Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary


Google Shuts Down Snapseed Desktop

Buried among the commotion surrounding Google’s decision to close down Google Reader is the fact that Google is also discontinuing Snapseed for the desktop (Windows and Macintosh). I reviewed Snapseed for the iPad earlier this week. At present, the iPad version of Snapseed is still being sold, and previous owners of Snapseed desktop can continue to use it, but Snapseed for desktop will not be sold any longer. I think this is a loss.

Snapseed was developed by Nik which Google bought last year. I hope that Google does not discontinue or significantly change any of the other Nik modules and plug-ins. Nik’s tools are first rate photo processing tools. If Google were eventually to shut it all down, I’d wonder why Google bought Nik in the first place.


Extraordinary Vision

If you like outdoor photography, and you have an iPad, you must get the new iPad magazine, Extraordinary Vision. Extraordinary Vision

Extraordinary Vision describes itself as the first fully interactive outdoor photography magazine on the iPad. It’s also free (the app will make you subscribe after your first issue but the subscription is free). Extraordinary Vision focuses on photographic vision. There is a how-to element, but the magazine does not do reviews of gear or highly technical explanation. For the most part, it is “diversely talented photographers [who] openly share their insights and inspiration into what makes their images so powerful and evocative.” [From the editor’s introduction.]

Extraordinary VisionExtraordinary Vision consists mostly of articles written by professional outdoor and nature photographers, including a small “in-house” crew, as well as articles from  contributors (which are actively solicited). The articles are well-written and the photography is fantastic.

True to it’s self-description, Extraordinary Vision is very interactive. Many articles include accompanying videos. A feature I especially like is that each article includes, besides the mandatory facebook and twitter links, links to the author’s website, to books and workshops the author has done, and in some cases a direct Extraordinary Visionemail to the author. The website links are handled by an in-app browser.

Many authors seem to have published books, e-books, and iPad apps, and Extraordinary Vision promotes those and includes links. Other than that, there is no advertising. This magazine is truly a labor of love, and it comes across, as the attention to detail, to high quality content and appearance, is evident.

Some of the interesting articles in the first three issues of the magazine have included an article on lighting (specifically looking at ten distinct kinds of Extraordinary Visionlighting and how to shoot for each), and article on composing pictures around water, an article on how to build a photography business, a wonderful article on shooting with long exposures.

You can’t beat the price – Free. Extraordinary Vision is a terrific almost one-of-a-kind addition to the range of photography magazine for the iPad.

(iPad link here.)

Extraordinary Vision


San Francisco Peaks – Snapseed Editing on the iPad

San Francisco Peaks, Arizona

San Francisco Peaks, Arizona. Copyright Joanne Mason

The San Francisco Peaks are the remnants of ancient (and not so ancient) volcanoes near Flagstaff Arizona and south of the Grand Canyon. They are very picturesque, especially in winter. I have posted numerous images from this region before. Recently, I’ve been working with an app on the iPad, Snapseed. I post this here as an example.

Snapseed was developed by Nik, about which I’ve spoken of very highly before (Nik here). Nik was recently bought by Google. There are now iPad, Windows, and Mac versions of Snapseed. The iPad version is free. Snapseed is an extremely efficient, slick, easy to use, and powerful photo-editing program. The iPad version makes some compromises. But the iPad provides an efficient and easy to use tool for photographers, especially in the field. So I have been playing around with it.

Here is the original image of the San Francisco Peaks.

San Francisco Peaks Original

(Click on the images for larger views.) This image was shot with the Fuji X100 and saved as a raw image. The image was then transferred to the iPad with the iPad camera connection kit and subsequently opened in Snapseed. The iPad retains the raw format and makes possible viewing of the raw image in the camera roll. Snapseed then does the raw conversion to a jpg. (Snapseed will only convert raw files if the images have been transferred with the camera connection kit.)

For the image above, and roughly in order: The image was straightened a few degrees with the Alignment tool, then cropped. Then converted to black and white. In the black and white conversion, several profiles can be applied; a “Contrast” profile was applied. In the black and white tool, brightness and contrast can be adjusted independently, and both were boosted. A red color filter was applied. Finally, a substantial degree of sharpening was done using the Details tool. The image was then exported back to the iPad film roll as a jpg.

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New Focus Magazine

A new edition of Focus Magazine has just been published. The magazine itself and news about Focus‘s publication plans are both most welcome!

As Random Sights readers know, I’ve been highly complimentary of the content in Focus Magazine. While Focus Magazine has been primarily directed to the art photography and collecting market, the quality of the photography included is so consistently great, the magazine is a great resource for all interested in fine art photography.

