While Tim totes around a backpack full of our camera equipment for most of the awesome shots you later see here on the blog, I’m the real-time iPhoneographer. I often get asked which camera app I use on my iPhone and since Travel + Leisure featured me yesterday on both their Instagram and Facebook pages, I thought it was time to share my favorites. My explanation usually involves pulling my iPhone out to demonstrate my folder with three “pages” of iPhone photo apps. Though I recently deleted some that I rarely used, I still have 18 different iPhone photo editing apps currently on my phone. I might take my iPhoneography a wee bit serious (or I might need to join some sort of iPhone Apps Anonymous group), but I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I consider as the 5 best iPhone photo editing apps.
Unless you have the perfect eye for light, color, and composition, iPhone photos just tend to look a little flat. iPhone cameras keep getting better and better, but even in the perfect light conditions the iPhone camera only offers so much. Snapseed to the rescue!
I love this app for the variety of things you can do with it. Snapseed allows you to control basic things like brightness, contrast, saturation and white balance. It also has a couple of built in filters; you can crop, straighten, and sharpen images; and you can even selectively control the light in areas of the photo.
My hugging snow people in Central Park was sharpened with the details function and the color was punched up with the automatic function in Snapseed. Download Snapseed for free.
2. Pro HDR
Let’s face it. There are really only a few hours of each day that the light is perfect for shooting photography. Blue hour, which is just after the sun goes below the horizon and the sky turns blue for a while, is the best and my favorite time to take photos. But in our hectic travel schedule, we rarely get to capture anything during blue hour. That leaves me with the rest of the day when the sun is overhead and inevitably the sky looks blown out or the foreground is incredibly dark. Sometimes I even get a crazy idea for a shot I think will be awesome and I find I’m shooting directly into the sun. Enter Pro HDR.
Unlike other “fake” HDR apps for the iPhone that take just one single photo and reprocess it, Pro HDR takes a series of shots and merges them to create a greater range of tonal detail. There is an automatic setting, but for more serious iPhoneographers there is also a manual mode so you can adjust your exact exposure.
My reflections of Alta Badia photo was shot with Pro HDR and then cropped with Snapseed. Download Pro HDR for $1.99.
We were at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and Tim was just about laying on the ground trying to get the entire thing in one shot. I come along with my iPhone, tell Tim to pose, and then show him the results. “Like this?” After 12 years of marriage, it still gives me great joy to see him baffled at my genius.
Ah, but it wasn’t entirely genius. I had a help from the hand Photosynth app, which stitches together several shots to make lovely mobile panoramas. What I love about this app is that the capture system lets you see your progress while you shoot your “stitches”. A handy on-screen grid and pointer help you line up your next stitch with where you left off with the previous one. It does take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of using Photosynth you’ll love it.
Tim posing in front of the Burj Khalifa was shot with Photosynth and cropped with the auto-crop feature. Unfortunately, Photosynth apps have been retired but still function if you’ve previously downloaded them.
Sometimes one lone photo just isn’t enough to tell the entire story. Instead of spamming our Facebook followers with each course of a meal, I like to put them all together into a single image. I love PicFrame for doing this. The app offers a number of templates to help you lay out photos and you can even include text. You can add a video into one the frames for a dynamic multimedia image.
My six course meal at Elsa was shot with six individual images and edited in Snapseed. The images were then layed out in PicFrame and the text was entered with the label feature. Download PicFrame for $0.99.
5. A Beautiful Mess
iPhoneography should be fun and the A Beautiful Mess app helps me create images with attractive typefaces, layer on fun doodles and artwork, and use trendy filters. I don’t actually use this one too often, but it can turn a boring image into an eye-catching one. And it’s like an Etch-A-Sketch for your iPhone! Who wouldn’t love that?
My get on a plane and go photo was shot and edited with Snapseed and then the typeface and doodles were added in A Beautiful Mess. Download A Beautiful Mess for $0.99.
I also love Studio and PicLab HD which do similar things as A Beautiful Mess. Studio regularly has its design packs on sale for free, so be sure to turn on the push notifications to be alerted to fun new design packs in the in-app store.
Colorsplash is another fun app to produce interesting images. You convert your image to black and white and then choose certain details to keep in color. It’s not something I use often, but can create some really striking images.
Postify isn’t a photo editing app, but I do think it’s awesome! You can turn your iPhoneography, Instagram, and Facebook images into postcards that you can send anywhere in the world right from your phone. They’re printed on high quality card stock and you can even customize the message just like if you were to sit down and write out a postcard. C’mon, no matter how old you get, you know mom and dad love bragging about you. Now they can do it with your awesome photos turned into a postcard they can stick up on the fridge.