My Photo Galleries And A Warning

I have been uploading my photographs to my website,, for some time. However, I decided to simplify things and consolidate on the WordPress platform. Consequently, I’ve spent the last few days uploading my back catalogue to oddrops. The job’s now complete, so please browse.

Real Racing 3: A Warning

To while away the time, as the files have been processed, I’ve been playing Real Racing 3. It’s not really a driving sim game, more of an arcade game as you can crash your car into a wall at 250 mph. While there’ll be some entertainment as windscreens fracture and disappear, rear lights smash into smithereens, bumpers fall off, doors flap open, your car will bounce of the wall and be able to carry on to the finish of the race; it’s impossible to do enough damage to render the car undriveable. The graphics are great. There’re nice little touches like exhaust gases, tyre tracks in the grass, should you go off-track, reappear as you drive round subsequent laps, clouds are reflected in a car’s paintwork and the reflection changes as the car moves round the track. The cars (currently 73 different models) are wonderful replicas of real ones: from the humble Nissan Silvia to the Bugatti Veyron, Lambo’s, Koenigsegg’s and more. The tracks are based on real ones like Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Laguna Seca and Catalunya. I have had some fun playing the game and wasted hours—I was going to say “countless hours”, but the app includes a player profile that tells you to the last second how much of your life you’ve spent staring at an iPad. I’m not going to admit how much.

So why the warning? Well, the app is free to download, but the pricing model is freemium. While there is nothing wrong with this per se—after all I haven’t spent a single penny for many hours of playtime—it’s the balance that I think is wrong. When you race you win “money”, R$, and fame points. As you achieve certain milestones—completion of a series, accumulation of so many fame points, you are awarded gold. To progress through the game you must buy new  cars and upgrade those cars with R$ or gold. Winning a race might generate R$20,000+, but often is only 2-3k. This is true whatever the cost of the car you’re racing: you might have invested R$ millions in a car (plus upgrades) to race for a prize of R$3,000. Gold is awarded with even greater frugality. Of course, the freemium model means that you can buy  R% and gold with an in-app purchase (IAP). This is where EA/Fire Monkeys are trying to rip people off. Some of the top cars cost in the range of R$1-2.5 million. An IAP for R$2,000,000 cost £34.99. The Koenigsegg Agera R can only be bought with gold—800 pieces. An IAP for 1,000 gold costs £69.99. Such prices are excessive and seem intended to take advantage of players who are less bloody-minded than me.

So, if you ask me whether I recommend  this game, I say no: I don’t like the cynical attitude of the game’s designers.

Istanbul in Full Popsicolor

I’ve continued my love affair with Popsicolor. I’ve created a set of popsicles from photos that I took during our recent visit to Istanbul.

Popsicolor Postcard Update

In my last post about photo painting, I mentioned that I’d sent myself a postcard using Popsicolor’s integration with Sincerely. That postcard has now arrived. I placed the order and received an acknowledgement email on 21 October; on 23 October, I received a despatch notification; the card arrived on 28 October. It is a standard-sized postcard with what looks like a medium-glossy finish. It’s a good quality print and looks very attractive. My wife saw the card propped on a shelf and commented on its quality without knowing it was an image I had created.

The cost for this one-off postcard was USD 2.99, which I don’t think is wildly expensive. It’s possible to buy credits that reduce the cost: 249 bucks gets a price of just under USD 1.70 for an international card. The cheapest bundle is USD 9.90 and gives a unit price of USD 1.98. “Domestic”, by which I assume they mean US, costs half as much.

I think I will be using the service again.

Popsicolor - 33

Photo Painting (5): Some More Apps

I’ve been continuing my search for good and fun photo painting apps. Today’s post looks at four more.


Painteresque works like many of the photo painting apps: choose an image from the camera roll/albums or take a picture and then apply a style. There are eight choices (Painteresque 1 and 2, Lithograph, Coloured Pencil, Charcoal, Rainbow, Mars and Portrait) plus “do nothing” that allows you to see the original photo. The results that this app produces are pleasing, but they don’t really turn your pictures into an oil painting or watercolour, or… The effects, as you can see from the examples, are more like a filter effect. The progress messages made me chuckle, “Narrying the Wembits” and “Magic Scrooberizing”.

There are controls that allow fine-tuning on quite a number of parameters; some producing weird results, but the effect is still that of a filter. And perhaps, that’s the main problem with this app: the name does not match the product. Still, as I’ve said, the final pictures are attractive, though I suspect (but could be wrong) there are many “filter apps” that produce similar output.

A nice feature of Painteresque is that should you happen upon a combination of these settings that pleases you, it’s possible to save these as a preset.

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iPhone 5S Review: Patagonia

iPhone 5S Review: Patagonia — Austin Mann.

Credit to John Gruber for spotting this.


