Ansel Adams for the iPad App Review

The app is a collaboration between Little, Brown and Company, the publisher and the Ansel Adams Trust. It sells for US$13.99 in the US App Store and does not seem to be available in international App Stores, at least at present.

The app brings together 40 images excerpted from Andrea Stillman’s Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs along with video and a collection of letters. Specific contents include:

  • A slideshow of 40 Ansel Adams photographs, with optional audio narration, written commentary, or synchronized music
  • Option to run the slideshow with any musical selection from your iTunes library
  • Embedded video excerpts from documentary films about Adams, including the Ric Burns/Sierra Club Emmy Award-winning film for PBS, spanning Adams’ career
  • A rich selection of letters between Adams and leading figures in the worlds of art, photography, and politics, including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Weston, Garry Trudeau, and Jimmy Carter, with many original letters shown in facsimile
  • Delightful and amusing vintage postcards that Adams sent to his closest friends, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, while on the road photographing America’s wild places, with original postal stamps and cancellations, doodles, and hand-written notes, with flip-to-read functionality
  • Send-an-e-card feature, allowing the user to create an e-postcard with one of Ansel’s images, enter a message, and email to friends directly out of the app
  • Facsimile reproduction of the Ansel Adams Playboy interview, the most substantial print interview he ever gave
  • A chronology of key moments in Adams’ life and career and a complete bibliography
  • Links to websites of interest to Ansel Adams fans

As a resource for Ansel Adams fans this is a useful step in bringing content to iPad users. The images do look stunning on the iPad and do compare favourably with originals I have seen. The audio commentary on the images is limited to just a reading of the accompanying text, and so I did feel that it missed an opportunity to go further. Personally I would have loved these audio commentaries to be provided by a selection of people who would have discussed each work from technical, compositional, historical and artistic perspectives, making it a great educational tool for photographers. The video content is useful, but all too short.

This is a really good app and will serve well. For the price it is an inexpensive and effective coverage. But I was left wanting so much more. This is certainly not the definitive Adams app, but then we are all experimenting with just what to do with the amazing potential of tablets. I do highly recommend this app but it will leave you wanting more, which perhaps is a good thing.

Phoozl is a Photo-based Game Site is a website for photographers who like games. At launch it had about 30 games. One word of warning, it is a Flash-based site, so don’t try viewing it from an iPad.

The site looks great, the games are fun and work well. Basically it comes down to this: if you like the types of games on the site, you will love Phoozl. If not, you won’t like Phoozl. It really is that simple.

Harald Johnson and team have done a great job giving the site a fun, happy feeling and the games are certainly well designed and effective, though of course the wait for a Flash game to download can be tiresome on a slow Internet connection.

The site also puts some emphasis on learning through having fun. This I am least sure about, mainly because I worry that the learning you can do through such a means is too shallow and less effective that better methods of learning, but that might just be me.

Will I become a Phoozleer, as they call users? In short, no. As an old-time wargamer, my taste in games needs to satisfy the odd uncontrollable urge to invade Poland (from East or West), to take to the Celts with a Roman legion or explore the complexities of combined arms warfare. But then that is not to everyone else’s taste either.

That said, I can happily recommend for your photographic gaming pleasure. The site has good, clean fun, interesting games and an effective user interface. You might learn something in the bargain.

Also Phoozl has now started the first photo challenge called Mission Blue, which looks like a fun challenge.

The Epson B-510DN Inkjet Printer is a Winner

The B-510DN is a business printer, A4 or letter sized and very useful for photographers as well.

This is a four-colour printer, so it is not one that photographers would naturally consider. However a photography studio or even a hobbyist at home has need for the following:

  • A fast printer for general printing tasks;
  • Good enough photo printing;
  • Reduced ink costs.

Let’s be honest, all the printer manufacturers punish you senseless on printer running costs, and the cheaper the printer the more you know you are going to be bled for ink down the track.

This is one area where the B-510DN is different. Aimed at businesses with high volumes of use, it is certainly not a cheap printer to buy, but the ink cartridges are huge and last a truly amazing period of time. Ink costs can be as low as 4.2 cents per colour page, which is excellent and seemingly about half that of the nearest competition.

It is also a phenomenally fast printer, whether doing normal documents or photo printing. It is quiet while running and has no odour, unlike some laser printers. Colour pages print at up to 18ppm for text and draft BW printing at 37ppm. I didn’t time the full-page photo printing but it was faster than anything else I have ever seen in my studio.

The print quality is nothing less than amazing. Sure photos show the dots but it is far from objectionable, rather giving a very fine texture to an image and is really only noticeable in comparison with images printed on a high end dedicated photo printer with six or eight inks. We printed on all types of paper and loved the results on heavy fine art matt papers. Colour was spot on.

Paper handling is excellent. We experienced no paper jams and the combination of a huge capacity tray for 500 sheets and a top slot that holds 150 plain paper or less in thick photo paper is perfect for a studio situation. I saved two configurations in the printer driver of choosing paper source and type of paper and this allowed quick and error free printing on the right type of paper.

To be honest there is nothing not to like about this printer. It handled thick art papers well (up to 256gsm) and had excellent print quality on a range of plain papers.

This printer is very highly recommended and will be up for consideration for purchase as a general studio printer. It uses DURABrite Ultra pigment inks.

It would suit any photographer or designer who needs to print A4 paper and wants to keep their running costs down. It would also suit event photographers, as its speed of printing would solve a lot of problems for them.

Very highly recommended.

Snow Leopard for Mac OS a Great Update for Photographers

I tend to be very conservative with software updates on my MacBook, as it is my main writing machine. But some software I wanted to run forced me to do the upgrade to the latest Mac OS X version. And a great update it is.

Snow Leopard brings 64-bit computing to the Mac core applications and a great performance boost it is too. Startup from cold or sleep is MUCH faster, as is shutdown or sleep at the other end. Things like Mail and Safari operate MUCH faster as well.

Interestingly, I have found my Mac generally much faster in all applications. Photoshop is faster to open up and opening files also seems noticeably faster, as are the other Creative Suite applications.

Now that 64-bit seems to be working well for the Apple core we can only hope that the soon to be announced CS5 includes 64-bit mode for the Mac, which was left out of CS4 because (according to Adobe) Apple had not sorted the 64-bit side out properly yet back when CS4 was rolling out. Given the apparent issues between Apple and Adobe over Flash and the iPad, I hope this does not impact on 64-bit for CS5. Many of us love both Apple and Adobe products and need them to play nicely with each other.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale Photography Exhibitions Review, Part 3

In this article I offer my review of some of the exhibitions. As all such reviews are, these are my personal response to the exhibitions I saw. I did not set out to see all the exhibitions. Along the way I stumbled across some other exhibitions that either were not in the program or that I hadn’t intended to see.

In this article I look at some exhibitions in Creswick and then move on to the Alternative Fringe exhibitions in Trentham and Tylden. Continue reading “Ballarat International Foto Biennale Photography Exhibitions Review, Part 3”

Ballarat International Foto Biennale Photography Exhibitions Review, Part 2

In this article series I offer my review of some of the exhibitions. As all such reviews are, these are my personal response to the exhibitions I saw. I did not set out to see all the exhibitions. Rather I went through the exhibition program and chose ones in Ballarat and Creswick that appealed to me. Along the way I stumbled across some other exhibitions that either were not in the program or that I hadn’t intended to see.

Part 2 looks at some more Ballarat exhibitions. Continue reading “Ballarat International Foto Biennale Photography Exhibitions Review, Part 2”