Oculus Rift

I posted earlier about getting into VR or “Virtual Reality” with Google Cardboard or the Mattel Viewmaster here. I also played a demo version of Eve Valkyrie, and it was amazing! Check out the demo video.

If you want the best consumer level experience that now exists, and you are willing to spend the money, there are 2 top-notch choices by Oculus. One for the Samsung called Samsung Gear VR and the top of the line Oculus Rift.

View-Master VR Viewer

VR or Virtual Reality viewers, are gaining popularity, mainly because of a product from Google called, “Google Cardboard”. In a nutshell, Google has made getting into “Virtual Reality” in a simple, fun, and affordable way.  They make apps that let anyone explore virtual reality, in a variety of creative and fun ways. There are a lot of companies who make Google Cardboard viewers, which are literally made of cardboard, that let you experience these adventures, without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars it used to cost, just a short time ago. These cardboard viewers are available all over, and simply stated, they let you drop your smartphone in, and start playing with these virtual worlds! Most cost around $20 but savvy shoppers can find them for even less.

I personally came across a product called the View-Master® by Mattel, and what initially impressed me most about their “VR Viewer” is the quality of the viewer, when compared to the cardboard versions I had been looking at before. I was able to find it for around $20 also, so it was an easy decision to give this one a try. The good news is, this viewer is compatible with all of the VR apps, and Google Cardboard apps, that are available for your smartphone, and believe me, it’s addictive and very fun.

Interestingly, they were the original creators of the View-Master®, which if you had one as a kid, was a pretty cool technology for its time, that let you view 3D images, and it was pretty cool! Well, now it’s still 3D imaging, but a lot more immersive. They do make a product that still looks almost identical to the original round reels that were made for the original View-Master®. These new digital versions, while they look very similar to the old ones, are a whole new experience. They call them “experience packs” and they are very cool, but a little pricey, when compared to the many free Google Cardboard apps. At the time of my purchase, they were going from between $10 and $16 dollars, and I suppose these will be great experiences, and educational for kids especially. It’s very cool that the viewer can work with all the apps, and the uses will be amazing!

If you have heard of these “Virtual Worlds” and want to dive in, I highly recommend the View-Master® to get started, and if you want the higher end versions, check out products like the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR, which is powered by Oculus Rift.

iPhoneography Class

iPhoneography Class – Cool things you can do with your smartphone.

As with other information on this site, there are many great smartphones, and other “mobile cameras”, and while I do focus a lot of the information on IOS devices, most of this applies to any that are out there.


https://help.apple.com/iphone/9/There is an iphone_user_guide which you can view online, download or print, and this guide has everything you need to know about using your device. No matter what device you have, the best thing is to just search online for iPhone user guide and you should find what you need. This changes so often that it is best to search for your particular device.

The Camera section is broken down into these sections

The next section deals with the Photos App for managing your images

Techniques and tips for capturing photos and videos

There are entire volumes of information about how to take better photos, and that really is a whole other set of skills you can learn, if you so desire. When it comes to taking photos with your mobile device, there are a few key things you can do to get the best images.

  1. Hold the camera steady or use a tripod. There are Apps that let you control camera with voice or sound which can help with steady shots too.
  2. Pay attention to Lighting, Exposure and Focus, and make sure you know how to set these in your camera app.
  3. Take lots of pictures, some pros recommend a ratio 100-1 or even 1000-1, Shoot lots of video and edit for the best.
  4. Start a photo project and take at least one photo every day or create your own unique project like every day, find a photo that represents a letter of the alphabet, a color, or even a shape. And of course “There’s an App for that” – Project 365 is one that comes to mind.
  5. Use your ear-buds to trigger shutter or the volume buttons on your device.
  6. Change your angle – see dog video as sample
  7. Learn how and when to use the new phone features for TIME-LAPSE. SLO-MO, VIDEO, PHOTO, SQUARE and PANO

There are thousands, if not millions of “iPhoneography” related sites out there – here is a list of some popular ones to get you started.

http://www.groovebook.com/ – this is a good one for people who do this a lot for $2.99 you get a book per month

Some interesting new additions

This one lets you shoot videos with friends and upload to create some cool videos. It’s called Vyclone

This is another one that lets you create videos with your friend called JumpCam

One of the best new photo apps just released called Hydra

Photos can be used for much more than just sharing with social networks. Additionally, with the ability to add Apps to extend the capabilities of your camera, the possibilities are endless! While the classes will focus on the “Photography” side of things, I still wanted to give you more ideas of what your camera can be used for.

