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How to Organize a Meetup

This past weekend, I organized a Toronto meetup for Periscope users, and it was a great success. We all had fun and met new people from the city, bringing the Periscope community in Toronto that much closer. This meetup didn’t happen overnight though. There was some planning involved, and so rather than explain everything to everybody who’s asked, I’ve decided to use this blog entry to explain the details of what you should be looking for when planning for a meetup in your own city. You’re not planning a Periscope meetup you say? No worries, this post will act as a guide so that you can use it for reference no matter what kind of meetup you’re going to plan for your home town.

How to Organize a MeetupThe Idea

When coming up with a meetup idea for Periscope, I wanted to do something special. Rather than just meet everybody over beer or lunch, I wanted to include the best part of using the Periscope app: the interaction we as broadcasters get with our viewers. With this in mind, I came up with the idea of being lost in our home city, while our viewers helped us find each other by popping in and out of our scopes, and telling us where everybody else was located. I included a lunch part of the meetup after this initial game portion, so that we could all mingle together.

If your meetup is with another app, find out what makes that app so special, and try to incorporate that element into the meetup to make things more exciting. For example, when planning an Instagram meetup for photographers, we had an underground theme where we went into our subway system and rode around the subway taking photos at various stations. This brought in many different types of photographs, and made it for a fun day.

The Logistics

On paper, this may look great, but there were logistics that had to be planned out in order for this to work out. Here’s how I solved our problems.

Where should broadcasters be located?

This was tough since I didn’t know how many people would be participating at first. Depending on the number of participants, I thought I’d set the boundaries larger so we had more places to meet each other. In my case, I set a general boundary within our city that was large enough for us to not be too close to each other, but close enough that we could still walk from one end of the boundary to the other. If the boundaries were too small, there would be the risk of everybody finding each other too quickly as well.

Peri Lost In Toronto

Peri Lost In Toronto

At the end of the day, the boundary that I had set was pretty good. 1.4km from Spadina to Yonge, and 2.7km from Bloor St. to Front St.. While I had some feedback saying it was too large of a boundary, the majority of people ended up finding each other within the first 20-30 minutes, which is a decent amount of time in my opinion.

Mark filming the Laughter Flash Mob

Mark filming the Laughter Flash Mob

When deciding on a location for your meetup, think of somewhere that may be unique for your group. Instead of a restaurant, perhaps an open place or patio may add a little more excitement for the group.

How would viewers find broadcasts of the participants?

Since not every viewer followed every participant on Periscope, I had to make sure it was easy for viewers to find all of our live broadcasts. The Periscope app doesn’t allow anybody to search the broadcast title, so I had to turn to Twitter for this. As long as we searched for a unique word, the viewers would be able to find each participating broadcaster and hop into their scope. I chose to use the #PeriLostInToronto hashtag since it was not in use, and described the event well. Make sure the hashtag you choose isn’t already in use as it will just clutter the search results and confuse viewers.

The #PeriLostInToronto hashtag searched on Twitter

The #PeriLostInToronto hashtag searched on Twitter

Once viewers searched the hashtag that day, they could immediately see that there were 11 of us currently lost in Toronto. They could then go to any one of those 11 users and see where they were, and let them know the locations of other scopers. This worked well since I had many people pop into my scope that were regular viewers of other scopers, and vice versa.

Engagement is key

The best part of this meetup was that it also incorporated the essence of the app that brought us together: engagement. The Periscope app wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the engagement we get with our viewers. I had lots of fun in my broadcast telling people where I was, and following instructions from viewers popping in to tell me where to go to meet the other broadcasters. People told me to head south while others told me to stay put. I had to ultimately engage with my viewers while making the executive decision.

Karen greeting the rest of the Periscope meetup members

Karen greeting the rest of the Periscope meetup members

If your app doesn’t allow for this type of engagement, make sure that what you do will allow for full engagement amongst group members. If you have a large group gathering, be sure to encourage switching group members around throughout the meetup so everybody gets a chance to meet each other.

The Social Element

I included a second part to the meetup largely for two reasons:

  1. Include those Periscope users that did not want to participate in the #PeriLostInToronto part of the meetup
  2. Include a social aspect to the meetup so that everybody could meet everyone else in case they did not get a chance to in the first half of the meetup
Vernon greets Rachel Anne.

Vernon greets Rachel Anne.

This is important if you want your meetup participants to mingle and get to know everybody else. If your meetup group is large, try and make it so every member can have a chance to meet and talk with every other member.

Instagram meetups can get quite large, so encourage your group to meet new people instead of always sticking with their acquaintances.

When To Meet?

