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Posts tagged with "photography"

Adobe Announces Major Updates to Fresco and Photoshop for iPad

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Today, Adobe announced substantial updates to Fresco, its drawing and painting app for the iPhone and iPad, and its image editor, Photoshop for iPad. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with these updates yet, but based on Adobe’s announcement, the changes promise to be among the most significant releases yet.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Fresco is adding a magic wand selection tool that allows selections to be made based on color. A slider adjusts the color that defines the selection, which gives artists fine-grained control over what is selected. As with magic wand tools in other Adobe products, the purpose of the new tool is to eliminate tedious manual selection methods where possible.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The app has also added a liquify tool that blends colors on Fresco’s canvas as though they were paint. Liquify, which is part of the Transform set of tools, allows users to push, pull, and mix adjacent colors in a way that looks quite natural in Adobe’s demonstrations.

Fresco first added tools that brought compositions to life with motion last year. Today’s update adds the ability to adjust the opacity of motion frames from the Frames action menu and move, resize, and rotate motion paths. Fresco’s update includes several other new features, including a recent brushes list, new vector manga brushes, and the ability to define reference layers, a handy way to separate line work from color fill work, and capture a perspective grid from an imported image.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The Photoshop update has added a new AI-based Content-Aware Fill tool that can use surrounding parts of an image to remove and fill unwanted sections of an image with a single tap. Content-Aware Fill is one of the marquee Photoshop features on the Mac, so it’s nice to see it added to the iPad now too. The app has also added a single-tap background removal and replacement tool, which relies on Adobe’s Select Subject technology.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

To make quick adjustments to an image, Adobe has introduced auto-tone, color, and contrast tools to Photoshop too. Adobe says these are three of the most frequent actions taken by users on the desktop, so bringing them to the iPad should make it a much more attractive platform for editing images. Adobe’s font browser with over 20,000 fonts is available on Photoshop for iPad too.

I continue to be impressed with the pace at which Adobe apps, but especially Fresco and Photoshop, are advancing on the iPad. Both have grown into some of the most sophisticated iPad apps available and feel natural and native to the platform in the way they implement the equivalent of desktop features on the iPad.

Fresco and Photoshop are available as free downloads on the App Store and offer In-App Purchases to unlock certain features.


Apple Announces Winners of Its Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge

In January, Apple announced what has become its annual ‘Shot on iPhone’ photography contest. This year, the challenge presented to photographers was to take macro shots using the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Here’s what Apple has to say about the winners:

Today, Apple is announcing the 10 winners who highlight the global and diverse community of iPhone photographers, with finalists from China, Hungary, India, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and the US. Their stunning images will be featured on apple.com, on Apple’s Instagram (@apple), and on billboards in select cities.

The winning images were picked by a panel of expert photographers that included Anand Varma, Apeksha Maker, Peter McKinnon, Paddy Chao, Yik Keat Lee, Arem Duplessis, Billy Sorrentino, Della Huff, Kaiann Drance, and Pamela Chen.

The image above, ‘Strawberry in Soda’ by Ashley Lee, was taken in San Francisco and is my personal favorite. The photo’s bright colors and the crisp bubbles offset against a dark background convey an energy that really sets it apart. Every photo picked by the judges is unique and stunning in its own way, though, so be sure to check out the winners in Apple’s press release and be on the lookout for them on Apple’s Instagram account and on billboards.


Pixelmator Pro 2.4 Adds New Color Adjustment and Effects Layers, Plus 200+ Vector Images

Source: Pixelmator.

Source: Pixelmator.

Pixelmator Pro 2.4, the photo and image editor for Mac, was released today with two new layer types, a redesigned layers sidebar, and over 200 built-in vector images.

Today’s addition of color adjustment and effects layers adds new flexibility to Pixelmator Pro that should simplify the creation of more complex layered projects. According to Simonas Bastys, lead developer at the Pixelmator Team:

One of the things that users love most about Pixelmator Pro is how it makes advanced layer-based image editing incredibly easy. And with the addition of color adjustments and effects layers, layer-based editing in Pixelmator Pro becomes even more powerful, enabling all-new workflows, such as advanced selective editing of photos.

I haven’t had a need for Pixelmator Pro’s new layers yet, but the possibilities are intriguing and something I plan to spend some time experimenting with more in the weeks ahead.

Adding new layer types to an image.

Adding new layer types to an image.

Pixelmator Pro has expanded well beyond photo editing to become a full-blown design tool. With today’s update, the app adds over 200 vector images designed by artists that can be incorporated into design projects using the app’s Shapes tool. The collection includes all sorts of shapes and symbols, along with categories like science and activities.

