Time Lapse

iPhoneography is gaining popularity and as the quality of phone cameras improves it is being taken more seriously, the video functions on phones is also very good allowing you to capture full HD footage on the device you carry with you every day.

Time lapse is performed by taking photographs at set intervals and then combining them to form a movie. Smartphones are an ideal tool for capturing time lapses with no additional equipment. By using a free or low cost app you can either use the phone to capture a series of stills or to capture and produce a video clip.

The Triggertrap App, available free for both Android and iOS can use your internal camera or with the dongle you can trigger your SLR at the required set intervals

Other apps that can capture and produce timelapse movies are iMotion HD  and Miniatures (the free version is limited to lower res 10s clips) but this can also add the tilt-shift effect to your movies, which is quite effective combined with time lapse.

One limitation of making time lapse movies is that it is difficult to pan the camera during the capture of the images without jerking. I use a small device to rotate the phone whilst the images are being captured.

With the Muvi X-Lapse the camera is slowly rotated and setting the capture rate to 1s gives a fairly smooth pan, as can be seen in the following video, which was created with Miniatures and then edited in iMovie

Photography Apps – Android

Following on from my pick of  iOS Photography Apps its time to take a look at Android apps.

I’ve applied the same criteria to my selection of Android Apps – they must be free or low cost.

DoF Calc – Free

DoF Calc


This is a free depth of field calculator that has one of the easiest and most pleasant user interfaces for this type of app. Other app developers should take note. The first step is to select your camera, thankfully you don’t need to know the exact size of sensor just select the correct manufacturer range and you’re good to go.

After that its just a case of dialling in your preferred aperture, focal length and focus distance, pay attention to the units The app then gives you the near and focus limits for your chosen values and the hyperfocal distance for your chosen aperture and focal length. This is also shown pictorially which is handy.


Exposed – Free

Exposed Screenshot

This free exposure calculator is just about as simple as it gets. Ideal for using with strong ND filters, simply meter in camera without the filter then enter the shutter speed and the filter strength in stops and the app does the rest. We even get a timer for those exposures that are longer than the camera’s pre-programmed shutter speeds. The only drawback when using this app is the lack of aperture control, a change in aperture would require you to remove the filter and meter for the new f-stop setting or work out the adjustment to the original exposure yourself which kind of defeats the purpose. Also on longer exposures if your device goes to sleep the timer alarm doesn’t go off.


Exposure Calculator – Free

Exposure Calculator Screenshot

Another free exposure calculator, this one addresses an omission from the previous calculator I looked at, however the layout of the UI is a little awkward, particularly on a tablet when the layout goes a little wonky.

Using the + and – buttons enter your metered exposure and the adjustment required. Then enter your desired ISO and aperture to calculate the shutter speed. If you have a preferred shutter speed that you want to use then you can calculate the f-stop or ISO required. This app is missing the timer function but the stopwatch or countdown timer on your device can be used instead.


PHOforPHO – Free

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This app covers most of the bases required for photographers. Once you set the Circle of Confusion (used for depth of field calculations)

The UI isn’t the prettiest but it is functional. You can start with the Hyper-focal length however the drop downs aren’t the easiest way to set the values the results are displayed clearly as text.

The Depth of Field calculator also uses the drop downs for the selection of focal length and aperture but you can type the focus point. The app then calculates the DoF and also gives the hyper-focal point.

A nice touch is the inclusion of a multiple exposure EV calculator. This is used with film cameras and gives the exposure adjustment required per frame.

The Exposure Calculator again uses the dropdowns to set ISO and aperture from your metered exposure but you can type in the shutter speed either as a fraction or a decimal (1/125 = 0.008). Then set the strength of the filter or with no filter you can simply calculate equivalent exposures. Finally set your target ISO and aperture and calculate the shutter speed. You can then send your calculated time to a timer which can also run as a service allowing very long exposure times to be set and retain the ability to be alerted even when the device goes to sleep. The timer can also be set independently.

The app also links up to Catch Notes, allowing you to easily  log notes about settings etc.  Another function that is probably less useful allows you to measure the distance from your subject to your camera, this only really works over longer distances as it uses GPS which limits its applications.


Sun Surveyor Lite – Free

Sun Surveyor Lite

If you want to know where and when the sun will set and rise along with its path then this is the app for you.

The pro version  is £4.25 and adds functionality and removes ads.

The Lite version only shows the path and times for your current location, but does allow you to change the date so that you can plan a return when the sun will set in a particular area on the horizon. The pro version gives the ability to check for different locations, which when used in conjunction with mapping sites will help you work out when to visit particular locations and also uses mapping APIs and augmented reality and adds widgets.





Photography Apps – iOS

Most of us now have a smartphone in our pocket, we sometimes even use it to take photos. We can also use it to make our life a bit easier when using a dedicated camera. I’m going to take you through a few apps that I use on my iPhone when out taking photos, all are either free or low cost, and presented in no particular order.