When you’re planning on a date for the meetup, be mindful of certain things:

  1. Weeknight vs. weekends
    • Weekends tend to be better for larger groups, but be mindful that people may have family engagements and/or other things reserved for the weekends. If you have a smaller group, it may be easiest to meet up during a weeknight.
    • Be aware of any holidays that may also affect attendance. I held my meetup during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend hoping that more people would be able to come during a long weekend. Some people, however, weren’t able to come because of family engagements for the long weekend.
  2. You can’t please everybody
    • When planning a day, it’s ok to get a general consensus on the day, but be firm on your decision of the chosen date. You have to be aware that you can’t please everybody. If you start moving days around, other people may not be able to attend, they may get confused, or they may simply not want to bother with all of the changes going on.
  3. Find out if there’s another event near your meetup location that may coincide with your event. This may be a distraction, or a blessing to your event.
    • While I was not aware of this, there was a laughter flash mob that just happened to come to the location where we had all settled down. This was a complete coincidence, but it added a lot more amusement to the meetup.
Free laughter at City Hall

Free laughter at City Hall

The emcee encouraging us to laugh out loud.

The emcee encouraging us to laugh out loud.

Where To Meet?

When planning for the restaurant portion of the meetup, I chose a restaurant that was central to where I thought most people would be able to go to. The menu was varied, catering to many people, and the restaurant itself was large enough to host a group gathering. It’s better to go to a spacious place so your group won’t be the loudest bunch in the room.

Also, when making a reservation, let them know you’ll be requesting separate checks, as restaurants like to know this in advance.

The second half of the meetup was held at 3 Brewers, where people were busy scoping.

The second half of the meetup was held at 3 Brewers, where people were busy scoping.

Promote The Meet

It’s a meetup, why should I advertise it? Advertising a meetup is a great way to get two things done:

  1. Promote the meetup amongst your local followers; it will also get the attention of people you may not necessarily know about through various retweets, shares, re-grams, etc.
  2. Will get more hype going amongst the people attending

I started advertising my meetup six days before the date, on a Monday. I did a broadcast describing the meetup, and I created a blog post where people could RSVP for both portions of the meetup.

Some of the #PeriLostInToronto meetup members.

Some of the #PeriLostInToronto meetup members.

For large groups, I find it better to always have one specific location where people can RSVP. Otherwise it will be hard for you to track down tweets or mentions on various social media feeds of people telling you they want to come. I created a blog post, made an easy to remember URL, and directed everybody to that blog post so people could confirm the details and RSVP by commenting.

You don’t need a blog post to do this though: on Instagram, direct people to one specific picture to RSVP on; you could have people commenting on one of your Facebook statuses as well; if you use Twitter, create a Twitter Group Chat and gradually add people that may be interested in the meetup. An advantage of this is that existing members of the group chat can also add people too.

A meetup for Periscope users

A meetup for Periscope users

I created a graphic that people could easily tweet out. Graphics always adds more attention to the post. I created a generic ad (above) for people to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. throughout the week, directing people to go to my blog post.

A Toronto Periscope Meetup

A Toronto Periscope Meetup

The day before the event, I created a second ad (above) with more details on the event, and included names of users participating. People were free to tweet and retweet this out as well, all the while adding more excitement for the actual day. You may not need two ads, but if you create multiple ads, be sure to brand them similarly so people know they are the same event. Throughout the week, I also did another Periscope just to remind people that there was going to be a meetup on the weekend.

Support and Sponsors

Some companies offer support for meetup organizers in terms of free swag or other things to help you organize your meetup. For example, in the past, Instagram provided stickers and whatnot to distribute to your meetup group members. Tumblr also does something similar in their kit. Make sure to contact these companies well before your meetup date though, since it may be a while before they get back to you.

The Laughter Flash Mob coincidentally coincided with our Periscope meetup.

The Laughter Flash Mob coincidentally coincided with our Periscope meetup.

If you want to make things extra special, try finding a sponsor or two for your meetup. Sponsors can get their name out from all of your advertising, and may offer some extra perks for meetup attendees. It’s not a necessity by any means, but may add something special for the day. Again, make sure to contact potential sponsors well before the meetup day.

Conclusion

My initial thoughts were that I would get maybe four or five people participating in #PeriLostInToronto. We had eight people in all that came out and got lost. The lunch portion brought out 13 people. Some of these people I didn’t even know about since they happen to just see one of the advertisements that were floating around Twitter. It just goes to show that you never know who your ads may get the attention of.

The #PeriLostInToronto members before heading to lunch.

The #PeriLostInToronto members before heading to lunch.

