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Posts tagged with "photography"

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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Austin Mann Puts the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max Cameras Through Their Paces

Specs only tell part of the story of new hardware. They’re important, but they only hint at what’s possible. Put that hardware in the hands of someone who can push it to its limits, and those hints of the possible become concrete examples of the actual. When Apple announced the iPhone 13 Pro, the stats suggested the device’s camera was poised to leap forward. Austin Mann’s review of the 13 Pro’s camera confirms it with a series of stunning photographs from Tanzania.

One of the new Camera features I’m looking forward to most is the ability to take macro photos. Mann explains that:

Although the iPhone 13 Pro still only has three lenses, the addition of macro capability is like adding a new lens altogether, and for the serious photographer I think it’s perhaps the strongest advancement in this year’s camera system.

Macro is more than just improved focus distance. It offers a new way of seeing and opens up an entirely new world of photography and storytelling.

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source [austinmann.com](https://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-13-pro-camera-review-tanzania)

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source austinmann.com

Mann also covers Photographic Styles, which he says allow for a relatively subtle shift of the look of photos without feeling like a flat image-wide filter has been applied, explaining when he’d use them even as a pro photographer:

Of course, I’m usually shooting ProRAW on client projects, but there are times when I just want great looking images right now versus maximum processing control later. Photographic Styles will be perfect for that.

Finally, I thought this insight about Cinematic mode was interesting:

As I watched this piece, particularly the interview in Cinematic mode, it dawned on me that we’re moving beyond the world of just computational photography and into the realm of computational videography. The release of Cinematic mode marks another one of those fundamental shifts where software, unbounded by the limitations of hardware, has opened up entirely new possibilities in the creative process.

From the reviews I’ve seen, Cinematic mode feels like early Portrait mode in terms of how well it works. Although there’s obvious room for improvement, Portrait mode has come a long way in recent years, and it’s exciting to think Cinematic mode may do the same too.

As usual, Mann’s review is full of fantastic shots of the landscapes, people, and nature of Tanzania, which are beautifully shot and are excellent examples about what’s possible with the iPhone 13 Pro.

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Pixelmator Pro 2.1 Adds ML Crop, Quick Fill Color, and Text Tool Updates

The team at Pixelmator has released an update to its Mac photo and image editing tool Pixelmator Pro that includes several new features.

Teased last month, Pixelmator Pro 2.1 has been updated with ML Crop, a machine learning-based cropping tool that algorithmically suggests ways to crop your images. The feature joins several other machine learning-based features that the app has added in the past couple of years. In my limited testing, ML Crop works well, suggesting crops based on the subject of photos that are more dramatic and focused on the image’s subject. The entire cropping process is non-destructive, so even if you aren’t entirely happy with a suggested crop, it can be used as a starting point and easily tweaked manually.

Source: Pixelmator.

Source: Pixelmator.

Pixelmator Pro has evolved into more than just a photo editor. The app includes powerful image creation tools that got an update today too. Quick Fill is a fast way to fill an image layer with color by simply dragging the color from the app’s new color well that also supports switching between foreground and background colors.

The app has added a Stroke with Brush feature that facilitates painting with the app’s brushes along the path of shapes and image layers too. The feature joins a new brush picker and an option for smoothing strokes. Also, the Type tool has been updated to add a slider that quickly resizes text and the ability to control paragraph spacing.

There are other smaller refinements throughout the app too. For instance, when you hover the pointer over a predefined crop, your image updates with a preview of what the new crop will look like. The feature works dynamically in tandem with ML Crop when that feature is turned on, and there are now multiple crop overlay options in the latest update like the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio, the Golden Spiral, and others. Image perspective can be adjusted, and the background of the app’s editor can be changed too. For a quick demo of the highlights, Pixelmator’s announcement video is worth watching:

I haven’t had a chance to try all the new features of Pixelmator’s latest release yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far. The app’s machine learning-based features are fast, especially on an M1 Mac, and they work well in most circumstances. Even when the results aren’t exactly what I want, the app’s machine learning tools are a handy head start with editing.

