Posts Tagged ‘Apple iPhone’

New directions in photography and videography

January 25, 2012

iPhoneography — that is, digital photography using the Apple iPhone built-in digital camera — rekindled my interest in photography. A couple of years and three iPhones later, I’m eager to experiment with more capable digital cameras such as my old Canon PowerShot G9 and my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150. I will continue to use my iPhone camera along with many excellent third-party camera-replacement and photo-editing apps, but from this point forward waltersanford’s photoblog will be no longer dedicated to iPhoneography exclusively. I hope you will continue to follow my photoblog as I explore exciting new directions in digital photography and videography.

Lost & Found: Another Alexandria, VA USA sundial

January 17, 2012

The North American Sundial Society Sundial Registry listing for Virginia Alexandria Dial #253 says, “May have been removed; could not be located 8/2005. Contacted historical society 12/2008 to confirm placement but no reply.” I’m happy to report the sundial is in fact right where it’s supposed to be! Well, sort of. The Sundial Registry lists the location of Dial #253 as, “NW corner of King & Cameron St.” That is, in a word, impossible: Cameron- and King Streets are parallel streets, as shown by a zoomed-in map of Old Town Alexandria. The actual location of the vertical sundial is the corner of Cameron- and N. Washington Streets, as shown by a geotagged full-size version of the photo and verified by the following screen captures from Google Maps Street View: facing east along Cameron Street toward N. Washington Street; corner of Cameron- and N. Washington Streets; facing west along Cameron Street toward N. Columbus Street.

Alexandria Dial #254 is a horizontal sundial located at historic Christ Church on the opposite side of Cameron Street from Dial #253. The Sundial Registry listing for Dial #254 says, “Horizontal circular bronze dial appears to have been designed for 32 degrees N.” Read more about this issue in my last post, “Sundial at Christ Church, Alexandria, VA USA.”

Large 400px

Picasa Web Album: Alexandria, VA Sundials

Tech Tips: All photos in the preceding slideshow were geotagged automatically by an Apple iPhone 4. Apple Computer does not support Adobe Flash on its mobile devices, so embedded slideshows from Picasa Web Albums (such as the one shown above) will not display properly on the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. For this reason, you may need to follow the hyperlink to the photo album, then click on the slideshow icon (shown upper-right corner). Learn more about Google Maps Street View. Locate the sundials using the following search string in Google Maps: “Christ Church Alexandria”

Sundial at Christ Church, Alexandria, VA USA

January 15, 2012

A horizontal sundial is located on the grounds of historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia USA. The North American Sundial Society Dial Registry listing says, the “dial appears to have been designed for 32 degrees N.” In order to determine whether the sundial is in fact aligned properly, I examined a couple of photos that were geotagged by my Apple iPhone 4. (See “Tech Tips” for details, below.)

Similar to setting the correct time on an analog clock or wristwatch (by moving the hands of the timepiece into proper position), properly orienting a horizontal sundial will move the shadow of the gnomon (or style) into position so that the dial face displays the correct time.

  1. The dial plate should be horizontal.
  2. The shadow-casting edge of the gnomon should be parallel to the Earth’s axis, inclined at an angle equal to the latitude of the sundial.
  3. The tip of the gnomon should point toward the North Celestial Pole (i.e., Polaris, the North Star). More simply, the dial face should be aligned so that 12 noon points toward geographic north and the 12 noon hour line is aligned with your local meridian.

Photos 1-2 of 8 (shown below) verify that the dial plate is horizontal. Photos 3-4 show the gnomon is inclined at an angle of 31.86 degrees (~32 degrees); Photos 5-6 show the latitude of the sundial is 38 degrees 48 minutes 22.2 seconds. Photos 7-8 show the image direction is 218.4602 degrees, meaning the tip of the gnomon is pointing southwest rather than true geographic north (0, 360 degrees).


Bottom line: The Christ Church sundial appears to have been made for another location and is aligned improperly for its new location. In other words, the sundial is strictly ornamental and will not tell time correctly.

Tech Tips: The iPhone Camera app works seamlessly with two built-in devices to geotag photos: the GPS sensor measures position on Earth; the digital compass measures “image direction.” PixelStick, an application for Mac OS X, was used to measure angles in one of the photos (see Photos 1-4, above). Apple “Preview” was used to display GPS info for both photos (see Photos 5-8, above).

Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

ToonPAINT app, Take 3

January 13, 2012

I revisited ToonPAINT app ($1.99 plus in-app purchases) in my last blog post. In summary, I said I think the “ToonColor” output is too dark for both test photos. In order to illustrate my point, I used Aperture to adjust the brightness of the images, shown below.


For both galleries (shown above and below), Photo 1 is the Aperture output, Photo 2 is the “ToonColor” output, and Photo 3 is the original photograph. Toggle back-and-forth between Photos 1 and 2 and I think you’ll agree with me that the brighter images look much better.


Bottom line: I think ToonPAINT app — including ALL the bells and whistles — works remarkably well. That said, I have an issue with in-app purchases and I’d like to have options for a little more control over the “ToonColor” output. I suggest the developers add sliders to adjust the “ToonColor” output in the same way there are sliders that enable the user to adjust the shading of the “MagiSketch” output (default black-and-white), shown below.


Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

ToonPAINT app redux

January 10, 2012

I reviewed ToonPAINT app ($1.99 plus in-app purchases) in my last blog post. In summary, I posed the question, “How much more “awesome looking” would these cartoon-paintings be if they were in color rather than black-and-white?” My first impulse was to say, “Who knows? I’ll never buy the ‘ToonColor button’ add-on feature.” Well, curiosity killed the cat and I am nothing if not curious so I purchased the auto-color option. I’m thinking the folks at ToonPAINT must be saying to themselves, “Gotcha, sucker!” Anyway, how does “ToonColor” output compare with the standard black-and-white output? You be the judge.