There were some no-shows and cancellations, but that’s all expected. We still had a great time meeting and getting to know other local Periscope users. Even after lunchtime, some stragglers stayed behind and we had a great conversation going. The restaurant wasn’t too busy nor noisy to cater to our group, so that was an added bonus.

If you’re planning a meetup of any kind and have tips of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments below.


If you’re interested in what I went through for the #PeriLostInToronto part of the meetup, including the laughter flash mob, you can view my broadcast below.

The very basics of The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Many have asked in the past what app I use to pinpoint the exact location a sun will rise or set during any given day. I’ve mentioned this before in several of my other posts, but today, I will go through the very basics of the app, showing you how I locate my desired area for a sunrise or sunset.

For starters, you’ll need The Photographer’s Ephemeris to understand any of this, so you can go ahead and buy it from the app store, here. It’s not cheap, but it’s a wealth of information if you know how to use it. Mind you I’m no expert in this app myself, which is why I will show you the mere basics of it all.

The Photographer's Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Open the app and you’ll  be confronted with the map screen, as seen below. I’m using Google maps as a map reference, but if you’re so inclined, the app gives you other sources of maps. Just click on the satellite icon on the mid right of this screen and choose your desired map source.

Map screen when first launched.

Map screen when first launched.

If you have a desired location in mind, use the Locations icon on the bottom bar to type in the exact location you are interested in. For example, if I wanted to find out which way the sun will set when I’m standing on the Arch Bridge (Pont Neuf) in Paris, France, I would type in “Pont Neuf, Paris” to see the results, as seen below.

Enter your desired location.

Enter your desired location.

Select the appropriate result, and you’ll be shown three icons. The red pin indicates your primary pin, or where you will be standing. The grey pin acts as a secondary pin for reference in more advanced calculations such as elevations. The third icon allows you to save this location to your bookmark, for easy access in the future. For our example, click on the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

When you select the red pin, the app will switch over to map view again, and immediately take you to that location and it will put a pin in that location. You will now see orange, yellow, light blue and dark blue lines coming from the location. These indicate your sunset, sunrise, moonrise, and moonset respectively.

Now, if the red pin is not the the very spot that you like, you can relocate the red pin. It’s important to put this red pin to the exact location you wish to be standing during sunset time.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

To relocate the red pin, simply move the map until you see the target symbol over the exact location. For example, if I want to be standing on one of the viewing platforms of this bridge, I would just navigate the target icon until that is directly over the viewing platform.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

Then, select the red pin icon on the right bar, and your primary pin will relocate to the new location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Now that you have your exact location pinned, we need to find more information about this very location. Swipe up from the bottom bar to reveal all the sunrise, sunset information for this particular location on the day, indicated on the top bar. You can swipe down to hide this as well.

The colours of the sunrise, sunset, moorise, and moonset are all indicated in the bar allowing you to easily see which lines indicate which event.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

To get a better view of where the sun will be setting, zoom out so you can see a larger area.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Now you can see that the sun will be setting to the right of the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf. To find out when the sun will set along the Seine river, we can zoom out even more, and adjust the date on the very top bar, as indicated below.

The single triangles immediately beside the date allow you to go forward or behind one day at a time. The icons beside that allow you to jump to celestial events, like full moon, half moon, solstice, etc.

If you hold down on the date, you can actually see the events in a list, and change the date to an exact day of your choice.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

By looking at the screen capture above, you can see that on Friday August 21, 2015, the sun will once again rise along the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf.

Now, keep in mind although this is meant to be exact, it can be off at times! I’ve had it a couple of times where the location was not exactly as I had thought it would be, unfortunately. It does, however, give you a very good indication as to where the sun will be give or take a day or two.

Keep in mind this app is capable of a lot more than the above! It allows you to incorporate elevation to see exactly when the sun will rise above a mountaintop, and performs other advanced calculations. I hope this brief guide enabled you to see an introduction to the app and has whet your appetite in finding out exactly where the sun will be around your neck of the woods!

If you use this app, please feel free to comment below and let me know how you like it!

Who I like to follow on Periscope

Periscope for Android devices just came out yesterday, so it’s only a matter of time that the app gets inundated with more broadcasters doing interesting (and not-so-interesting) things. This list was a long-time coming, and since I broadcasted it out yesterday, I’ve had some requests to put it online, so here it is! It’s changed considerably since my last followers post, which you can read here, so hopefully you’ll find more new people to follow here.

Who I follow on Periscope

Who I follow on Periscope

Keep in mind that these are people that I follow that broadcast on a regular basis. I did not include those that I follow that do not broadcast. Their usernames are written below, with their real names written in brackets if it’s hard to figure out.

