Travel Photo Guides: an app to help you take great photos in our national parks

I’m a pretty terrible photographer. My DSLR camera is definitely smarter than me, and the photos it takes on full-auto are almost always better than those I get when I fiddle around in manual mode. Still, I can’t help but feel envious when I look at professional photos and realize that I could take photos that good if only I had a little nudge in the right direction. If you’re planning a photography trip through one of the U.S. National Parks, you now have that nudge with the Travel Photo Guide apps for your iPhone.

The apps are targeted to specific national parks, and provide a plethora of popular and gorgeous photo spots: waterfalls, geysers, etc. Each location features multiple photos of that location, taken by professional photographers at different times of the day and night. Each photo in the app provides you with the details of the photo: ISO, f/stop, exposure time, lens, and the relative time of day the shot was taken. The photos are all geolocated, allowing you to plan travel itineraries so that you can recreate these photos on your own.

Each of the Travel Photo Guide applications is free to download and install, so that you can try it out to see if you like it. The trial lasts 30 days, and interestingly does not work inside the park it details. They check your coordinates when you launch the app to make sure you’re not using the trial inside the park. Also, the trial version includes only a single photo of each location included in the app.

You can unlock the full version, which will work inside the target park and provide a lot more photos of each specific location inside the park, for $9.99 through an in-app purchase. As it was explained to me, this satisfies users’ desire to have a try-before-you-buy option while sidestepping the development overhead of maintaining a free Lite version and the full version of the app. Says Jeff Elias, one of the brains behind the app:

Think of it like a browsing in a book store. We wanted to give them the same comfort level in trying Mobile42’s National Park Apps. We built a version with all of the content, but used the Apple in-app purchase to enable getting all of the photos and photo locations.

The apps provide a pretty comprehensive suite of camera setting suggestions in order to help you get great photos: depth of field calculator, focus finder, exposure suggestions for different conditions, even a High Dynamic Range calculator.

And now here’s a funny little story for you. A lot of the stuff that gets reviewed on MobileCrunch is pitched to us by PR companies: we try our best to stay ahead of the curve and bring you interesting new content on our own, but the reality is that there are far more apps out there than we could ever discover on our own. The Travel Photo Guides app came to my attention when one of the developers entered into a CrunchGear contest. He flubbed his entry, and against my better judgement I sent him an email telling him to read the full content rules and try submitting again. This led to a brief email exchange, which finally led to him telling me about their apps clearing the App Store approval process. There’s no moral to this story, really: I just enjoy these kinds of serendipitous moments.