Where appropriate videos can be used in place of, or as well as a photo

Ideas of uses for your camera – 82 and counting!

  1. Inventory your belongings for insurance.
  2. Take photos of people to add to your contacts. If it’s a business, maybe a picture of something about their business.
  3. Take a picture of your loved ones when going out in case of emergency. Very useful if things go wrong.
  4. Report suspicious activity. Sometimes, just taking photos and videos is enough to deter wrongdoers. There are many new apps coming out for Safety and Emergency that I am keeping my eye on.
  5. Take a picture of your map and directions so when you lose your signal, you can still follow the directions. Or you can just capture your screen if using the built-in maps on your device by pressing the power and home button to snap a picture of what is on your screen.
  6. Injury photos if help isn’t available, and someone’s sick or injured.
  7. Accident or Damage documentation. This includes documenting with pictures or video any disaster, accident or emergency. If you are lost pictures can help describe where you are and if you have signal, GPS data will be recorded too.
  8. Send a picture so others will know where to meet. Again GPS data is recorded and easily shared so people can find the location.
  9. Take a picture of your pantry, refrigerator or anywhere else you store things you buy, and use it as a quick shopping list.
  10. Send a picture of you or the person someone needs to meet, or pictures of someone coming to them.
  11. Document your adventures, especially places you would like to share or re-visit. An example might be a cool landmark or some hidden treasure.
  12. Use your camera to create and share your own “Greeting Card”, even better if you are in it.
  13. Tex-ting a photo or video can sometimes explain something quicker.
  14. Take pictures of your wallet’s or other important documents for backup and future reference. Be careful and make sure these images are secured since they can contain personal and financial information.
  15. Weather, Bigfoot, UFO’s – be ready for anything!
  16. Information photos and videos of all kinds like, billboards, books, items at stores and more.
  17. If you’re anywhere you’re not familiar with and there’s a posted map, take a picture of it for later reference. Taking pictures along the way can also help you find and document your route.
  18. Record medicines or any other special needs items.
  19. Where did I park the car? Take as many pictures as you need to help you find your way back. Of course there are apps that will help you with this too and even guide you back using the GPS.
  20. Trying to describe something to your mechanic? Send a picture to the mechanic who may talk you through a quick fix.
  21. Photo posted business hours, listed services, menu’s, or whatever for later review.
  22. Hotel room number and information. Take pictures to find your way back, and they can be useful when providing your own online reviews on places like Yelp.
  23. Send your kids on a photo scavenger hunt if you’ll need something to entertain them. Give them a short list of things they should take a picture of. First one to take all the pictures wins! Another idea is to take a really close up picture of something, and have them figure out what it is.
  24. If you buy or rent something, in addition to receipts, photograph the goods. This is really useful for rental cars as an example.
  25. Take a picture of computer or TV error messages so you don’t have to write them down.
  26. Selfie pictures or just the camera preview, are a great way to check your look when you don’t have a mirror handy.
  27. Lending something out, take a picture of item and person who borrowed it.
  28. Take a picture of your coat check card or valet ticket to make sure you always have a copy.
  29. If your remote isn’t working, check the IR signal by pressing buttons and viewing through your camera. It will flash if there is a signal being transmitted.
  30. Take photos of items you put in each box when moving for a visual reference.
  31. Finally got that perfect haircut? Take pictures from all angles to make sure you can recreate it.
  32. Your phone can be used as a magnifying glass or, as a cure for shortsightedness.
  33. Snap a photo of your license plate for when you need it.
  34. Grocery shopping for a recipe. Snap a photo of the ingredients for reference.
  35. Buying something from one of those bins? Take a pic of the bar code on the shelf to show the cashier.
  36. Pictures of your favorite beverages like wine bottles that you’ve tried and loved at a party or a restaurant.
  37. Keep a photo of your pet and their ID/vet tags if your pet goes missing.
  38. Reward program cards with membership numbers.
  39. Meeting agendas, menus or text that can be easily sent to someone like, can I order something for you?
