Get inspired

Shutter Speed Uses & Tips!

The faster the shutter speed is the less time light has to hit the sensor. This means that less time is actually recorded in the photograph. For fast moving shots a faster shutter speed will leave less blur.

Longer shutter speeds are used to create blur or paint with light. Shorter shutter speeds are used for fast moving photography such as sports photography, and sometimes nature photography.  

Here’s a handy guide:

  • 1/4000th of a second: Freeze a fast moving object in the moment. It’s good for waterfalls, splashes. Anything that is moving FAST.
  • 1/2000th of a second: Great for getting pictures of flying birds, especially fast moving ones.
  • 1/1000th of a second: Use this speed to freeze moving vehicles at high speeds, which will not show the speed.
  • 1/500th of a second: Great for action and sports shots. Pictures that involve running, jumping riding, throwing, etc.
  • 1/250th of a second: Shoot moving objects that are moving somewhat slow. For example, people or animals who are walking.

One Year Anniversary of Macphun in Del Mar!

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This month we are celebrating the 1 year anniversary of Macphun in Del Mar, California! The last 365 days have been exciting and challenging, but most of all rewarding. It seems fitting to chronicle some of the major events in the timeline, so here goes!

Product Releases:

The past year has seen the launch of Snapheal Pro, Intensify & Intensify Pro, Focus 2 & Focus 2 Pro, and Lost Photos (our app that lets you re-discover images forgotten in your email inbox!). These releases have earned positive reviews and even awards like the 2013 Best of Mac App Store honor for Intensify! We’ve also integrated even more Mavericks OS X features, printing options with MILK Books and image export to SmugMug (among others) to ensure you have the best experience.

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Each of these releases requires a tremendous amount of work from the entire team to make sure your experience with our products is awesome. From engineering and QA, to marketing, sales, education and support, we’re dedicated to helping you get the most out of our apps.

Spreading the Word:

We’ve had a lot of fun this year telling the world about Macphun. We’ve released each of our Pro products on fabulous high-speed memory cards (the same ones that work in your camera!), established two new international distributors, attended scores of photographic events and Mac user groups, re-dedicated ourselves to connecting with you on social networks and began introducing Pro photographers to Macphun products. The enthusiasm we’ve received back has been really gratifying, moving us and energizing us - thank you so much!

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Commitment to Education:  

One of the earliest moves we made once opening up the U.S. office was to begin daily educational webinars.  These are designed to help people considering Macphun products, plus make sure that anyone who owns our products has the opportunity to learn how to fully use them. Our webinars are taught by professional photographers like Lance Sullivan, John Arnold, Dan Hughes and Laurie Rubin, as well as many others.  Be sure to stay in tune with our latest efforts at www.macphun.com/webinar.

The Future:

We are continuing to develop super-useful and innovative photo software products for you and can promise you at least 2 more apps this year that will be “game changers!”  


Macphun Software is growing every day thanks to loyal friends like you and we are really excited about what the next year may hold — may the next year be just as exciting as the last year!

Re-discovering Summer: Summer Means it’s Racing Season

By Joe Farace

I often get questions about photographing race cars and while most of those questions are about capturing on-the-track action, that’s only part of the deal. The part we don’t often talk about is safety when around 200mph cars. Some of this advice may seem obvious but if you follow these tips, I’ll guarantee it will result in better images because there won’t be any distractions.

Park your vehicle in a designated parking spot in a designated parking lot. The last thing you want to hear when getting ready to photograph a championship race is the announcer calling, “Will the owner of the orange Gremlin, please move your car or be towed!”

Shot with Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN and 75-300mm lens (at 265mm) with an exposure of 1/800 sec at f/8 and ISO 200. © Joe Farace

You’ll need to work with the track’s press office to get full access at race tracks. Tip: it helps to have some kind of assignment, even if it’s for your blog. While photographing head-to-head drag racing is fun, I can’t resist shooting burnouts like this. 

When making photographs, remain behind safety barriers and while these barriers may not be everywhere, especially on a sprawling road course, use your judgment. If you’re not sure about your location, a safety worker will shortly arrive asking you to move. If they do, be nice to them; they have a tough enough job without having to cope with whiny photographers.

© Joe Farace

Road racing circuits, like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, often have barriers with “shoot through” holes so accredited photographers can shoot on-track action. These spaces usually provide good camera angles but are designed for the shooter’s safety first. 

