PhotoCard app icon in iTunesHaving discovered an app that treats technology as a means to enhancing one’s experience of reality, not as a tool for developing a fixation on itself, I’m thrilled with an exciting new application.

Made by a former Apple entrepreneur and photographer named Bill Atkinson, PhotoCard is a free app available from the iTunes App store. It allows today’s traveler to create custom postcards using Atkinson’s crisp nature photos or original personal photos, then send them by email or postal mail from an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. I’ve sent postcards to friends, family and others using unique photographs I took on my iPhone from recent visits to Arizona and Hawaii.

Here’s how it works.

I took photos while hiking on vacation. Later, I opened the free app – usually though not always on my iPad – and, after having sent a free e-mail postcard and loading a few dollars onto PhotoCard in advance, selected a postcard recipient from my address book or Contacts. Then, I chose the picture to place on the front of the postcard. Next, I wrote a note on the back of the postcard. I edited the card’s copy within a clean, streamlined interface that worked extremely well and without error. After picking the postage stamp from among a range of choices, I reviewed the final postcard in preview mode. I sent each piece of large, colorful correspondence. I’d made them in a few minutes while on the trip. Friends and family received each postcard several days later.

I was able to resize, crop and adjust photos and select among fonts, sizes and styles. E-mail postcards are free. Print versions sent via mail as I did cost $2 or less including First Class postage when sent within the U.S. – as little as $2.25 to other countries – on 8.25 by 5.5 inch cards using Hewlett-Packard Indigo digital press. Printed postcards are laminated. An e-mail confirmation notifies the sender when the card is being printed. Another e-mail arrives when it’s been mailed. Your history keeps and shows sent postcards. With all the features, PhotoCard is under 200 megabytes. See a demonstration in PhotoCard’s video on YouTube.

Creator Bill Atkinson, an original Macintosh partner at Apple Computer who designed much of the Mac’s initial user interface, is the author of the original QuickDraw, MacPaint and HyperCard software. He writes on his Web site that his approach to photography is driven by judgment fed by observation from sensory data, not by technological programming.

“Photography,” he writes, “begins not in the camera but in the mind and the eye. The real work is one of noticing and appreciating, seeing things clearly and differently, and sharing that vision with others. I have developed my vision and my photographic craft in order to bring the beauty of nature to light in a fresh way that can inspire and nourish people.”

Atkinson explains that an Arizona Highways magazine subscription inspired him to capture nature snapshots. As a pioneer of digital printing technology, he teaches workshops in fine art printmaking. His credo is control through digital printing. The individual activating his own vision in union with science and nature; this matches the Mac’s premise. Like Apple’s Macintosh computer, which turns 30 this month, the PhotoCard app is a wonderful tool for living. It exists purely to serve, realize and inspire each individual’s thought, ideas and action. Anticipating the photocorrespondent’s desires in featuring his work and applying the best principles of desktop publishing, PhotoCard is perfect.