  40. Photos of playlists from other users.
  41. Analyze your golf swing or other sport you do. Specifically, I am referring to using the SLOMO feature to analyze the video.
  42. Take pictures of anything you are thinking of getting, including the price if you can. This way you can run it past friends or family for a second opinion., or comparison shopping.
  43. The combination of a camera phone and an App can give you features such as, record audio to describe the photo, attach notes, convert an image to text and more.
  44. Take photos of books, magazines or articles you may want to refer to later.
  45. Take a photo of your printer cartridges, making sure you can see the model numbers and maybe your printer details as well.
  46. Take a picture of your Emergency Contact Information and make it the lock-screen of your phone. That way, if you’re in an accident, and incapacitated, someone can easily get to your iCE info. Most newer phones have a “Medical ID” which provides this now too.
  47. Keep a photo of your home’s wireless name and password to give to guests.
  48. Take a picture of all of your appliances and gadgets, including the manufacturers logos and serial numbers, for future service calls.
  49. Take a picture of the any equipment before unplugging anything!
  50. Take pictures of your favorite makeup and hair products to make it easier when shopping to replace them.
  51. Take a picture of your spices before restocking, so you don’t end up with duplicate or missing spices.
  52. Need to prove you turned in your homework if your teachers occasionally “misplace” school papers that you know you have turned in? Take pictures of your homework before you hand it in and don’t delete it until you get the paper back with a grade on it!
  53. When shopping for anyone, take pictures of things they want for reference later, probably would help to have sizes too.
  54. Use the camera to scan bar codes for comparison shopping or product information.
  55. Take a picture of business cards and import directly into your contacts.
  56. Take a picture of all the hardware and software specs on your system, including those “CDKEY” for software licenses.
  57. Take pictures of “Help Wanted” signs to send to your kids.
  58. Take a photo of your stove in the “OFF” position for those moments when you freak out, wondering if you left it on.
  59. Equipped with the right hardware you can use it as an inspection camera, even with thermal imaging capabilities.
  60. Create amazing marketing videos for your product or service. With this device there is no longer any reason you cannot produce information about your product or service, how-to videos and more.
  61. Now that you have a camera that is probably with you all the time, you too can have a “Photographic Memory”.
  62. Use your camera to convert an image into text.
  63. Immerse yourself in a “Virtual or 3D world” Google, has created a product called “Cardboard”. I recently purchased one from Mattel, the original makers of the “ViewMaster” and I have posted about the Oculus Rift.
  64. Explore a whole other world with a microscope attachment.
  65. Check anyone’s eyes for cataracts with the CATRA Eyepiece for Mobile Phones.
  66. Apps give your device capabilities utilizing the camera such as a “Measuring Device”.
  67. A “Flyable Camera” for a bird’s eye view.
  68. Turn you camera into a 3D scanner with this.
  69. Your camera can be used to not only act as a web or security camera, but also Monitor Security and webcams.
  70. Explore underwater remotely with this underwater camera.
  71. Try out new decorating ideas with this “Augmented Reality App”.
  72. Augmented reality is also a great way to scope out what is nearby and even see reviews.
  73. Apps like Starwalk turns your camera into the best star-gazer ever.
  74. Having this camera with you all the time is like having a copier or a scanner with you always.
  75. Translate text on signs using “Google Translate” and other Apps.
  76. When posting ads or advertising on places like Craigslist, make sure you include good quality pictures and videos to help you sell.
  77. Point your camera at your walls or objects and it will name the color. Great for interior decorators.
  78. Other Apps can help you identify all kinds of object you are pointing your camera at like plants or birds.
  79. Using some new hardware your camera can give you night vision.
  80. Create your own “what’s different about these photos” game by taking 2 pictures of the same thing and remove items from one of them.
  81. Somebody explaining something to you? Record it for later review.
  82. Video conferencing, live event streaming and of course Facetime. The newest addition here is Periscope which allows anyone to broadcast anything live to the world!
  83. Using your own images you can create your own books with something like bookemon.

