In Praise of the Wizards of Code: And their creations!

I teach fine art iPhone Photography, documentary in style. No Instagram here! The whole process from Capture to Editing, Tweaking and Printing are all done on the iPhone itself. Some might scoff at this premise but I believe there is a value and advantage to having such a tactile experience with the process, not unlike the time spent in the Darkroom moving prints from tray to tray. And yes the screen is small but in some ways it forces one not to get too caught up in all that "pixel peeping" that people often do. And lastly it is liberating to be anywhere, and have in one's pocket access to editing and tweaking the most recent batch of Photographs on the iPhone

I am not one that is particularly afraid to plunge elbow deep into the unknown. At the end of the day to have the bits and pieces of some machine disassembled at my feet, chips of wood or metal filings on the floor all about us is not unusual! In the past, in the "analog" world to solve a problem it would very often call for the sculpting of some tool that would do just what you need it to do, a screwdriver with the head notched just perfectly for that one task, or a Vice-Grip plier whose jaw was filed down to hold down a piece of work waiting to be further beaten into submission :-)
This is the iTab, a Tablet Mac about five or so years before the iPad :-)

Getting things done is often about having the right tools available. I have built, modified or redesigned most every piece of photographic equipment we use, even venturing into the digital realm. When it comes to computers I have taken solder iron in hand and have done my best to shape the tools needed to get the job done.

Software is a different beast. When it comes to Software we are at the mercy of those who ply their magic in that foreign language of Code. The problems we face are calling out for just that specific tool and we spend much time hunting for those tools. Sometimes the creators themselves would be surprised that their precious children have been forced into such labors. Other times they are at the ready to assist in tweaking their Code or making suggestions to find some other way around a road block.
The Photographers Workplace, where we Teach iPhone Photography

I was on the lookout for tools, I had a problem that needed solving! For starters I needed a way to run a group class where everyone could see the adjustments as I made them on my iPhone. I asked at the Apple Store what they used to project the iPhone screen and was told "we just sit around the counter here and talk people through it". I wanted a better solution than that, so after contemplating jail breaking my phone we finally came across Reflector. An app that allows us to Mirror my iPhone screen to a 35" Monitor so all can see. With that resolved we were still left with one very crucial issue, how do we Print to a non AirPrint Printer! And how do we do it within a Color Managed Workflow allowing the use of ICC Profiles directly from the iPhone?

QTR and Printopia came to the rescue! I took notice of Printopia's release in 2010 or so, but not having an immediate need at that time just filed away the info. A few years later having Students who were ready to start creating exhibition quality prints we returned to Printopia to test it out. It was like magic. In FilterStorm, our app of choice for Tweaking I created a number of Automations that would set the image on a piece of paper in the orientation that we wanted along with the properly sized borders. With the image Saved to the Camera Roll we could hit the Share Button choose Printer and in a second the Printer comes to life! The problem was there was no way to choose an ICC Color Profile for the Printer and Paper combination. For the average user or office environment something like ICC Profiles is not a normal concern but for Photographers this is the language that will interpret the final Image. Realizing this as a serious hindrance I contacted Ecamm. As I have said, the realm of Programing is magic to me and I am at the mercy of those who can wield this power. The folks at Ecamm graciously resolved the issue and enabled the use of ICC Profiles in the Dialogue Box.

With that settled, time to move on to the next trick! We are running two Printers, one for Color and another with a Black/Gray ink set. This ink set is best used with a RIP (raster image processor). Once again another tool to solve a problem! For this we enlisted Quad Tone RIP. QTR is an application that allows one to blend the dilutions of Black Ink to create a custom split tone between warm and colder inks. I was having a problem with how the Control Panel for QTR was showing up. With responsive suggestions and collaboration the folks at QTR and Printopia resolved my issue. I can not stress enough the flexibility that Printopia allows, the fact that it will work with ICC Profiles and provide access to all the settings that are incorporated into a rather deep program such as QTR is nothing short of amazing. All of this accessible from one's iPhone!

None of this would be possible if it were not for the efforts of these rather small independent Programers. Adobe, Google, Apple and the rest of them have changed how we work. But I find it is when one has access to someone who can hear you out and take to heart what the problem is that you need to solve, when you can talk to such a person you will find yourselves with just the right tools to solve the problem at hand!

So I say Thank you to the folks at Printopia/Ecamm & Quad Tone RIP for your great products and your responsiveness.

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