Photo 4 of 4 in the preceding gallery shows the descriptors for ToonPAINT’s two optional add-on features. Can anyone tell me what “Photo Brush” does? I can’t tell from the descriptor and I don’t intend to be suckered into buying the feature in order to find out!


I think the “ToonColor” output is too dark for both test photos. Sure, I could use an application like Aperture to brighten the images (or perhaps another image editor for Apple iOS) but that defeats the purpose of using ToonPAINT app, doesn’t it? ToonPAINT promises that “it’s as easy as paint-by-numbers,” so I shouldn’t have to post-process the output in order to get it right!

Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

ToonPAINT app

January 8, 2012

The description of ToonPAINT app at the Apple iTunes App Store says, “ToonPAINT allows you to easily create awesome looking cartoon-paintings with your photos.” Really? Decide for yourself by comparing and contrasting the cartoon version with the original photo in the following galleries.


In the preceding gallery (shown above), the ToonPAINT output and the original photo are both 1024 x 1024 pixels square. In the following gallery (shown below), the original photo and the ToonPAINT output are both 557 H x 420 W pixels.


How much more “awesome looking” would these cartoon-paintings be if they were in color rather than black-and-white? My commentary can be found in the following “Tech Tips.”

Tech Tips:ToonPAINT” app currently sells for $1.99 at the Apple iTunes Store. The App Store descriptor says, “Even if you have never drawn or painted before, ToonPAINT sets you up for quick success by providing a MagiSketch that you can simply color in. It’s as easy as ‘paint-by-numbers,’ but using your own personal images.” However the quality of the “MagiSketch” output is limited unless you spring for two in-app purchases that cost $0.99 each: 1) “The ToonColor button is an optional add-on feature for ToonPAINT that will automatically color your Toon for you.” 2) “The Photo Brush is an optional add-on feature for ToonPAINT that will allow you to paint directly from your source.” In other words, “ToonPAINT” actually costs $3.97 for all the bells and whistles! I’m not a big fan of apps featuring in-app purchases because they will not fully function as advertised unless you make all available in-app purchases. That’s misleading and in a very real sense a form of false advertising. I say apps should come fully-loaded and sell for one price point — that way consumers can decide fairly whether the full price is fair!

Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Signs of Wildlife: Raccoon footprints

January 4, 2012

The following gallery shows raccoon footprints (Procyon lotor) spotted during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The new boardwalk, made of recycled synthetic materials, was installed during August- and September 2011. Photo 2 of 2 (below) shows the location where the animal climbed from the wetlands onto the boardwalk.


Raccoons are one of many species of plants and animals amateur naturalists like me can observe as part of the National Phenology Network.

Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Diptics: Freezing rain event

December 29, 2011

I went for a short photowalk to photograph a freezing rain event that occurred overnight January 17-18, 2011, in Alexandria, Virginia USA. The following three- and four-panel diptychs were created using Apple Aperture and Diptic app for Apple iOS mobile devices.


Here is a link to 18JAN2011_freezing-rain, one of my Google Picasa Web Albums, featuring all of the photos I shot soon after the weather event ended.

Teacher Tips: What is freezing rain? For a graphic explanation, see “How winter storms bring rain, ice and snow,” an interactive online article from the USA TODAY Weather Book by meteorologist Jack Williams. See also, “Snowflakes – A Thematic Approach (A Flurry of Interdisciplinary Ideas for Teachers)” perfect for enriching/extending everyday instruction during the winter season.

Photos © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Advanced technique for creating Diptic "photo tiles"

December 27, 2011

I like to use Apple Aperture to prepare ready-made “photo tiles” that are the perfect size to add to the panels in a Diptic layout. That said, some photos can’t be cropped to a size of say 1024 x 1024 pixels square without losing critical parts of the photo. Here’s a solution that is both simple and elegant — it’s called “round-tripping.”

I set Aperture’s “Export” preferences to hand-off a copy of an image file to an extrnal photo editor. I’m using Adobe Photoshop, but a much less expensive application such as ImageWell works too. I selected an image in my Aperture Library (see Photo 1 of 3, below), chose the Crop tool and “Square” Aspect Ratio, and selected an area that is 1723 x 1723 pixels square (see Photo 2 of 3, below). From the Aperture menu bar, I selected Photos > Edit with Adobe Photoshop…; Photoshop opened and I changed the image size to 1024 x 1024 pixels square. From the Photoshop menu bar, I selected File > Save; voila, the re-sized image appeared in my Aperture Library (round-trip completed)! Finally, I exported the re-sized photo from Aperture as usual (see Photo 3 of 3, below). Now the photo tile is ready for use in a Diptic diptych. Simple, huh? Really, it’s simpler than it sounds and best of all, there’s none of the loss in image quality that would occur by opening/editing/saving a photo in two-or-more applications. Now that’s cool!


Tech Tips: When cropping a selected area from a photo that will be re-sized, be sure the dimensions of the selected area are larger than the intended dimensions of the re-sized version. Otherwise you may see “jaggies” in the final image.

Photos © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (male)

December 21, 2011


A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans), one of the larger skimmers, perched on a twig at Huntley Meadows Park. Notice that the Great Blue Skimmer perches on four of six legs, with the two front legs curled around its head. This individual is a male, as indicated by its blue coloration. (Females exhibit brown coloration.) Photo 4 of 4 shows the dragonfly flying off his perch — a remarkable stop-action photo for an iPhone 3GS camera!

Tech Tips: The preceding photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos.

Photos © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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