Bringing Life to Still Images on iPad Pro with Plotagraph+

My passion is still photography – capturing wonderful landscapes, seascape, underwater and travel scenes is what inspires my photography. I have put together some short videos (mostly timelapse), but the truth of it is that still images grab me, and the challenge of creating an image that tells a story in the sort time a shutter is open is motivating.

Movement, however, catches the eye, and although a good still image can imply movement there are a number of emerging methods of bringing life to still images.

Since the middle of last year I have been Playing around with Plotagraph Pro as a way of bringing some animation to still images. I like the results, and Plotagraph Pro in that time has come out of beta, introduced new pricing tiers (including a free one) and started to rollout social sharing features.

The Plotagraphs website features some very impressive examples of Plotagraphs (Plotagraphy??) by some very talented image makers.

Recently the Plotagraph team, with the support of image makers like Trey Ratcliff, has released an iOS app called Plotagraph + which brings the functionality to mobile devices[1]. Alongside Affinity Photo for iPad this app is truly positioning the iPad Pro at the core of my on-the-go photo workflow.

I created this Plotagraph in a few short minutes on the iPad on Sunday afternoon.

Red Sky Blue Pools from Des Paroz on Vimeo.

The image below shows the edits I made to the original image

Plotagraph+ edits in progress on iPad
Plotagraph+ edits in progress on iPad

Essentially the green-dots-leading-to-red-dashed-lines-to-blue-arrowheads are what I set for the direction and speed of movement, and the red dots near the horizon are anchor points that prevent movement beyond them.

Plotagraph+ Pros

  • Easy (very easy) to use.
  • Easy output to video and animated PNG formats.
  • Price effective.

Plotagraph+ Cons

  • No output to animated GIF for simple sharing[2].
  • App crashes if you try to load a RAW file[3].
  • Only sharing option is through Photos. I'd love to be able to share to Dropbox or other galleries (such as Plotagraphs.com) more directly.

Final Thoughts

I love this app, and the promise it provides for a fun and easy way to give life to images. Like HDR[4] Plotagraphs will likely allow image makers to express their worldview in their own art, and of course beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. A lot of Plotagraphs will be good, some will be great and some will have faces that only the owner could love.

For me, a relatively small portion of my images will be Plotagraphs, but I will have fun creating and sharing some when it suits the image and the story I am trying to tell with it.

For more info on Plotagraph+ take a look at this video by Trey Ratcliff

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App Support for iPad Centric Workflows

Its been some two years since Apple announced iOS 9, complete with iPad split screen and other multitasking functionality.

My iPads Pro are a key part of my writing, productivity and increasingly, photography, workflow. This is even more the case since the announcement of iOS 11, and all the incredible new iPad Pro centric enhancements.

Most of the apps I use on a daily basis to support my workflows have embraced and support iOS multitasking, including the split screen functionality. These apps include:

  • Bear
  • Byword
  • Draftsd
  • iBooks
  • Lightroom
  • Medium
  • Micro.blog[1]
  • OmniFocus[2]
  • ProtonMail
  • Reeder
  • Slack
  • Spark Mail[3]
  • The Photographers Ephemeris
  • Timepage
  • Tweetbot
  • Ulysses
  • V for Wikipedia
  • 500px

The list of apps that have refused to provide support for iPad Pro users is, fortunately, much shorter.

  • Affinity Photo
  • Flickr
  • Kindle
  • Pocket

I can kind of forgive Affinity as its quite a new app, and in the photography editing space which kind of develops a whole screen mentality.

But Kindle and Pocket are core reading/research/writing workflow apps. To be core to these types of workflows, the apps need to support iPad Pro type functionality.

Kindle holds a near monopoly, but Pocket has competition. I can’t help but wonder whats holding them back.

Doing this personal analysis of the core apps in my workflows it is pretty pleasing to see that most apps are well positioned to support the growing importance of iPad in a mobile lifestyle. And it is pretty telling to me that at some point I will need to make a call about apps that don’t support my workflows…


  1. Which was only released today.  ↩
  2. And I am pretty sure most other Omni apps  ↩
  3. And other apps from Readdle  ↩
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A thought in reply to: iPad Pro for Photography

I look forward to iPad Pro being a core tool in my photography workflow.

The things that will be the tipping point for me are:

  1. Good DAM (digital asset management) apps for iOS. Lightroom is getting there, a Photos is ok, but we shall see where things go.
  2. MacPhun Luminar or similar apps with really intuitive editing.
  3. Easy import of images from a camera (not every photo is made on an iPhone)…

Airpods FTW

When I saw the Apple Airpods announced alongside the iPhone 7 I thought they looked interesting, but was a bit skeptical that they would be impractical for my workout needs. Like many, I was worried that they would drop out of my ears easily during a workout.

When it was clear that they would be delayed I decided to get the Powerbeats3 wireless headphones, partly because they were available, but mostly because I was fairly sure they would be better suited to use during exercise.

