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7 Amazing Photography Apps for Your Phone

4. Camera+
Overview: A solid, reliable camera/photo editing app. This is probably closest you can get to turning your phone into a compact digital camera.

If you are looking for something that feels and behaves a lot like a decent compact digital camera, this app is probably your best bet. While not a viral phenom like Instagram, Camera+ is becoming more popular all the time. For example, photos taken and edited with Camera+ have been showing up in my friends' Facebook feeds a lot recently.

How Social Media Is Changing Travel

Camera+ has many of the options that you might expect in a very small editing suite: a decent zoom; the ability to adjust the image for many white balance situations (Auto, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, Fluorescent, etc.); a new Clarity option that can really bring out detail; the ability to rotate, flip and especially crop (there are a dozen cropping options for various print sizes and shapes, and even a "Golden Mean" crop); and also 18 Border options. Additionally, there are three dozen "FX effects" options, each with an Intensity slider that lets you choose how powerfully the effect is applied.

I also really liked the "Info" button, which displays ISO settings, distance to the object, zoom magnification, f-stop and shutter speed, as well as a map showing exactly where the photo was taken (if you have "Location Services" turned on for the app). After using Camera+ for a bit, I came to view it almost as editing software with a camera button as much as a camera with editing capabilities (which is how the other apps in this review behave, on the whole). Use a couple of the other apps, then use Camera+, and you'll likely understand the distinction immediately.

Camera+ also lets you superimpose a grid on your viewfinder screen, helping to eliminate titled photos. Save for the fact that Camera+'s sharing capabilities are somewhat routine -- e-mail, text, Facebook, Flickr -- all told, if you're primarily looking to take better travel pictures with your phone (and not so much to apply cool and hip effects), you may want to choose Camera+.

Camera+ Original

Camera+ Clarity

Camera+ Ansel Filter

Camera+ Emo Filter

5. Luminance
Overview: Camera with photo editing app similar to Lightroom, a high-quality editing program for computers.

Luminance is a bit like Camera+ with a fair amount more processing power and is arguably the app that might appeal most to folks with experience using software like Photoshop or especially Lightroom.

When you take a picture, Luminance actually kicks you over to your regular camera phone, then brings you back to Luminance again very seamlessly. From there, you can apply a battery of effects, crop the photo and -- here's the crucial part -- access an array of Lightroom-like sliders with which you can adjust White Balance, Hue and Tint, and Brightness and Contrast; apply Tone Curve Highlights/Lights/Darks/Shadows; and play with Hue and Saturation. An icon shaped like a clock, which reveals the full history of your edits to the image, allows you to go back to any previous state with a tap.

The sharing component of Luminance is somewhat limited. Your options are to share on Facebook, Tweet via Lumipics, save, e-mail and copy -- which is enough for many people, albeit perhaps not folks who are doing a photo travelogue on their Instagram site.

Luminance Dystopia Filter

Luminance with Manual Tone Curve and White Balance Edits

Luminance Crush BW Filter

6. Snapseed
Overview: Probably the most powerful and intuitive photo editing app out there right now.

At the moment, Snapseed is the closest thing to a professional photo editing app for your phone. Designed by Nik Software, which makes the industry-leading Efex Pro software suites, it features a bit more intuitive controls than does Luminance. Luminance will still be more familiar to Lightroom and Camera Raw users, but Snapseed will be fairly easy for everyone, with the controls appearing right on the photo. Swipe up and down on the photo to choose which tool to use, and swipe across the photo to increase or decrease the strength of the filter.

International Cell Phone Guide

Like plenty of photo editing programs, this app can make a lot of decisions for you (Automatic Corrections), or you can make endless adjustments yourself. There is a Selective Adjust tool that allows you to work on specific areas of a photo, a Tune Image tool, a Straighten option, a Crop option, a batch of cool Frames and a new Details tool. And you get some hip effects as well: Grunge, Drama, Vintage, a great Black and White filter, and a new Tilt Shift option. The changes are also considered "non-destructive," meaning that you can go back to your original image at any time.

As one might expect from a high-end photo editor, Snapseed's adjustments can be very subtle -- sometimes too subtle for the iPhone. On the iPad, Snapseed really comes into its own.

Snapseed's effects are also a little more subtle -- some might say more tastefully done -- than the current crop of hip apps, but, except for folks really into far-out photo effects, travelers may find the filters to be just right.

As sharing software, Snapseed is similar to Camera+ and the like, providing the ability to e-mail and print, and post to Flickr, Facebook and Twitter from inside the app.

Snapseed Grunge Filter

Snapseed Tilt Filter

Snapseed Black and White Filter

7. 360 Panorama
Overview: Extremely quick, easy and attractive way to take 360-degree panorama photos.

What traveler has not wished at least once that he could take a full 360-degree photo to save for posterity? The 360 Panorama app makes this ridiculously easy. You pan up and down and all the way around with your phone camera, watching as the app takes multiple snapshots and filling in any blank spots as you go. When you're done, you hit "Render," and the app gives you two options: one to create a "flat" photograph you can e-mail or print, and another to share a full 360-degree view on 360verse (a panoramic-photo sharing Web site), which you can post to Facebook as well.

Check out the front-yard photo I took here. I downloaded the 360 Panorama app, took this shot and uploaded it within about five minutes' time. Also, just below, the "flat" version of the same photo:

360 Panorama

More iPhoneography Apps for Travelers
  • Postagram: An app that allows you to send printable postcards right from your iPhone or Android phone camera.

  • Slow Shutter: A photo app that lets you take long exposures with your smartphone.

  • Everyday: A reminder app for folks who want to take at least one photo every day.

  • Image Straightener: A very simple app that lets you straighten crooked pictures right on your phone.

  • Photographer's Ephemeris: This is really a professional photographer's app, but one that could help travelers snap better photos on the road. The app shows you where the sun and moon will be at any given time, anywhere on the planet.

    Last week I asked Joanne Carter of theappwhisper.com to share her favorite photo apps. In true blogger form, she wrote a full blog post; you can read it here.

    After playing with all of these apps for a month, I think I will hang on to Camera+, Snapseed, the Photographer's Ephemeris, 360 Panorama and (mainly because some friends use it and I subscribe to their photo feeds) Instagram.

    Go Anyway,
    Ed Hewitt
    Features Editor
    The Independent Traveler

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