Balloon Rally

This is first of what we hope to make a regular feature here on our blog. We field many really interesting queries from users and potential users of Photosmith – sharing these questions and answers will only benefit the wider Photosmith community (and might even cut down on the number of duplicate questions we receive :)  )

To get in touch with our Support Team*, please visit http://support.photosmithapp.com – we’re currently a little behind on our queue, and responses are taking a bit longer than usual while we give each email individual attention.

*our support “team” consists of one person, so please be patient. We’re also happy to answer quick questions via Twitter, @photosmithapp.


Lenin Ramirez-Sanchez sent a number of really great questions this week – here are his questions and my answers — Mike Wren

If I use the Camera Connection Kit, can I import directly into Photosmith (i.e bypassing Camera Roll)? I know when [Photosmith] was just released this could not be done, just wondering if that’s still the case?

When importing photos to iPad using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK), the only possible destination is the Camera Roll – This is an Apple-imposed limitation. This means that you can not import photos directly from an SD memory card or wired using a USB cable directly into Photosmith’s catalog.

We have very strong opinions about this annoying restriction, which is why we encourage the use of Eye-Fi wireless cards or FTP as the preferred method of getting photos directly into Photosmith’s catalog (bypassing Camera Roll) in an iPad first (field triage) workflow. Until Apple modifies its policies regarding access to the 30 pin/lightening port on the bottom of iPad, our hands are tied. Third-party apps like Photosmith currently cannot communicate with the USB dock connector. This is also why sync with Lightroom must occur through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and not wired via USB.

[My] camera is Wi-Fi capable and it’s also compatible with Eye-Fi (per their support page). Do I need to buy Eye-Fi cards to take advantage of the direct connectivity your App has with that technology or just by been in the same Wi-Fi network as the camera is enough for Photosmith to download the images directly from the camera?

Photosmith currently supports wireless photo import using two methods: Eye-Fi (Mobi and X2) Wi-Fi enabled SDHC memory cards, and FTP-based wireless camera adapters, like the Canon WFT-E4 and Nikon WT-4A. We are looking into adding support for other wireless import options in future versions of Photosmith – watch our blog for progress updates.

Any recommended set up / configuration options for the Sony A7?

I haven’t personally used the Sony A7, and can’t vouch for how well it integrates with Photosmith. That said, it appears there shouldn’t be any “gotchas” when using it with Photosmith in an iPad first workflow.

When looking for potential compatibility issues, the first thing I check is if it plays nice with Eye-Fi, and it appears the Sony A7 has no known issues, according to Eye-Fi. In that case, I suggest purchasing a 32GB Eye-Fi card, and configuring the A7 to write camera RAW+JPG files to the card. The Mobi will only send the JPG wirelessly to Photosmith, which is perfect. Keyword tag, star rate, and add other metadata to the JPG’s in Photosmith, then when you get back to your Mac or PC with Lightroom, import the camera raw files from the Eye-Fi card into Lightroom via a card reader as you normally would.

Then, when you first sync Photosmith with Lightroom, all your metadata added in Photosmith will transfer to the corresponding camera raw photos in Lightroom. We call this a proxy JPG workflow, and it works amazingly well – there’s no manual intervention required to match the camera raw files in Lightroom to the proxy JPG’s in Photosmith!

Proxy JPG workflow can really save a lot of time – In my day job as an event photographer, I use proxy JPG as a means of making quick picks and rejects and adding star ratings while still in the field.  This is called field triage. If I have an extended period of downtime, I may even get to work on keyword tagging or caption writing. This works well because when I get back to the studio, after importing the camera raws into Lightroom, a quick sync will transfer all my metadata from Photosmith to Lightroom. With most or all of the culling, star rating, and keywording out of the way, I can then jump right into Develop module in Lightroom and get to work.

Photosmith allows me to leverage what would otherwise be downtime in the field, getting the culling and tagging out of the way, so I can immediately start Develop module work in Lightroom, when I’m back in the studio on a much larger color-calibrated screen.

Is the app going to be updated for iOS any time soon?. If so, what’s the estimated release date/month?

Yes, we’re working on an iOS7 interface overhaul, along with a bunch of other surprises that we’re ridiculously excited about. Our plans requires a lot of extra effort from everyone on our team – and is part of the reason why we’re a little bit behind on answering support tickets the past few months. As for estimated release timeline – the next version will be released when it’s ready… and not a moment sooner. We are in a very unique position of not having to answer to shareholders or investors, and aren’t under artificial pressure to ship new versions on specific dates.

Are there plans to support Sandisk Wireless Media Connect drives?. They are the perfect accessory for an iPad + Photosmith workflow.

