Project 365: Capturing a year

27 06 2010

The marking of time- capturing a moment, an event or person, is becoming increasingly rare in our digitally encompassed lives. Seldom do we capture these ‘time stamped’ moments on a daily basis. Often we can barely remember what we did last week, let alone a month ago. The hedonistic society that we inhabit encourages us to jump from one visceral thrill to the next, leaving in our wake a multitude of forgotten experiences and memories.

In an attempt to rekindle the dying art of time keeping, Project 365 is based around taking one photo a day, for a year. The end result is heavily dependent on you and the photos that you take, however everyone ends up with a annual time line of events. While this may sound easy to some, the reality is that finding something to snap on a daily basis is far from easy. But the end reward is great- a full, year long chronicle of your experiences, distilled down into 365 pictures- one small ‘window’ per day for you to peer into at a later date. As such, I am going to cover tips on how to get your project started, and how to take good photos with the iPhone, thanks to my ‘sage’ advice and the helping hand of a certain app.

To begin with, the ‘Project 365’ app, isn’t that good, since the free version is ad supported and the paid version lacks features. Both merely give you a way of viewing your photos in a different way, rather than aiding or adding onto the Project 365 experience. You can check them out here, however, I recommend that you just use the stock ‘Photo’ app that’s already on your iPhone to view and track your progress.

Tips for starting your Project 365

1) Take your camera everywhere- Whether that be to the local supermarket, into the bedroom or to the workplace. For this sole reason, I have elected to use my iPhone 3GS, since it rides with me everywhere as my electronic companion. The 3.2 megapixel camera may not be in the same league to my Panasonic GF1, but I can snap pictures at anytime, and thanks to the built in GPS, all my photos are geo tagged.

2) Motivation- There will be times when you want to give up and you’ll wonder what on earth possessed you to take up such a challenge. However, you must press on- tell friends and family, since they can act as motivation for your noble cause. When you seemingly can’t find anything to take a photo of, leave the house and go for a walk, or grab a friend for a quick snap, or take a picture of an object that is important to you. Just make sure you keeping snapping one photo a day.

3) Upload– When you’re done taking your pictures for the day, you then need a suitable service or program to store and edit your photos on. Mac users should be familiar with the great iPhoto, while Window users can download Google’s free equivalent, Picasa. An online service that’s available for all, is Flickr, a great photo sharing site for photo enthusiasts.

Tips for taking photos with the iPhone

1) Be inventive- the camera on the iPhone isn’t particular great, and as such, you should compensate by being creative. Swap bland and poor quality wide shots, for interesting close up shots or take it at a different angle. Not all your photos will be amazing, however, by focusing upon the iPhone camera’s strong points (mainly close ups in well lit areas), you can end up with photos to be proud of.

2) Be trigger happy-You have a big hard drive inside that tiny phone, and since most of the photos are unlikely to be more that 2mb each, you should make use of it. The last thing you want is to end up with a blurred shot for one day, because you hastily took a single snap. Once the day has passed, you can’t go back and reshoot.

3) Hold her steady- especially in low light conditions, the key to getting a blur free picture is to hold the camera steady. You want as much light as possible to enter into the camera lens. If you have the money, then invest in an iPhone gorilla pod, or, if you’re like me and don’t want spend yet more money, find something to prop your iPhone up against- like a wall, also, holding your breath helps minimise camera shake created by your hand and body.

4) Invest in a photo app- While the default camera app is good enough for the occasional casual snap, I suggest looking around the Appstore for a suitable replacement to ensure that you maximise your chances of getting a good shot everytime. There are a number of photo apps on the Appstore, however the one that stood out to me is, Camera+

Camera+

Camera+ is a replacement for the default Camera app, with a set of unique features that not only sets it apart from other camera apps, but also helps ensure you have the right tools to take, view and edit your photos. The first thing that’ll you notice about the app, is the unique U.I. Upon opening Camera+, a DSLR graphic is overlayed a live picture from your camera, giving the impression that you are holding a ‘real camera’. From here, tapping on the view finder, will take you into the picture taking mode, while the ‘screen’ offered a more traditional way to navigate the app, by giving the users the option to either, one again take a photo, or go to the light box.

The light box is another differentiating factor of Camera+, since it gives the user a ‘holding’ room, from which they can delete edit and save your photos. I use the term ‘holding’ room because any photos taken with Camera+ will not appear in the default ‘Photo’ app until you save them in the light box. This feature is especially helpful when you are taking multiple pictures of the same thing because the app organises sets of photos into ‘film strips’, allowing you to quick look over and pick out the best pictures in a set. It also means that your photo app won’t be clogged up with multiple photos of the same thing, and your rough work.

As mentioned before, from the light box, you can edit your photos and Camera+ does not disappoint in terms of versatility and features. The app ships with a number of effects that you can add to your photo, such as sepia, black and white, ‘sunkiss’d’ and vibrant. You can also add a number of borders and crop your photos in a number of ways, using either the free form tool, or pre set sizes. However, the most powerful feature in the editing suite is the scenes mode, in which you can change the scene of the picture, and therefore the brightness and look of your photo. The app comes with a number of scenes, ranging from sunset, to concert and all the way to food. From here you can also introduce an artificial flash into darkened pictures, and this feature only is more than enough to merit interest from iPhone users, since, apart from the iPhone 4, they all lack a flash for the camera.

One of the best features offered by the app is the image stabilizer, which works to minimise the hand shake and blurry photos that I mentioned early. When activated, the app will only fire the camera when the iPhone is still. How still you keep the iPhone is indicated through a traffic light style system- a red light indicates that there is a lot of shaking, yellow, then there is some shake, and keep it on green for a few seconds, and you’ll have a blur free photo taken.

Camera+ is currently on sale at 80% off the usual price- 59p, well worth looking into if you’re serious about Project 365, or merely looking for better all round results when using your camera.

Interested in photography? I suggest checking out, http://digital-photography-school.com/, a great site with articles and tutorials suitable for beginners and professionals alike.

I know that some of you have also started your own Project 365, and I would be interested to hear how yours is developing. I started mine a few weeks back, and have yet to miss a day. Below are four photos from my Project 365, all taken with my iPhone 3GS, with no editing.

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2 responses

1 07 2010
christiangrblr

All feature missing from the free version of P365 is the ability to upload to the web. I would have really liked to sync between my laptop and my iPhone the P365 Photos. The app itself isn’t terrible but it isn’t great. It’s a free service why do we have to pay for the app?

1 07 2010
appjudge

Good question. It’s similar to many of the free games on the internet that are then are ported over and turned into apps that you have to pay for, because the free internet version is coded with flash. At the end of the day, it’s simply to make money. I avoid the app completely and just upload the photos to iPhoto on my MacBook.

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