Pixelmator Pro released a significant update today that integrates the Mac app with Apple's Photos app using a full-featured extension, adds enhanced zoom functionality, new cropping options, and more.
Pixelmator Pro is one of my favorite image editors on the Mac, but until today, I typically edited images in it that I pulled from an SD card or exported from Photos. That's no longer necessary because Pixelmator Pro has been updated with a Photos extension that lets you use all of the app's tools directly within Photos.
Photos extensions allow third-party developers to integrate their apps with Photos. Few of the photo editing apps I've used work with Photos though, which is a shame because Pixelmator Pro shows how much can be done with a Photos extension.
The Pixelmator team has released Pixelmator Photo, a pro-level photo editing tool that couples the core functionality of Pixelmator Pro for the Mac with the strengths of the iPad. The result, though not without a few caveats, is a sophisticated set of image editing tools wrapped in a straightforward UI that, with its support for RAW and other image formats, makes Pixelmator Photo my new favorite photo editor.
Spectre is a new specialized camera app from the team that created Halide, one of our favorite camera apps on iOS. The Halide team describes Spectre as a computational shutter for the iPhone, which allows the app to do things like remove people from a crowded scene, create artistic images of rushing water, and produce light trails at night. The same sort of images can be created using traditional cameras, but getting the exposure right, holding the camera absolutely still, and accounting for other factors make them difficult to get right. With Spectre, artificial intelligence is used to simplify the process and make long-exposure photography accessible to anyone with an iPhone.
Obscura 2.0 was one of our favorite iOS app updates of 2018, which garnered it a MacStories Selects Best App Update Runner-Up award. Since it was released eight months ago, developer Ben McCarthy has continued to refine the app and add new features such as iPad support, new editing controls, localizations, and a Photos extension. With the latest update out today, Obscura has added a histogram visualizer, a redesigned image viewer, iPad keyboard shortcuts, and more.
For longer than I can remember now, Apple has plucked photos taken by iPhone users from the vast sea of images posted online and featured them on billboards, in print advertising, and online. Today, the company announced that through February 7th, it’s running a Shot on iPhone Challenge. Apple says that:
A panel of judges will review worldwide submissions and select 10 winning photos, to be announced in February. The winning photos will be featured on billboards in select cities, Apple retail stores and online.
Apple’s announcement also introduces the contest’s 11 judges, 6 of whom are from Apple and 5 of whom are outsiders with backgrounds in photography. The Apple team includes Phil Schiller, members of his marketing team, and others who work on Apple’s photo software. The rest of the judges include former White House photographer Pete Souza, travel photographer Austin Mann, who we recently interviewed for Club MacStories, Annet de Graaf, a travel photographer and author of iPhone photography books, Luisa Dörr who shot TIME magazine’s special Firsts issue entirely on an iPhone, and Chen Man, a visual artist and creator of photography-based social apps.
If you’d like to submit your iPhone photos, here’s what to do:
Post your best photo taken on iPhone to Instagram or Twitter with the #ShotOniPhone hashtag to participate in the the Shot on iPhone Challenge. Weibo users can participate as well using #ShotOniPhone#. In the image caption, note which model was used. Alternatively, you can also submit the photo in its highest resolution to firstname.lastname@example.org with the file format ‘firstname_lastname_iphonemodel.’ Photos can be straight from the camera, edited through Apple’s editing tools in the Photos app or with third-party software. Submissions for photos begins at 12:01 a.m. PST on January 22 and ends at 11:59 p.m. PST on February 7. You must be 18 years of age or older to participate, and this challenge is not open to Apple employees or their immediate families.
I’ve always enjoyed Apple’s Shot on iPhone ad campaigns. It will be fun to see which shots its judges pick from what I can only imagine will be a huge number of submissions.
With version 4.0 released today, Darkroom has emerged as a photo editing force to be reckoned with on iOS. The highlight of the release is a brand-new iPad app, which is the version I’ll focus on in this review. I ran into a couple of bugs and would like to see Darkroom push its photo management and a few other tools even further in the future. However, the app’s combination of thoughtful design and platform-aware functionality together enable Darkroom to scale its full suite of tools gracefully from iPhone to iPad, which makes it an excellent choice for mobile photo editing.
Austin Mann has published a review of the new iPad Pro for photographers. Mann, a professional photographer, is in Iceland shooting 100-megapixel images with a Hasselblad H6D-100c that generates 216MB RAW files that are a great test of Apple’s new hardware. Mann demonstrates how well the iPad Pro handles those images by zooming in and out and panning around with little lag in a video demo of Adobe Lightroom CC.
Beyond the sheer performance of the hardware though, Mann has been impressed with the versatility and portability of the device. As he explains:
I was working with Mavic Pro 2 in the black volcanic deserts of south Iceland. While sitting in the car (in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere), I decided to offload my images and review them.
I pulled out the iPad Pro and a card reader, and within only a few moments I was reviewing them on screen. Next thing I knew I was editing them with the Pencil in Lightroom CC and then I shared one with my wife—all within just a few moments.
It’s really easy to sit just about anywhere (even with a steering wheel in your face) and not just use it, but use it to its full extent. Another cool feature in this scenario is eSIM. Because the iPad Pro is connected to cellular, even in the middle of nowhere Iceland, I could quickly share the images without even thinking about my connection, WiFi, hotspots, etc. Time wasn’t mission critical on this shoot, but in a scenario where time is of the essence, this kind of workflow could be a game-changer.
That’s a sort of power the iPad Pro brings to bear that can’t be measured in chip speeds or other specs. It’s a flexibility that allows photographers and other creative professionals to work in more contexts and with greater efficiency. It’s hard to quantify but just as important.
Be sure to check out Mann’s review for more on his iPad Pro photography workflow and his beautiful photos of Iceland.
Pixelmator Pro for the Mac was updated to version 1.2 today with a handful of enhancements centered around macOS Mojave.
The update includes light and dark modes, which can be set in Preferences to follow the mode picked in System Preferences or full-time light or dark mode. Dark mode closely resembles Pixelmator Pro’s existing UI, but its light mode is brand-new.
Pixelmator Pro 1.2 has also added a new auto-enhance feature for images that applies machine learning to automatically adjust white balance, exposure, hue and saturation, lightness, color balance, and selective color. Previously auto-enhancement was available individually for some of the categories in Pixelmator’s Adjust Colors tab. The new ML Enhance feature, which the Pixelmator team says was trained with millions of professional photos, adjusts all of the categories listed above at once. If you don’t like the results, the adjustments can be turned off on a per category basis or adjusted manually.
BestPhotos, a photo management app from Chicago-based Windy Software that we’ve covered on Club MacStories before, was updated today with new features for quickly and efficiently organizing your photos. I take thousands of pictures each year and sometimes it feels like I take even more screenshots. Sifting through to find the best shots and discard old screenshots, duplicates, and just plain bad photos takes a lot of tapping and time in Apple’s Photos app. BestPhotos is a better solution that streamlines the whole process.