Camera Awesome for Android Released – The Best Camera App on the Market?

Camera Awesome Logo by SmugMugWhile the Android mobile ecosystem has no shortage of photography related applications (i.e. SnapSeed, Sun Surveyer, Touch Retouch), there is one area that it has always seemed to fall short, camera apps. Now before I upset Android fans, Android does have a handful of well built camera apps such as Camera 360 and Camera Zoom FX, but the most popular camera apps on IOS have typically stayed in an Apple focused world. That is until today!

I am beyond stoked to be the first to let you know that SmugMug’s incredibly popular camera application, Camera Awesome, has now been released on Android. As a close partner with SmugMug, I was given early developer access to CA and have been using it over the last month as I traveled through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Myanmar and Thailand with my HTC One (click for in-depth review). With over 20 million IOS users, it will not be too surprising to see the app take the Android market by storm. The icing on the cake is that SmugMug put a lot of work into the Android build, giving all of you a number of Android Specific Features that IOS users don’t have just yet.

Camera Awesome's new HDR Android specific mode

Camera Awesome’s new HDR Android specific mode used in Myanmar

So does Camera Awesome live up to the hype? Will it change the way you use your Android phone or tablet? Lets find out… Read More…


Fall Photo Contest – Giving Away Two HTC One Mobile Phones

For those of you that follow me on social media or via this blog, you know that fall is easily my favorite time of the year, especially as a photographer. As the summer changes into fall and the weather begins to dip, we are often greeted with an amazing infusion of color across some of the beautiful landscapes many of us have come to love. This is one of the reasons I enjoy calling Colorado home.

"Mt. Wilson in the Fall" - Telluride, Colorado

“Mt. Wilson in the Fall” – Telluride, Colorado (Taken with a DSLR)

It is within this context that I am stoked to announce my Fall Photo Contest (Sponsored by HTC). Starting on November 9th, you have the opportunity to win one of two HTC One phones by uploading and sharing photos related to the fall color change each year to your social network of choice while using the hashtag “#FallColorChange”. If you want to know more about the HTC One, you can check out my in-depth REVIEW. Do note, that this contest is NOT limited to those living in the US. See all of the details below.

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Where Is The Fun In Specializing As a Photographer?

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When it comes to professional photography, you commonly find that photographers choose to specialize in a specific genre, such as wedding, landscape or travel photography for example. Some photographers even take this to the next level, labeling themselves as “HDR” photographers or “Black and White Fine Art” photographers. This mindset is certainly not endemic to just the photo industry and is in reality…usually just business 101. If you want to make a name for yourself or your brand, it can help to have a business that your customers or clients can associate with a very specific style or type of photography.

It makes sense. FedEx is a shipping company. Whole Foods sells health food/products. Mike’s Camera in Denver sells…well photography equipment. It has been proven to work for various businesses across multiple industries. So why have never enjoyed this mindset? I find it limiting, not only from a business standpoint, but a creative one as well. Are that many full time photographers truly only interested in a single kind of photography? In my case, I am not a landscape photographer any more than I am a travel or humanitarian photographer. In fact…I am just a photographer. My interest in this visual art form has always extended beyond just one specific realm of photography, so why should I settle for less when it comes to my businesses?

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Gear Review: A Photographer’s Take on the HTC One

HTC-One-Media

As technology has increased over the years, the devices that we carry with us have gotten smaller and more powerful. In situations where we might of once reached for our trusty point and shoot cameras, we are now reaching for our smart phones and tablets instead to capture the world around us. The Apple iPhone was one of the first major devices on the scene in this regard and justifiably so, has been a staple of mobile photography ever since. However, Android devices have come along way since their introduction to the market in 2008 with the HTC Dream (otherwise known as the T-Mobile G1).

Each year it seems that Android mobile devices are getting better and better while also offering customers choice, which certainly helps to explain their massive market share dominance (over 70% of all smart phones worldwide run Google’s mobile OS). When it comes to mobile photography, Android devices manufactures are constantly trying to innovate and out do each other (and the iPhone). This has lead to improved optics, image quality, low light performance and in some cases, resolution as well.

