Photography at the Apple Institute #ADE2014

July 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

Creativity and Storytelling

Creativity and storytelling are very important to many technology educators, and especially important to most Apple Distinguished Educators.  Many ADEs share their learning, their story and document growth, through photography and videography using iPhone, iPad and many iOS and OS X features and tools.  During the Apple Institute July 13th-19th I was a double camera slinging photographer with my Canon Rebel t3i and iPhone by my side.  I took every opportunity to ask people questions about the tools, the gear and the art of picture making.  Also, we were very fortunate that Bill Frakes and Laura Heald were present at the institute both to capture the event but also to share some of their wisdom with the group.  This blog post is about lessons learned about photography and picture making throughout the 2014 Global Apple Institute.

Video Recap

Here is the 1m 23 s video with a selection of pictures, video and techniques that I improved upon with the help of some friends.  Thank you Doug Kapeller, Kristi Meeuwse, Peter Fujiwara, Nicolas Vernier, Mano Karthigasu, Anthony Johnson, Deon Scanlon, Mario Chiasson, Chris Penny, Jeff Curto and  many other kind and tolerant photographers and subjects that I might have missed!

Bill Frakes and Laura Heald are inspiring

I could listen to Bill Frakes all day, then I could spend the next day talking about him. Here is my first blog post on Frakes.  It was an incredible pleasure to hear him speak again.  Some tips I picked up from his talks:

1) Spend a lot of time figuring out the story and “what’s happening.” Spending time on composition and taking one’s time is something he emphasizes heavily. It is important to develop a sense of history, a sense of place, and context when making pictures.

2) If the light is fantastic in one direction, turn around because it will be wonderful and completely different in the other direction. Also, don’t be afraid to break the rules with light.

3) When asked about the Ken Burns effect, he said his preference was to use it sparingly.

Bill Frakes

“Discipline is reworking your original idea.”

4) “Discipline is reworking your original idea.”  Frakes talks about being willing to accept the need to get things done and meet deadlines, but he will return and refine projects that he has already completed until he is happy, or at least happier, with the outcome.  Of thousands upon thousands of photos he has made, he says there are only a few that he would love to re-make.

5) Bill Frakes never says “take pictures.” He says “make pictures.”

Bill Frakes shared several of his recent projects with Laura Heald. Let Freedom Sing was incredibly moving.


Doug Kapeller took some amazing shots using an HDR mode on his D-SLR camera.  I wasn’t able to figure that out just yet, but Deon Scanlon suggested using Pro HDR app for iPhone.  If that doesn’t provide the look you were going for, Bill Frakes prefers Snapseed for editing pictures in post production. However, Frakes prefers to get the shot right in the moment and does as little post work as possible (easy for him to say!).

One of the big challenges is to get the camera settings right. Nicolas Vernier suggests Set My Camera as a clever cheat for camera settings.

Nicole Dalesio shared some beautiful photos on twitter and kindly noted that she used Distressed FX for an acid-washed-tumbled look.

During the institute Rick Connors shared beautiful pictures quotes with lovely portraits of the speakers. I asked him which app he used, he humbly answered with photoshop.  For some of us there is photoshop, for the rest of us there is Over the app that gives you a slight chance at making something as lovely as Rick’s work which you can see here.

Another outstanding photographer is John Woody of iEditHD,  who forced himself to document a trip through Europe with only his iPhone.  His key piece of advice is to use AE/AF lock mode when possible. Instructions on how to do this are here.


Darryl Bedford shared some jaw-dropping student created video during the institute.  For an iPad camera mount he recommends this MovieMount.  For the iPhone user, lots of ADEs use the Olloclip though I doubt any do it better than Bea Leiderman and her photography of insects.  Her iBooks are worth checking out, especially this one for those interested in iPhonography.

Deon Scanlon took some wonderful shots on the level as Bea Leiderman with his neat iPhone case complete with macro lens from SmartPhocus. He also suggested Optrix with other great options.

Also, if you are interested in learning the basics, check out Jeff Curto’s book Basic Photography available as an iBook.

Some of my best from the week

For other ADEs best photos check out the #onebestimage on Twitter or look here for a selection of these pictures.  Below are some of my best shots and more can be viewed here.

My One Best Image

Cumayaca State Park Chris McGee Torrey Pines Torrey Pines Docent Ornithologist at San Dieguito Lagoon IMG_5192



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