As we recently discovered from Sandisk, they’ve chosen to not allow developers read/write access to their hardware.

However, it’s actually worse than that – Like Eye-Fi’s native iOS app, SanDisk’s iOS app changes the camera-generated filename when saving photos from the Sandisk Wireless Media Connect to iPad’s Camera Roll. This means photos will have a completely different filename than the one assigned by the camera. This makes the Sandisk Wireless Media Connect drive completely unsuitable for Photosmith’s proxy JPG workflow.

Until Sandisk decides to allow open access for reading and writing to their Wireless Media Connect dive, or they fix their app to not clobber filenames, there’s unfortunately not a lot we can do.

Posted in: Current Progress, Design, Development, From the Support Desk, Musings | Comments Off


IMG_1938The snow continues to fall in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, but despite outward appearances, we’re not in hibernation – The past few months have been extremely productive for Photosmith. Winter (especially this season!) is a great time to stay indoors and continue work on refining what has become the daily go-to mobile photography workflow and organization solution for many thousands of amateur and professional photographers. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive very encouraging emails, Tweets and Facebook messages from enthusiastic users –  We love discussing photography and workflow, and feel fortunate every day to have such a wonderful user community behind us.

Our most recent development efforts are focused on making the next version of our iPad app and Lightroom plugin really special – refining existing functionality and carefully adding new features that will continue to set us apart from other mobile organization solutions, both today and in the future.  Of course, pouring on this extra work behind the scenes put us a little behind with blog posts, we plan to make up for lost time.

Over the next few weeks, we will become much more chatty here on our blog, and over on Twitter (@photosmithapp) and Facebook (facebook.com/photosmith) as we discuss the long list of new and refined features in Photosmith for iPad and the Photosmith plugin for Lightroom, and the myriad of bugs addressed in version 3.1. We’ll also begin posting weekly Photosmith and Lightroom tips and tricks. We’re just as passionate about photography as you are!  We will also address recent industry rumors, and talk about why we’re just as excited as everyone else is to have some major players validate the iPad as a photography workflow tool for the professional and advanced amateur.

Current Status

Final testing of Photosmith 3.1 wrapped up late last week, and we’re really excited to share the results of our many late nights and long weekends with everyone. For those keeping score at home, this puts us on track for release this week!

New and improved in Photosmith 3.1:

In-app Camera Raw Rendering

Camera Raw Import Settings

As we previously mentioned, photographers will be able to render over 25 different camera raw formats from hundreds of different cameras, right on your iPad in Photosmith! This is a big deal for folks with cameras that use raw formats which can’t be viewed directly on iPad using Apple’s Photos.app (Hello, DNG? And many FujiFilm RAF files, for example), and for raw formats that don’t contain a full-resolution JPG preview, like Sony ARW.  Leica users will be thrilled to finally have the ability to see full-resolution DNG files right on their iPad!

We’re still conducting comprehensive speed and compatibility testing against other iOS camera raw processing, but it appears Photosmith is best in class for speed: With an iPad Mini Retina (A7 processor), massive 38 megapixel Nikon D800 NEF files render in under 15 seconds!  Canon 5D Mark III CR2′s render in under 10 seconds. On the iPad Air, camera raw rendering is is even faster.

For many photographers, camera raw rendering right on iPad will be a real game-changer, as this will be the first time they can view full-resolution raw photos on iPad, without first converting to JPG in camera or computer.  And to render raw files in batch, automatically creating sized thumbnails for rapid Grid View and full-screen viewing… this is a huge step for not just Photosmith, but mobile digital photography.

Of course, Photosmith is smart enough to know if a camera raw file contains a full-resolution JPG preview, and will optionally use that if you prefer to speed things along. This means D800, 5D Mark III and other camera raw formats that contain full-res previews will import into Photosmith’s catalog in under 2 seconds each – import speeds that rival even Lightroom!

This is just the start of our adventures in image processing – We’re incredibly excited about what our camera raw rendering engine will mean for the future of Photosmith.

Smarter Lightroom Sync

New in Photosmith 3.1 is a dashboard-like Lightroom sync overview, right in the iPad app. At glance, see the sync status of all your User Collections in one place – and optionally choose one (or more) User Collections to sync by tapping a single button. Yup, more than one User Collection can be synced at once, and all right from your iPad, including metadata conflict resolution.  For photographers managing many User Collections and wishing to manage Lightroom syncs while not sitting in front of their Lightroom computer, this will be a real timesaver.

We are also performing a quick audit of metadata changes in both Photosmith and Lightroom, and you can choose, prior to starting the sync, if you want to use Photosmith’s or Lightroom’s metadata in the event of a metadata conflict. This will be a big win for folks that prefer to start a long before going to bed, so that Photosmith is ready to use during the morning commute on the train.