Turns out that the Beats headphones died within a few weeks – first the volume buttone stopped working, then the cetre button to start/stop/answer phone calls, and finally the power button died. Based on my experience:

Powerbeats = no power and no beats.

in mid-December I heard mention on several podcasts that the Airpods were released and there would be some availability pre-Christmas. On a whim I took a look at the Apple Australia website and there they were available – so I ordered a pair and they were delivered to me at home spot on time on 19 December[1].

The Airpods are brilliant. They are simply the best wireless in-ear style headphones I’ve used.

Pairing

Like other recently released Apple bluetooth peripherals, the pairing process on these is brilliant. Open the Airpod case, ensure the iPhone (or other device) is unlocked and the pairing screen should pop up.

There’s not much further to say, because it was the simplest and most straightforward device pairing I’ve experienced[2].

As a bonus, once the pairing was completed with one device, every other Apple device connected to the same Apple ID is also paired[3].

General Use

I’ve used the Airpods now for a week, and love them. I have used them walking to/from work, shopping, out making photos and even on a plane[4]. I have also used them exercising, but will talk more about that in a moment.

They fit comfortably[5], and for normal use I have no fear that they will bounce out.

When I first unboxed the Airpods my wife immediately stressed that it was important I keep them in their case – she was right from the point of view of not losing them, as well as from the perspective of the case being they way the Airpods are charged.

I saw a Daring Fireball post where John Gruber talked about David Pogues’ comment that rather than being concerned about the Airpods falling out of year, the greater concern is dropping them “between their two homes: the case and your earholes”.

I concur.

This is a big advantage of having to have the case whereever you take the Airpods – they can easily be returned to their home. I would suggest that the suggestions by my wife, Gruber and Pogue converge on the same point:

Airpods have two natural states – in your ears or in their case.

I love the feature where removing an Airpod from the ear pauses the playback, and replacing the Airpod resumes it. A simple one step process.

Double tapping either Airpod brings up Siri. So far I haven’t been able to get Siri to reduce or increase volume. Its a useful feature for making calls, but some sort of ‘offline Siri’ for adjusting volume, rewinding, etc, would be great.

I am not an audiophile, so can only say that the Airpods deliver a quality of sound for music, podcasts and audio books that I am very happy with. FWIW, they sound a little better to me than the Powerbeats3[6].

Use During Exercise

This is where I have been blown away – Airpods stay in my ears, even when running or when doing HIIT routines that include skipping ropes and other exercises.

There’s not a lot else to say. Airpods deliver quality sound while staying snugly in place during most exerise routines.

I generally get a reasonable sweat up during my routines, so will be interested to see how that will effect the Airpods in time[7].

Battery Life

Very good. I haven’t pushed any limits on the Airpods or their case, but so far I have reason to doubt the 5 hours for the actual Airpods and the 24 hours for the case that Apple claims.

What I have observed is that popping one/both Airpods back in the case for 15 minutes is very effective in bringing up the charge levels.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Airpods, and am happy using them.

For future iterations, I’d love to see some way of adjusting voume that doesn’t rely on Siri (at least the current version of Siri that needs a web connection), and I’d love some sort of feature that allowed you to find a dropped Airpod.

Other than that, they’re a device I would be happy to recommend to anyone needing wireless earphones that are simple to use and reliable for a range of uses.

 

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Completing The iPad Pro – The Smart Keyboard

I ordered my iPad Pro just over two weeks ago – and it arrived here in Darwin just two days later.

At the same time I considered purchasing the Smart Keyboard, but the expected delivery was 4–5 weeks, so I decided to wait and see what other options would come onto the market. I ordered a Smart Cover instead, which shipped the same day, but was sent separately and arrived five days later!

When it arrived the smart cover had been damaged in the mail, so I called Apple who have refunded the cover, and then decided to go and look locally at a couple of retailers[1] who had the cover in stock. Arriving at JB Hi Fi at Berrimah, I was surprised to find that they had a half dozen Smart Keyboards in stock[2]. I decided to purchase one, and am really glad that I did.

Having been a happy user of Logitech keyboards[3] for previous iPads I had grown used to the extra row of iOS specific keys for navigation (home, app switch), search and system contols (volume, brightness, etc), and was concerned that not having these would somehow limit my experience. Similarly I was concerned that the extra bulk and weight might diminish the utility of the Smart Keyboard.

I’ve been using the Smart Keyboard for about a week now, and love it. It makes the iPad Pro experience one that it both versatile and complete. The iPad Pro combined with the Smart Keyboard is a notebook computer alternative that will work for me[4].

It is still only a week, so I am sure my opinion will evolve, but here are my current thoughts on the Smart Keyboard.