M1 Mac optimization isn’t a new feature of Pixelmator Pro, but the Pixelmator team reports that thanks to the app’s M1 tuning, machine learning tasks like ML Super Resolution and background removal run up to 1.7 times faster on Apple’s latest M1 Ultra chip. So, if you’ve got a new M1 Ultra-based Mac Studio, all of those computationally-intensive tasks should be faster than ever.

Pixelmator Pro is available on the Mac App Store as a free update to existing customers and is $39.99 for new users.


Obscura 3 Takes the App’s Design in a New Direction

I’ve been following Ben McCarthy’s journey with Obscura since the app first launched in 2015, watching the app as it has evolved alongside changes to Apple’s camera hardware. Camera apps pose unique design challenges, especially for camera apps like Obscura, which has consistently aimed to deliver pro features that can be used one-handed on an iPhone. Those challenges have only continued to multiply since I wrote about Obscura 2 and its innovative Control Wheel.

With Obscura 3, which is a brand new app, McCarthy and the Obscura team have taken a new direction with the app’s design that’s better suited for the capabilities of Apple’s modern camera hardware. It’s a direction that remains true to the app’s historical design aesthetic and user experience while making changes that I expect will provide greater flexibility to quickly adapt to future camera innovations.

I’m going to focus on Obscura 3’s design because I haven’t tested every possible combination of features the app offers. It’s winter in the Chicago area and not the best time for photo walks. Still, I’ve spent enough time with the app to know that the new design works well, allowing users to step through its myriad of features with ease, so let’s take a closer look.

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Pixelmator Photo for iPhone: First Impressions

Pixelmator Photo has long been one of my favorite iPad photo editing apps. The app makes great use of the iPad’s large screen, which provides space for tools alongside the image you’re editing. Reducing that experience to even the largest model of iPhone is a tall order, but from my preliminary testing, it looks as though the Pixelmator team has pulled it off.

Pixelmator Photo on the iPad offers an extensive suite of editing tools that strike a nice balance. The app makes it simple to apply the app’s machine learning-based tools for quick editing and sharing, but it also includes fine-grained controls for when you want to more finely tune a photo. The same is true on the iPhone, but the design tilts in favor of quick access and edits, which I think is appropriate on a device like the iPhone. The deeper tools are still there, just beneath the surface and easy to access when you need them, but on the iPhone the emphasis is on accessing frequently-used tools quickly.

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Pixelmator Pro Updated with Background Removal, Subject Selection, and Select and Mask Tools

Mac image editor Pixelmator Pro continues its streak of releasing machine learning-based tools that feel like magic, with a release that the Pixelmator team calls Abracadabra appropriately enough. The release of version 2.3 features tools to remove the background of an image, select just the subject of a photo, and a new Select and Mask feature for making fine-tuned selections.

I started with these images.

I started with these images.

When I first saw a demo of what Pixelmator 2.3 could do, I was a little skeptical that the features would work as well with my photos as the ones picked to show off the new tools. However, Pixelmator Pro’s new suite of related features is the real deal. With virtually no work on my part, I grabbed a photo of Federico and me from my trip to Rome, selected us, and after making a few refinements to the selection to pick up more of Federico’s hair (mine was perfect), I cut out the background, and replaced it with a photo I took in Dublin days before. After compositing the photos on separate layers, I color-matched the layers using ML Match Colors, so they’d fit together better.

The final composed image.

The final composed image.

The results aren’t perfect – the lighting and perspective are a little off – but those are issues with the photos I chose, not the tools I used. The photo of Federico and me was taken after the sun had set and was artificially lit, while the Dublin Canal was shot on a sunny morning, yet the composite image works incredibly well. What’s remarkable is what I was able to accomplish in just a few minutes. I also removed the background from one of the photos I took recently for my Stream Deck story, which worked perfectly with no additional work needed, which has interesting implications for product photography.

Remove Background takes advantage of Apple’s Core ML framework and works in just a few seconds. Select Subject works similarly but selects the subject of an image instead of erasing the background behind the subject. If you look closely at the masked selection below, you can see how well Pixelmator Pro did picking up the edges to get selection details like hair without any additional work by me. However, if an image needs a little selection touch-up, the Refine Edge Brush and Smart Refine feature make that sort of work easy too.

Pixelmator Pro’s new tools are available elsewhere in macOS, too, as Finder Quick Actions, Shortcuts actions, and AppleScript commands. I covered Pixelmator Pro’s Shortcuts actions earlier this fall, and they are some of the best available among Mac-only apps, so it’s fantastic to see those automation options continue to expand.

Pixelmator Pro has long been one of my must-have Mac apps. I don’t spend a lot of time editing images, but when I do, I appreciate that Pixelmator Pro makes the process easy and produces excellent results regardless of your experience with image editors.