Photo Painting (3): More Wasted Hours

I’ve been playing some more with Haiku HD. I’m beginning to understand the effects of the various controls, but I’m still a way away from being able to anticipate the final image. As a further illustration of the app, I’ve created a gallery using some of my pictures of Barcelona’s Sagrada Família. If you haven’t visited this amazing basilica yet, you should. Put it on your bucket list. And Barcelona’s a pretty good place anyway.

I wasn’t systematic about choosing or processing images. I usually started with a preset (supplied or custom) and then tweaked until I thought, “That looks OK.” So here’s the gallery; you can find the originals somewhere here.

Photo Painting: How To Waste Hours (1)

I’m not sure that “photo painting” is the correct term, but I mean the process of transforming photographs so they appear to be painted.

Yellow Mountain Scene

Yellow Mountain Scene

I started playing around having worked my way through the videos in the iPhoneography course from CreativeLIVE that I recently purchased. The course was bitchin’, to borrow one of instructor Jack Davis’ favourite words. Apart from all the usual image-taking and processing stuff, to be expected in a digital photography course, there was a session on painting apps. This got me playing around with some of the apps Jack mentioned, and looking for others. I can see that this could easily become an addiction.

These are some of the apps that I have messing with. I should say that none of the examples in this post are taken with my iPhone; they were all shot with one or other of the various digital cameras I’ve owned over the years. The pictures were all in albums in the Photos app, and imported from there into the different painting apps. By the way, you can click on any image for a larger version.


I’ve installed AutoPainter HD, which is the iPad edition. There’s also a version for the iPhone. This app is the very simple to use: you only have four choices: Aquarelle, Benson, Cézanne and Van Gogh. The blurb on iTunes claims that the images are not transformed, but recreated using the artistic technique of the selection—Aquarelle is basically watercolour, the others are the actual artists. There is an option to paint a mask to increase detail in parts of the image. And that’s it.

Amsterdam Night Scene

Amsterdam Night Scene—Aquarelle

Copenhagen Harbour — Paul Cézanne

Copenhagen Harbour — Paul Cézanne

Poppy by Van Gogh

Poppy by Van Gogh

I think the results are pretty good.


Glaze is free (at the moment) and comes with a bunch of free styles/presets (not attributed to any particular painter or technique). Additional styles can be unlocked as an in-app-purchase—60 styles is the total number. Load an image from the camera roll, and click on a style to apply it. The nice thing is that you can apply multiple styles that can be quickly compared to choose a favourite.

Tango in Buenos Aires

Tango in Buenos Aires

Some results are definitely a little wierd.

Tango 2

Tango 2

Others, not so much:

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Apparently, it’s possible to combine styles, so the permutations are enormous. A nice feature is that final images can be saved in different sizes, including the original image resolution.


This has a bunch of basic styles for pencil, coloured pencil, crayons, chalk, blah, blah, blah… There are  three siders to customise the effect (line thickness, contrast and brightness). There is a free version that has ads, but you can pay money for an ad-free version. I’m not that impressed.

Somewhere in Rhodes

Somewhere in Rhodes

You can see pencil strokes in the lower-left quadrant of the image, but the rest of the picture is more like an old-fashioned etching. Also the output is limited to a maximum of 1280×960. They won’t be getting any of my money.

More to follow…


Over the last few days, I’ve been watching a set of training videos: iPhoneography  with Jack Davis. I’m only about half way through, but decided to resurrect my blog and mention this as there is currently a special offer. For another 6 days (from 09:47 BST on 17 September), the price is US$59 instead of US$79. If you like to take pictures with your phone (an iPhone is not mandatory), Jack demonstrates lot of of different apps for taking pictures and post-processing. There something over 10 hours of material in the set of videos, including a details look at why the camera is the new iPhone 5S is worth the price of the upgrade on its own. All the justification that I needed to be on the Apple website at midnight tomorrow. 🙂

Jack is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his subject. I’ve learned a lot already.

This is the fourth set of videos that I’ve purchased from creativeLIVE; I have found them all to be of high quality and excellent value. They have an interesting model: all the courses are presented live and can be watched free of charge during the course with no further obligation. If you choose to purchase, you can download the videos (HD and/or low definition) for watching any time.

A 15 Minute Exercise To Help You Improve Your Photography in 2012

A 15 Minute Exercise To Help You Improve Your Photography in 2012.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Snapseed Before And After Comparison

Snapseed from Nik Software has been named No. 1 iPad app for Photo and Video. Here are a few before and after comparisons. If you click on an image, a larger version will open in a new window — makes it easier to see the differences. These are JPGs straight from my camera (an Olympus E5) that I copied over to the iPad. I edited each image in Snapseed, saved the updated version to the Camera Roll. Both before and after images where uploaded to WordPress using Blogsy.