Shot using a Canon EOS Rebel using an EF 70-200mm lens (at 200mm) and a Shutter Priority exposure of 1/250 sec at f/22 and ISO 200. © Joe Farace

You don’t need an expensive camera—an American LeMans Series race car, shot from behind a barrier (not unlike that on the other side of the track) 

It may or may not be hot at the track but it surely will be loud. Be sure to bring earplugs. Most tracks’ concession stands sell earplugs and keep several pair in your camera bag because they’re easy to lose but inexpensive to replace.

While in the pit area be alert. There will be many scooters, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, or golf carts transporting people around. Pay attention to cars getting ready to enter a staging area. Race cars don’t have horns like the family jalopy.

Note: As with most professional sports, you’re only allowed to make video or still images of the vehicles for personal use and they may not be sold or marketed without arrangement from the speedway and/or the sanctioning body.

Inspiration and More Practice

By Joe Farace

As the old joke goes, practice is how you get to Carnegie Hall. Pianists have to practice their scales every day and photographers need to practice capturing the correct exposure. Under tricky lighting conditions, sometimes the best solution is to shoot a series of frames varying your exposures from what would be considered underexposure to overexposure. The technique is called “bracketing” and some cameras even have an automatic bracket option.

Bracketing is a time honored photo technique in which multiple images of the same—difficult to expose properly—subject are made at different exposure levels. The idea is that one of them will be best and some others may be acceptable.

This is what a typical auto bracket menu item looks like and clicking the control (it varies from camera to camera so check your user’s guide) lets you set bracketing parameters. Some cameras even let you change the order in which the exposures are made from  – 0 + for traditionalists and my personal favorite or + 0 – with variations on that theme.

When using most cameras Auto Bracket mode the first frame is exposed at what would be considered the “normal” exposure, the second is underexposed by a predetermined amount and the third is overexposed by the same amount. Typically the amount is in fractions of a stop but in extreme examples, full stops can be used too.

Here is a bracketed series of three exposures made in the classic order of underexposed, normal and overexposed. I typically make an exposure using whatever manual or automatic mode I think is correct for the situation and adjust exposure compensation accordingly but when in doubt do what photographers have done since the invention of 35mm film—bracket.

Because the LCD preview screen on most digital cameras can exaggerate an image’s contrast it’s easy to get what you think is a well-exposed image but it’s actually slightly underexposed. By practicing bracketing you will gradually learn how to evaluate the image on your LCD screen and be make the proper adjustments.

As I mentioned in my last post, this occurs during Phase 3 when a photographer is developing their technical skills.

Limited edition of Creative Kit Plus ($260 worth of tools for $99.99)

One Step to Unlimited Possibilities

Summer is our most favorite season here at Macphun and the beginning of the season is especially awesome. With all that time ahead of us at the start of the season, there are so many possibilities ahead. Getting outdoors, being with friends, trying new things, improving ourselves and — yes — even taking a few photos!

It’s in this spirit that we put our heads together to come up a bundle of photo goodies so terrific we had to call it “Unlimited Possibilities!” 

For the next 12 days, anyone who buys our incredible Creative Kit Plus at regular price will also receive a ViewBug Premium membership and a FREE copy of the next killer app we will release later this summer!  That’s $260 worth of value for just $99.99! 

Hurry, offer ends June 22, 2014. Free app limited to first 500 buyers. Check what you are getting…

Read More

Update: Focus 2 Pro now includes MILK printing services

We’re excited to announce our partnership with MILK Books, one of the world’s premier printers! MILK now provides a print service through Focus 2 and Focus 2 Pro and soon our other software will feature the ability to print high quality products right from within the interface, right while you’re working on your images.

Our goal is to provide great products at a super-high quality to Macphun users through appealing postcards, notecards, framed gallery prints and wrapped canvas prints. Photographers can now bring their finished images in Focus 2 to life with a few clicks.

There’s just something nostalgic and classic about holding your own beautifully created images in your hands and sharing it with your family and friends that we want to bring back!

The MILK print services option allows users to create, order and purchase printed products featuring their own unique photography. A variety of products are available in Focus 2, including:

  • Postcards (pack of 12)
  • Portrait Folded Notecards w/ White Border (pack of 12 w/envelopes)
  • Wrapped Canvas Prints
  • Landscape or Portrait Art Prints, shipped in Black or White Gallery Frames

The update to Focus 2 that contains MILK print services is available today, free of charge to current owners of the product. To get the update for Focus 2, launch the App Store on your Mac and update it.  If you own Focus 2 Pro, simply choose “Check for Updates” in the Focus 2 Pro menu.

