iPad as a Photography Tool

March 25, 2012

Use your iPad® in your arsenal of photography tools

The iPad® is now in its third generation. The latest version includes a 5-megapixel camera that shoots photos and videos, four times more pixels than the previous iPad, and capability to run on a 4G network (if you can find one).

But I still use the original generation iPad - no camera, no super visual display - and I have been happy with it all the same.

What I have found is that the iPad - no matter what generation you have - is an ideal tool in the photographer's arsenal of technical gadgets. A plethora of apps are available for the on-the-go photographer to use in the field for bird and wildlife identification, downloading images and editing on the go. Here are the top ten apps I use on my photography trips.

1. Google maps: Although this app requires a WiFi or cellular connection, it can be handy if you prepare the maps before yo leave civilization. I use the app to provide directions to my destination and then zoom in to see more detail once I am at my destination. As long as you connect before leaving a cellular or WiFi area, the map will be stored in the memory. Beware that if you zoom in too far while in an area without cell coverage, you will receive an error message stating you do not have a connection. A couple of options exist you are willing to purchase an app: Gaia GPS is a good option for backcountry travel ($9.99); Galileo Offline Maps ($4.99); TomTom has several options for different areas and requires a GPS signal, which is available in iPad WiFi and 3G models ($49.99 to $89.99)

2. Notes: Indespesible for recording what you saw, where you saw it, and suggestions you get from other people. Comes pre-installed on iPad and you can email notes to yourself for use later on your computer. I keep logs for blog ideas, places to photograph, where to see wildlife, article ideas and a journal for each of my trips.

3. Photos: Also pre-installed on iPad, this app makes a great tool for keeping a portfolio with you at all times. Make sure you organize your photos by topic, keep only the best ones on the device, and only post the highest quality images. High quality images will take up more memory but will reflect your work better. The larger memory usage also forces you to select only your best images.

4. Photogene: Ranked as one of the best photo editing apps since its launch in 2008, Photogene is an easy-to-use, heavy-hitting application that allows many common photo editing functions. Capabilities include crop, rotate, dodge, burn, blur, red eyes, heal, saturation, vibrance, contrast and white balance adjustments to list just a few. A bargain for $2.99.

5. Photoshop Express: A super slimmed down version of the industry standard Photoshop, PSE includes some of the basic functions of the full version of Photoshop. The big bonus here is this app is free for basic functions such as contrast, exposure, saturation and cropping plus a select group of presets, such as vintage and soft black and white (see example on facebook). A few additional options require a $1.99 border pack or a $4.99 camera pack for editing features such as reducing noise. Great for sharing photos online

6. The Photographer's Ephemeris: This app is a must-have for any photographer who prefers shooting at sunrise, sunset or golden hours. TPE provides the tools photographers need to learn what time sunrise and sunset will be on any particular day in any particular location and in what particular direction. $8.99 on iTunes.

7. Square: One of the original apps for accepting credit cards on the go. Many banks now offer this option but Square is still the original. With the free credit card reader, photographers can accept payments for their work at craft fairs, galleries, or any location where someone is interested in purchasing your work. Requires a WiFi or cellular connection. Fees apply for each transaction. App is free.

8. iBird: If you photograph birds of any kind and any place, then this app should be with you at all times. All birds can be searched by name or family using common or taxonomic names. Includes a photo center for you to post your own photos, sounds for most birds, photos and illustrations, range, ecology and identification. Several versions are available depending upon the region you purchase, which range from $0.99 to $14.99.

9. Audubon Mammals: Similar to iBird, this app was developed by Green Mountain Digital with the world-renowned National Audubon Society. Includes photos, description, range maps, sounds and a place for you to record sighting information. Other subjects include birds, mushrooms, amphibians, insects and spiders, North American trees, fish and wildflowers. Prices vary by subject. $9.99 for mammals.

10. Travel Photo Guides: This collection of photography apps are great for helping the novice or experienced photographer find the exact spot to match photos within the program. Includes pinpoints on maps showing where you are standing and where photo was taken, metadata for picture (ISO, aperature, focal length, etc.) and time of day the photo was taken. Currently available for Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park. (verifying current availability and price)

Use the iPad for your on-the-go photography but no app for a mobile device will replace the power of your desktop editing software. Use the iPad for its mobility; use the desktop for its functionality.

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