Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I don't like the Olloclip Lenses for iPhones

Now that I have your attention, I really do like the Olloclip lenses. Just not for use in a school.

Bea Cantor's free book on using the Olloclip for macrophotraphy of insects got me intrigued. If you haven't seen her book, take some time to download it to iBooks on your iPad and read it.
Bea Cantor - Calling Nature (Free) -

The problem with using the Olloclip lenses in school is that they can only be used with the iPhone. You have to order it specifically for the iPhone 4s or the iPhone 5. They are not interchangeable. I have the Olloclip for my iPhone 4s, but it won't work with my wife's iPhone 5. Also, few of our students, especially at the elementary level, have iPhones they can bring to school, and we are not going to purchase iPhones for use by students.

I have the Olloclip lenses for my iPhone 4s, but prefer to use the Photojojo lenses instead. These are the lenses that I would suggest schools consider purchasing.


There are several reasons.

The Photojojo lens kit is less expensive. The list price is $49 vs $69.99 for the Olloclip.

The Photojojo lens kit can be used on any iPhone, iPad, or Android device. They can also be used on the 4th Generation iPod Touch.

The Photojojo lens kit can be used on three different iOS devices at the same time, where the Olloclip can only be used on one device at a time.

Since we are most interested in the maco lens, we can purchase the Wide/macro lens for $20 instead of purchasing the entire lens kit. We just ordered 20 of the Wide/Macro lenses to be used with iPads, iPad Minis and 4th Generation iPod Touch devices.

The Photojojo lens kit includes a 2X Telephoto lens which is not available with the Olloclip. We ordered five of these lens kits to get the telephoto lens and five more macro lenses.

If you aren't aware of the Photojojo site, take a look. They are starting a Phoneography 101 course (Note: not an iPhoneography course) August 1st.

Photojojo University is a 4-week course that teaches you the principles of photography through the lens of your phone. Twice a week you’ll get an email with a simple and fun lesson that ends with a challenge to help you solidify your new skills.

Whatever you decide to do, take a look at Bea Cantor's book and see how you can use macro-photography in your classroom.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What I learned about iPadography (not iPhoneography) during the ISTE 13 Photo Walk

During the ISTE 2013 Photo Walk in San Antonio, TX we met Carlos Austin. He is a professional photographer from Austin, TX who drove to San Antonio just to participate in the photo walk.

After our walk from the convention center to the Alamo, the 172+ participants started breaking into smaller groups to continue their photo walk. Carlos approached Larry Anderson and myself and offered to guide us around the Alamo grounds and Riverwalk, showing us photo opportunities we would never have found on our own.

I can't express enough how much Carlos added to our photography experience. He is a natural teacher, and actually teaches an extension photography course through the university in Austin.

Carlos helping Tony, just as he helped all of us during the day.

I have not learned so much about photography in a short time since spending three days learning about photography from Vincent Laforet in 2007 at an Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Monterey Bay, CA. Carlos would watch us make a photo, and then kindly suggest that we try again from a different angle, framing it differently, work with the lighting and shadows, try different exposure settings, etc. I have several before and after photos - before Carlos' suggestions and after his suggestions - that I will use in future workshops. For one photo Carlos had me try it at least six times until I got it right :-)

Here is the photo that I made multiple times before this final image.

Here Carlos is helping Larry with the same photo, and using a reflector to fill in light in the dark areas.

I had first composed this photo cutting out the tree on the left. 
Carlos pointed out how it helped frame the photo.

Here I had originally made the photo without the boat. 
Carlos suggested I wait for one to come by and capture it as it just went under the bridge. 
He explained how the lines in the photo would draw your attention to it.

Even though Carlos came all the way from Austin for the photo walk, all he brought with him was an iPad and tripod. I had not considered the iPad as a serious camera since the iPhone has a better lens and is always with me. In fact, there is a new branch of photography people refer to as iPhoneography but is now considered to be photography from any smart phone. Carlos prefers the iPad as he used some Apps I had never heard of that provide adjustment tools that require the larger screen.

Carlos also uses a tripod, and usually sets a timer to make the photo so that he isn't getting the photo out of focus by moving the screen. This "trick" also allows him to get into the photo himself, such as the photo he made of our group at lunch. It also allows him to extend the iPad to make photos up to ten feet in the air or out over obstacles such as water.

Here Carlos uses the tripod to hold the iPad out across the water to 
make a photo of a mother duck and her ducklings.

Here Carlos used the tripod to hold the iPad up closer to the butterflies to make this photo.
He set the timer so he had time to hold the iPad up and arrange it where he wanted it.