  • The convenience of the integrated keyboard with a Smart Cover is outstanding.
  • The experience of the built in pairing is excellent. Plug and go in real life.
  • The integrated charging/powering from the iPad Pro battery is excellent. One less charger to worry about.
  • The lack of the extra row of iOS specific function keys has not turned out to be an issue for me. I like the app-specific smart key approach, and look forward to more app developers[5] building in support for these. That CMD+Space brings up Spotlight (search) and CMD+Tab brings up an app switcher is a great experience as there is consistency with
  • Any additional bulk/weight is negligible when compared with the standard Smart Cover for the iPad Pro[6].
  • Proportionally the addition of the Smart Keyboard adds less bulk/weight to the iPad Pro than a keyboard case like the Logitech Ultrathin does to an iPad Air[7].
  • I’d like backlighting, but not at the expense of extra size/bulk, so I think a happy medium has been reached.

My thoughts are along the same lines as the Initial Thoughts on the Apple iPad Pro Keyboard by MacSparky, who said

…the Apple keyboard has the right amount of balance between minimal profile and working keyboard that I think it is the keeper for me.

All in all, I am really happy with the Smart Keyboard so far. It is an awesome match with the iPad Pro, and I am keeping the Smart Keyboard on 24–7 as a cover with an integrated keyboard[8].

My iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard


  1. There is no Apple Store within 2,500km of Darwin, but the local JB HiFi and Harvey Norman stores have good Apple stocks.  ↩
  2. They also had Pencils in stock. As at 24 Dec 15, the Apple Online store is showing 4–5 weeks wait for the Pencil and 3–4 weeks for the Smart Keyboard. Harvey Norman had 13 Pencils & 12 Smart Keyboards on display that day.  ↩
  3. Both the Ultrathin keyboard/cover and Keys-to-Go keyboards  ↩
  4. For several years the month of March has been my iPads of March experiment where I’ve attempted to use only an iPad (and iPhone of course) as my on-the-go device, coupling these with a desktop at home (iMac) or work (generally a PC). Each year the iPad has gotten closer to the goal, but the iPad Pro realises it for me.  ↩
  5. Looking at you, Byword.  ↩
  6. Especially noting that the iPad Pro is already a larger device.  ↩
  7. I haven’t seen any of the third party keyboards for the iPad Pro in the wild yet, so can’t comment on those.  ↩
  8. I have subsequently been able to take a look at the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro. While it is a nice piece of kit with the function keys and backlighting, it is bulkier, and I honestly could not imagine using it as a permanent cover.  ↩

Around the Web for 16 Dec 15

I’ve been enjoying working and playing on the iPad Pro. It feels like the start of something new…

Checking in with the iPad Pro — MacSparky

I’m going to keep writing about this jumbo iPad as I use and wrap my head around it more. If you want something portable, this is definitely not the device for you. However for getting work done on an iOS device, the iPad Pro is pretty special.

Review: The iPad Pro is a line in the sand — 512 Pixels

The iPad isn’t going away, and if the iPad Pro has anything to say about it, all of us — even people who prefer the Mac — are going to be using tablets for work more and more.

And OS9.2 brings the power of 1Password to many more apps…

AgileBits Blog | iOS 9.2 adds 1Password to many new apps

Finally I returned home and was able to verify the amazing news: the 1Password App Extension API will simply appear in all Safari View Controllers in any app!

Day One for iOS gets a huge update with PDF export and more

Day One appOne of my absolute most used apps is the journalling app Day One, available for iOS and OSX. The iOS version this week received a major update, going to version 1.10, where the ability to export entries (single or a range) to a PDF file was introduced.

This is a terrific enhancement that allows the user to extract key data, perhaps sorted by tag (introduced last year to the iOS version) to a standalone PDF document, or perhaps to a PDF document that might then be stored in a system such as Evernote or DEVONthink.

Other updates include:

  • Custom date range- Tag filtering
  • Send PDF to iBooks, Dropbox and other apps
  • Export will run in background
  • Quick single entry export via Send menu
  • Historical weather increased from 3 days to 30 days
  • New reminder sound
  • Added Sanchez font option
  • Improved header and HTML styling

I love the direct Day One is taking, and look forward to these updates (and previous ones like tagging and geo-location) being introduced to the OSX version, soon (please)!

Shifty Jelly on building for Android first

Russell Ivanovic of Australia’s Shifty Jelly (developer of my favourite weather app for iOS and OSX) talk about why they developed an Android version of their Pocket Casts 4 app before an iOS version.

There’s no reason not to launch on Android first or iOS first in 2013. Both are massively viable platforms full of users who want to pay for great apps.

This is a mature and reasonable decision for an app developer. Focusing limited resources is critical, and it makes a lot of sense.

I think it also makes sense based on competition. As Russell stated, the Android version has been a bigger seller and more profitable product for them, and there is no native app in the class. I also suspect that relatively few developers are developing "Android first" (for now), so there is an opportunity for them.

I am a committed iOS user, and will be for the foreseeable future. But I’ve made platform shifts in the past, and can say that what makes sense for everyone – developers and users – is to choose the platform that provides you with the most value.

From: Shifty Jelly’s blog of mystery