Inspiration and Practice: Practice, Practice, Practice

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The biggest inspiration for my personal photography is the movies. One of my earliest available light portraits was an homage to François Truffaut’s 1971 film Two English Girls

by Joe Farace

While refining their skills I believe most photographers progress through three phases and if you understand them it’ll help improve your expertise. Phase one occurs just after purchasing their first “good” camera and discover photography’s potential for fun and creativity. During this time, novice shooters fearlessly and enthusiastically explore their world and every memory card is filled with files containing images that look so much better than they could have imagined. See Phase one image 1 above.

This blissful period doesn’t last long and is quickly replaced by the next one. During Phase two, the photographer’s level of enthusiasm is high but becomes diminished when reviewing recent images only to discover that these new photographs are so much worse than they expected.
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What was I thinking? A beautiful subject, nice background and this is the best image I made? I often ask portrait subjects to run their fingers though their hair and this is what she did. I didn’t refine the pose and hoped for Phase 1 magic to occur. It didn’t.

Unfortunately, this second phase can last a long time but as the shooter improves by reading how-to books, magazines, and blogs like this, while practicing the art and craft of photography eventually they reach the final phase where the images in their viewfinder and capture are exactly what they expected. There are no surprises.

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I love Oldsmobiles, especially classics ones like this that I photographed with an Olympus E-P3. It was just what I expected, including punching up the tonality by applying the in-camera Dramatic Tone Art Filter.


The biggest challenge during this last phase is that a photographer can sometimes end up shooting the same image over and over for years. So it’s up to you to break free from your comfort zone and do something—anything—to make sure this doesn’t happen. Practice.

Many Ways to Make Mom’s Day

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May 11 is the Mother’s Day holiday here in the U.S.  Why not celebrate Mom with the gift of photo magic from all of us here at Macphun?  There are so many ways…

Every Mom loves cherished memories. This year, let her re-discover forgotten photos with our new Lost Photos app. Available for free exclusively from the Mac App Store, Lost Photos cleverly scans her email & displays every photo ever sent or received! Imagine all the memories locked away in years of email and the joy from seeing them again!
Download Lost Photos for FREE.

Bonus: To make Mom’s photos even better before sharing them with friends and family, we’re offering some great prices on our award-winning software from May 7 - May 12.

  1. Save 25% on our fabulous 4-app Snap Pack bundle (vs. buying each app separately), or
  2. Save up to 40% on any of our software in the Mac App Store

Remember, these deals are only good through May 12, 2014 so act fast!

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Inspiration & Practice: Finding your Inner Voice

By Laurie Rubin (www.imagesbylaurie.com)

Finding your inner voice that reveals itself through the images that you create, not just photos that you take, is what can set you apart from every other photographer with a camera and post-processing or film developing skills. The challenge is, how to keep that passion burning inside of you, and to continue to be inspired by the world that presents itself in front of your lens.

I have often found, that on those days that I didn’t ‘feel’ like packing up all my camera equipment and getting out the door, those were the times that I really needed to get myself behind the camera, and leave my worries behind. With each click of the shutter, I find myself getting more in tune with my subject, my breathing slows down, my eyes are focused on only what is in front of me, and that is when the magic happens. It is at that moment that the real connection happens between you and your subject, and the end result is something remarkable that will speak to both you and your viewer.


When you need some inspiration to help get you out the door with your camera in hand, why not try challenging yourself with something new. Set aside time to practice new techniques, and experiment with post-processing tools such as Macphun, to enhance your images to make them look their best. Here are some pointers:

  • Go out to a location and take only 5 photos - This will make you set up and compose for the light and the moment. Too often we just click away and hope that we will capture a keeper.
  • Join a Photo Walk or User group with other like-minded photographers - Besides sharing ideas and photo tips, you might discover new locations to photograph and new friends.
  • Attend a photo Tradeshow - Take time to stop at the vendor booths to learn more about photo products and listen to presentations and seminars.
  • Post your photos for feedback - Facebook, Google+, Flickr, 500px are just some examples. See what type of feedback you get. (Getting some pats on the back are always a boost.)
  • Try something totally different for a change - Look up online contests and try out a challenging theme.


Inspiration happens when you continue to learn, share and discover the rewards that photography can bring into your life. Remember the excitement and passion you had when you first discovered photography? It is possible to rekindle that fire, by picking up your camera, getting in the moment and let the magic begin… again!

Pro Photographer interview. Thomas Hawk: “I shoot everything”

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We recently had a chance to talk with one of our favorite photographers on Google +, Thomas Hawk.  Thomas has over 7 million people following him on the social network and his images are really splendid. He is one prolific shooter!  A couple of weeks ago, he found himself at the famous Southern California music festival, Coachella so we started there…

Hey Thomas, so you spent last weekend at Coachella. If you haven’t gone there, what would your weekend look like?