To follow any one of these people, simply go to the Peoples tab (bottom right), then click on the magnifying glass (top left), and enter their usernames, and select the person that seems to be the most active amongst the list!

I may have inadvertently omitted users on this list, so feel free to comment below with your favourite Periscopers too!

@Smaku (that’s me—I Periscope photography tips and Toronto tours)

Information-Based Periscopers

@AlexPettitt

@CathyHackl

@Kayvon (Co-founder of Periscope)

@MarkShaw

@RobertCStern

@MarkKaye

@Sacca (Chris Sacca)

Happy People / Motivational Speakers

@1AlexKhan

@1Justice4All

@AlexaRoseCarlin

@Jaylives1 (Jay Howard)

Artists & Entertainers

@Alicyn (Voice over actress/singer)

@LovelyPrevin (Musician)

@AmandaOleander (Painter/illustrator)

@JasonStolken (Comedian)

@JonErlichman

@PeriscopePuppet

@Rajacenna (Illustrator)

@Skorstar

@TiffWidjaja (Musician)

@TomGreenLive

@Yonatanmonster (Musicians)

Photographers

@500px

@AmoreVitaPhotos (Julia Beckmann)

@AshleyGoodwin

@ChaseJarvis

@ColeRise

@CoffeeGatherings (Razlyn)

@DanRubin

@FireTheCanon (Amanda Stevens)

@FrameableFaces

@FStoppers

@HollyParkerrr

@JasmineStar

@JeremyCowart

@JoeMcNallyPhoto

@Joeyldotcom

@KatelynJames

@KelbyOne

@MDickensPhoto (Meredith)

@ScottKelby

@TreyRatcliff

@ZachandJody

City Tours

@BaseGiulioBase

@ChantalTV

@ClaireWad

@Euromaestro

@Kanji_k

@PenguinSix

@TigerwonNYC

Happy People

@AskTere (Teresa)

@BradmanTV

@Cmdr_Hadfield (Chris Hadfield)

@DavidJBushell

@FoodPr0n (Jen Chan)

@HelloColie (Ashley Nicole)

@IamDaniBeck

@JennValentyne

@KevinFrankish

@LisaAppleton76

@ReneRedzepiNoma

@Rssuen (Renée)

@ScopeForGood (doing some good deeds with Periscopes)

Checking your app usage on your iPhone

Check your app storage usage to save space

Check your app storage usage to save space

I was looking through my hard drive space usage on my iPhone and noticed something peculiar with one of my apps. Looking through my app listing and going to Periscope, I noticed it was occupying 1gb of space on my iPhone when the app itself is only a mere 14mb to download from the app store.

Periscope using 1GB of storage on my iPhone

Periscope using 1GB of storage on my iPhone

To check your app usage, go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage

So what kind of information was the app saving on my phone? To find out if it saves any downloadable data or documents, I connected my iPhone to my iMac, started iTunes and looked at the Data and Documents section for Periscope, only to find it a blank slate. In other words, the app doesn’t store any downloadable content on your iPhone.

With that being covered, I simply deleted my app, and downloaded it again from the app store. As you can see from the screen cap below, the app now takes 14.8mb of space on my iPhone, as expected.

Periscope app taking only 14mb of storage after a fresh install.

Periscope app taking only 14mb of storage after a fresh install.

Next, I started the Periscope app and loaded all of its tabs to check if anything was astray. Everything looked normal. Looking at the screen cap below, you can now see the app has taken 30mb more space on my iPhone.

Periscope taking about 30mb more space with settings and graphics.

Periscope taking about 30mb more space with settings and graphics.

So what does this prove?

The Periscope app saves all your settings, and apparently lots of information from the saved broadcasts that you view. I remember some time ago that I was surprised I was able to watch saved broadcasts while underground in the Toronto subway system. This would indicate that the saved broadcasts you watch will eventually completely download to your iPhone if you give it enough time. This will inevitably take up some storage space. It just seems like these broadcasts do not delete themselves once you finish watching them.

It would also mean that if you don’t delete the app, it will just keep storing more and more broadcasts to your iPhone, eventually eating up all of your precious hard drive space!

I did this as an exercise to see what this app in particular saves on your iPhone. If you’re running out of space, it may be wise for you to delete and re-install the app to save some much needed space.

Moreover, it may be wise to take a look at your other apps to see whether they do the same thing. Just make sure that you don’t delete any Data and Documents from the apps that save information there, like VSCOcam and other photo editing apps. You can see if they do save data or documents by connecting your iPhone to a computer and looking at the App section within iTunes, and scrolling all the way down to the Data and Documents section.