 Apps for photography

It is very difficult to keep up with apps for any use, escpecially apps for photography, because it is one of the most popular uses of mobile phones today. What I will do, is teach you some methods for finding photography apps and hardware that fit your needs.

The newest IOS devices have just about all you could want for photography, but there are amazing innovations in hardware and software to extend those capabilities.

The first and most obvious place to start is the App Store. There is a category just for “Photo & Video” and just by browsing this category you can get lots of ideas for cool uses for your camera.

Another method I have started using is doing a Google search and under the search options there is a menu marked “More” then “Apps” which will narrow the Google searches down to Apps. The Apps are not limited to just the IOS devices, but it is easy to tell just from the links, which ones are available in the App store. There are also useful videos you can watch to help you decide if the Apps are for you.

 A few great photography Apps to get you started




Hardware to add to your device to extend it’s photo and video capabilities.

I tend to post some of what I consider to be the “Coolest” hardware and software for photography on this website, but like everything else, it’s up to you to find what meets your needs. That being said, I will list a few of the more useful hardware I have found, or used. I will also list a few resources of my favorite places I go when looking for cool new stuff!

One of my favorite sites that seems to stay on top of cool new photography related tech is called “Photojojo” The items listed on the site are not limited to just IOS, but photography in general, and they always have great stuff.

Another new source is by the huge photography equipment website called Adorama, and they have a new section called the “iPhoneToolShed”

Amazon has everything under the sun for your hardware needs on every level, and photography is no exception. As of today, when I searched for “iPhone Hardware” it listed

59,837 results for Cell Phones & Accessories

Their “site logic” decided that Cell Phones & Accessories was what I needed, and indeed it showed appropriate cool photography hardware for my iPhone. That number included duplicate content being offered from multiple vendors.

Essential iPhone Hardware

These are a few suggestions to add to your arsenal of photo gear to get the most out of your camera and photo adventures.

  • A Tripod, not only for better photos, but essential for things like time-lapse.
  • Some will argue that add-on lenses are an essential, but I don’t agree with this because a lot of design went into getting the best image quality from the optics, and I think when you put a lower quality zoom or telephoto, or any other lens attachment, you are reducing the quality of your images. It’s pretty crazy how many of these are available. The only possible exception to this might be the adapters you can get to attach “Professional” lenses to your camera and there are even a few designers that have manufactured very high quality “Remote” lenses that can be placed anywhere and then operated from your iPhone, but they tend to be more than it would cost to just buy a standard camera if you have the need. They definitely have their place though.
  • An extra power source or battery backup. Your batteries can get drained fairly quickly and there is nothing worse than not having enough battery when that perfect shot comes along.
  • Some sort of selfie tool like a remote shutter or “selfie stick” like mine. Mine has a Bluetooth shutter to trigger the camera remotely.
  • Don’t forget you can use the headphones that came with your device to take pictures simply by pressing the volume control, it’s a great remote shutter and will help you take steadier photo too.
  • Depending on how many photos and video you want to be able to take and the capacity of your internal memory, it can be useful to have a method of copying your images off the device like to a laptop, an iPad or a memory card.
  • If you plan on doing a lot of video, you can greatly increase the quality of the audio by using an external microphone, especially useful when filming a subject at some distance from you.
  • For automated panoramic and interior 360 photos, you might consider the Motto Galileo or other hardware to help automatically create these type of images.
  • If you want to be “Stealthy” when photographing you can use a right angle lens so nobody can tell you are taking their photo. Sometimes people images are much more natural when they don’t know they are being photographed.
  • Want to make your device an “ActionCam” and protect it from the elements? There are many housing choices that can even make your camera waterproof.

Samples of some amazing photography, using only iPhones