Thursday, June 06, 2013

My favorite photography apps for iPhone Part 2

A nearly-empty FDR Drive going downtown two days after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the area and left all of lower Manhattan without power.  Taken with my iPhone 4S and processed with the VSCO Cam app.  I've shared the original one straight from the camera as well as processed in Instagram below.
It's been almost two years since I first shared my favorite photography apps for iPhone and in technology years that's like a century!  Surprisingly enough some of the apps that I mentioned then are the same apps that I would recommend today (namely Photoshop Express and Instagram) but I've since added a few more to the mix that I think are worth a try.  Plus check out these tips for taking better photos with your iPhone.

1.  Afterlight

Afterlight is the updated version of an app previously called Afterglow.  It's an extremely user friendly and intuitive app that offers all the basic editing tools like contrast, brightness, exposure, saturation and cropping but in addition to all that, there are a variety of filters and textures that give photos a creative and artistic (and also kitschy) look.  Some of the textures and light leaks available are a bit much (ie. cheesy) but they are a lot of fun to play around with and they add some depth to otherwise boring photos.  One of the reasons why I love my iPhone is because you get to tinker with apps like this and make quick changes to your photos that you might not ever make if you were editing in programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.  An otherwise pedestrian, flat picture can be suddenly fun and creative. Another nice thing about the app is that it supports images that are up to 12 megapixels large so it's a great app to use with photos taken with your dslr as well as your iPhone.  (via iPhoneography)  And, finally, it allows you to save the image at three different resolutions and you can save your photo to your camera roll and email it, plus share it on your social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others.

One of my favorite places in the world - Main Beach in East Hampton shot with the 4S and processed in Afterlight.
A portrait of my girl lounging in my bed processed with the Afterlight app to add some funky (albeit unnecessary) light leaks and other layers.
2.  Mextures

Over the last year iPhone photographers have downloaded Mextures textures more than 200,000 times directly from Merek Davis’ store and tagged 140,000 images on Instagram; now they have an iPhone app to more easily create and share visually stunning images. (via FStoppers) Before the release of the app earlier this week I had never heard of Mextures textures but thanks to several Instagram users I follow it is my new obsession for having yet another fun way to play around with my iPhone pictures, and for the special $0.99 launch price in the Apple App Store you can't go wrong.  The app comes with more than 70 original high resolution textures made specifically for photographers by photographers that light leaks, gritty and grainy film textures, dusty vintage film scans and gradients created from actual 35mm film scans.  It  provides 12 different blending modes and, probably my favorite feature, it allows you to create as many layers as you want with the ability to adjust the opacity of each.  There's a quick tutorial video that you can watch before you use the app and they've rounded up a cool collection of inspirational photos processed by Mexture users so you can get some ideas of your own.

Check out the Mextures site for more information.

The Brooklyn Bridge via my window driving north on the FDR drive on a stormy afternoon with some seriously moody textures added via Mextures.  I like when you have to look at something really closely before knowing exactly what it is that your eyes are seeing.  This photo does that for me.  Shot with the 4S.
One portrait, two ways (with a third here).  Both processed using Mextures but the bottom one converted to black and white using Snapseed.

3.  Snapseed

I love Snapseed, created by Nik Software (that is now a part of Google), so much that it has almost completely replaced my once-beloved Photoshop Express app.  Everyone else has taken notice of it too since it was named best mobile photo app of 2012.  It's got all the basic adjustment offerings like brightness, contrast, exposure and saturation plus super simple, straightforward and most importantly, fun textures and layers like Vintage, Grunge, Drama, and my personal favorite, Black and White.  In fact, Snapseed is my favorite place for converting iPhone photos into black and white.   One of my favorite features of this app is that you can correct color and selectively adjust an isolated part of your image at the touch of your fingers by simply creating what they call a Control Point.  You basically tap on the area that you want to adjust and swipe your finger to the left or right to lighten or darken the object you've selected.  You can check out this cool gallery of images processed by Snapseed (I can't believe some of them were taken on mobile devices).

Rectangles and lines aka The World Financial Center and the The World Trade Center processed with Snapseed.

I love the simplicity of this intuitive, user-friendly, and FREE (yay!) app and it's about to get even better.  They posted this video of all the awesome features that will be available with the imminent upgrade.  It's pretty popular with Instagram users where a search of the vscocam hashtag yields over 2 million results (via here) and I personally use it all the time for almost every photo I take with my iPhone (in other words, a lot).  Check out some of the samples of what the app will do over on FStoppers.  I can't wait for this update.

These bodega beauties will brighten your day.  Processed via VSCO Cam.
Inside the Met via VSCO Cam.
The Atlantic Ocean in Montauk via VSCO Cam.
The original image straight from my iPhone of the one processed all the way at the top of this post.
The same image processed first via VSCO Cam and then Instagram.

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