Faster, smaller, better — that’s technology’s mantra. Camera phones are no exception to that rule, and you’ll find many accomplished photographers (like Austin Mann) turning to their cell phone for high-quality imagery on the go. Still, just as you’d give your pro-level dSLR-shot photos a little post-production TLC, camera phone photos need some retouching, too. These powerful photo editing apps will help improve the quality of your shots when you’re mobile. Next stop: Instagram fame.
Manual App leverages Apple’s new camera API to give you independent control over shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and exposure. If you’re handy with the manual setting on your DSLR, you’ll find this app particularly useful. Manual allows you to quickly adjust settings for an intentionally composed shot. No more shooting and hoping.
Photographing a building can be challenging. Sure, you’re standing at the bottom of it, but unless it’s the Empire State Building, you probably don’t want to watch it turn into a triangle. If you take pictures of architecture, SKRWT is a must. This app is the easiest, most powerful adjusting app you can find, enabling you to shift perspective and straighten a photo in a quick and easy way.
TouchRetouch is incredible. It’s an app that allows you to remove objects from your photo in a manner similar to Adobe’s Content Aware. Simply highlight the objects you want removed, hit “Go” and they’re gone. This app replaces the unwanted object by mimicking the surrounding pattern, giving a seamless look. Want to remove all the people from a ski slope, leaving you with an isolated mountain landscape? Done.
From the same makers of TouchRetouch, AntiCrop is a revolutionary app that allows you to “uncrop” your photos. Simply expand the borders of your photo and AntiCrop fills in what wasn’t there. The results are pretty magical and will give you zero faith in the validity of any photo ever again. Sure, the logo looks like something out of a SpongeBob nightmare, but the app itself is a must for every serious mobile photographer.
If you haven’t heard of VSCO Cam by now, you haven’t been paying attention. VSCO Cam is one of the most popular photo editing apps available. You can curate your own library (accessible on any device), edit your photos and publish them to every popular platform, including their in-house social arena, the VSCO Grid. Their tasteful presets emulate the nostalgia of film in a subtle way. Plus, their in-app purchases are always refreshing and relevant.
3 TIPS FOR BETTER PHOTOS
1. Treat the lens of your camera phone in the same way you might treat a nice pair of Persols. You wouldn’t let fingerprints and grime build up on the lenses, reducing the visibility. A simple way to make your photos look sharper is to clean the face of your camera lens with a microfiber cloth (or your shirt, in a pinch).
2. Turn the grid function on in your camera app of choice. If a line is parallel to the horizon in real life, you probably want to make it look that way in the photo. And if you don’t, the grids allow you to be calculated while making the photo look a little off-kilter.
3. Zoom with your feet. Don’t rely too much on the built in zoom feature of your phone, as it distorts the clarity of the image. The best photographers get up close and personal. Don’t be afraid to get right in the face of something. A lot of good shots are missed because you didn’t get close enough.
“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff.” – Jim Richardson
Image by VSCO user annahuizi
Snapseed by Google is a perfect app for doing minor enhancements to your photo. Hands down, this is the best app for individual control over exposure, ambiance, contrast and details. Snapseed also boasts Selective Adjust, which allows you to enhance specific areas of your image. Pro tip: stay away from the “Grunge” filters.
Afterlight does a lot of things well, namely standard photo enhancements. The clarify, the brightness and sharpening tools are some of the best you’ll find. They also have a slew of interesting filters and borders. They’re a little heavy handed, but they make for an interesting effect.