If you didn’t already know, aside from running TechHog.com, I’m also a Semi-Pro Photographer (you can see some of my work at mwewerka.tumblr.com) and I love to share my photos, and in some cases, how I take my photos, with friends and curious like-minded photographers. While I tend to answer most of these questions either in person or via my other site, I thought I’d take to TechHog to answer some more specific—and relevant—questions, like which apps I use. With smartphones now providing some amazing apps and services, it’s only natural that photographers have begun to use either an iPhone or Android device as a companion to their camera, lenses, flash and tripod.
Obviously, a camera and glass (aka Lens) are going to be your main tools, but there are some apps that can make your life much, much easier. While I carry both an iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, I’ve decide to focus this post specifically for Apple’s iPhone 5. I did this because I tend to use the iPhone more when I’m out shooting and simply because there are more apps available, specifically for what I need and do. That’s not to say there aren’t any Android alternatives, I just haven’t found any I like as much as what’s on the iPhone.
1.) Rise – Rise is an app that keeps tabs on sunrise and sunset times, as well as simple weather updates and alerts. Because I love shooting landscapes with gorgeous sunsets (or sunrises), this app is absolutely essential. You can visually see when the sun will first appear and when it’s gone. It’s a free app, so you have no reason not to download it and it also has a beautiful interface to boot.
2.) Easy Release – Sometimes when you’re out shooting, you run into a person who can either make or break your photograph. If a person absolutely makes your image and you know it’s a keeper and you’re going to want to either sell it or use it for a stock image, you need to have that person sign a model release form. You could print some up and carry them, a pen and clipboard around with you, but you never know if and when you’re going to need them. With Easy Release, you can make up your forms and have a person sign it right on your iPhone or iPad, something you’ll likely have on you all the time. The app is pricey at $9.99, but since model release forms are mandatory when shooting people, you’d be smart to invest in this little app.
3.) Yahoo Weather (or any weather app) – Like with Rise, before you pack all your gear up and head out the door, it’s smart to check the weather first. With Yahoo’s newly redesigned weather app, you not only get all the info you need like hourly forecasts and Doplar maps (to see how large a storm or rain cloud you’re going to get), you also get an easy to useand slick looking interface. Best part, it’s free! Take advantage of the hourly forecasts, as the weather can be pretty unpredictable.
4.) Clear – Depending on what you’re shooting, you may need a wide variety of things, from a tripod, shutter release cable, filters, a wide-angle or macro lens. There’s a lot we need to take with us, which is why I try to pack up hours before I leave, if not the night before. It’s smart to make a list of things and the best list app I’ve used is Clear. Sure Clear costs $1.99 and there are plenty of free alternatives—which you can absolutely use—but I love how Clear looks and works. It’s so simple and easy and it also syncs with iCloud and works with the Mac client, putting your “list” in both places.
5.) Stuck on Earth (iPad) – This is an awesome app that makes traveling with your camera equipment even easier. No longer do you have to lug your stuff around “searching” for a great place to take pictures. With Stuck on Earth, you can find places no matter where you go, even at home, that have already been found by other users. Using the “crowdsourcing” method, other photographers, travelers or explorers can “tag” places that they think are amazing places (ie. to take pictures). This is another free app, but only works on the iPad.
6.) Pocket Light Meter – If you’re a seasoned photographer or someone who knows a little more about the field, you’ve either used or heard about light meters. With Pocket Light Meter, you can use your iPhone to replace expensive—yet necessary—equipment. Simply point your iPhone’s camera at an object to get a light reading, input those settings on your camera and boom, you’ll get the perfect shot (or close to it.). This is another free app and a must have. If you’re just learning how to take photos, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, this app will take out a lot of guess work and just leave you with great looking pictures.
If you’re really into photography, you already know it’s not a cheap hobby or profession, so the fact that there are some paid apps on this list (only 2 of 6) shouldn’t really be all that surprising. That being said, these are some great apps that will surely make your life and photos that much greater! If you have any suggestions or have questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email me a question at mike @ techhog.com.