iPhone app

Got an App Idea? Think Outside the Box - and Outside the Country

If you are considering building an app, one of the many things you need to consider is the international market. Thinking internationally, rather than just locally (here in the US), will probably influence some of your content/feature/benefit decisions.

As always, an important rule in marketing is this: know your customer - and your potential customer.

Dr. Dave Wilson, the app developer who designed my app, 24-7 Photo Buffet, uses a program called AppVis to track not only our sales, but where the app is sold. Today's Region Graph of sales opens this post.

Summing up the marketing tip: Sure, think outside the box, but also think outside the country!

If you are interested in developing an app, here's a short how-to by Dr. Dave. Take it away, Dave . . . .

I'm the dude who co-developed "Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" iPhone/iTouch application. Good fun – but also a lot of work.

Actually, the app is more like an e-book - because it offers so much how-to info.

What's more, it's like an ever-expanding e-book – because new content will be added monthly. More fun . . . and more work :-)

For those of you who are interested in behind-the-scenes stories (and app development), here's the technical scoop on the app.

In the Beginning

Apple started shipping the first iPhone in June 2007. There was, however, a problem for developers (like me): Apple didn't initially provide any way to write "native" apps for the iPhone.

Apple finally released their iPhone SDK to developers in March of 2008, and opened the App Store in July 2008. Developers could finally write real apps, and sell them to iphone and iPod Touch owners. This started the "Gold Rush" that today has produced more than 100,000 apps for sale in the App Store - in more than 70 countries.

What’s Needed

To write an app for the iPhone, you need the following:

• Apple's Xcode development system - a free download.

• A good understanding of "object-oriented programming" (OOP). This can be hard to learn at first, but I started using OOP in 1987, so it was no problem by 2008.

• Familiarity with the Objective-C programming language, which uses a C syntax for most things, but a Smalltalk-like syntax for sending messages to objects. I had not used Objective-C since the late '80s, so I had to re-learn it. It's a cool programming language, but only Apple seems to use it. Most of the rest of the world uses C, C++, C#, or Java - which all differ from Objective-C in various ways.

• The iPhone SDK - a free download. Parts of iPhone programming are just like Mac OS X programming, but there are many new frameworks to support the "Cocoa Touch" user interface, so there's a lot to learn.

• A Developer account with Apple that costs $99/year, just to be able to put an app on your own iPhone for testing.

• An iTunes business account, so you can submit apps to the App Store.

By the time Rick and I met in September 2009 (in a helicopter at the Maui Photo Festival), I had four apps in the App Store. The design and development of "Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" took almost four months.

Assigned Tasks

• Deciding on the content - a four-month process that continues even today.

• Prototyping the user interface - about one month.

• Taking existing iPhone programs I had written, and munging them into what we eventually used - about one month.

• Detailed coding and debugging - perhaps two months.

• Picking a name for the app - weeks of suggestions, counter-suggestions, and brainstorming. This is the hardest part of app development :-)

• Submitting it to the App Store - a touchy process that took about two hours of messing around.

• Waiting for Apple to approve the app - only took three days (this could take weeks in the past - Apple seems to have greatly improved the process in the last few weeks).

About Rick

"Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" incorporates 30+ years of Rick's photography and teaching experience (and his best photographs and techniques), and 30+ years of my programming and user interface design experience. So I guess you could say that this app took more than 60 years to develop. But it was worth it - it's a really cool app. Hey, I'm not the only one who thinks so! Check out our reviews on our app page.

Rick and I want to hear from you. Let us know what topics you'd like us to add as we update the app - which should be at least once a month. You can email Rick at ricksammon at mac.com. You can see more of his work at www.ricksammon.com.

24/7 Photo Safari App Being Developed

Dr. Dave Wilson and I are currently developing our next app: Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Safari.

The app, due out in May, is divided into six text/photo sections:

• Wildlife

• Captive Animals

• People

• Landscapes

• Cityscapes

• Underwater

There is also a section that features five Photoshop movies:

• Creating the Panning Effect

• Faking the Full-Frame Fish-eye Lens Effect

• Saving a Back-lit Shot

• Simulating Rear-curtain Synch

• Wow Them With the Telephoto Lens Effect

In our Help section, you can read about the team that assembled the app. While you are there, you can also check out some links and make suggestions for this app and future Rick Sammon 24/7 apps.

Hey! If you have a suggestion for an app, let me know here.

Explore the light,

Rick

Version 1.1 of My Digital Photography App is Now Available


The first update for my first app - Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet - is now available on iTunes. The update is free.

If you are new to the app, read about it here.

The always-expanding app (like a never ending story) include lessons on close-up photography and shooting in the snow.

Here is a preview.

Close-Up Tips

Practice.
Before we set out to take some serious close-up pictures, we need to practice using different f-stops, shutter speeds and lighting at home. That's what I did before embarking on a trip to Florida to photograph butterflies.

I experimented with different camera, lens and flash (ringlight) settings at home so that when I arrived in Florida, I could focus most of my attention on composition, without having to worry about making camera adjustments. This picture of Spicebush Swallowtail was taken with my Canon 50mm macro lens and Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX. That lens lets me get full-frame pictures off butterflies, as well as close-ups of a butterfly’s wings.