Pixelmator 2.1 is a free update on the Mac App Store, and currently, the app is available for $19.99, which is 50% off of its usual price until July 6th.


Photo Editing and Management App Darkroom Adds Extensive Shortcuts Support

Photo editing and management app Darkroom, which added a new Clarity tool last month, has added substantial new Shortcuts actions to the app that allow users to automate a wide variety of its features for the first time. The update is notable because it allows Darkroom to work hand-in-hand with other apps, something which few photography apps do. For now, the shortcuts are available in Apple’s Shortcuts app on iPhones and iPads, but this fall, when macOS Monterey is released, the Darkroom team says that it plans to offer the same actions on the Mac.

The update features five Shortcuts actions:

  • Import to Darkroom
  • Flag Photos
  • Reject Photos
  • Add Photos to Favorites
  • Edit With Darkroom
Darkroom can automate cropping to a long list of aspect ratios.

Darkroom can automate cropping to a long list of aspect ratios.

The Import to Darkroom action adds images to Darkroom and can simultaneously apply a filter with the intensity you choose, set a frame aspect ratio with an inset, and optionally prepare the processed image for export. The Edit With Darkroom action can also apply filters and apply a frame to an image and adds the ability to crop an image to any of a long list of preset aspect ratios and add a watermark to images, all without opening Darkroom. Cropping an image has also been added as an edit that can be pasted to multiple images inside the Darkroom app itself.

The Flag, Reject, and Favorite actions do as you’d expect, allowing you to mark images accordingly without doing so from inside Darkroom itself. Flagging and rejecting photos is a recent addition to Darkroom, which I previously covered on MacStories.

It’s fantastic to see Darkroom adding such deep support for Shortcuts. The app itself is one of my favorite photo editors. However, by freeing its core features from the app itself, Darkroom gains the advantage of becoming part of more complex photo-editing workflows, automatically processing images in multiple apps, without the images having to be opened sequentially in each app. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what Darkroom’s new Shortcuts actions can do, but the possibilities are intriguing.


Austin Mann on the M1 iPad Pro for Pro Photographers

Source: Austin Mann

Source: Austin Mann

I always look forward to Austin Mann’s unique perspective on Apple hardware. His latest review is from Flagstaff, Arizona where he takes Apple’s new M1-based iPad Pro through its paces as he processes photos taken at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Mann cuts right to the chase:

As any photographer knows, one of the most time-consuming parts of the photo creation process is culling through thousands of images, making selects, and editing the images. Thanks to the M1 chip, faster internal storage, and a few other improvements, the new iPad Pro with M1 is the fastest image sorting tool I’ve ever used.

A great demonstration of the power of the new iPad Pro is the video in Mann’s post in which he moves rapidly through a large set of 60+ MB RAW photos. There’s absolutely no lag, making the iPad Pro a terrific tool for culling large collections of imported shots.

Unsurprisingly, Mann also concludes that the iPad Pro’s big, bright display and mobile data connection make it an ideal tool for previewing images on a sunny day and staying connected to research photo shoots. However, Mann’s wishes for the iPad Pro, like background importing of photos and the ability to connect multiple external storage devices, are precisely the sort of thing that is holding the iPad Pro back from being a more complete solution for photographers and other pro users. Despite the limitations, though, the new iPad Pro looks like a big step up for photographers, which I can’t wait to try with my own camera soon.

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Lux Delivers an iPad Version of Halide That Addresses the Unique Challenges of iPad Photography

Students are finishing up the year here in the US, and nothing says graduation season like a relative gripping an iPad with two hands to snap photos of a graduate at a family gathering. It’s easy to poke fun at iPad photography, but those aren’t easy shots to get with Apple’s tablet. Both of your hands are occupied, and the viewfinder is huge and partially obscured by the app’s UI. If you’re at one of these events and see a relative struggling to take the perfect family portrait with their iPad, before you assume that they cut you out of the frame on purpose, show them Halide. The brand new iPad version of the app from the team at Lux makes taking iPad photos more natural and, of course, offers all the advanced features available in the iPhone version of the app.