So where does the HTC One fit into all of this? What exactly is the UltraPixel camera sensor they use? Who is Zoe? and yes…does this phone actually take good photos? Lets find out…

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An Adventure Through Tanzania with an IQ260 from Phase One

Phase One Logo

As many of you know, I enjoy the business side of photography almost as much as the creative hands on time I get with my cameras year after year in some of the most amazing locations on this planet. Through this combined love of what makes photography special and unique to me, I have found myself working hard over the last 8 years to make in-roads and find collaborative points of interest and synergy between the work I do and the companies I admire and respect throughout the photo industry. It is for these reasons that I wasn’t surprised to hold a key meeting with the head Marketing Director of Phase One back in May to discuss the idea of working together on a number of projects.

While I initially got into photography because of my love of travel and soon found myself enthralled by the solitude of nature and landscape photography, it has been my humanitarian work as a photographer that has truly helped me separate my name and brands from others in what many would consider a crowded photo industry. In 2010 I founded my first humanitarian focused photography company, The Giving Lens. The idea is simple, to blend photo education and support for sustainable development initiatives (NGOs) in developing countries. We take teams of photographers from all over the world to unique destinations with the idea of both furthering their photographic skill sets while also helping to fight for various important causes, such as clean; drinking water projects, child education, women’s rights, species preservation and more. When I met with Phase One back in May, both of us had TGL (The Giving Lens) in mind. Before I knew it, I was off to east Africa with Phase One’s brand new 60mp IQ260 to spend a month documenting various projects around Tanzania (with the NGO Art in Tanzania) as well as work with the famous nomadic warrior tribe known as the Maasai.

How did the IQ260 handle the challenges of working in remote parts of east Africa? Lets find out…

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

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Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything) – A Focus on Social Media

Ask me AnythingAs many of you already know, I have been running multiple Photography AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on Facebook and Google+ over the last few months. These incredibly popular posts were opportunities for photographers from all over the globe to have direct access to me in order to get answers for any questions they might have that pertain to photography, the business of photography or travel. While I enjoyed having the opportunity to answer up to 200 questions in a single question, I found that many questions required more in-depth responses. It is for this reason that I am stoked to introduce my brand new blog series titled “Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything)”.

Each blog post in this series will have a specific focus, such as marketing your images, photo editing techniques or general travel as a photographer where I answer questions such as how do I handle getting visas in specific countries. Each question that I address will come directly from photographers like you from all over the globe. If you want to submit a question that you would like me to answer in a future Photographer AMA post, click HERE.

Today’s focus is on the use of Social Media for photographers. Lets begin…
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Gear Review: Toshiba’s Ultra Resolution 13″ Kirabook Laptop

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In May of 2013 Toshiba announced their new flagship 13″ ultrabook laptop, the Kirabook. Their goal was to create a premium laptop for Windows users that not only competed with Apples Macbook Air, but also their Macbook Pro laptop line. With a retina like touch display (2560×1440), i7 processor, 8GB of ram and a solid magnesium frame that is said to be 100% stronger than what Apple currently uses, Toshiba had my attention. As an adventure travel/humanitarian photographer, I am always on the look out to find the best gear to suit my demanding needs. Ever since I switched away from an IOS/OSX (Apple) world over a year and a half ago, I have been struggling to find a solid high quality laptop that lives up to my high standards. My ideal travel laptop needs to be portable (lightweight), fast, have a minimum of 8gb of RAM (for Photoshop & Lightroom), have a beautiful screen and support USB 3.0 (for image backup on the road). By the time that 2013 is over, I will have worked in Australia, Iceland (2x), Tanzania, Thailand, Myanmar, Utah, Arizona, California, South Carolina, North Carolina and Colorado…often times working in harsh conditions and well off the grid. Lets see if Toshiba’s Kirabook stands up to the challenge as I use it throughout my time in Iceland and Tanzania in east Africa….

Toshiba Kirabook in Zanzibar Tanzania

Toshiba Kirabook in Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Welcome to the New SmugMug – A True Game Changer

SmugMug Logo (Dark)As photographers, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve how our images are viewed on the internet. While many photographers have begun to choose to use Facebook, Google+ or 500px as their photo hosting site of choice, nothing beats having your own website. Unlike Facebook, a website is the one piece of the Internet that is truly yours. You control how it looks, how it functions and what features you want. This being said, creating your own photography site, let alone a truly custom and unique website, has always been an incredibly difficult task.

As many of you know, I have been an avid SmugMug user since August of 2011, utilizing their services to host both my Portfolio and Online Store sections of my website in the past. Previously, I had to hire a custom web designer to help me create the look and feel of my website, but those days are gone.

