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In My Bag

Best iPhone Camera Apps and Accessories for Travel Photography

My iPhone Photography Dashboard

There really is an app for everything these days. With the continually improving quality of iPhone cameras as well as the numerous post-processing apps available, I often default to my phone when traveling without sacrificing too much quality. I either shoot with the Nikon D300 with 18-200 lens or my iPhone.  The middle man point-and-shoot has been replaced!

As a contributing author for The Scholastica Postcard, a blog by Scholastica Travel Inc., I want to refer you to their recent post, “iPhone Camera Apps for Travel Photography, Tested in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.” as it provides a relevant review of 7 great iPhone apps that I use frequently. The post shows photos taken in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia using the following apps, ScratchCam FX, CameraBag, Dramatic Black and White, Photo Artista Oil, NightCap, PicStitch, and Phoster.  Here are a few photos from the review:

Photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy

Personally, NightCap is my favorite. Although the iPhone flash is very powerful, it tends to washout my photos in lowlight environments. The up to 15x extended shutter speed truly improves the photo quality. Using the app itself takes some getting used to, as it isn’t entirely obvious when you have taken the picture.  Download NightCap and use the flash only as a flashlight.

Glif independent stand (photo

Additionally, I recently purchased a Glif and a GorillaPod and love the combination. They’re lightweight, easy-to-pack, and improve my photo taking capabilities. The Glif provides a stable tripod mount and can accommodate the phone in multiple vertical and horizontal configurations. It can also act as an independent stand.

GorillaPods are an obvious giant in the photography industry due to their ability to mount to just about anything and stabilize cameras in virtually any configuration. Using the GorillaPod has helped tremendously in setting up timed photos while hiking, and in other situations where a flat surface isn’t readily available. Furthermore, tripod use works well with NightCap since it stabilizes the camera during the lengthened shutter speed time.


Take-Home Message: Read this post. Download Nightcap and extend your capabilities with a Glif and GorillaPod.

 Relevant Links:


GoPro Hero2 Digital Camera Underwater Testing in Bonaire: Pictures and Video

Shooting with the GoPro Hero2 in Bonaire

It was a heated debate deciding on a camera system for a recent dive trip to Bonaire. Underwater housing? Video capabilities? Weight? Cost? Depth? The arguments boiled down to two basic facts: underwater housings are expensive ($200-$400) and point-and-shoot cameras change continuously.  Purchasing housing for my current point-and-shoot seemed futile, as I will likely update my camera before my next major dive trip. The GoPro Hero2 ($299), however, includes underwater housing with purchase that is rated to 60m/197ft. Other attractive features include:

– HD Video Resolution

– 11 megapixel resolution

– Small Size/Lightweight: No need to lug a bulky camera in a bulky case. I mounted the GoPro on my wrist for easy underwater video and picture taking.

– 10 pictures/second capability

Beyond diving, I imagine using the GoPro to shoot skiing, kayaking, and cycling videos. The GoPro Hero2 won the debate.

Major Downsides:

Well, I can’t say they didn’t warn me, but the GoPro performed as expected diving in Bonaire. Was it lightweight and easy to use underwater? Absolutely. Did it take high quality underwater pictures/video? Absolutely not.  The resolution suffered tremendously underwater for the exact reason that it does so well above water, that being the fish-eye lens that captures the 170⁰ wide angle images. Video slightly trumped picture quality, therefore more video was shot as the trip progressed. The camera setup best suits sports needing water protection (surfing, kayaking) but not full underwater use (scuba diving).

We eventually caved and rented a Canon 1400ELPH with underwater housing to snap better images.


To adapt to the unique optic requirements that underwater photography presents, cameras must be equipped with a flat glass port to capture high quality images. Mounted at a set distance from the camera lens, the flat glass port corrects for focus concerns of the GoPro Hero2.  Unfortunately, GoPro has not released a flat port product. Aftermarket options now exist on Ebay or EyeofMine(but unfortunately not during my original purchase!). For reasons I will not disclose at this time, I do not think that any of the current choices are optimal. My husband and I are working on our own design. Please send me an email at if you would like to know when we release the system!

** Update 8/6/12 GoPro has released an underwater housing unit:–_PyZ07ECFYio4AodcVwADw **


Make no mistake, the GoPro Hero2 is a fantastic camera. However, it should not be used underwater without a corrective lens.


Taken with GoPro Hero2:

Taken with Canon 1400ELPH:


Taken with GoPro Hero2 (unedited):

Related Articles:

10 Tips for Use of GoPro Hero2 Underwater:

Matador Tests the GoPro by Kayak:

Underwater footage starts at 1:20:


Highly Recommended: What I Don’t Leave Home Without

Unfortunately, I’m not paid to promote these items (although I welcome the opportunity!).

Osprey Packs: Think Mary Poppins- there is always more room in an Osprey pack. I swear these bags will morph to accommodate whatever you want to hold.  Osprey packs are mind readers; pockets are placed where you intuitively want them. Ospreys can take a beating and will outlast whatever you can throw at it. I can’t speak highly enough. I currently use the Flap Jill Courier and Luna 75.

Travel Document Wallet: Although I’m not a Vera Bradley fan, I’m happy I received this wallet as a birthday gift and now use it daily. Besides a great organization layout, it has an inside pocket that accommodates a passport and an outside flap that holds a boarding pass for quick accessibility.

Ocean Nasal Spray: Indispensable on long flights to remedy dry-out.

Alternate Wedding Band: Depending on the location, I opt to leave my engagement/wedding rings at home in exchange for a plain silver band. Marital status stays obvious without the incentive of theft.

Dermatone: I don’t know how it’s formulated, but Dermatone protects, moisturizes, and lasts longer than any other product on the market.

Lonely Planet Guidebooks : With accurate and relevant information, Lonely Planet cuts the crap without losing substance. Although rare, it is an extreme disappointment when Lonely Planet doesn’t cover my destination.

Pass the Pigs: Fantastic swine rolling dice game that keeps me entertained on any trip.

Passport Health: Located all over the US, Passport Health is my go-to center for vaccines.  After scheduling a readily available appointment, Passport Health prepares the shots required for your destination as well as packet of current information regarding safety, weather, and political climate of the countries on your itinerary. Vaccines are reasonably priced. You leave with a CDC card, but only after resisting relentless propaganda for useless travel products.

Starbucks VIA: Although expensive, Starbucks VIA is one of the few not-entirely-terrible instant coffee options. I always have a few tucked in my bag just in case.

GSI Coffee Grinder: Compact design, secure transport of beans, and the ability to grind sans electricity makes the GIS coffee grinder my traveling grinder of choice.

GSI French Press: Plastic, lightweight, effective. The GIS French Press gets the job done for 2 cups at a time.

Priceline: I’ve used Priceline to score fantastic last-minute hotel deals in both the US and a few major European cities (Paris, Munich). Waiting until the day-of to book hotels adds fun spontaneity to any trip and saves money.

GoPro Hero 2: A soon-to-be favorite, I just received the Hero 2 as a birthday present and can’t wait to use it on scuba and ski trips.