AMITIAE - Saturday 18 February 2012

An iPad App from The British Journal of Photography: Professional Content

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By Graham K. Rogers

There have been a number of publications that specialise in good photography, such as Life and National Geographic Magazine which use excellent output. There are also professional magazines that focus more on the practical side of the skills that are needed for good photography such as the British Journal of Photography which was established over 150 years ago in 1854 and has had an online presence since 1997. It also has an app for the iPad.

BJP As downloaded the British Journal of Photography app was only some 5.6MB. It was installed in the Newsstand along with the other magazine type of apps I have. When started on the iPad 2, I saw a bold opening screen, then was taken to the store where a Winter edition was offered for $9.99 as well as two specials (Anton Corbin and Anders Peterson) both for $0.99, and the subscription link ($13.99).

Pressing the "Now Reading" icon at the top of the screen took me to an instructions page, which reminded me of other such magazine apps. The Library had greyed out icons for the Winter Preview and Autumn 2011 (399.7MB). I was able to download these. although it took a few minutes. Processing (followed by Starting) after the download also took some time.

Ah, but it was worth it. The cover of the Autumn issue was an animated series of shots of a young model with a rather 1960s look about her. Tapping the screen, reveals thumbnail images for all the pages and a slider for quick navigation. The editorial makes it clear that it is not a camera magazine (per se) but a photography journal: the tools serve the creative ends.


There is a lot of content. It is greatly varied but along with the photographs there is a considerable amount of text. Within specific articles some of the images are best seen in landscape mode and a polite warning indicates this when appropriate.

Most articles however, had smaller images that fit the context but were not displayed full-screen. Texts were insightful with several photographers featured. In some cases there were outside links that enabled a richer display of a specific photographer's work and which could be used by the photographer to reach potential clients.

The articles were not just about photographers. As an example there was a useful item on stock pictures and how the services may work for the professional (and the shortcomings). A technical section had (among other useful items) a discussion on the release of Apple's Final Cut Pro X which created a lot of ripples among editors who had been used to the older version. Edmond Terakopian ran through the software and came up smiling as the new way to do things was more intuitive. The software was able to access all of a system's RAM being 64-bit. He decided that this was "quicker, easier and much less prone to user error".

Other technical reviews included the Canon EOS 600D and a Dexter DX-15 head (lighting -- I didn't know either) as well as the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 and the Sigma SD1 digital camera.

I had already looked at part of the current issue on the BJP website. It struck me as being a somewhat technical journal and not at all aimed at casual snappers. Their overview of Tilt and Shift lenses for example had a good selection of these from a range of lens makers. The prices and the specificity of the lenses were not aimed at non-professionals.

Having looked quickly at the Autumn issue, I downloaded the Winter Preview issue for a wider appreciation.

The download was only some 124MB and it went through the same processing and starting once the file was on the iPad. It was clearly marked on the cover as a Preview. Users are directed to the Issues menu to buy the full version. The cover image was of Natalie Portman looking like Garbo. The imaged was animated when I pressed the screen and there . As she divests herself of jewellery, gloves other clothing and blonde wig, so the Natalie Portman we recognise comes back into view.

BJP While the index of the full issue is shown, most items are greyed out. Only four articles are available in the Preview, but this (and the Autumn issue) provide enough detail to grasp the flavour of what it on offer.

At the top of the screen was a wifi icon, marked Live (alongside the Help icon). Tapping this brought up a panel in which several image thumbnails were displayed. Tapping on each, revealed images and news about World Press Photo (10 February). These were a little slow to load, but there was some interesting information shown.

Navigation throughout the app was sometimes a little slow, especially scrolling down through an article. I found that the scroll would not react as my finger was moving across the screen but the page would move after I had taken the finger off the iPad. This was slightly disconcerting at first, but then I came to expect it and adjusted. There are some advertisements but these were not distracting and in some cases are useful as they may link to products that photographers want to know more about.

As the app is fairly new, the amount that can be downloaded (as above) is not as rich as (say) The New Yorker Magazine, but compares with the couple of issues that Motor Sport has out so far.


The app itself is free but like many such delivery mechanisms that use the "Gillette Method" -- New Yorker magazine, Motor Sport spring to mind -- the user pays for downloaded content. Like Motor Sport, the first edition (in this case for September 2011) is free with the December (Winter) edition listed as £6.99 or $9.99 (€7.99). A 6 month subscription is shown as £9.99 (€10.99 or $13.99). The iTunes App Store page tells us there is a 28% discount, including quarterly issues and bonus content.


Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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