Every weekend has the potential to be different.  Some weekends I’ll shoot specific events, trips, local interest etc.  I few weekends back I did some aerial photography over San Francisco.  This weekend my pal Gordon Laing is in town so we’re doing a photowalk in San Francisco.  Other weekends I just hunker down and get serious photo processing done.  I try to average at least 350 new photos a week, so there’s always that too.  In between it all I spend time with my family and my four kids.  Usually a dinner with my wife out will be in there somewhere and something with Scouts for the boys or ballet or piano for the girls or just whatever comes up.

But it happened that you went to the music fest. How was it in terms of finding perfect subjects to shoot?

Coachella is so amazingly photogenic [See Thomas’ full set of images here].  The sheer numbers of people and bands there, make it a cornucopia of photographic possibility.  In terms of which bands I wanted to shoot (you can’t shoot them all), I did do some research the weekend before.  I watched some of the bands perform on YouTube.  Shooting bands can be interesting.  I may really like the music of a certain band, but they may be boring to shoot.  Other bands just put on amazing performances.  There were a few that I knew for sure that I wanted to shoot ahead of time, like Lana Del Rey.  

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From shooting Coachella in 2013, I knew that much of the most energetic possibility would come from the Sahara tent with the EDM kids.  As a photographer I love capturing emotion, and that’s where the biggest emotion lives at Coachella.  

A lot of what I also wanted to capture was the fashion of Coachella.  I think fashion ages particularly well for photographic subjects.  I spent a lot of time just running around shooting the people and fashion of Coachella as well.

What else was awesome about Coachella this year?

It was fun being there to shoot with friends.  I always love shooting with my pal Robert Scoble.  Robert got two big lenses (a 200mm f/2 and a 400mm f/2.8) that we shot from BorrowLenses.com.  Having the big glass is fun. My friend Sam Levin and JBL really made the whole experience delightful. Sam has a ton of energy and it was great being in the pit with him this year. He also brought some fun toys to play with.  I’d never shot my iPhone with an Olloclip before.  For those instant shots, that setup worked great.  

While Coachella can get pretty hot during the day, the nights are just fantastic.  Warm enough for shorts, that warm desert evening is so nice to shoot in.  The sun is particularly nice there at sunset as well.  That was my favorite time to shoot street portraits, when I got such nice light off of people’s faces.

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From your Facebook/Google+ images it’s pretty difficult to define a certain style of photography you prefer. How will you describe it?

I shoot everything.  I don’t think I really have a traditional style of photography.  I do street, fashion, event, macro, travel, live music, abstract, landscape, people, long exposure, just whatever.  Mostly I refer to myself as an American photographer because I mostly focus on documenting America — anything and everything, the more the better.

Our PHUN issue this month is dedicated to photography and inspiration. I know you can talk forever about things that inspire you, but are there one or two things that help get you out of the inspiration doldrums?  What do you think usually kills a photographer’s inspiration?

In terms of inspiration it’s easy to drift into a lull.  Photography is hard work — both capturing the images and processing the images.  Sometimes I think you just have to have the discipline and force yourself to do it even when you don’t want to.  I think if you want to accomplish big goals, a lot of the time you just have to push yourself when you might not want to.  I have a lot of that sort of internal discipline.  

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Also I’ll frequently look at the work of other photographers to find ideas and inspiration.  I have lots of photography books by people like Eggleston and Friedlander and Winogrand and Shore and many of the more modern photographers who I admire.  I also will just go check out Flickr or Google+.  I’ll search Flickr by tags or just look at my contacts’ photos — there are so many talented photographers out there.

I think what can hurt a photographers inspiration is negativity and criticism. By and large I avoid this as much as possible.  I block a lot of people online.  There are so many negative people out there and I find that they give off the worst soft of energy.  I try to stay positive, keep a sense of humor and perspective and really just dismiss everyone who has anything negative to say about anything ever.  

We already have shared links to your photo galleries. What are other names of photographers, that you personally like and can recommend for our crowd to check to get inspired?

Wow, it’s always hard naming photographers, because inevitably I will leave a million people out.  I’ve got a photographers circle on Google+ that includes a ton of photographers who regularly inspire me.

Even naming a lot of names in those circles, I’m sure I still leave people out.

And the last question. What’s next in your pro life? Any special plans for 2014-2015?

I’ll probably end up shooting more of America in 2014-2015.  I’d like to shoot Marfa, TX.  I’d like to shoot Baltimore or Philadelphia or Alabama or Mississippi.  I’d like to shoot in Ohio — Cleveland and Cincinnati.  I might shoot Burning Man in 2015.  A lot of what I’ll end up shooting though will just be stuff that sort of falls into place at the last minute.

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