Epic Australian journey gets remixed for smartphone era

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Inside Tracks by photographer and publisher Rick Smolan makes use of the Aurasma smartphone app to bring some of the photos to life. Photo: Against All Odds Productions
Inside Tracks by photographer Rick Smolan makes use of the Aurasma smartphone app to bring some of the photos to life. Photo: Against All Odds Productions

Rick Smolan, creator of the Day in the Life series, has made a career out of turning complicated ideas into groundbreaking photography books. His latest book is more personal — and equally innovative. It’s a collection of photographs he made in 1977 that seemingly come to life with a smartphone app.

Inside Tracks combines Smolan’s photographs of a woman’s trek across the Australian Outback with a smartphone app that, when pointed at one of the pictures, brings the reader to a corresponding scene from a movie about the epic journey.

“It’s the best book I’ve ever done,” said Smolan, a New York Times best-selling author. “It has done amazingly well, especially for it being self-published. The smartphone feature has fascinated people. It’s an inspiring story with cool technology.”

Day in the Life series mastermind reflects on 25 years of Photoshop

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Adobe's Russell Brown, center, placed himself in a photo of the First Couple during a demonstration of Photopshop 1.0 on the Today Show in 1990. Photo: Today Show/YouTube
Adobe's Russell Brown, center, placed himself in a photo with Nancy and Ronald Reagan during a demonstration of Photoshop 1.0 on Today in 1990. Photo: Today Show/YouTube

Photographer and book publisher Rick Smolan was 25 when he made the best picture of his young career while on assignment in Australia. It was a group of aboriginal children playing in golden light with a balloon on a red dirt runway.

But when he looked down at his camera, he realized the shot would be grossly underexposed. Sure enough, when the Kodachrome 25 slides came back, the frame was dark and murky.

“I stuck the slide in a safe deposit box because I knew someday someone would invent something to save that picture,” Smolan, who created the Day in the Life photo book series and America 24/7, told Cult of Mac.