iShoot and Back to Mac Basics – Aug. 16th

Join us for two workshops this coming Saturday August 16th!

We enjoyed an iPhone photography walkabout earlier this year with Gregg Kamei and we’re doing it again. This time we’ll take advantage of the great murals in Kaka‘ako and the nice cool classroom at ZenWorx – Walls and Things! Then we’ll see what happens to some of them when you let an app ramp them up!  Bring your iPhone, iPad or point & shoot camera.

In the afternoon Ross Rasmussen will cover Mac shortcuts and tips; as many as time will allow, focusing on the most basic and most essential for easy and fun computing.  Join us, all welcome.  $3 for members, $6 for non-members. First-time MacLearn attendees —  Come as our guests.  Hope to see you!

For more details and to Register go to http://bitly.com/maclearn-august2014

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Freshly Squeezed Review – Focus 2 Pro

Focus 2 Pro
By Frank Petrie

Company: Macphun
Developer: Jim Mitchell
Prices and Requirements: Varies per app
Test Rig: 2012 MBA 13″, OS X 10.9.2, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

I am to photography what Ansel Adams was to box-girder bridge design. But I want my snaps to look professional, even occasionally artistic. There is a multitude of editing apps. But I’ve found a company that’s a one stop shop for professionals and amateurs alike that may interest you.

The boom in smartphone sales has ignited the explosion of digital photography. And because your camera is now easily accessible and ALWAYS at hand, your collection of snaps can easily blossom into the thousands.

Many of those shots, however, are duplicates. And many of them aren’t of the best quality. Especially mine.

Concurrently, the amount of editing software has escalated just as fast. So, when you pick the best shot of the group (and you do save just the one shot, don’t you?), you can’t wait to show it to everyone. Friends, family and the unsuspecting person in front of you in the coffee shop line.

Apple has iPhoto. And Aperture is for the more advanced. But, of course, there’s a whole slate of third party software out there to choose from.

The developers at Macphun (http://www.macphun.com) are all about photo editing, as attested by their slogan: “Inspiring Photography.” If you head over to their web store (http://macphun.com/store) or the App Store, you’ll find that you can find versions of their software for professionals, hobbyists and beginners.

Let’s test drive just one of their pieces of software as an example – Focus 2 Pro.

Focus 2 Pro screen

“Easily achieve selective focus, creative blurring, tilt-shift miniaturization and motion blur effects on your images. Focus 2 Pro is truly the easiest, fastest way to draw attention to the most important subjects of your photos, perfect for photographers of all skill levels.”

When you launch Focus 2, there are two ways to load a new photo. You can either drag your image file to the rectangle box or click the open button and choose a picture from a folder on your Mac. (And if you must use the Menu Bar: File > Open / Open Recent > Select Image.)

Along the bottom of the window, several themes are listed, such as portrait, nature and architecture. There are also specific items such as cropping, macro, tilt shift and custom. Upon selecting one, the app then opens up the tool set: Blur, Motion and In Focus. Within each are several adjustments to choose from. From within In Focus, you’re able to adjust the Brightness, Sharpen, Clarity and Vividness aspects of your snap. Adjust the lengths of your sharpened and blurred areas. Fine tune vignettes within Portrait.

A very impressive tool I found was the ability to compare your original photo with your adjusted photo by merely holding down your space bar. I found that so much better than having two side by side windows. Much better use of screen real estate and it makes it that much easier to discern the changes between the two versions.

A great facet of this app is that it works with Apple’s iPhoto and Aperture. For example, you can drag an existing photo from your iPhoto collection into the rectangle box or onto the Focus 2 icon. Make all your custom  adjustments and then save your recipes for future use. When satisfied with your results, Choose Files > Save and your newly altered photo is saved back in iPhoto, where its life began. (Happily, this function works not only with Focus but with all Macphun apps.) Your photo will be updated with the edits inside your iPhoto Library.

Focus 2 supports many image formats, including JPG, TIFF & RAW. You can order prints from within the app. And you can also badger everyone … that is to say share your work via Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and E-mail. Friends and family will be so happy that they didn’t miss out on any of Timmy’s birthday celebration.  :)

Their support is extensive. Naturally, there are videos to get you up and running, detailed ‘Quick Start’ guides and such. But the scheduled online “Training Sessions,” taught by professional photographers are perhaps the most impressive support feature that I found.

I experimented with some of my photos and found the finished products to be impressive. Granted, if you start with a lousy picture, you’ll end up with the best looking lousy picture that you can. But  that’s my shortcomings, not the app’s. Which is why I’ve included graphics from their site.

I found Macphun’s apps very easy to use. And the learning curve is close to nil, unless you want to become really advanced. But I imagine that it’s nothing difficult if you’re already experienced.

You may purchase their apps at either the App Store or Macphun’s store. But if you want to save some money by purchasing bundles, then the Macphun store (http://macphun.com/store) is the place that you want to go. Either way, the prices are great and the apps’ performance is impressive.

The only thing that I need to develop now is an eye for photography.

©2014 Frank Petrie

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The Blonde Vegetarian, plus iOS Photos – June 28

rebeccaJoin us for MacLearn this month … Learn how Rebecca Woodland authored an e-book using Pages and her iPhone!  She’ll show you how she did it, then treat you to a sample of her cooking with an easy, cancer fighting salad and homemade dressing! Then Jerome Koehler will have you try a couple of apps to take better pictures, we’ll take a quick walk to grab some photos,  then  edit them right in your phone or iPad or Mac.  This is not just a demo, you’ll want to do it too. When:  June 28 Saturday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm (optional 2:30 – 3 pm lab) Location:  Zenworks at 685 Auahi St.  Parking at the old CompUSA lot or metered parking. Cost:  $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers Registrationbitly.com/maclearn-june2014

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