Better Stability

We logged over 300 “items of improvement” over the past three months – and confirmed that those issues have been fixed.  Have we mentioned lately that Photosmith is a nights and weekend project undertaken by a very small team of guys spread over three timezones?

With stability comes a couple of hurdles, which we will talk about later today on our blog.  The update for Photosmith’s Lightroom plugin will need to be updated in a certain way, and Publish Services will need to be re-saved.  This is a one-time thing, and will take less than 20 seconds, but it’s important that this update happens so that you will see our increased sync stability and new features (and bug fixes).

Thank you!

Finally, a heart-felt thank you to our incredibly supportive user community! We view your purchase as not only an investment in the future of the Photosmith app, but in independant app development. Over the coming months, we’ll talk about lessons we’ve learned over the past three years of iOS app development, as well as stories from our users: How and where they use Photosmith, unique workflow solutions, and tips and tricks. Again, it’s the user interaction and engagement which helps to validate our strong belief that iPad is a wonderful organizational tool in the arsenal of the mobile digital photographer.

We also want to thank Claudio Emmrich for helping us to identify some sync-related issues that have been plaguing us the past few versions.

2014 is already shaping up to be a great year for Photosmith… and we’re just getting started! :)

Posted in: Current Progress, Design, Development, Marketing | 1 Comment


[This post is part our ongoing series introducing Photosmith 2 which will be a free update for all users]

Previously we’ve looked at  Grid and Loupe views as well as Tagging sidebar and QuickTag bar and keywording.  Today, it’s Fullscreen on the menu.

04 Fullscreen Filmstrip

Fullscreen Mode

Use Fullscreen when you want to see your photo it all it’s glory (the Retina screen really does shine in this respect) and with a minimum of distraction.  The QuickTag bar is still available and now offers an auto-advance mode that allows you to really rip through tagging photos in a hurry.  This mode is really fantastic for that first pass when you’re trying to weed a set down to just the keepers.

Filmstrip
By dragging up the QuickTag bar while in Loupe & Fullscreen you can see the filmstrip view.  In the filmstrip you can still see the photo’s color and star rating and the current image is clearly indicated.  It also auto-scrolls to keep pace with the Loupe view so you don’t get lost.

 

[Hopefully, this is our last post before announcing the final release date.  The app has been uploaded to Apple and is under review. We should be only a few days away now.]

 

Posted in: Design | 4 Comments


[This post is part our ongoing series introducing Photosmith 2 which will be a free update for all users]

Previously we’ve looked at Grid and the Tagging sidebar and QuickTag bar.  Today we’re going to explore Loupe view and Keywording.

Loupe View

Loupe allows you to see your photos as large as possible and still have access to all of the regular controls.  You have the full sidebar available as well as the QuickTag bar and it’s drawer.  In Loupe & Fullscreen views the drawer is now a filmstrip enabling you to quickly switch between photos in the current collection.

Loupe Header bar
Above the photo area you also have a photo header bar with the full EXIF information of the current photo and a histogram.  The header bar can be toggled between the full data and a simple less-distracting view by just tapping on it.

Histogram
Likewise, the histogram can alternate between 3-color RGB and Luminance modes just by tapping on it.  You can see a few more screenshots of histograms here.

Keywords

The keywording panel opens when you tap on the Keywords field in the normal Tagging sidebar.  The left pane shows the currently applied keywords using the iOS standard “pill” style. You can tap on those pills to open an edit menu with options to remove (unassign) the keyword, copy/paste or apply to all if that keyword wasn’t already assigned to all of the selected images.

Below the pill box is a list of all the keywords in the currently selected hierarchy.  Tapping the disclosure arrow on a keyword drills down the hierarchy instead of selecting it.

The right pane contains your most recently used and all-time most popular keywords.  Or, if you start typing in the search box, it will show you live search results with keywords that contain the search term anywhere within them no matter where the keyword is in the hierarchy.

 

Posted in: Design | 5 Comments


[This post is part our ongoing series introducing Photosmith 2 which will be a free update for all users]

Yesterday we showed you the Grid and an overview of the new UI.  Today we’re going to focus on a few of the biggest productivity boosters in Photosmith: Smart Groups, the Tagging sidebar and the QuickTag drawer.

02 Grid TaggingQuickTag Bar

One more tip about the QuickTag bar. If you have mutlple photos selected and their colors and/or star ratings don’t agree you can see that visually indicated by hollow filled buttons.  If you tap one of the color or star buttons it will apply that setting to all the photos and if you don’t, obviously none of your previous settings will be changed.