I don’t take many photos with my iPad, and I doubt I ever will. The camera hardware isn’t as good as it is on the iPhone, and I don’t find myself in situations where I have my iPad but not my iPhone. However, once in a while, I’m using my iPad and want to capture a moment quickly without digging my iPhone out of my pocket. For those occasions, I’m going to use Halide because the app’s thoughtful design makes the experience far superior to other camera apps I’ve tried on the iPad.

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Photo Editor and Organizer Darkroom Adds New Clarity Tool

Photo editing and management app Darkroom has been updated with a new Clarity slider that I’ve been testing on the iPhone and iPad for a couple of weeks now.

The new slider in the app’s editing panel is deceptively simple. Move the slider to the right to make the details of an image pop or to the left to smooth out the details. If you look carefully, though, you’ll notice that the increase in contrast isn’t uniform across a photo. You can turn the Clarity of a portrait down to smooth a person’s skin, for instance, without affecting their hair or eyes.

Source: Darkroom.

Source: Darkroom.

As Jasper Hauser explains on the Darkroom blog, the Clarity slider is logarithmic, meaning that the effect intensifies more quickly as you approach the endpoints. Picking a point in the middle of the slider’s range produces a subtler effect.

The effect works well with landscapes like the photo of skyscrapers along the Chicago River at the beginning of this story. You can see that increasing Clarity brings out the details in the windows of each building, and turning Clarity down softens areas like the water.

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo's details dramatically.

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo’s details dramatically.

As Hauser explains, Clarity works by building a detail map of an image and then adjusting the contrast of its regions using an algorithm called a Fast Local Laplacian Filter. There’s a lot of math happening under the hood that Hauser links to if you’re interested in learning more behind what the Darkroom team has managed to incorporate into a simple slider interaction that’s yet another excellent addition to this Apple Design Award-winning app. To learn more about Darkroom’s features, be sure to check out our past coverage and interview on AppStories with Darkroom co-founder Majd Taby.

Darkroom’s latest update is available on the App Store.


Pixelmator Pro Teases ML Crop Feature and Announces a 50% Off Sale

Source Pixelmator.

Source Pixelmator.

Some of the most impressive additions to Pixelmator Pro in recent updates have been the ones that rely on machine learning. From the auto enhancement feature added in 2018 to last year’s ML Color Match and ML Super Resolution, a wide variety of the app’s tools have harnessed machine learning to help photographers edit their images. Today, the Pixelmator team announced that their extending Pixelmator Pro’s reliance on machine learning to its cropping tool with ML Crop.

Source: Pixelmator.

Source: Pixelmator.

ML Crop uses machine learning to analyze the composition of a photo and suggest how you might like to crop it with the click of a single button. From the video in Pixelmator’s blog post, which is excerpted in the GIF above, the feature looks promising. ML Crop joins features that let you quickly set primary and secondary colors for an image and edit colors in a composition using drag and drop.

In addition to the sneak peek at ML Crop, Pixelmator announced today that the app is currently on sale for 50% off, which makes it a great time to jump in and give Pixelmator Pro if you haven’t yet.


Darkroom 5.2 Improves Photo Management with New Flag and Reject Functionality

One of the greatest advantages of the iPhone’s camera hardware is that it’s easy to take photos wherever you are. That’s also a bit of a curse because there’s probably no greater friction in managing a photo library than sifting through a large stack of images looking for the ones you want to keep. The convenience quality of the iPhone’s camera means that I take more photos than ever, many of which aren’t shots I want to keep long-term. With today’s release of Darkroom 5.2, the photo editor that we’ve covered on MacStories before takes a significant step forward in making the process of culling the best images from an extensive photo collection easier.

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