Tuesday, August 09, 2011

My Favorite Photography Apps for iPhone

I love taking photos with my iPhone and if you've read this blog before then you definitely know that!  I like capturing random, daily moments and also telling stories with my phone in a way that is just different from what I do with my DSLR.  Plus it's fun to not always take cameras and picture taking so seriously and to see what you can do with the limited resources of a mobile device camera.

I'm sure that if you ask 10 random iPhone users on the street which camera app is their favorite you will get 10 different answers.  Okay, I totally just made up that statistic!  But honestly, there are so many cool camera apps out there it might be difficult to choose a favorite or a must-have.  People ask me all the time about my favorite apps and how I capture the things that I do with my iPhone so I thought that a post about it was in order.


So here are my must-haves and two honorable mentions.  They're great on their own or when you combine them.
And speaking of photos taken with cameras, here is some recent press on the show that I'm in at the Artspace Untitled Gallery in Oklahoma City.

What about you?  Do you have any favorite must-have iPhone apps?  What about non-iPhone users?  And, here's an article I recently shared on Twitter about why people seem to love camera apps and the lo-fi trend.

1.  Photoshop Express

This is my go-to app for 99% of my photos.  I like to use it to make little tweaks before I play with the photo on my other favorite apps.  It's free, let's you make simple edits like fixing exposure and adding saturation, it will convert your photos to black and white, it's free, it will crop your photos and did I mention it's free?  Yes, many apps are free but this is one that surprises me because first of all, it's Adobe and second, it let's you do so much on one tiny app to improve your photos.  It's not going to work magic though so it won't make a bad picture better (like any photo you take with any camera) but if you have some photos from your iPhone that need a little help, this is the app for you.

I personally use it mostly to fix the exposure if there was low light (I still use the iPhone 3 so no flash on my phone and I'm holding out for the iPhone5 rumored to be coming out soon but in general, I prefer the bit of grain to the brightness of a flash on the cameras on most phones) and to convert to black and white.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Converted to black and white in PS Express

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Converted to black and white in PS Express

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Converted to black and white in PS Express with a few other tweaks like fixed exposure and sharpening

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Converted to black and white in PS Express (I took this at a concert and it was very dark so first I fixed the exposure which made it super grainy and then I desaturated it and then I added some contrast all in PS Express)


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express

2.  Instagram

So much has been said about Instagram already and it seems to really be the "It" camera app for iPhone.  It let's you take photos directly on the app or use photos existing on your camera roll and then it lets you share them instantly on everything from email to Flickr, Facebook to Tumblr, Twitter to Foursquare.  Plus it lets you geotag the picture!  I also like that I can "follow" friends from Facebook and Twitter who use Instagram, as well as a lot of random people.  You can "Like" and "Comment" on anyone's photos and it gives you a news feed so you can keep up with people you follow and who follow you.  There's also a "Popular" page that showcases some photos from random users but I'm guessing there's some sort of weird algorithm and I don't usually find the photos on that page to be that interesting.  I like to find new people to follow by checking out the favorites of people who I follow.

This app is cool because it creates your new image in a square format and it lets you apply fun filters.  It's not exactly a novel idea and sometimes the photos can look cheesy but whatever, the iPhone is not a Hasselblad (swoooon). One thing that is annoying is that the biggest (original) file size for these images is 612x612.  For anyone who is interested in printing these photos (me) this is very annoying because the resolution is terrible and you will be limited to very small prints.  Maybe (hopefully) they will fix that in an update.  It's an iPhone and the point is to have fun with it and create cool images instantly.  Get it....Instagram?

Some people use the app to share photos that they take using other apps too and judging from the streams of some of the people I follow, the app is being used to share photos taken with other cameras downloaded onto their phones but whatever, it's fun.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Instagram

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express plus Hipstamatic plus Instagram

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Instagram

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Instagram

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Instagram

3.  ShakeItPhoto

This is a fun and easy app that basically turns any photo into a Polaroid.  Plus, it's fun for the kids (and for dorks like me) because if you literally shake your phone (like a Polaroid - clever) the image shakes back and forth on your screen as the Polaroid comes to life.  You can take a photo with the app or you can take a photo that already exists from your camera roll to make a Polaroid.  I like it.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
ShakeIt

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
ShakeIt

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
First I used PS Express, then I played with it on Hipstamatic and finally I created a Polaroid using ShakeIt


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express and ShakeIt


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express and ShakeIt

4.  Camera+

This is a new favorite of mine and I've only just started to use it.  I have the iPhone 3 (ancient!) but apparently it offers the use of iPhone 4′s LED flash, and the option to use both the front and rear facing camera.   Camera+ offers up to 6 times zoom, a stabilizer, a timer and a burst option - imagine, it gives you options that you can't even get with most point and shoots!  There are a lot of cool filters and effects, it allows you to adjust white balance and it also allows you to share pictures on Flickr, post to Facebook or Twitter, or send via text or email.  For $1.99 it is definitely worth it.  Camera+ also makes sure all the pictures you take get saved into the app itself and it lets you decide which pictures you want to save to your camera roll.  I personally prefer all my photos to be saved on the camera roll rather than the camera app itself since I like mine all in the same place but it's a nice option to have. 

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
PS Express and Camera+

5.  Hipstamatic

I think Hipstamatic was what all the cool kids were using before Instagram busted on the scene but it still seems to be pretty popular.  The app has a bunch of cool "films" and "camera lenses" that you can play around with, as well as some "gels" that you can apply to the pictures.  But, it can be annoying since you can't preview an image before you make it.  You just have to sort of guess what it will look like.  Still, it's a fun app that lets you do silly things that you otherwise wouldn't do with your smart phone photos even though the size is pretty small for printing purposes.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic 


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic 


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic 

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic 


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic 


Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Hipstamatic plus some changes to exposure in PS Express

And I give these two apps honorable mentions because let's face it...I can!  And seriously, I don't use them that often but they are quite fun when I do.

6.  100 Cameras in 1- Honorable Mention

I only use this occasionally but it's a cool app created by the photographer behind the insanely popular Stuck in Customs photography blog, Trey Ratcliff.  There are so many cool filters on this app and it's just a lot of fun.  You can take a photo from the app or create it from your library.  You can even sign up for the newsletter and you can download a few workshops like Trey's HDR How-to if you're into that.  I personally am not a huge HDR fan but apparently tons of people are so if this is you, then this app is right up your alley!  There's a free version if you want to test it out and a more advanced one for $1.99.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
100 Cameras using Cross Process (I used the PS Express app first)

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
100 Cameras

7.  TiltShiftGen - Honorable Mention

 I've only used this twice for these two photos.  It's fun and has a cool effect.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
TiltShift

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Converted to black and white in PS Express plus TiltShift

So what do you think?  What are your favorite iPhone photography apps?

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1 comment:

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

I just used ps express on a picture of a temple after
Reading this so thanks for the wonderful list!

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living