Create Great iPhone Photos - Review

No Starch Press - author Allan Hoffman - Create Great iPhone Photos - Apps, Tips, Tricks and effects ISBN 978-1-59327-285-2

Full Disclosure - I was provided a copy of the book to read and use in the review process. To be in integrity with all, I use these tools to provide a solid review of a product, service or book with no additional agenda. It's important to do this so that there's no favoritism. I will also say upfront that I love the lay flat binding in this book so I can open it, lay it down and let is stay where I opened it to. Very handy when using a book like this as a guide.

And now to the review - 

First off let me say that by the time I am finished typing this there will be a slew of new apps out on the App Store for those would be iPhoneO-Graphers out there to take advantage of. That's how fast this landscape changes.

BUT!!! It's awesome that someone has taken a moment to put out a book that not only spotlights some really great apps, but also gives you some tips on how to use those apps to achieve some amazing results.

Allan did a great thing in writing this book. He used a collection of apps to tell the story and to weave together the pieces of the puzzle that not only tell the reader how to achieve things, it shows them.

At 203 pages it's an easy read which will keep you coming back for more. I found myself purchasing a few apps from the App Store, then going to the book and saying "how did he do that...oh it's right here!" I did that a lot as I was reading this mostly in the evening time before going to sleep.

Chapter 1 - takes you through the iPhone Camera Essentials. You get to understand what the iphone camera is and what isn't. You find the strength and weaknesses and learn how it compares to others out there. 

Based on my personal experiences I would recommend using the iPhone 4 for any current work that you're doing with photos. Its display is amazing and the resolution of the current camera is at 5Megapixels which will generate a nice photograph either to be viewed on computer screen or in print.

Chapter 2 - discusses some great apps you'll want to get your hands on right now to extend the abilities of the camera in the iPhone. Also covers things to consider when buying different apps. I like this because as the market grows it's nice to have some baseline of things to look for when purchasing apps and what they'll do for you.

Chapter 3 - focuses (pardon the pun) on some great apps for manipulating images, cleaning them up, resizing them, basically you'll find out that you truly can have Photoshop in Your Pocket for much less than the cost of that desktop application.

Chapter 4 - covers a favorite topic of mine which is filters, effects and recipes. Here you can learn how to really cook up and deliver some great photos from your iPhones camera.

This image was created using an app called "dash of color" which lets you turn an image into grey and then introduce a little bit of color where you desire to draw the viewer's attention to important things.

Chapter 5 - looks at the "Retro Look" which is interesting. In digital photography there's a degree of sterility in images which people are dying to see overcome. They're too clean! So the retro look takes a look at ways of dirtying up the image and making it appear as if it was taken by an older model film camera. We do miss those polaroids where the light bled into the back of the camera and created an interesting image for us. Now we can easily achieve that using some apps and some settings within them. You'll see how.

This image was treated to a "haze" effect by Photofx which is an app chock full of filters and effects for everything you can imagine. Check it out and then add it to your arsenal of tools used in everyday photo editing. Seriously DocMurdock Recommended.

Chapter 6 - covers fun effects which go to places like when you were a kid and your folks gave you a little toy camera that put out some really cool pictures when the film was processed. Now you don't have to run down to FotoMat to get those pictures. Your iPhone will deliver them for you in seconds.

This image used an app called Swankolab. Swankolab is really cool because it let's you be your own Dr. Jekyll or Mr./Mrs. Hyde with chemicals. This one came out a little bit overdone for my liking, but it's just here to show you can do some cool effects with images quickly. All of these photos included were done with the iPhone 4 and its front-facing camera which is great when you remember to look up into the lens of it, not into the screen of the phone.

Chapter 7 - is that thing we often see on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and a host of other services out there, someone just took a pic and posted it and it's there for the entire globe to see if they desire. Now you'll see how that's done and some key services to use when posting images. The one I am writing this review on is called and it's one of my favorites. Make sure you visit it and see how to tie things together with email and posting of images. They also have an app which is free that you can load onto your iPhone or iPad 2 and take pictures, then post them along with a blog entry. Very slick stuff.

