Photogene and iPad 2: Great tools for photojournalists

Sitting in a lawn chair outside the Spokane Apple Store last week, I pondered the absurdity of my week-long quest to buy an iPad 2. Arriving at 5 a.m. netted me the sixth spot in line and an eventual 16-gig wifi slate of glass and aluminum.

Did I really need another digital device to supplement all the other Apple products that grace my home and workspace? No, of course not. But using the iPad 2 this past week has made me giddy with excitement as I discover one new feature or application after another. It’s interesting, when I demonstrate to people who have never seen or touched one, how utterly amazed they are. Suffice to say this multimedia device is smokin’ hot. There are enough glowing reviews on the Web that I don’t need to pontificate much more.

A great tool for photojournalists

The one thing I really wanted to do with my iPad 2 was edit and send photos from the field back to the newspaper. I couldn’t find much info from other photojournalists about what applications would help me replace Photo Mechanic and Photoshop on my laptop. Nor could I find anyone who was using the iPad to send their photos via FTP (file transfer protocol) back to their newspapers. I can happily announce that during my first photo assignment today I did just that.

My first stop last week was to the Apple iPad App Store where I found this amazing little program called Photogene. It allows me to crop, tone, caption and send my photos all from a three dollar application. The best part is that it has a built in FTP, so I can send my photos directly into our Merlin archive system.

Here was my workflow today:

  • Shot a photo of a woman in a job-training program working in the kitchen of a restaurant.
  • Ordered lunch, sat down at a table and plugged in the Apple camera connection cable between the iPad and the USB port on my Nikon D3s. It immediately displayed all the. jpg’s in the iPad’s photo browser. By touching a photo, it marks it so you don’t have to bring in every image on your card. I hit “Import Selected” and the files were quickly downloaded from the camera.
  • I open Photogene and select the photo I want to edit. The workflow now is super simple. I crop my photo, and then toned the image. Toning is done using sliders for exposure, color temperature, saturation etc. There are a ton of other adjustments from noise reduction to selective color channels. It even has a digital histogram and curves adjustment tools.
  • On to the metadata tab, I clicked “IPTC” and added caption info and filled out the other metadata fields that are needed to archive the photo for later.
  • Finally, I hit the export button and chose “FTP” from the menu (You can also send directly to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or email.) I already have all the info such as IP address and password stored, so I just add the file name (make sure there are no spaces) and upload the photo using my ATT MiFi . A minute later it was ready for an editor to move to the desk.

Some observations

Will the iPad 2 replace a laptop? Probably not. I think the iPad is perfect if you need to move a couple of photos from your car during a breaking news event. It’s not be ideal for slogging 300 photos from a high school basketball game.

You need to buy the Camera Connection Kit from Apple ($30.00), which includes an SD card reader and an Apple connector to mini USB cord. I wish there was a CF card reader, but the cable works as advertised.

Typing a caption is easy, but it is all on one line that gets obscured as you type past the field boundary. A bigger caption field for photojournalists is a must have.

Get the PhotoSync application ($1.99). It lets you transfer photos to and from your iPhone, computer and iPad wirelessly. It also lets you bypass the iTunes software, which is not really intended for photos.

I also bought the pro upgrade for eight dollars. It adds a few more things that professionals need such as applying star ratings, adding personal watermarks to exported images, saving your FTP settings, adjusting RGB curves individually, and controlling JPEG export settings.

If any other photojournalists are using an iPad to edit photos please share your experiences in comments below!

22 thoughts on “Photogene and iPad 2: Great tools for photojournalists

  1. Colin,

    Good read and workflow. Here are a few links to look up in your iPad photo quest. 

    CF card reader for iPad:

    Photo editing app not quite as good as Photogene. 


    Filterstrom Pro however looks very promising and could be the Photo Mechanic for the iPad which is set to launch very soon:

    Also if you shoot RAW theirs an app called Pirawnha which will process raw images.

    If your interested in going wireless look a getting an eye-fi SD card and Shuttersnitch app.
    Rob Galbraith has great over view on his site on how to use the two together.