This is the iPad holder he used to attache it to his tripod.

Some of the Apps Carlos used extensively are PureShot, Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Crop Suez, iwatermark, pixlr express +, PS Touch, Flickstackr, Awesome camera, icolorama, distressedfx, over (text app), mpro, fotor, lensflare, lenslight

I have been doing iPhoneography workshops for some time, and have collected around 60 Apps I recommend. Only about ten of them are Apps that Carlos uses.

Here are the Apps Carlos had on his iPad, with prices where I could find them and a link to the App in the iTunes Store. They are grouped in the same way Carlos had them organized in his folders.

PureShot ($1.99) -
Hipstamatic ($1.99 - iPhone) -
Hipstamatic Oggl (Free - iPhone) -
Snapseed (Free) -
Crop Suey HD ($1.99) -
Pixlr Express PLUS (Free) -
iWatermark (Free, the $1.99 version removes their watermark) -
A Clear Watermark ($1.99, embossed watermark) -
HelloCamera ($1.99) match filters -
PS Touch - Adobe Photoshop Touch ($9.99) -
FlickStackr for Flickr ($1.99) -
Camera Awesome -
iColorama -
Distressed FX ($0.99) -
Over ($1.99) -
MPro ($1.99) -
Fotor™ ($2.99) -
LensFlare ($1.99) -
LensLight ($1.99) -

iPhoto -
Pixlr-o-matic (Free, also a $0.99 version) -
Photo fx Ultra ($4.99) -
Adobe Photoshop Express (Free) -
Laminar Pro - Image Editor ($0.99) -
Perfectly Clear ($2.99) – Photo Correction (Automatic) -
Filterstorm -
Filterstorm Pro is $14.99 and is for the iPhone
Jazz! ($0.99) - Edit photos with powerful filters, effects, unlimited vintage  -
TouchRetouch HD ($0.99) -
Process ($14.99) -
Image Blender ($1.99) -
Gridditor ($1.99) -
PhotoTangler Collage Maker HD -
Geló ($0.99) -

Handy Photo® ($1.99) -
PhotoMagic HD ($1.99) -
PuddingCamera (Free) -
Color Lake ($1.99) -
Momentsia (Free) -
PicsArt Photo Studio (Free) -
PicShop HD - Photo Editor -
FX Photo Studio: pro effects  -
PhotoWizard-HD Photo Editor ($2.99) -
SubtleColor ($0.99) -

Glaze (Free) -
Tangled FX ($1.99) -
Art Set -
Repix Inspiring Photo Editor (Free) -
AutoPainter HD ($0.99) -
Painteresque ($1.99) -
PhotoViva ($5.99) -
PhotoArtistaHD ($1.99) -
Etchings ($0.99) -
Aquarella HD ($2.99) -
Flowpaper ($0.99) -
My Brushes Pro ($2.99) -
MyBrushes (Free) -
Sketch, Paint, Playback on Unlimited Size Canvas
Mobile Monet HD ($1.99)- Photo Sketch and Paint Effects -
ArtRage -
Procreate ($4.99) – Sketch, paint, create. -
Moku Hanga HD ($2.99) -
ArtStudio ($4.99) - draw, paint and edit photo -
Deco Sketch -

An app for an iPhoneography community
Mobitog Community (Free) -

For keeping up with the latest news on mobile device

Not essential for photography, but for planning
Radar Cast Pro ($1.99) to check the weather -
LightTrac ($4.99) -
to see where the light (sun, moon) will be coming from

A portable light source Carlos had with: CN-160 video light

Austin Photography
Carlos Austin
Austin Tx 78748

Reflections on the Photo Walk at ISTE 13

The ISTE 2013 Photo Walk Sunday morning was enjoyed by 172 (or more) ISTE members. After a group photo at the convention center, the group walked to the Alamo where a second group photo was taken, making photos and connecting with other ISTE members on the way. After the group photo people broke into smaller groups and continued their photo walk, some staying around the Alamo and others headed for the Riverwalk. Some people headed back to the convention center for 8:30 am sessions.

Participants were encouraged to post their favorite photos to where you can view them. Participants were asked to give permission using Creative Commons so that educators and students could use them in their presentations, projects and reports.

Organized by ADEs (Apple Distinguished Educators) Larry Anderson, Gordon Worley, Cristina Popescu, Anna Adams, Helen Mowers, Michael Hernandez, Gayle Berthiaume and myself, this was the first time the ADE  event was opened to all ISTE members. Previous events have been held during ISTE in Washington D.C., Denver (Rocky Mountain National Park), Philadelphia and San Diego.

