Many photographers have a love-hate relationship with smartphones and tablets. We often do not see these devices as serious cameras, yet they can be incredibly useful devices to aid our photography. The main problem is that there are so many different apps of varying quality that it can be difficult to find ones that are most suitable for your own photographic style. This is my list of some of the most respected apps available for your smart device, concentrating on those that help us work with our regular cameras rather than those designed for shooting with your device.
Find the sun direction at any time of day, anywhere in the world
For the photographer that takes their outdoor shooting seriously, this is the go-to app. Essentially, it allows you to determine the direction of the light at any place on earth, at any time or date. It also gives you sunrise and sunset times, as well as the phases of the moon and its position in the sky. For anyone doing advance planning for a travel, architectural, or city shoots, this app is perfect.
As serious photographers, most of us would not consider doing post production on a phone or tablet. There are times, however, when you need to quickly manipulate an image in the field. To do this, Adobe’s cut-down Photoshop is ideal. Its powerful collection of tools includes both levels and curves with individual red, green and blue channels with the all-important histogram. You can also add text, graduated filters, and many of the other filters that Photoshop users will recognize. A useful addition is the ability to sync with Adobe Cloud, ensuring that you can download your adjusted images to your main machine at home.
The recently released Lightroom Mobile is an excellent addition for any Lightroom user on the move. Through Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you can sync your main Lightroom library to your smart device using smart previews. Included in the app are a number of the more important tools from the Lightroom develop module. Make an adjustment to a smart preview on the app, and seconds later the image is adjusted on your main machine. Lightroom mobile gives photographers access and the ability to forward their images from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection.
Work out your depth of field with f8 DoF Calculator
Image via Flickr
Older photographers often lament the demise of depth of field scales on modern lenses. There is, however, “an app for that”. f/8 DoF Calculator is a simple yet powerful DoF calculator that includes its own extensive database of camera makes and models, as well as hundreds of lenses. It will calculate not only the depth of field for a given focal length, aperture, and subject distance; but also give you the correct hyperfocal distance.
Taking f/8 DoF a step further, Photocalc allows you to work out not only depth of field, but also exposure values, flash exposure based on your flash gun’s guide number, and sunrise/sunset times. For film photographers, there is even a reciprocity calculator. In addition, there are a number of useful reference guides, such as one for the Zone System of metering.
DSLR Camera Remote
Control your camera from afar
Image via Flickr
The ability to tether our cameras to our computers has been one of the most advantageous developments of the digital age. DSLR Camera Remote adds an extra dimension to this ability. With your camera tethered to you laptop, you can now control the camera from a remote position using WiFi. Not only that, you can set focus points and adjust exposure and shooting modes, all whilst receiving live images from the camera itself. It is an ideal app for wildlife and sports photographers, amongst others.
One of the administrative nightmares for any people photographer is managing model releases. Easy Release provides model release forms that can be customized to your own requirements. For the traveling photographer, there is also a feature that translates the forms into any of 12 different languages. Your subject fills in the relevant sections on the form, and then adds their signature using the touchscreen. If any changes are required to the form, the model must sign again. Easy Release can also convert your forms to PDFs for emailing and printing.
Geotagging is a powerful way to keep track of your image locations
Image via Flickr
For travel and stock photographers, one of the hardest parts of shooting is keeping track of where you have been. PhotoTrip is a geotagging app that records your GPS location during a shoot, and then allows you to synchronize it with the timestamp data in your camera’s EXIF data. The data is saved in the open-source GPX file format, allowing you to revisit your locations on Google Earth. This in turn, greatly aids captioning and keywording images from your shoot.
This is just a small selection of the huge range of apps available for smartphones and tablets. As the majority of us will be carrying either smartphone or tablet when out and about, it makes sense to have some of these apps on our devices. Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, it does represent a good cross-section of tools that can aid our photo shoots.