1. Field Tools – Free

This app calculates depth of field and hyperfocal distance for you. Just choose your camera type, set up your lenses and you’re good to go.

IMG_0767 IMG_0765 IMG_0765

By setting aperture you will be shown the hyperfocal distance or by also entering the distance to your subject you can also see your near and far points of acceptable focus.

All in a good app but the need to set up lenses is a bit of a bind – you can get round this by setting up a single lens to cover your entire available focal length and aperture ranges. It’s been updated recently so makes use of the full screen with iPhone 5. Can also be used on iPad and iPod Touch.

2. Longtime Exposure Calculator – free

This is an invaluable app, especially if you use filters on a regular basis. I tend to use this alongside my 10 Stop ND filter.


Simply meter your scene without the filter in the way that you would normally. Then select the metered exposure time in the app and dial in the strength of filter and the app will then give you the exposure time to use with your filter.

Long Time Exposure Calculator


The calculator is quick and easy to use but doesn’t yet make full use of the iPhone 5 screen size, but does work on iPad and iPod Touch. The only other omission is that there isn’t a timer built into the app, which would come in handy for those times when an exposure longer than the camera’s timer (30s in most cases) is recommended. The stopwatch built in to iOS can be used if your camera doesn’t have a Bulb timer display.

3. Golden Lite – free

Golden Lite is the cut down, ad supported but free version of a more fully featured app Golden Hour, which at £3.99 falls foul of the very low cost qualifier for inclusion here.

This app allows you to see where and when the sun will set or rise for any location. To select a different date for planning trips in advance you’ll need the full version.

The app also details times for twilight, golden hour and astronomical darkness

Golden Lite Golden Lite Golden Lite Golden Lite

Orienting your device in landscape gives an easy to read access to the key data

Golden Lite


As you can see Golden Lite hasn’t yet been updated to take advantage of the iPhone 5’s larger screen but it will work on iPad and iPod Touch.

4. Sunrise Photography Compass – £0.69

Another app that shows where the sun will set and rise. This one does let you change the date but unfortunately only gives the data for your current location. On the plus side the app presents weather conditions so you can make a decision whether to return later for sunset. The app also has a grey card (exposure) and white card (white balance) and a torch function – handy when out in the dark.

Sunrise Photography Compass Sunrise Photography Compass Sunrise Photography Compass Sunrise Photography Compass


No update for iPhone 5 yet, but works on iPod Touch and iPad.


If you are aware of any other apps that assist your photography then let me know and I’ll review them here.

I’ll do Android apps shortly.

Tilt Shift – Faking It

Guest Artilce – by Smiler

There are a few ways of getting that Tilt-Shift look. This is the way I do.

Here’s how the original image looks:


1. Usually a photo from a higher vantage point works best (photos from eye level or lower can also work but i guess it
depends on the subject you photograph)

2. Once you’ve opened the photo in Photoshop click on “quick mask mode” (‘Q’)

3. Click on the gradient tool. Make sure you use the horizontal gradient.

4. Now draw a line up wards to mark the area you want in focus this may take a bit of trial and error to get a good result. You’ll now have a red band across your image like this,

5. Click on “Edit in standard mode” (‘Q’)
The red band will disappear and you`ll now have “marching ants” round your image.

6. Next click Filter>Blur>Lens blur.
Use the following settings. You should adjust the Radius to get the most pleasing result.

When you happy with what you’ve got hit OK.

7. To give it a more model painted feel hit “Ctrl+u” and boost the saturation to what ever works well with your image
and that’s you done really.

The final image,

Model House 2 by Mister Smiler, on Flickr

As you can see I’ve given mine a wee crop and added my border and signature just to tidy it up.

Harris Shutter Effect

Harris Effect Tutorial:

1. Select 3 images, ideally taken from exactly the same position and open them in Photoshop



2. In the 1st image select the Channels palette and then select one of the channels. It doesn’t matter which channel at this point as you’ll probably try it with different combinations to get a different look Select and Copy the channel (ctrl +A then Ctrl +C)


3. Create a new file, use preset clipboard so the file is the same size as the photos your working from and make sure the mode is RGB color (Image -> Mode -> RGB color) Select the Channels palette, highlight the same channel as you copied from the original image (If you chose Red previously choose Red again here) and paste the channel (ctrl+V)

4. Now go to the next image of the 3 you initially loaded and select the channels palette. This time select one of the other channels. I picked Green and copy the channel (Ctrl+A then Ctrl+C) Go to your destination file and paste the channel into the appropriate channel as above


5. Repeat for the third image. Once the third channel has been copied and pasted view all 3 channels together by clicking on RGB in the channels palette. If the results aren’t quite what you expected try changing which channels you choose from each of the images until you get a more pleasing effect

Now all that’s left to do is to adjust the levels and saturation to achieve your final image.