Austin Mann on the M1 MacBook Pros

Pro photographer Austin Mann has been testing a new MacBook Pro M1 Max with 64GB RAM and an 8TB SSD in Arizona. As always, his review includes beautiful images that required substantial computer power to create. After running the highest-end version of the MacBook Pro through its paces, Mann came away impressed by the laptop’s fast charging and power efficiency, as well as its overall performance:

In summary, the most impressive performance from the new MacBook Pro M1 Max wasn’t just speed (it was about twice as fast), but it was insanely efficient in how it managed both its power and heat, which matters as much or more than pure speed.

Mann’s review does an excellent job capturing how the new MacBook Pros work as a package. It’s not just that they are power efficient or fast, but the combination of multiple advances that has enabled such a substantial leap forward over previous models.

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Halide 2.5 Adds New Macro Mode

Halide 2.5 is out, and it includes a brand new Macro Mode. Macro photography is an exclusive feature of the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. Still, Halide has managed to make its Macro Mode available on the iPhone 8 and newer models thanks to some cool machine learning tricks.

Switching to Macro Mode and dialing in precise focus is simple with Halide 2.5.

Switching to Macro Mode and dialing in precise focus is simple with Halide 2.5.

Macro Mode is easy to use. When you open the app, auto-focus (AF) is selected by default. Tap it, and the focus controls slide into place with the auto-focus at one end of the app’s focus dial and Macro Mode (the button with the flower) at the other end. Select Macro Mode, and you’ll see a new focus dial with smaller increments appear. The Halide team says this enables sub-millimeter focusing for extra-precise close-up focusing.

Halide takes its close-ups by first switching to the camera on your iPhone that can take the closest shots. Focusing is handled by its precision focus dial, and the final step is to enhance the image’s details using an AI-based enhancement process. That last super-resolution step is what allows Halide’s Macro Mode to be used on cameras on older models of iPhones and to enhance Apple’s own macro system too.

In my testing over the past day, the results have been impressive. I’m especially fond of the precise focus dial that allows for minute adjustments that make a difference at such close range.

If you’re a Club MacStories+ and Club Premier member, head over to the new Photography channel in our Club Discord to see even more of my experiments with Halide’s Macro Mode and share your own macro shots.

Halide is available as on the App Store as a subscription for $2.99/month or $11.99/year or for a one-time payment of $49.99. The app also offers a 7-day free trial.


Matthew Panzarino Tests the iPhone 13 Pro’s Cinematic Mode and Interviews Apple Executives

Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch’s Editor-in-Chief, put the iPhone 13 Pro camera’s new Cinematic mode through its paces at Disneyland in an excellent real-world test of the new feature. Panzarino also spoke to Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing and Johnnie Manzari, a designer on Apple’s Human Interface Team about how Cinematic mode works.

As Manzari explained:

“In cinema, the role of gaze and body movement to direct that story is so fundamental. And as humans we naturally do this, if you look at something, I look at it too.”

So they knew they would need to build in gaze detection to help lead their focusing target around the frame, which in turn leads the viewer through the story. Being on set, Manzari says, allowed Apple to observe these highly skilled technicians and then build in that feel.

“We’re on set and we have all these amazing people and they’re really the best of the best. And one of the engineers noticed that the focus puller has this focus control wheel, and, and he’s just studying the way that this person does this. Just like when you look at like someone who’s really good at playing the piano, and it looks so easy, and yet you know it’s impossible. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do this,” says Manzari.

“This person is an artist, this person is so good at what they do and the craft they put into it. And so we spent a lot of time trying to model the analog feel of a focus wheel turning.”

To make it all come together into one, coherent feature, Apple’s engineers had to solve a long list of technical challenges:

Some of the individual components that make up Cinematic Mode include:

  • Subject recognition and tracking
  • Focus locking
  • Rack focusing (moving focus from one subject to another in an organic-looking way)
  • Image overscan and in camera stabilization
  • Synthetic Bokeh (lens blur)
  • A post-shot editing mode that lets you alter your focus points even after shooting

And all of those things are happening in real-time.

Despite everything that goes into Cinematic mode, Panzarino notes that the battery impact of using it throughout the day was surprisingly slight.

Cinematic mode isn’t without its flaws, which are covered in the story, but it’s worth watching the entire video that Panzarino shot during a Disneyland visit with his family to get a sense for it yourself. If you study the video closely, you’ll pick up on the places where Cinematic mode struggles. However, sitting back and casually watching the video like you would after a vacation or if a friend sent it to you, the flaws largely fade into the background. I’m eager to test Cinematic mode for myself, and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s necessarily fine as it is, but I also expect that it will be a net positive in a lot of circumstances.

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