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Bringing Life to Still Images on iPad Pro with Plotagraph+

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

Rockpool Sunrise

Rockpool Sunrise

A spectacular sunrise in Sydney.

The Narrabeen Rockpools are a favourite spot I like to get back to from time-to-time, and although it is a bit of a hike and an early start, it has always paid off.

Rockpool Sunrise
Rockpool Sunrise

View Rockpool Sunrise on 500px | View Rockpool Sunrise on Flickr

Affinity Photo for iOS

This image was shot yesterday (as I write this) and was downloaded from my camera to my iPad. It was processed in Affinity Photo on my iPad Pro, and uploaded to this blog, and to 500px and Flickr using the built in share extensions.

Affinity Photo is an awesomely powerful photo editor, and marks, IMHO, the first real professional grade photo editing app for iPad. I think that I am really going to love this app. Affinity Photo has all the controls and capabilities that I would expect from a powerful imaging app, including HDR merge, panos and even focus stack merging.

I also really enjoy editing on an iPad Pro. The interaction of editing on a touch screen, and using the Pencil makes for a very enjoyable experience.

The downside to the process, at the moment, is that the DAM[1] functionality is provided only by Apple’s Photos app. While a decent app in some areas, it doesn’t allow true organisation and meta-data management. The limitations of Photos is the true limiting factor for serious amateur and professional photographers.

I hope that Affinity Photo or other another app will soon step up to provide DAM functionality.

Other apps are also emerging that position iPad for excellent photo editing. I plan to blog about Plotagraph+ shortly.


  1. DAM=digital asset management.  ↩
App Support for iPad Centric Workflows

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  ↩
Trey’s Peak And Lightroom Mobile goes RAW

Trey’s Peak And Lightroom Mobile goes RAW

There have been a couple of pretty interesting photography related things happening in the last week.

Trey’s Peak

Earlier this week photographer Trey Ratcliff and photography accessory designer Peak Designs launched a kickstarter campaign for four new photography bag designs – two backpacks, a ‘tote’ bag and a sling bag.

Their goal was to achieve $500,000 to get the Kickstarter campaign off the ground, and the campaign is set to run for 60 days.

This is Peak Design’s sixth Kickstarter (and their second with Trey Ratcliff), and they smashed the records with over $1 million in committed backers in under 24 hours.

Peak Designs have developed a range of wonderful photo accessories, and have basically funded product development through Kickstarters. I believe they have never taken external investors. They are a massive example of how crowd funding can provide a different funding model.

But the lesson is that it’s not easy or automatic. Peak Designs have set about building quality products for photographers, and have gained customer loyalty by delivering a great customer experience through those products. Along the way they have gained the attention and partnership of key photographic mavens like Trey who bring their audience together with Peak’s.

An overnight sensation, five plus years in the making.

Lightroom Mobile (iOS) gets RAW

I am pretty excited about this. The iPad Pro is my tool of choice for on the go computing (and has been for years, but making it work with my photo workflow has been a big gap.

That’s changing with Adobe announcing that Version 2.4 of Lightroom Mobile supports RAW, along with other enhancements such as local adjustment tools.

Location independent photographer Elia Locardi was part of the beta testing of Lightroom Mobile version 2.4.

When I was asked to test out the new Adobe Lightroom Mobile for iOS–to see how it would hold up to my on-the-road raw processing workflow–I decided there was only one logical thing to be done to ensure success. Take the project to Greece!

Elia’s experience seems to back up the idea that this is the start of something interesting in the iOS RAW photo workflow space.

While Adobe Lightroom Mobile doesn’t contain all of the editing features of Lightroom Desktop yet, all of the most important editing features are present.

Be sure to take a look at Elia’s post where he discusses those important editing features . Also, take a look at the Lightroom Mobile for iOS video he produced on location in Greece.