With that, I am happy to introduce the NEW SmugMug. A completely redesigned system, built from the ground up, that truly tries to rethink website creation for photographers, putting the power back in your hands!

 

I am now in the process of moving my entire website over to SmugMug’s new redesigned system.You can follow along with me over the next few weeks as I continue to fine tune on the new Colby Brown Photography website based purely off of the new SmugMug system (aside from my wordpress blog).

If you are interested in giving SmugMug a try after reading this blog post, you can use the discount code “colbybrown” to get an extra 20% discount. Read More…


Can Photo Spheres Change the Way We Experience The World?

Logo for Android Photo Sphere Jelly Bean 4.2On October 29th, 2012 Google announced the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system as well as a slew of new Android Nexus devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10). One of the key photography focused features in 4.2 that was showcased was called “Photo Sphere“, which effectively allows you to capture immersive 360 degree panoramas (covering both horizontal and vertical elements). However currently, there are already other applications for mobile devices that allow you to take amazing standard panoramas but the end results are always the same….a flat image that makes it somewhat difficult  to really get a feel for what you are looking at.

Android Photo Sphere taken on a Galaxy Nexus at Horse Shoe Bend

Android Photo Sphere taken at Horse Shoe Bend during sunset when viewed as a flat image

This is where Android’s Photo Sphere takes things to the next level. If you have ever used the “Street View” feature on Google Maps, you will have an idea of how a Photo Sphere works, which isn’t by accident considering the feature was created by members of the Google Maps Street View Team. The basic premise is that the viewer is in the center of the action, allowing them to experience a location as if they were standing on the very spot the Photo Sphere was taken. When looking at a PS, you can use your mouse (or finger on a mobile device) to rotate around the image, constantly changing your perspective. Want to look up at the sky as if you were there? No problem! Want to see what was behind the photographer? Easily done.

Up until now, the only way to view a Photo Sphere properly was on Google+ or on an Android mobile device running the 4.2 software (or higher). I am happy to announce that I have been working with the amazing team of engineers over at Android and you can now embed a slide show viewer onto your website to showcase your very own Photo Spheres to the world (Instructions have been removed by Google, but will be back soon).

*Use your mouse to click & move around the Photo Spheres below

Over the course of the last six months, I have used my Android Google Nexus & Nexus 4 smart phones to capture Photo Spheres all over the globe including locations in Jordan, Australia, California, Utah and Colorado. While mobile photography technology still has room for improvement, I am constantly surprised by the detail captured in a PS. While my professional images will always be the best way that I can showcase a given scene or moment, I have truly enjoyed creating and sharing Photo Spheres as they tend to offer a very immersive experience to the viewer…showcasing the world all around me, rather then just a small but very specific moment that is found in my work as a photographer.

Viewing a Photo Sphere from within Google+

A Photo Sphere of Little Petra in Jordan from within Google+

This year I have numerous upcoming trips (Iceland, Africa, Thailand, Myanmar and others) and you can be sure that I will be capturing Photo Spheres along these adventures. As Google and Android continue to improve the software with PS and mobile photography technology continues to advance at the rapid rate that we have seen over the last 36 months, things are only going to get better and better. Be sure to look for an in-depth tutorial (that I am co-writing with the Android team) on how to best capture your own Photo Spheres as well as other major announcements in the coming months.


Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Have Vol 2

Multiple Android LogoIf there is one thing that I can say for certain, it is that it is an exciting time for mobile photography. Every year the phones and tablets we use get faster, lighter and more efficient  When it comes to mobile photography, both IOS and Android are continuing to push the boundaries of what we think is possible in sensors that are incredibly small. Having a powerful camera that fits into your pocket has never been more practical.

While Apple and IOS (iPhone & iPad) have been the products championed by photographers and the photo industry for years, things are continuing to change. Google’s Android mobile devices now equate for roughly 72% of ALL smart phones worldwide (SOURCE), while Apple’s iPad is quickly losing ground in the tablet market to the likes of Samsung, Amazon and Google’s own Nexus line. In the end, this competition is good for us all, as each company continues to try to out do the other. These days I use the entire Android Nexus line of devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10) as well as a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

In February of 2012, I published the article “Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Haveto much fan fair. To this day, it continues to receive a large amount of traffic. However as you know, 12 months is a long time in the technology world and much has changed since then. With that in mind, I am happy to present to you Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Have Vol 2!

*Many of these apps have free versions, but if you like the app, purchase the full version and help support the app developers.

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