Chapter 8 - talks about the Photoblogging process and mentality as well. Allan spotlights Tumblr and Wordpress as two great ways to post your pictures. There are more than 1,000 others out there. Check out flickr as well as and of course facebook, twitter, twitpic, dailybooth and many other services that allow you to post pictures for free. Now when you do post something remember it's out there, so if you see it on the news or something and you did not give permission for it, don't be peeved. You actually did when you posted it on the web. But that's another story entirely.

This image was treated to LoMob and its feature set. Changed from color to black and white with some great contrast as well as some doctoring on focus to allow me to appear closer than I was. Very cool use of depth of field in this and this was all done in post processing after the picture was pulled from the photo library. Some apps also allow you to do this as you've taken the picture which is handy rather than importing and changing them later on.

Chapter 9 - is a collection of users whose work is great to inspire you to do greater, cooler things with your iphone and its camera. So read through these, see what apps they use and try some out for yourself. Most of all just have fun.

This book gets a DOCMURDOCK - APPROVED stamp because it rocks! Great content, great examples, lots of pictures and tricks and it's well written by its author and published by a great group of people.

Make sure you pick up a copy or get one onto your iPad2 or iPhone from your favorite vendor.

See you on the web!

Make sure to follow @docmurdock on twitter or on facebook at or on the web at

Enjoy your day wherever you are and may all of your photos be masterpieces.


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New CoPilot Live Apps for iPhone and iPads are Here

Get your copies NOW!!! DocMurdock APPROVED & RECOMMENDED

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We’re excited to reveal our brand new navigation apps - CoPilot Live Premium and CoPilot Live Premium HD. Designed with you in mind, a new approach to routing, combined with a simplified menu ensures that CoPilot Live is ready to guide you via your best way.

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With a sleek new dashboard style guidance view, improved route calculation and new Live services, it’s designed to keep you better informed while on the move.
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Find the best route to any destination with a choice of up to 3 alternate routes, displaying travel time and mileage for each. For the ultimate in personal navigation, you can even drag your route to a preferred street you wish to take.
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Tap anywhere on the map to navigate there, discover location-specific information or share your location with friends using Facebook Places check-ins or Twitter. Search Wikipedia or Bing™ directly from within the app to find even more nearby places to go!
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The all new, more intuitive and interactive user interface within CoPilot Live puts you in control. All the navigation features you need are always right where you need them.

And for a limited period, you can get CoPilot Live Premium for $9.99 or CoPilot Live Premium HD for $14.99. Don’t let your friends and family miss out on this deal! Spread the word to your family and friends so they can enjoy this special introductory offer too!

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My New iPad 2...

A review by Michael Murdock (This image and others taken with iPad 2 camera.)
**Full Disclosure, I was provided a copy of the book for review purposes. No other compensation provided**

When the iPad first was released there was a book out that I reviewed called "My New Ipad". Now that the iPad 2 is out, Wallace has updated things and come forward with "My New iPad 2".

No Starch Press brings this publication to market with excellent delivery and this time the book is filled with color images which for me work well being that the iPad 2 has a camera and allows you to capture your world, as well as interview people as well as do facetime chatting with others.

I find a lot of how-to guides boring because the publishers go cheap and make them in black and white, but it's apparent that NoStarch took the high road with this and invested in color. Wallace takes you through the basics of using the iPad 2 as well as optimizing the usage of the batteries in this new piece of technology.

What I enjoy about Wallace is he's not talking over your head. He doesn't assume that you know every piece of the technology and what the nomenclature or parts are, he takes it at a level where you feel comfortable reading the book, don't get lost and in the end you'll know what the iPad 2 is and how to best use it for work, for play, or for simply relaxing and watching a movie on it.

It's important in the marketplace of today to be writing in such a way as to not lose your audience or talk down to them. Wallace is great at bringing this to life in such a way as you feel empowered and urged to explore not only the iPad 2 itself, but the publication in such a way as to be informed about what's next quickly. Bravo to him for this method of writing.