All the feedback we have received about this year's event was extremely positive, most coming in the form of verbal comments or via Twitter using the hashtag #iste13photo.

One group, including Larry Anderson, Nia Ujamaa, David Warlick, Carlos Austin, Tony Baldasaro and myself went until the afternoon, some of us making photos until 4 pm.

The concept behind the photo walk was to get ISTE members who have an interest in photography together to meet each other and share their passion and photography skills. Participants were helping each other with their camera features as well has ideas on photo composition, handling lighting conditions, etc. Everyone was encouraged to add their best photos to Flickr at

While at the Alamo several of us ended up give a short 10 minute presentation to a group of spectators after they noticed us using macro lenses attached to our iPhones to make a photo of a flower with a bee inside.

Tony Baldasaro, who had a Canon camera with a to-die-for telephoto lens, struck up a conversation with Larry and ended up joining our group as we were leaving the Alamo.

Carlos is a professional photographer from Austin, TX (yep, Carlos Austin from Austin) who drove to San Antonio just to join the Photo Walk. In another blog post I will talk about all we learned from Carlos, including how he used the iPad as his only camera on this photo walk. Tony mentioned that his wife was going to regret him joining our group as he made a list of all the new "stuff" he was planning to get for use with his iPhone and iPad.

Tuesday afternoon Larry and I presented to a packed breakout session about Photo Safaris and how they could be replicated to people's own cities, schools and classrooms. A photo safari is more structured than a photo walk, breaking people into smaller groups with a knowledgeable photographer in each group who can help others improve their skills. Several educators stopped afterwards to tell us how exited they were to get their own students interested in photography through the use of a photo walk or photo safari.

Larry has published a free e-book on how to organize your own photo safari. It can be downloaded by going to

If you will be at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, consider participating in the photo walk Sunday morning. We have already started planning for it! Contact Larry or me and we will keep you posted as planning progresses.

Craig Nansen
@cnansen on Twitter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Tech Enhanced Trip from ND to Denver

Back in the "good old days" a 12 hour drive from Minot, ND to Denver, CO involved intermittent AM radio stations, some reading material (for the passengers), and conversation when the passenger(s) were awake.

How things have changed.

This past Thanksgiving my wife and I drove to Denver, but with some technology to enhance the trip.

Before leaving, we loaded our iPods with music and podcasts to listen to. We also added a few movies and books to our iPads.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Drinking from a fire hose

Trying to get information from the Internet using tools like Twitter, Diigo, Google+, and blogs is like trying to take a drink from a fire hose. You can only take a little bit at a time and most of it goes right on by. This is reality.

A real life example would be going to an evening social event at an educational conference with a large group of people from your own grade level or subject area. You can't be part of every conversation taking place in the room. There might be some real interesting conversations going on across the room that you aren't part of. And when you decide it is time to leave and get to bed, the conversations may still be going on and you will be missing out on them.

In Twitter the conversations are taking place under different hashtags and they are never ending. You can only take part in some of them - when you have time, have an interest in the hashtag, topic or discussion, and it is convenient for you.

Another example would be walking into a library or bookstore and being overwhelmed by the books, magazines, newspapers, and other resources. You can't possibly read or browse through them all. We have learned to manage this situation though - we only go to the library or book store when we have time and it is convenient. When we go to the library or bookstore we are usually looking for something specific and we go right to the sections that we have an interest in. When I go to the bookstore, I am usually just browsing for something interesting, again in an area I am interested in, but not really knowing what I am looking for. If I need specific information there are people that I can ask for help. With Twitter I can post a question to other math teachers (#mathchat) or social studies teachers (#sschat) or elementary teachers (#elemchat) and hundreds (or thousands) of educators may be exposed to that questions.

One more example is going to the supermarket. This would pertain to when you are looking for something particular. There are thousands of food items found in many different isles. Some people head for the produce section while others avoid it. Some people head for the meat counter or dairy products, some to the chips and candy isle. It all depends on what you are looking for. In education, people search specific hashtags (#edchat, #4thchat, #mathchat) for things they are interested in.

This is how you need to handle the information coming at your from Twitter and other online resources. Don't feel you have to check every day or read everything you come across. Check Twitter when you have time and when it is convenient. Use Google Search when there is something specific you need to find information about.

I might go days at a time (or even a week or more) without checking Twitter. I check it when I have time, and when it is convenient. This is usually in the evenings when I am watching TV, checking during commercial breaks. And like in the library or bookstore, I just look for things I have an interest in, and when I find something of interest, I don't feel I have to read it immediately. I bookmark it in Diigo to check on when I have time or I might pass it on to someone who I know would be interested in it.