Over the last few months I’ve really been loving taking digital photos with my phone. A lot of this has to do with the fact that once my old phone crapped out (at the mall while waiting in line to see Santa…don’t even get me started on how angry my daughter was that she couldn’t play Angry Birds while she waited like all the other kids) I got a new phone that takes about a thousand times better photos. When I think about the very first digital camera I ever owned that took one megapixel photos…yeah, it kind of blows my mind how far technology has come.
I love, love, LOVE my DSLR and it’s oh-so-crisp-and-lovely-lenses, but it just isn’t practical to lug around with my everywhere I go (some people are really good about this. I am not. In fact, I normally do not remember to have it with me unless I have the intention of taking photos when I leave the house.) I almost always have my phone with me (the “almost” is because while I do physically have it on me most of the time, I am horrible about making sure it’s fully charged. Trust me when I say I am the kind of person my phone company’s battery swap program was designed for). Plus, now that I have a phone with lots of memory storage, I don’t have to worry about it acting up and constantly freezing because I’ve filled it with too many photos and apps.
There are what seems like billions of photography apps out there, and I’m definitely not an expert on each and every one. Still, here are six that I use on a pretty regular basis that are worth checking out if you don’t have them already. Best yet, all of them are free!
Unless you’ve been living at the bottom of the sea, or perhaps on the moon, you already know what Instagram is. Until roughly a month ago it was only available on iphone, but then the clouds parted, the sun shone down, and it became available on Android as well. Hallelujah! Seriously, not having Instagram was my biggest source of iphone envy (that and the fact that iphone users get the coolest selection of phone cases). The app makes it easy to follow your Twitter and Facebook friends, and allows you to take the now famous square photos and share them with your followers. Take your photo, apply one of their vintage style filters, load it up with hashtags, then share with your friends and. With a simple click of a box, you can geotag your photos and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumbler as well.
While this app does have some filters and borders, they’re nothing too exciting. I use it mostly for nut-and-bolts things like cropping, rotating, straightening, and for fine tuning things like exposure, tint, brightness and saturation. It’s touch sensitive, so you have to use a light touch or you’ll accidentally apply some very heavy-handed effects. Don’t worry though, they’re easy to undo and after a few photo editing sessions you’ll get the hang of it. The great thing about this app is that it saves your edits as a new photo file, so if you decide you hate the changes (or if you want to create several variations of the same photo) your original remains intact.
Oh, filters, filters, filters. This app is freaking Filterpalooza. Waaaaay more filters than Instagram. In addition to the huge selection of filters and borders available, there’s also a big collection of lens flares, light leaks, burn, glitters and textures you can add to your photos. The app starts you off with a pretty basic selection, but then you can go through the (free) store and download any other effects that catch your eye. This is great, because you don’t end up with a bunch of effects you’re ambivalent about (I, for example, bypassed a whole bunch of fireworks and flame overlays, because I’ll probably never use them). With each photo, you can apply one filter, one border, and one effect. If you save the photo and then reopen it again, you can layer even more. Once you’re done, you can either upload it to the app’s gallery, or share it somewhere else (such as Instagram or Facebook).
Ever see those photo collages people post and wonder what app they used? This app does it. Just open the app, choose the photos you want to display (the number is flexible) then select the layout. Once your photos are filled in you can rearrange them as you like, and also change the background. There’s a large collage option, and also a small square one perfect for uploading your collage to Instagram.
Of all the apps I have, I probably use this one the least, just because the options are pretty limited. You have a fish eye lens effect, a Warhol style effect, a Polaroid effect, a mirror effect, and my personal favorite, a Lomo-esque toy camera effect. Nothing too fancy, but if you’re looking for something simple and easy to use, this is a good start.
I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I felt I was collecting an excessive amount of photo apps, so of course a friend fed into that addiction and suggested this one. In addition to all of your manual camera controls like exposure, zoom, flash, timer, focus, etc, it also has a large selection of filters. There’s multiple retro, selective color, tilt-shift, Lomo, and sketch effects, plus more. It does most of the same things as other apps I mentioned, but the nice thing about this one is that you can take care of pretty much everything you need to do without leaving this app.
What I really like about having all these apps are the mix and match possibilities. You can choose your favorite filter from one app, your favorite border from another, and maybe layer one more from a third. It’s easy to go a little crazy, so you have to remember that the main purpose of these apps is to enhance your photos, not turn them into the equivalent of a bedazzled, glitter drenched, sequined, tie-dye shirt that my six year old would love. But sometimes, I guess that can be fun too.
Do you have any favorite photo apps? What are they?