In Chapter 1 he covers the basics of turning things on, putting the iPad 2 to sleep, waking it, as well as using Airplane mode which not only works on those iPad 2's which have 3g, but that control is also present in the Wifi versions, so make sure you look that section over, especially if you're going to be flying with your iPad 2.

Chapter 2, Wallace covers optimizing battery power. When to charge you iPad 2 and when to let it run down and refresh the batteries. How to monitor battery life, and how to use bluetooth ear pieces and other devices with the iPad 2 to get the most out of it. Did you know you can use a bluetooth keyboard as well as a bluetooth headset with this device? It's true!

In Chapter 3 he talks about the physical and virtual controls of the iPad 2. How to use the multitasking features in iOS and how to configure that screen lock or mute switch. You can adjust this in the settings >> General area under "Use side switch to..." . 

Chapter 4 discusses controlling the multi touch screen functions such as scroll, quick scroll, Zoom. It's been said that when iOS 5 comes out that there will be some additional 'gestures' available for the iPad 2 which could easily be updated and implemented as the screen offers a larger space than simply a mouse or trackpad. Can't wait for those to come in.

In Chapter 5 you learn there's more you can do with keyboards so this is something you'll want to check into, whether you use the virtual keyboard on the screen, or one that's physically attached to the ipad via the dock connector.

Chapter 6 will show you things about customizing the home screen and Chapter 7 is Parental Controls. 

Chapter 8 gets into PRIVACY which seems to be a favorite of a lot of readers out there. The iPad 2 offers some of the same protections as the iPhone does with regards to Privacy and keeping your information out of the hands of others.

Chapter 9 will share with you how to get your internet connection set up, of if you're using an iPad 2 that has 3g built in, you'll learn how to set that up as well as some additional ideas for connecting to the internet.

Chapter 10 discusses Installing and Uninstalling Apps. Finding them, adding them, moving them around, all sorts of things around apps and their usage.

Chapter 11 will get you into the use of Safari, opening multiple webpages, as well as other ways of browsing information on the web. Who thought that reading could be so much fun! We all say that we don't read now, but in reality we read more and more as we're glancing at more and more web pages each and every day. Either on our computer, iPad, other tablet device, or smartphone.

Chapter 12 Talks bookmarks in Safari as well as creating folders for bookmarks and other data management related to Safari.

Chapter 13 gets you to setting up email either automatically or manually and Chapter 14 gets into the usage of Mail and how to properly operate this app so that you are checking, reading, sending, emails as soon as possible.

Chapter 15 gets into Videos, Music, Photos and Ebooks. Using the iPad 2 as a reading device you will find eventually you want music, videos, photos, and books on it to keep you in tune with what's going on out there. I find myself reading things, removing them, taking pictures, saving them on the computer, deleting them, taking this chapter covers that for you.

And there are another 15 chapters after this, but you get the idea :) This is more about you taking this book and browsing the parts you desire to read in it, or reference in it. It's an excellent guide to the iPad 2 and one that I come back to time and time again to get clarity on things in.

If you have an iPad 2 or you're thinking about getting one (as I was when I got the book to review), I would pick up a copy of this book to have around as a resource to make your iPad 2 experience an informed and positive one. It's well worth your investment. You can find the book at many online retailers.

Thanks for taking time to read.


CoPilot Live Standard & Premium

**Full Disclosure. I was provided a copy of CoPilot Live Standard & Premium for the iPhone to use in my review of the product.**

It's always fun to take a trip and to see how things turn out when you use varying services. For me I use a couple of different items just for the sake of seeing which one delivers the best result, offers the most distraction-less experience and delivers me to the destination the most times successfully.