How I edited Spring Reflection

This How I Edited post is of a picture that a lot of people seemed to like. They liked the contrast of elements within the photo, which actually has a lot to do with how this was edited. In this step by step tutorial, I will show you how this wonderful Spring photo came about, all by using just one simple app!

How I Edited Spring Reflection

How I Edited Spring Reflection

The photo below is the original unedited photo (scaled down in Photoshop) that came from my iPhone 6 Plus. You can see how the bottom half is quite dark, but that’s because I intentionally exposed for the top half of the image to prevent it from blowing out too much.

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

I really love the wispy clouds here, and how it was reflected in the water below. The bushes below already have two tones to them, so I knew I wanted to keep that—or rather accentuate that.

For those of you who haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Google’s Snapseed, you should consider doing that right now—or after your read this tutorial! Their latest upgrade adds so much more control over the settings in addition to   more powerful editing tools at your disposal. Within Snapseed, I used their Dodge and Burn brush tool to increase contrast within the two toned foreground. You can see from the screen cap below all the red masked area. Those are the areas where I used the burn tool.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google's upgraded Snapseed app.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google’s upgraded Snapseed app.

I then dodged some portions as well, creating a much more contrasty foreground to my image, which you can see below.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

To match the exposure throughout, I had to increase the shadow areas slightly, and added some overall ambiance to the image within Snapseed as well, resulting in the image below.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

The image now looks pretty good, but I wanted to add just a little more colour to the image. So, as always, my final step in editing happens within VSCOcam. I used the KK2 preset (+9) and added a slight fade to the image so the colours didn’t look too vibrant. The final image, as I uploaded it to my Instagram feed is below. It’s a big improvement from the original image above. I was able to edit this nicely because I was careful not to blow my highlights out in my original image. That’s the key point!

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

 

Apps Used:

Snapseed

Snapseed

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Why I am addicted to Periscope

There are very few apps these days that attract my attention for a lengthy period of time—let alone make me want to come back to it time and time again. For as long as I can remember, Instagram has always been my go-to app during my spare time. As a photographer, it’s inspiring, and the ability to engage with like-minded individuals is very attractive to me.

Why I am addicted to periscope

Why I am addicted to periscope

 

Pre-broadcast screen

Pre-broadcast screen

That is, until now.

If you haven’t heard, Periscope is a new iOS app (Android version is currently in the works) that allows anybody to live-stream themselves to the world at any point in time. It’s only been out for just over a couple of weeks, but its meteoric rise to fame aims to challenge how we see the world: through other people’s eyes. The viewers can engage with the broadcaster by tapping on the screen to give hearts (as a form of appreciation, love, or support), in addition to writing comments which appear on the screen for about 5 seconds—if you’re lucky—as it scrolls up the screen as more comments get written.

Periscope is still in its infancy but that didn’t detract Twitter from buying the company even before the app had launched. The company is now part of the Twitter family and is a direct competitor to similar featured apps like Meerkat.

Profile screen in Periscope

Profile screen in Periscope. My username is @smaku, which is oddly not shown on your profile page.

The first iteration of Periscope was a little slow and buggy, but after a newly released version, it’s a much more pleasant experience. What hasn’t changed yet though, is if there are too many viewers in one periscope (I use this word both as the app’s name and the live broadcasts that people stream), you are restricted to only giving hearts. [Sigh] the world needs more bandwidth. But enough about the app, let’s see why this app has taken time away from my instagramming.

Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)

Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)

So what’s the big deal?

I found out about this app just five days after its launch when I was watching Breakfast Television. Kevin Frankish (@KevinFrankish) boasted about it, and how much he was into live-streaming his daily activities. It sounded interesting so I downloaded Periscope that day and started browsing for other people to follow.

That’s when I took a real liking to this app. There’s just something about watching things happen live anywhere around the world. It really does change how we view the world around us—and in this sense, can be both great and not-so-great: think live-streaming breaking news, sporting events, behind-the-scene activities, and more. Kayvon Beykpour, the CEO of Periscope, says major sports associations are just starting to use Periscope to see its potential.

I was tapping happily at random people’s periscopes and was pleasantly surprised to see other photographers on there too. They gave me glimpses of Half Dome at sunset, walks through California mountains, panoramas of cherry blossoms in Japan, and views of the beautiful vistas of New Zealand. And inside people’s fridges—don’t ask, but that seems to be a common trend with users of Periscope.

Out of all this distraction, however, there was one person that stood out from the crowd. And her name is Amanda Oleander (@amandaoleander).

