Six great iPhone Photo Apps for Photographers

What differentiates the iPhone from other smart phones is the the App Store where you can choose from over 100,000 applications. With that many choices it is difficult to weed the good from the bad.

Here are some of my favorites that I use whenever I take photos with my iPhone 3GS's 3 mega-pixel camera.

Photogene- This is the Photoshop of iPhone apps. Adobe has a free app called PS Mobile, but it very limited. Photogene has a wide assortment of tools like exposure compensation, color correction, cropping, sharpening and blurring filters, levels, 16 different picture frames, rotation, image flipping, undos and redos, re-sizing and photo sharing to Twitter and Facebook. If you are going to pay for just one photo app, this is the one. Currently $2.99, but well worth it.

AutoStitch- The app if your are interested in making panoramic photos. Just take a bunch of photos making sure you overlap them and you can combine them in AutoStitch. The app is fast and after you are done it has a crop tool to straighten the jaggy edges. If you don't do a good job of overlapping the photos, the stitching could have some ghosting and errors. Currently $1.99.

Pano- My other choice for panoramas is Pano. The difference between it and AutoStitch is that it has a virtual guide that helps you line up your panoramic. It superimposes part of the last photo you took and you use it to line up your next one. Because it is more precise, your panoramics have a higher success rate. If you are a hard-core pano fan, you will be buy both. Pano is on sale now for $1.99.

CameraBag- For easy and fast retro looking photos use CameraBag. The Helga filter replicates using a Holga or Diana toy camera by vignetting, cropping your photo into a square and boosting contrast and saturation. Other arty photo effects include cross-processing, using a Lomo camera, a Polaroid picture, a few black and white looks, infrared, old color and fish-eye. I like this app better than Chase Jarvis' Best Camera app because it is dead simple to use. $1.99.

TiltShift - The big problem with cameras with tiny sensors is that every photo has everything in focus from front to back. Pro cameras with big sensors look "film-like" because of the selective focus and shallow depth of field you can achieve with the right lens. What TiltShift does is one thing, makes part of your image blurry with a selective filter. The resulting photo has a look that can emphasize your subject by blurring out either the background or foreground. The app is called TiltShift because of it can used like a speciality Tilt-Shift lens that changes your plane of focus on your photo by moving the front and back elements. Other real world examples are usually made from a Lens Baby or a view camera. A popular trick is to shoot a landscape from a high angle looking down and making the scenary look like toy-like. Currently $.99.

iTimeLapse Pro- This could be construed as a video app. iTimelapse Pro takes still images at a rate and length you determine and combines them into a time-lapse video. If you have a tripod for your iPhone and love time lapse, this could be for you. You can make single frame animations using this technique too. It is $2.99.

If you have several apps, you can save you photo in one app and open it up in another to make further changes. The combinations of two different apps can make for even more granular control of your photos.

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Transforming iPhone photos

The first photos I took with the iPhone were pretty mediocre. I thought the 2 mega-pixel camera was at fault.

A year after the iPhone was released, Apple opened up the iPhone to software developers. The result of that was a slew of photo applications created for the iPhone.

The first photo application I bought was Camerabag. That application transformed by photography with the iPhone. Camerabag's Helga setting replicates the look of the Holga or before that, the original Diana toy cameras.

It increases contrast, does some vignetting and crops your image into a square format. Everything the Holga does but without the light leaks.

My second most favorite app is Tiltshift. It blurs the edges of your photo selectively so you can highlight an important element in the frame. The big downside to Tiltshift is it's clunky interface. You have to jumps through some hoops to finally select a photo from your library to work on. Camerabag has some problems as its a huge memory hog and will crash your phone if you haven't re-booted the phone and cleared your memory before using it.

The great thing about all the photo apps is that you don't have to use just one on a photo. You can combine them with each other. Open up Camerabag, apply an effect and save the photo. Then open up another app and apply another filter. It is like you have Photoshop in your phone. Does any other smartphone have those features? Not that I know of currently. Probably a huge reason why many photoraphers are buying iPhones.

Below I show some of my photos in various stages of post-processing. I used Helga in Camerbag and the Tiltshift app in my workflow.


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