Driving apps are becoming more and more of a requirement in the era of smart-phones. Each of them playing to a different niche, each of them offering features that the others don't and some simply refining or innovating the features of others. One that stands out in this crowd for me is CoPilot from I have tried a couple of different apps out there and things that are important to me are:

A. Speed of the app
B. Responsiveness to the environment (does it update according to traffic information and advise alternate routing)
C. Informational services - Gas pricing, weather, points of interest along the way
D. Support
E. Pricing
F. Maps...are they downloaded as needed or device resident
G. Informational display - how does the app show me what I need as a driver in such a way that I don't have to dig for it.

So when I received an email asking if I'd like to review the newest version of CoPilot Live for the iPhone, I jumped at the chance. I reviewed their original version so this was a treat I was looking forward to. Both of these versions are priced differently. I recommend the PREMIUM just for the amount of information and feedback the app provides. If you start out with Standard you can easily upgrade to it.

I must say out of the gate that I was completely impressed with the revisions to the app. They've taken what one would call a dashboard paradigm and moved it to a whole new level of clarity and precision. Bravo to the UI designers at on this one. Nice job folks.

Lets get into the review now...

The app feels faster to me. In the launch phase as well as operationally, it just feels faster. I used the iPhone 4 the last time I reviewed this so it's not a difference in the hardware, but the speed increase is definitely a welcome perception if that's what it is. Something tells me they trimmed the overhead of this app in the area of memory usage as it just zips along.

Next you'll see two images. 

The one where you can additional information at the top of the screen is the new version, the other is the older version which basically blocked out the phone info 


New CoPilot Live - darker theme Old CoPilot Live - lighter theme

The new interface is cleaner, easier to read and manages the screen better for the user. Text is bigger so that you don't have to strain your eyes to see things that's important using an app such as this one. I also like the colors they've used. Additionally what I love about this is the ability to get to other forms of display by simply tapping in the center of the "dashboard". So on the image where it says 5.1 mi and has a road with an arrow pointing right, if I were to tap that, the map would change to a view which had larger text and information about when my next turn would be. I love this information as I can choose to either use my glasses or not when looking at it, yes it's that large.

And whether or not you're using portrait view or landscape, you'll get the most information possible in the view to let you know where you're heading and how long it will take to get there:


I would like to see some different voices for navigation though. Seriously the one woman's voice that's part of the program after a while 
begins to gnaw at my spine.

Want to know the weather in your area? Simply tap the weather and you can also get it for along the way, or at your destination:

Looking for the best pricing on Gas? Tap for that too! and once again, along the way or at your destination

And once you find a station you like, route to it and get your fuel.

If you park your can tell it where you are by tapping, and then tell the app to find your car when done. This is handy to avoid those Seinfeld episodes where you lose your car

and you can also use facebook places and Wikipedia for additional info by simply tapping from within this screen:

These are some nice additions to an already involved program. Since the app downloads all maps to your device if you go off grid you're still able to route because information is resident on the device. The download of the app is right around 1.

One thing I really love about the app is that it shows you precisely where to be when freeways merge so that you get into the proper lane. I have found others that did not do this well. ALK did a great job and here's a sample of that in both portrait and landscape


It was telling me in the first image that I needed to be in the far right lane to get off onto the 133 North. In the next image I could be in any of the 3 right lanes and still be ok to get onto the 101 North in Ventura.

Having guidance like this is important when driving so that you can be more aware of things and not do that swing from the far left lane into the right lane across 4 lanes because you almost missed the turn off. Knowing enough in advance is one of the things that helps keep the accident rate down vs. up. So thanks to ALK for putting that into this update. Love the way you've implemented it.

Operationally, this app gave me no problems whatsoever and was dead on with every route I took during my 3 day trip, so thanks for that. One other thing I like that I've not seen in other apps is the ability to tell ALK when you find something that they need to update. Right in the app you can do this and they fix things all the time and you'll then get a notice to update and they push the changes down to your app quickly. Very slick.

In summation, this update to CoPilot is definitely DocMurdock Approved & Recommended for all to purchase. Go to the App Store and get this app if you don't have it. It's also available on Android.

Thanks for the chance to review this product ALK. I love your software!!