Focus has finally announced their publication and subscription plans for the two new magazines. And it sounds like the two new magazines are nearly ready to go!

Focus Magazine itself will continue as an article-based magazine focused on fine art photography and collecting.

Focus Portfolios will publish portfolios of work by photographers around the world (especially emerging artists?). Focus Exposures will publish fine art nudes from photographers around the world.

All subscribers to Focus Magazine will automatically receive a free copy of each of the first issues of Focus Portfolios and Focus Exposures. Thereafter, both Focus Portfolios and Focus Exposures will be sold, alongside the original Focus Magazine, in both Zinio and the Apple Newsstand.

Focus Magazine is available through the →Zinio iPad app, as well as directly through →Focus’s own ipad app.

Photography Book Publishing

The current issue of Focus includes a good article surveying the current state of fine art photography book publishing and the pros and cons of “p-books” and “e-books.”

We are at somewhat of a crossroads and a new frontier in the photobook business, and it’s something that all serious photographers should be interested in. Focus‘s Jain Kelly writes:

The news … [is] both discouraging and encouraging … Such factors as cost and distribution [are] working against the art book in the form, of the p-book, but fine-art photography books , increasingly, are regarded as art objects that attract and hold devoted collectors around the world; hence, the photography p-book is unlikely to disappear. In regard to the fine-art photography e-book, one view is that the market is just getting started, and there are many unknown factors for publishers; another view is that the art e-book,  with its potential for unlimited distribution, will lead to a renaissance in the art book field.

In my view, the Focus article creates a distinction between the two classes of books, p-books and e-books, but the distinction is incomplete. In reality, a third format should be a category of its own, the print-on-demand book. The e-book technology is not only impacting the market but greatly influencing book production and bringing [printed] book production within the scope of what can be done readily by many more photographers.

This Focus Magazine issue also includes for the first time an extensive list of recently published photo books, along with short descriptions, and also a number of longer in-depth reviews.

Focus Magazine remains, in my opinion, highly recommended.


Two Great iPad Magazines from the UK

Two fantastic magazines for the iPad that I have reviewed and promoted have just released new editions. Both new editions more than live up to expectation.

British Journal of Photography
iPad  iTunes App Store

The British Journal of Photography has released the first susbscription edition. Moving to the iTunes subscription store (which faciliatates subscription management), the magazine is now offering two quarterly issues for $13.99US. If that seems high, consider that the magazine is huge. This new issue includes, among a wealth of content, an extended article offering both retrospective and current looks at Nan Goldin; a series of profiles on different innovative approaches to 3D photography and their practitioners; a fascinating series of profiles and portfiles from photographers who must enter into close personal relationships with their subjects in order to photograph them;  a feature portfolio on fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, whose Emmy this year was awarded for his New York Times series on Actors Acting; a portfolio of work by American documentarian Joel Sternberg; and a collection of articles on the latest photographic and lighting technology.

This is a first-rate magazine. The content excels. Technologically, BJP has improved their implementation of iPad navigation. Interactivity is exceptional.

Intelligent Life
iPad iTunes App Store

Intelligent Life, not strictly speaking a photography magazine, published by the Economist, has gone from quarterly to bimonthly publication. With continued sponsorship by Credit Suisse, the latest issue, as all the previous issues, is free on the iPad. Intelligent Life is like a British version of The New Yorker, on cultural steroids, with lots of great photography and video. An in depth survey of current culture and arts – predominantly British – is accompanied by well-written feature arfticles that go into the worlds of ideas, food, fashion, the cinema, and photography. The featured photo essay is a great portfolio of black and white images of the Ethiopian mountains by Sebastião Salgado.    

The advertising copy for Credit Suisse is as engaging as some of the feature copy. This issue, for instance, Credit Suisse highlights the upcoming UK show of Leonardo DaVinci’s painting, and the series of Credit Suisse articles comprise an entertaining and highly informative feature in themselves.


New iPad Photo Magazine

There’s a new photography magazine on the iPad – Photographer’s i (I assume that’s a play on Photographer’s Eye. But it’s iPad, so…  eye… i… ). This first issue is great, and Photographer’s i looks like it may become one of the prime iPad-based photo magazines available.

Photographer’s i was designed ground up for the iPad, and it features a level of iPad interactivity and user effectiveness unknown in other magazines except possibly for the British Journal of Photography and one or two others.

Don’t miss previous review of iPad photography magazines…

Unlike most photography magazines – but similar to a few good ones like the British Journal and AperturePhotographer’s i is not devoted to pages and pages of gear reviews and ads or endless how-to’s. The tutorials are there, but they are sophisticated and helpful. More to the point, Photographer’s i is devoted to the photographer’s craft, the art of making pictures.

More after the jump…

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