  2. Thanks John for all the links. I will get this CF card reader. Also Filterstorm Pro looks really good. I like the browsing features and will get it when it is released. Are you using the iPad in your day to day workflow?

    • Because I like to work with RAW images the iPad only gets used in my daily workflow when I need to file to the web desk real quick. Then when I have time to set down I pull out the laptop, make a proper edit and file to the photo desk.

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  4. hi, thanks for great post, that’s what i was looking for. could you be so kind and check for me if there are “created date” and “release date” pools in iptc editor? greets from poland;)

  5. Hi great post. I was looking for more info regarding iOS image editing software when I came across your use of photogene. Very informative. I also came across this app called photoforge which is due to release ver 2 on 19 May. Have you tried ver 1 yet by any chance? It seems to be very well regarded and a really powerful photo editing app. Ver 2 will even support layers and masks. Am looking to get an ipad soon for my photography use and would really like to hear what you think of photoforge. Thanks

  6. Photogene has a newly designed UI. I love photography as much as I love my iPad. Unfortunately photo browsing and editing on this amazing device can be quite frustrating, but I have some good news: Photogene has recently released a new version of its iPad app which solves some of the pains around these tasks. I am looking forward to see more photo applications moving in this same direction. You can read more on my blog:

  7. To follow the above workflow I am assuming to do this you must set the camera to take both a jpeg and raw file rather than raw only. Is this correct?

  8. I love Photogene – and we just sent our students here at Stony Brook armed with the software on iPads for our study abroad journalism program. So far, so good.

    One of my chief complaints about Photogene – aside from the lack of batch processing options – is that it used to output photos to only about 8 megapixels. Anyone shooting even a D300s or something would be throwing away resolution. That’s all changed now in the latest update, which supports up to 21 megapixels on the iPad 2, even big enough for the 5D Mark II!

    I told my students in the field to hold off on upgrading until they get back though – I don’t know if the iPad 1s they are on can handle those large files, but worth checking out.

    Thanks for this look at it.

    Here’s my review of it, pre-update:

  9. I am interested in old family pictures. I have many jpg files that I’ve assigned specific names on my PC starting with ‘year/month/day’ followed by a description. This ensures the files all go are filled in chronological order. I want to import them to my IPAD 2 and have the IPAD2 keep the jpg files in the order that I assigned them, ie chronological order

    Will Photogene allow this?

  10. Pingback: Photogene and iPad 2: Great tools for photojournalists « APhotoJurnal

  11. Interested to hear your thoughts on how the battery life on the ipad handled this process..? Was it able to handle the workflow without running down too quickly?

    Cheers, very interesting blog,

  12. Hi. I just bought Ipad 2 and would like to use it as a pro photographer. There is another great application called PhotoForge2 , you should definitely check it.
    But what I am really missing is the ability to upload more then one file at once.. I typicaly take 10 and more photos which I need to send to my Editor quickly via emai or some internet sharing server ( sorry for my English, I guess you know what I mean).
    Does Ipad somehow enables that ? I need fast and easy solution – like on my PC, to select and upload mutlitple files.

    Thans !


  13. Have a look at Filterstorm Pro – designed for Photo Journalists. Allows batch processing, the addition of IPTC metadata and transmitting multiple images at once – all for £10.49 GBP.

  14. Anyone know of a decent video editing program for the ipad2? I really want to know if I can forgo using a laptop on my motorcycle trips. We blog live from the road and I found a decent blogging app, now we are looking for a photoapp…will check out photogene and need a video editing app.

  15. This article and the comments are really useful. I would to carry around a tablet instead of my laptop and am always searching for info on if it will be worth the purchase! The main issues I have are importing photos and properly editing the metadata. My current workflow uses Adobe Lightroom and occasionally photomechanic. Finding tablet replacements for this workflow is starting to bear fruit… I wondered if anyone has used this –

  16. I bought Photogene in order to label photos of documents. I used it successfully a couple of times, but now it won’t work. If I call Photogene up first I no longer see any way to call up the photo I want to label. If I start instead with the photo I want to label and then invoke Photogene I lose the photo itself and can’t get back to it.
    Admittedly I’m a novice with the iPad. Have I accidentally changed some setting?

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