Thoughts on Evolving to an iPad Only Future

Thoughts on Evolving to an iPad Only Future

I’ve discussed previously about how more and more people are going iPad only, or at least iPad Primary. People like Federico Viticci have famously gone iPad only, and educator Fraser Spiers wonders if a MacBook Pro can substitute for an iPad Pro.

More and more people are sharing their adventures and epiphanies in going iPad Only, or iPad Primary, and I thought I might share some links to some of those stories…

Drew Coffman discusses his thoughts on Living With the iPad Pro. Clearly Drew has found that the iPad Pro is the ideal computing device for his current needs:

The thing that excites me more than anything is that the iPad Pro is such a young platform. Even with its flaws, I’m still enjoying it more than any other computer I’ve ever used. There’s plenty of room for the iPad (and iOS in general) to grow—but I’m no longer using today’s technology while dreaming of tomorrow’s. I’m more than happy with what exists in the present.

Meanwhile, Khoi Vinh comes to the conclusion that he isDone with MacBooks, though not with Macs:

But now, in contrast to my iPad, my laptop seems altogether much more cumbersome than I prefer to deal with. It’s much, much heavier and bulkier than my iPad, especially when you factor in its power supply and a carrying case.

He is speaking as a designer who relies on the powerful features available in macOS, yet his conclusion is that the best place for the high-end desktop OS is on his desktop, where he can have a high-end computer…

When I think about where I’m most productive with OS X, it’s always at my desk, where I have a huge monitor.

This makes a lot of sense. No matter how good a notebook computer is, a desktop running the same OS is always going to be more powerful and more flexible.

Ben Brooks is another who has a clear view on Why iOS is Compelling

iOS is my everything place now. It’s not only always with me, but it’s always in sync with itself. What’s on my iPad is on my iPhone

Justin Blanton made a prediction on Twitter in 2011 that looks like it might be closer to the truth than fantasy…

In a recent post Justin provides an update on the evolution to iPhone-only

nearly all of my professional (and personal) consumption can be done enjoyably from my iPhone or iPad; and almost all of my professional output is channeled through either email or Messenger, also easily handled by my iOS devices.

Clearly he broadened his thinking to include tablet devices, but he is actually upping the game on his prediction – he now thinks that iPhone 8 will be the tipping point. I like that he talks about the ‘enjoyability’ factor of using an iPhone or iPad.

###Conclusion

Some of these above are going iPad Only, others are going iPad Primary (especially when mobile), and others are even moving to iPhone centric. The future of on-the-go computing is clearly going to be centred on nimble, portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

Notebook and laptop computers are far from dead, but the real place where a desktop OS like OSX or Windows delivers the greatest power will be on the desktop.

Completing The iPad Pro – The Smart Keyboard

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.  ↩
Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows PCs should not be used for Presenting

One of the best events I get to go to every couple of years is OZTeK, a conference that focuses on the science, technology and mentality of diving on the cutting edge. It’s even cooler (for me) that for the third time this year, I was one of the MCs of OZTeK.

With a variety of the world’s best speakers in diving, including the likes of Jill Heinerth, Simon Mitchell, Michael Menduno and many others, I consider OZTeK to be a TEDx of tec diving. The presenters are fantastic, and have wonderful stories to tell. As with all presentations everywhere, the quality and style of the supporting media was varied.

Consisting mostly of PowerPoint slides and some supporting video, some of the media actively supported and added to the stories, and some were neutral. Unfortunately, a small number even detracted from the presentations. What was cool was that a few presenters chose to ditch the slides altogether, and instead just spoke. They had good stories, and were clearly passionate about those stories.

I give a lot of presentations, and these days am doing more and more of them from my iPad. My MacBook Air continues, however, to be my main presentation device. What I like about presenting from the Mac is that once you’re in presentation mode in Keynote, the Mac gets out of your way. I would be loathe to use a Windows machine for presenting these days, and my experience at OZTeK only reaffirmed that. You see, Windows machines (provided by the contracted AV company I believe) were used in the conference rooms for presenting.