If you drag the QuickTag bar upwards you will see the QuickTag drawer.

From left-to-right across the drawer are:

  • Filter – Tapping the check next to the button globally enables/disables filters. Tapping the button itself slides up a new drawer with buttons to tap on/off any filters you want. The filters are just additive since tapping is so easy on the iPad – no reason for complicated greater than/less than formulas.
  • Sort – Tapping this slides up a new drawer with a button to reverse the sort order and then selections for Capture Date (when the photo was taken), Import Date (when it was copied to the iPad), Star Rating, or Color Label.
  • Smart Groups slider – sliding to the left (or tapping the icon) increases the number of groups which makes each group more specific.  Sliding right (or tapping the icon) decreases the number of  groups. More on Smart Groups below
     
  • Mass select buttons – Select all of the visible photos (subject to your current collection & filter settings) or none of them or invert the buttons.  The iPad Photos app lacks these and I weep for them every time I have to delete a batch of photos.
     
  • Selected Photo Count – this always shows you the number of photos that are selected in the current collection.  Any time you tap a QuickTag button or apply a metadata change in Grid view, this is the number of photos that will be affected.

Smart Groups

We first introduced Smart Groups back in January.  In that post we discussed several ways you could use it based on capture date where Smart Groups automatically figures out how your photos should be grouped based on the time they were taken. However, it’s also useful for import date, star ratings, or color labels.

If you sort by import date Smart Groups will group by the batches that you imported. As a bonus, just by adjusting the slider you can change the groups to nearly any multiple or factorial of your typical workflow. For example, if you typically import once a day the default setting will probably give you exactly what you are looking for (it’ll vary somewhat depending on how many files you have). If it doesn’t, a quick tweak will get you there. However, if you turn down the grouping level you will get groups by week or month instead. If you happened to import more than once a day, turning the level up will give you those groups separated too. It’s like Events collections but without all the work or inflexibility.  What happens with events if you shoot a wedding that lasts past midnight? It’s a mess… Smart Groups figures that out for you.

Another great case for Smart Groups is sorting by star ratings.  With groups turned off (furthest right setting) you get everything in a single group sorted by star rating.  Increasing the grouping breaks them into Rated/Not rated. Increasing again gives you High/Medium/Low/None. and finally, you get each star rating in it’s own group.  This can make those 2nd or 3rd passes through your photos really easy. Or, imagine your workflow is to star everything you like and leave the “duds” unrated.  When you’re done sort by stars, set the grouping level accordingly and then tap the group header to select/deselect as desired and tap color/star/reject as desired.  In about 4 taps you just accomplished what would have taken more taps and a bunch of fiddly scrolling around and dragging selection boxes in Lightroom.

The same logic works with color labels but since color labels don’t have an intrinsic rank or sequence the groupings there are all, something/nothing, or individual values.

Tagging sidebar

On the bottom left you can see that the Tagging sidebar is selected.  The Tagging sidebar is your one-stop shop for all text metadata you can edit on photos. Any changes made here will be instantly applied to all of the selected photos(1).

If you have multiple photos selected but they aren’t entirely consistent with the values set you’ll see “< X values >” instead clueing you in to the differences.  If you choose to set this field the changes will be applied to all, if not, they’ll be untouched.

Metadata Presets

Tapping the “New Preset” button allows you to create a new metadata preset(2). You can set any of the fields(3) with an explicit value, leave it blank AND checked to clear it out, or leave it unchecked to leave the fields untouched.

Once you have the preset how you want it select some photos and open the preset by tapping on it and tap the “Apple to X photos” button.  Of course, you can create multiple presets and apply them in sequence or use them for different purposes. Whatever makes the most sense for your workflow.

 

As we count down the final days to release (we’re just waiting on a few necessary approvals now) we’ll be posting more of these walk-throughs. Hopefully, we’ll have an honest set-in-stone date to report to you very soon. (And that date will be very soon too).


Footnotes:

  1. In Grid view changes are applied to all selected photos. In Loupe & Fullscreen mode changes are only applied to the currently visible photo.  (We tested several different “rules” for this and this is only one that makes sense.)
  2. Metadata presets do not sync with Lightroom because Lightroom’s plugin API does not support it.  If/when Adobe adds that ability we will add support for it as well.  In the meantime, you’ll have to manually manage your presets.
  3. Excluding keywords. Due to the fact that keywords can be partially selected (or not) merging changes globally could get really confusing. For now, we’ve opted for simplicity and obviousness.  If you folks find this to be lacking we can research further to find a way to make this work for the roughly 10,000 variations that might occur.

Posted in: Design | 8 Comments