 2008
A warm THANK YOU to Pat, the security officer on duty this afternoon. Pat already gave me clearance back in February and again was very nice to authorize me another KAP session over the Opera House.I originally wanted to shoot right on top of the buiding but the shape and the architecture created too much turbulence.
Maitai Dream Fakarava, Tuamotu Archipelago Aug 11, 2007
Fakarava is the second largest Atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago, an hours flight North Est of Tahiti. Population of 473 and only one hotel the Maitai Dream.The french painter Matisse was inspired by Fakarava in 1932 when he discovered the incredible palette of "blues".
Stone fishing is a traditional technique in French Polynesia, but traditions are fading away. (We were fortunate enough to participate in 2009 for the last one that was organized on the island of Maupiti).To close the mayor’s congress, the city hall of the island of Taha’a organized a stone fishing ceremony on August 03, 2012. The weather forecast looked good (15-20 knots of south east wind); space was available on Air Tahiti, as well as at the Hawaiki nui, a local hotel. A few phone calls to find a boat to take us to the ceremony and here we are, Heidy & I, for an Xtreme KAP session. Certainly one of the most challenging we ever had.Here is how this special fishing technique works. A fish trap is build on the beach by the lagoon. From this trap a 60ft long and 5ft wide canal which ends in a giant funnel where more than 100 boats will “push” schools of fish that hundreds of fisherman will guide by throwing stones hung on a rope in the water. By the time they get to the funnel, fishermen jump into the water and “push” the fish in the canal towards the beach fish trap where the local authorities will have the opportunity to harpoon the first fish that show up. (The others will be released… the fish not the officials.)
No wind for this KAP session, we just had to tow the kite at the desired speed from the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser. Lots of fun, but a bit acrobatic to launch and retrieve the rig and camera without crashing.Altitude of the Salar is 3800 meters above sea level and the air is not as dense. Average speed of the car was 40 Km/h and we had to drive around twice to frame these shots in AutoKAP without video downlink.
Short 06-24 private runway on an atoll in the south Pacific.
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.
iOS 8 packs in a bunch of great new photo features, in both the Camera app and the Photos app. You now get a lot more control over your photography at the front end, with manual exposure and even a time-lapse mode, and you can edit and find your photos with a little more precision than before.
iOS 8 is still a few months out, but you don’t have to wait: Use these currently available apps to add all these new functions to your iPhone (or iPad) today.
We’re still busying digesting all the new stuff Tim Cook and Craig Federighi announced yesterday with iOS 8, and even though we’re ridiculously excited about major backend features like HomeKit, iCloud Photo Library and Metal, 24 hours of tinkering around with the OS has revealed a lot of hidden gems that went unmentioned.
Along with the host of new iOS 8 features, Jony Ive and the Human Interface team have been busy adding dozens of tiny tweaks to the UI as well as tossing in a few smaller features you probably didn’t notice.
Take a look at these 11 tweaks Apple sneaked into iOS 8 without telling anyone:
Apple finally fixed photography on iOS. Or rather, it’s fixed organizing your photos, wherever they might be. The iPhone is already a great camera. The problem was everything that happened after you tapped the shutter.
Now, in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll never have to worry about organizing your photos again — they’ll be everywhere, all the time. And best of all? It looks like you’re never going to need iPhoto again, on the Mac or on your iPad.