The biggest problem with Windows is that it is an interuptive device. Windows machines, the Windows OS and Windows applications are often attention seeking little suckers, popping up left, right and centre, craving for you to do something. Or nothing. But at least talk to it, or it will do something anyway.


On several occasions, the little popup bubble shown on the right popped its head up. This one isn’t too bad, because at least it doens’t stop the presentation running. To be fair, notifications in OSX (using Growl or Notifications Center) do much the same. In all cases, these can (and should) be turned off. Especially if you use notification centre for other things, like emails, iMessages, etc…

With Windows, however, the default setting seems to be for the system to automatically download the update (and aren’t there a lot of Windows updates) and for many of these updates to require a restart. Which it also does automatically, although at least the system is nice enough to give you a warning.

Restart coming

Problem is that it will kick you out of what you are doing – even if you are presenting. In presentation mode. You, the presenter, are talking away and start to notice some of your audience giggling. You turn and see the screen. You rush over to hit the “Restart Later” button, because it seems that mostly you have 60 seconds to do so.

Presentation machines – Windows, OSX or even iPads – need to be setup so that once in presentation mode all notifications are automatically blocked from popping up and interupting. And they should never be allowed to kick you out of what you are doing.

With Mac OSX and iOS devices, turning off notifications is quite easy. With Windows, the interuptiveness is deeply embedded in the architecture. It is possible to turn things off, but (in my experience) the process is like the little boy plugging the holes of the dam with his fingers. After plugging 10 holes, things get interesting. And there’s always another hole.

So, as a presenter, I would suggest that you present from a device that allows you to turn off all interuptions. Of course, some notifications might be exceptions – you would want to know if you’ve got a critical battery issue, and you and your audience might want to know if the Centers for Disease Control announce a zombie outbreak.

In my opinion, Windows PC’s are not the right device to present from.

Concussion diagnosis: There’s an app for that

Concussion diagnosis: There’s an app for that

The whole quantified self movement gains momentum with every new app and gadget that allows us to track our own health and that of others. Via Gizmodo Australia comes news that scientists have now found a way of diagnosing concussion in sports players:

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a voice-recognition iPad app that listens for signs of a brain injury in someone’s speech, providing an almost instant diagnosis

As an instructor of a contact activity[1] I can see that it would be very useful to be able to quickly make such a diagnosis. At this stage, it seems that the app requires each player to be baselined before a match, and it will be interesting to see if one day the technology expands to cover non-baselined individuals.


  1. I teach Shorinjiryu Koshinkai karate at the Kengokan Dojo in Sydney  ↩

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

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)!

My iPad On The Go Setup

My iPad On The Go Setup

Anyone who has ever seen a scuba diver knows that diving is an activity that is intensely reliant on equipment. As a scuba instructor-trainer, I know that there is an important rule of thumb in how much gear to carry on any given dive – as much as you need and as little as you can get away with! I generally don’t need twin large tanks for a shallow reef dive, but these are a necessity when doing a “tec dive” to 50m.
When using a minimalist productivity solution – like iPad – this rule of thumb is equally important. It’s easy to forego a laptop computer, and then find yourself carrying around so much stuff that you lose most of the benefits of minimalism but you also need to make sure you’ve got what you need.

As part of my iPads of March challenge to test whether an iPad is a sufficient device for conducting my on-the-go activities, I thought it would be good for me to share my on-the-go setup.

Starting with the core, I use a iPad (3rd generation) with WiFi+Cellular and 64GB. I always max out the memory, as I store a lot of video content, and increasingly use my iPad for presentations. Although I could get away with a WiFi only model, and use Personal Hotspot on my iPhone or other available WiFi, I find that when traveling internationally not all carriers support personal hotspot, and WiFi in hotels and conference venues is often “spotty”.

When going with just the iPad, I use a Coocoon Gramercy messenger sling. This bag has room for my iPad, number of accessories organised with the included “GRID-IT” organisation system (pictured) and a small notepad (I generally carry a Moleskine for note taking). The size of this sling case prompts me to not carry unnecessary items around.