 

Amanda's Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.

Amanda Oleander’s Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.

Who’s she?

You probably haven’t heard of her (yet), but she has this innate ability to draw viewers in with her positive talk, enthusiasm to share, and Californian adventures. After seeing some of her periscopes, I later found out that she was quickly on her way to being one of the top users with the most followers, and was in the top five users with the most amount of hearts.

Amanda goes the extra mile to please her followers by taking requests to go to various places in and around Los Angeles. So far, she’s taken her Periscope family, as she likes to call her followers, to see Picasso and Monet paintings inside LACMA, a hike up to the not-so-secret Jim Morrison cave in Malibu, tour of the Grove mall, and in and around Hancock Park. She promises more tours in the future.

It’s not just her tours that make you want to watch though. She’s a talented artist that paints and illustrates for a living, some days even letting the family just watch as she paints and jams to music in her studio apartment.

Amanda OleanderIn her own words, Amanda says she loves Periscope because of its rawness, it “opens up your mind more” to places around the world, and that, “is a beautiful thing.” She wants to build a network where everybody is following their passion and doing it full-time. And because she knows how hard it is to do that, she wants to share what she can to help others out in their journey.

You can sense the genuineness in her as she plans interviews with actors, musicians, and other guests on her “Giving Tree couch” (pictured above) which she painted herself. I personally like the variety of things she streams, so I’d recommend following her account while you still have a chance to interact with her.

What about the others?

If you’re not into peeking into the life of a full-time artist, here are some other accounts that have taken my time away from Instagram:

  • Mashable (@Mashable) for anything tech related, and behind the scenes antics from their office
  • Imai Ami (@iuhya) A Japanese blogger who doesn’t talk much, but takes a lot of walks around the streets of Tokyo
  • Trey Ratcliff (@TreyRatcliff) A well-respected photographer based out of New Zealand
  • Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvon) He’s the co-founder of Periscope. He’s taken us through his company headquarters, and even through his live interview with Bloomberg Newsweek.
  • Dan Caldwell (@tapoutpunkass) I’ve only seen one of his periscopes but as an entrepreneur, he gave us some great insight on how he made his company, and answered any questions we had about starting up our own.

There seems to be a thing with newscasters periscoping from their desks while they are on air. I’ve come across about five accounts now from different stations. Here’s a couple reporters from News 12 in Augusta, GA:

  • Christie Ethridge (@christieetheridgewrdw) and Laura Warren (@LauraWRDW) Two reporters/anchors for News 12 in Augusta, GA who stream from their desks as they’re live on air, and answers our questions in between and after segments.

And here’s someone who will have you laughing out loud. She’s a voice-over actor who does voices for various TV shows, including a character from the new Tom & Jerry. In her very first periscope, she didn’t know what it meant to “show us your fridge” so when someone explained it to her, she opened it up and started giving the contents of her fridge character with voices for oranges to almond milk to onions and even daikon radish. She’s a hoot: Alicyn Packard (@alicyn)

Did I mention Chris Hadfield (@cmdr_hadfield) is also using Periscope? Canada’s very own astronaut takes us around the world as he visits locations for book tours, speaking engagements, and more.

The CEO of Periscope, talking to his followers.

The CEO of Periscope (@kayvon), talking to his followers.

The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @

The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @iuhya

Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.

@Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.

Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander

Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander

Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!

@Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!


And you?

My account is @smaku. Your Periscope account is linked to your Twitter account, although your usernames do not have to be the same. You’ll initially be able to select Periscope users that you also follow on Twitter, if there are any. So if you have a lot of followers on Twitter, chances are, you’ll start off with a lot on Periscope as well. For newcomers though, I do find it hard to attract new followers on here. Hopefully the app’s Global section will allow for the underdog periscopes to be discovered more easily.

I think apps like Periscope and Meerkat have a lot of potential, if used right. Whether these new waves of social media apps are just a fad or if they’re here to stay remains to be seen. I think as the app gets polished, and more users start to periscope, it will become something of value to many of us. So if you don’t see me on Instagram that often, you’ll probably find me on Periscope—that is until my battery runs out. Man, does this app drain your battery quickly.

You’ve been warned.


