Many times I've been out in nature photographing random aesthetically pleasing things, only to come home and spend hours browsing field guides and online references trying to identify the flowers, trees, insects, reptiles and so on that appear in my photos. I've even had to call in the generous help of nature experts I've found online (as was the case with the orb weaver spider, the Texas Bull Snake and the rare Bight Crevice Skink; for the story behind the latter, see "Rare Identity").
For photographers in the same situation, the iPhone may soon be another useful tool in the task of identifying subjects right in the field.
Scientists and software engineers at the Smithsonian, the University of Maryland and Columbia University are creating an iPhone application that pinpoints plant species from pictures of the leaves. Simply click and upload, and your plant is ID'd.
Moreoever, the app will aid in scientific research. The snapshots that users run through the identifier are added to a database that helps naturalists track the health and locations of plant species (ever-important information in our changing climate).
News of another interesting photo tool from iPhone comes courtesy of a friend of mine from northern New England. Amy alerted me to a photo app called Color Splash that allows you to easily do black-and-white conversions, add spot color, and so on. Not a professional tool, but it definitely poses fun possibilites for a camera phone. See "Color Splash iPhone App Review" at JackBook.com.