Depth-of-field.
When shooting with a macro lens, depth-of-field is extremely limited – and important. Even at small f-stop, depth-of-field is limited. Use your depth-of-field preview button to check what’s in focus – and what’s out of focus – before you shoot.

Ringlight.
A ringlight lets you shoot at small apertures for good depth-of-field. It also offers even or ratio lighting. Your choice!

Shooting in the Snow Tips

Don’t Be Fooled.
All that white can fool a camera's exposure meter into thinking that the scene is brighter than it actually is, therefore setting the camera for an underexposed picture. The remedy: Set your exposure compensation dial to +1. The increase should give you a better exposure, which, of course, you can fine-tune further with exposure compensation and in the digital darkroom.

Pack a Polarizing Filter.
Another important tip: Pack a polarizing filter to reduce glare on snow and ice.

Future 24/7 Photo Buffet updates will include:
Hyper HDR (because I am so hyper) and Flash Photography.

Hey, let me know what you'd like me to add to my 24/7 Photo Buffet app - or what apps you'd like to see.

Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Safari is in the works! It should be available in April.

Explore the Light,
Rick

Sunrise at South Beach

Today was the last sunrise shoot on my South Beach workshop - the best light of the week.

Sure, we shot lots of HDR images over the past few days - and learned how to process the images in Photomatix, Photoshop and Topaz Adjust.

However, this non-HDR silhouette of a man feeding the seagulls is one of my favorite images from the workshop.

I did add a touch of Topaz Adjust to enhance the color in the sky clouds.

When shooting at sunrise and sunset, and almost always, try to expose for the highlights. Watch your histogram and overexposure warning on your camera's LCD monitor.

For me, the seagulls make this shot. However, for the HDR shots of the lifeguard stands that we were also taking, the birds were ruining the shots – because they showed up looking like dust spots on the image sensor. Kinda funny how the same subject can be good or bad.... depending on what you are looking for.

All the images you saw on my blog this week were taken with Canon 5D Mark II and either my 17-40mm lens (this shot) or my 24-105mm lens.

Explore the light,
Rick

It's Not Easy Having Fun - The Story Behind Rick's iPhone/iTouch App

Hi All -

Dave Wilson here. I'm the dude who co-developed "Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" iPhone application. Good fun – but also a lot of work.

Actually, the app is more like an e-book - because it offers soooo much how-to info.

What's more, it's like an ever-expanding e-book – because new content will be added monthly. More fun . . . and more work :-)

For those of you who are interested in behind-the-scenes stories (and app development), here's the technical scoop on the app.

But first, check out the intro movie.

Apple started shipping the first iPhone in June 2007. There was, however, a problem for developers (like me): Apple didn't initially provide any way to write "native" apps for the iPhone.

Apple finally released their iPhone SDK to developers in March of 2008, and opened the App Store in July 2008. Developers could finally write real apps, and sell them to iphone and iPod Touch owners. This started the "Gold Rush" that today has produced more than 100,000 apps for sale in the App Store - in more than 70 countries.

To write an app for the iPhone, you need the following:

Apple's Xcode development system - a free download.

A good understanding of "object-oriented programming" (OOP). This can be hard to learn at first, but I started using OOP in 1987, so it was no problem by 2008.

Familiarity with the Objective-C programming language, which uses a C syntax for most things, but a Smalltalk-like syntax for sending messages to objects. I had not used Objective-C since the late '80s, so I had to re-learn it. It's a cool programming language, but only Apple seems to use it. Most of the rest of the world uses C, C++, C#, or Java - which all differ from Objective-C in various ways.

The iPhone SDK - a free download. Parts of iPhone programming are just like Mac OS X programming, but there are many new frameworks to support the "Cocoa Touch" user interface, so there's a lot to learn.

A Developer account with Apple that costs $99/year, just to be able to put an app on your own iPhone for testing.

An iTunes business account, so you can submit apps to the App Store.

By the time Rick and I met in September 2009 (in a helicopter at the Maui Photo Festival), I had four apps in the App Store. The design and development of "Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" took almost four months.

Tasks included:

Deciding on the content - a four-month process that continues even today.

Prototyping the user interface - about one month.

Taking existing iPhone programs I had written, and munging them into what we eventually used - about one month.
Detailed coding and debugging - perhaps two months.

• Picking a name for the app - weeks of suggestions, counter-suggestions, and brainstorming. This is the hardest part of app development :-)

Submitting it to the App Store - a touchy process that took about two hours of messing around.

Waiting for Apple to approve the app - only took three days (this could take weeks in the past - Apple seems to have greatly improved the process in the last few weeks).

"Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet" incorporates 30+ years of Rick's photography and teaching experience (and his best photographs and techniques), and 30+ years of my programming and user interface design experience. So I guess you could say that this app took more than 60 years to develop. But it was worth it - it's a really cool app. Hey, I'm not the only one who thinks so! Check out our reviews on our app page.

Rick and I want to hear from you. Let us know (here on the blog) what topics you'd like us to add as we update the app - which should be at least once a month.

Thanks for listening.

Best,
Dave Wilson