Tips for effective periscoping

  • If you ever find yourself in a periscope without the ability to chat because there are too many people, wait until the number of users drops down to about 250 or so. Then exit out of the periscope, and enter back in. You’ll find the chat feature magically enable itself so you can interact with the broadcaster.
  • If there are too many comments flooding the screen, the chances that the broadcaster may see yours will be diminished as the comments get pushed up as new ones come in. Before commenting, wait for a small gap or wait until the broadcaster is paying attention to the comments so that yours will have a better chance of getting read. Be aware that sometimes there’s a slight lag in what the broadcasters see and what you see.
  • If you’d like others to see your periscope via the web, make sure you enable Twitter notifications before broadcasting. If people click on the link in your Twitter feed, they will be able to view you through the web browser. Web viewers, however, cannot comment nor give you hearts.
  • You are also able to initiate private broadcasts to only those that you follow. This will allow for a more personable periscope, and one which may cut out the spam comments that pop up now and again.
  • Make sure to keep your audience engaged whenever you’re broadcasting. Even if nothing is happening, ask questions and chat. Your viewers will be more likely to interact with you then.

My Mextures formulas I

Mextures App

Mextures is a great app on the iOS platform that allows you to edit your photos with lots of great overlay textures, light leaks, and more. The best part is its ability to create, save, and share formulas that you have created yourself.

Mextures Formula Collection I

I’ve sporadically shared some formulas on this blog in the past, but this time I thought I’d share with you my entire formula collection for the past winter season. They’ve been used on several of my photos that I’ve uploaded to Instagram so hopefully you’ll be able to use them too on your photos. I made them for my winter photos but you don’t have to use them only on winter scenery. Try it out on any of your photos to see how they look. Then you can customize each one to suit your personal needs.

All you need to do to use these is to go to the Formula section within the Mextures app, and import the code you see below, under the desired effect. Have fun, and if you use them, let me know how they turned out.

Taku’s Mextures Formulas

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Coloured Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Colored Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Light Snow: CBNFANH

Light Snow: BNFANH

 

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

App Review: Slow Shutter Cam

SlowShutter

Slow Shutter

Slow Shutter Cam app for iOS is the long exposure app that you’ve been waiting for. It does it all, and produces sharp results in an easy-to-use interface.

 

[ Website | iTunes ]

True long exposure photography on a dSLR opens and leaves the shutter for as long as you indicate. On an iPhone, however, it wasn’t until recent updates that the shutter speed could be manipulated at all. This left developers to create apps that mimic the effects of long exposure photographs by combining multiple photos together. Slow Shutter Cam is one such app.

There are many camera apps that provide the slow shutter capability. It was only by chance that I happened to download this particular one a few years back when I first started experimenting with long exposure photography on my iPhone. Even after trying a few other apps, I still kept to this one, which means, it must be doing some things right.

Slow Shutter Cam app allows for long exposure photography on your iPhone in an easy-to-use and fun package.

Functionality

The app is made to do long exposure photography, and does this well, in addition to adding a few other features that come in handy as well. There are three different capture modes in this app: Motion Blur, Light Trail, and Low Light.

Slow Shutter screen capture

Slow Shutter menu

While I don’t use the Low Light option in this app too much, I do use the other two quite frequently. The Motion Blur capture mode allows you to edit the blur strength from 1 to 7 (Min-Max), in addition to allowing you to change the capture duration from minimum (1/8 sec.) to unlimited. This mode is great for creating blurred motion behind (or in front of) the subject, much like you see when doing a long exposure on a dSLR.

The Light Trail has a Light Sensitivity option from 1/128 to Full (1), and the same Capture Duration setting as the Motion Blur. This option is ideal for creating light streaks behind a subject, much like you see with the headlights of a car as it goes by the camera.

Low Light allows for a boost in exposure and Capture Duration changes as well. This option is used for taking photos in low-light situations. I don’t really use this option as I tend not to take photos in low-light situations. You can read here why I don’t really shoot in low-light with my iPhone.

With all of the options, you can create a number of special effects by simply changing the capture duration, blur strength, and light sensitivity. The great thing about this app is that it allows you to see the first frame and last frame while allowing you to scroll through in-between the two. I use this option a lot to select which photo I want to use for my final edit.

The settings screen gives you some very useful options as well. The self-timer option with a value of 1, 3, 5, and 10 seconds is very useful in reducing any camera shake from when you press the shutter button on the screen. You can also edit the Picture Quality to give you the best quality for motion blurs, or for reducing noise in low-light captures.

Slow Shutter Screen Capture

Slow Shutter Screen Capture

Prior to this app’s update release in early January 2015, the resulting image quality from this app had never been the sharpest. Whether this is just a limitation of the app, or if it’s caused by the layering of several images, it’s quite evident when comparing an image shot from the native camera app to one that’s been taken with this app.

Now, however, the results are as sharp as if you took the photo with the native camera, and I couldn’t be happier with this app!