In the GRID-IT, I carry a number of accessories that I might need, including:

  • Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I used to carry around an Apple Bluetooth keyboard in a Origami case, but the Logitech gives me a smaller profile option with overall less to carry around.
  • Mophie juice pack power station: although iPad generally gives me enough battery for a pretty intensive day of on-the-go work, you should always carry backup power. To be honest, I use this more often for my iPhone
  • Apple display connectors to connect to a screen or projector using HDMI or VGA
  • Apple camera connection kit (USB and SD)
  • Apple earPods
  • XtremeMac 2n1 stylus pen. Although I am not a big user of stylii, I love pens, and it’s occasionally handy to have a stylus at hand.
  • A small microfibre cloth

That’s pretty much it. I’ll be heading out shortly for a day of meetings and this is precisely the kit I’ll be carrying. Probably won’t use the display adapters or camera connection bits today, but they’re always handy to have on hand.

Now you know what I carry as an on-the-go setup for iPad for meetings, and general work out and about. I have additional items when traveling away from home, or when presenting or conducting training, and will cover these later in a separate post – remembering that we carry as much as we need, and as little as we can get away with.

iPads of March 2013

iPads of March 2013

My iPad main screenIn March 2012 I decided to go for a month using my iPad as my primary on-the-go device – a month I called iPads of March. My iMac in my home/office continued to be my “heavy-lifting” device for processing images/videos, building presentations, text formatting for some manuscripts I was working on and for accounting activities for my business. But I used the iPad for pretty much everything else – including researching, writing, email, task management, presentations, etc.

I wanted to test the idea that iPad is approaching the point when it could be a primary on-the-go device for a power-user like me. For content production as well as consumption.

Of course, where iPad leads others follow, so I know that when iPad reaches that point, we consumers will have a range of iOS, Android, Windows and other devices to help us do our work and live our lives.

I chose March last year for a couple of reasons – it was the month that the 3rd generation iPad was to be launched, but it was also a month in which I had no scuba instructor courses scheduled, as these courses are intensive on my workflows and technology (multimedia rich presentations and lots and lots of paperwork).

My findings were interesting. I found that my iPad could easily handle 90% of my on-the-go work that my MacBook Air would normally perform. In fact, there were three main things that were missing that would be a show-stopper for using the iPad as my primary device.

  1. Multimedia presentations using Keynote were (and continue to be) awkward and crappy. Many of my Keynote presentations have embedded media, and getting these into Keynote for iOS is cumbersome and results in significant quality reduction of the videos.
  2. Document scanning to PDF is pretty awful. I don’t mean low volume stuff using the iPad camera, but piles of multipage documents. I need to keep records of lots of paperwork, and to date I have not found a workable solution that approaches my NeatReceipts scanner for scanning out and about. When I am in town, I can do my scanning at home on my trusty Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500M.
  3. Business accounting software. My accountant wants me to use MYOB. I have the FirstEdge software for OSX, and there is no iOS application support.

In 2013, things are changing. While Keynote has not improved media handling as yet, there are other web/app based solutions that I am exploring. For scanning, the introduction of the iOS capabilities into the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 suggests that future versions of their mobile scanners will do the same. For financial accounting, I might upgrade to a package that would allow mobile integration. Or just live with the fact that I do my finances only from the home office.

March 2013 presents itself as another month with no scheduled courses that require rich multimedia, though I have some other courses/presentations that will allow me to test some concepts. My MacBook Air is in with the Genius Bar folks for repair, so it seems to me that I have once again the opportunity to use the iPad as my main on-the-go device. I am going to focus on making presentations work on the iPad, as scanning is on the horizon.

I’ll make two quick predictions and see how they turn out.

  1. The iPad will have made giant strides, and will be close the gap on becoming my primary on-the-go device
  2. There will be no new iPad launched in March

Keep an eye on djp.me/ides/ to see my posts tagged about my iPads of March 2013 experiences.