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Fun with camera apps

For my birthday at the end of December, I got a new iPod Touch (iTouch?). I flat out love this little gadget: it has a microphone, which means I’ve been able to use it to Skype (with video); to make voice notes on Evernote; and to send myself voice memos by email. It also has a camera, and since I always have it on me, I now always have a camera on my walks.

All you long-time iPhone users can roll your eyes, but since I’m still on a dumb phone, this is as close as I’ll get to mobile (and truly portable) computing. (Without a monthly data plan.)

I find myself willing to download various apps now, too. Never much for gaming apps, I mostly ignored apps when I was still using my old (“blind”) iTouch. But that has changed now that I have a camera.

I started with Camera+ and entered a whole new world of being able to adjust light and exposure on the iTouch camera before ever pressing the shutter. After I take the picture, I can mess around with effects. So. much. fun!


The above is a self-portrait (oh yes, these apps and gadgets encourage narcissistic self-regard!) – I’m using Camera+‘s “purple haze” effect (after having first adjusted the exposure …toward the light side). 😉

Of course landscapes aren’t immune to crazy manipulation. The following three photos (also via Camera+) are of the cell phone tower at Summit Park in Victoria: the concrete tower’s bottom section is illustrated (presumably, this deters taggers), while the top is starkly utilitarian. Here I left the colors unchanged and instead only used Camera+ to manipulate the photo “frame”: it seems to me that this really changed the feel of the scene, without changing any of the colors or effects.

Alors, regardez:

First, (1) a wider view of the tower’s base in true color, and without a fancy frame; followed by (2) a close up of the base and (3) of the tower, again in true color but with fancy frames on (2) and (3):


Here’s the second photo, zooming in on the tower base, with a white frame resonant of the 70s:


And finally, the top part of the tower, with a kind of ratty frame in white:


I find myself looking at things differently now, with an eye to using the app to capture how the scene is making me feel.

But wait, there’s more…

I also downloaded SynthCam, which lets you do shallow depth of field shots and more: use the app to sharpen one small area of what’s in your viewfinder, and the rest is blurred out. This can be interesting if you’re trying to eliminate “noise” – including passing pedestrians or other moving objects from a non-moving subject you’ve focused on.

So (drumroll…), another narcissistic move – a self-portrait (and since SynthCam doesn’t allow flipping the viewfinder, this got tricky: it’s almost impossible to focus on the face, and you end up getting the hand in focus instead):


But you get the idea, right? The hand is (more or less) in focus (ok, I was wobbling everywhere), while the other objects (in this case the rest of me) is out-of-focus.

Now check out what effect this can create in landscape/ other objects.

First, a photo taken of a small wooden toy in the same Summit Park location, shot with the Camera+ app. The colors are true (unaltered), but the photo has a “polaroid” frame for a nostalgic look:


And next, a photo of the same object taken with SynthCam, focused on the wooden toy:


In both instances, the apps let me explore emotional aspects in coming across this random, forgotten object (the toy) at the edge of a park.

So that’s it, my most recent fun-with-apps excursion. Together with SketchBook MobileX (which I wrote about here), the iTouch and its app-enabled affordances are tons of fun and a good excuse to use my eyes.

(n.b. the above photos are viewable in full size on my Picasa page; they’re down-scaled here)

1 Comment

  1. Apps for writers:
    Writepad $
    Dragon Dictation

    Productivity apps:
    Informant (planner)

    HabitMaker or Streaks

    Camera apps:
    Pro HDR
    3D Camera Lite

    I have lots of recommendations for apps related to meditation, guitar, fitness but didn’t list here as they may not interest you.

    Although the Touch doesn’t feature true GPS the maps feature features a ‘directions’ button. It will locate where you are, ask where you want to go and generate a detailed set of directions superimposed over a map. Very cool..

    Comment by ml — February 5, 2011 #

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