User Interface

The camera interface is pretty straightforward with a large shutter button, and zoom slider that allows for digital zoom. The standard options of flash, and auto focus and exposure are listed on top, in addition to being able to lock the latter two options.

There’s nothing too confusing about this interface, which is likely why I kept with it. After you take the long exposure, the app allows you to change additional settings like Saturation, Hue, Brightness, and select which frame you would like to keep.

The navigation is smooth, responsive, and works well for as long as I’ve been using this.

Final Thoughts

This has always been—and will continue to be—my go-to app for long exposures on an iPhone. It’s clean interface and efficient workflow makes it just the right app for my workflow. And now with even better quality images coming out from the app, it really is the only app that you may ever need for long exposures on an iPhone.

Here’s just a sample of some long exposures that I’ve done with my iPhone and the Slow Shutter Cam app.

Long exposure on water

Long exposure on water

Long exposure on waterfalls

Long exposure on waterfalls

Long exposure does weird things to fish!

Long exposure does weird things to fish!

Long exposure on water

Long exposure on water

Long exposure on water

Long exposure on water

Long exposure allows us to see through the water

Long exposure allows us to see through the water

App Review: Snapseed

Snapseed

Snapseed

Snapseed for iOS is a versatile image editing app with all the features an iPhoneographer would want, packed into a user-friendly and easy-to-look-at UI.

 

Website | iTunes ]

Snapseed for iOS is a great app for editing images, and many photographers (including myself) went to it for their quick edits. The latest update came not too long ago on Dec. 15 and brought it some behind-the-scenes tweaking with no visible changes.

So what’s up with Snapseed for iOS? Will it ever be updated for the larger screens of the iPhone 6s? The app’s functionality hasn’t changed since it added the HDR Scape and Shadow feature (in Tune Image) a while back.

Snapseed for iOS was a photo editing app released by Nik Software Inc. in 2011. It used their U-Point technology that enabled quick local editing capabilities.
Nik Software was purchased by Google in late 2012, creating outcry from photographers all over, worried about the fate of the great products by Nik. In 2013, Snapseed for desktop ceased production, while Google claimed the mobile apps would remain.

Fastforward to present day, and we see that Snapseed for iOS is still here—albeit with no new functionality or UI changes from its time in 2013.

Functionality

What I really like about this app is its effective tools done very efficiently. Passing a photo through Snapseed takes little time and within seconds, my editing can be completed just the way I like it.

When selecting an image to edit, the app defaults to previewing the photo before importing it in tis workspace. This was a new feature that I personally didn’t like as it added one extra step in the workflow. I didn’t know until much later, however, that you can turn this feature off by going into Settings > General > Snapseed > Show Image Preview and turning it off.

I use this app for primarily these features:
-Selective Adjust
-Tune Image
-Details
-Drama
-HDR Scape

  • Selective adjust is a great tool when you want to adjust only a certain part of your image. You’re able to boost the area’s brightness, contrast, and saturation.
  • Within Tune Image lays a number of creative options: Brightness, Ambiance, Contrast, Saturation, Shadows, and Warmth. Which option I use depends on the photo I’m editing. Ambiance does a great job at increasing the overall saturation of the image in an even and subtle manner. Shadows does a great job at opening up the darker areas of your photo. With Warmth, you can control how cold or warm you want the photo to look.
  • Details gives you the option of changing the Sharpening and Structure of your image, with the latter option giving you more definition/depth to objects in your photo.
  • The Drama filter has always been a favourite amongst many people ever since it was released. It heightens up features within your photo and gives it a look of greater contrast within details.
  • HDR Scape produces HDR-like photos using one exposure. I normally don’t like overly HDRed images, but a real subtle application of this option can create that extra special touch to your images.

User Interface

Open the app and you’re confronted with all of your imaged editing options on the bottom. Scroll through and you’ll see everything from Selective adjust, Tune Image, Crop, Details, Black and White, Vintage, and more.

Select one of these options to reveal more finer editing controls that can transform your image into exactly what you’re looking for. If you scroll up or down on your image at this point, you’ll be able to see the editing options for that specific tool. Scroll left or right and you’ll change that option. It’s that easy.

What I find really useful is the icon of the mountain on the top right of each editing screen (see screen capture below). Once pressed, you can immediately see the “before” image to see exactly how much you’ve changed the image from before you entered that editing tool.

Final Thoughts

It’s not certain what Google may do with Snapseed’s fate, but until it decides, myself—and thousands of other photographers—will be sure to keep using it while we still can. I love it because it’s efficient to use, and produces great results in each of its settings.

Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS

Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS

Drama option in Snapseed for iOS

Drama option in Snapseed for iOS