FoneGuide: Photography Apps

FoneGuide: Photography Apps
Can a smartphone really replace a standalone camera? This lingering question, it seems, can be finally laid to rest. And it’s not necessarily the number of pixels or quality of the lenses that made phone cameras good enough for general consumers. These compact electronic devices are convenient because they are in our pockets almost every waking hour, and being constantly connected to the web means that content can be exposed to the world at moment’s notice.

Photography Apps
But perhaps the greatest power of smartphones lies in the flexibility of their software. With the help of photography oriented apps, users can greatly expand the default functionality of their smartphone cameras. Some apps are there to give you an edge at making more professional looking photos, while others let you effortlessly showcase your creative work to people across the globe. Today we'll be taking a look at five of these solutions that deserve your attention.


Status: Free (Android, iOS) Developer: Instagram

Instagram is a wide resonating success story that spawned numerous carbon-copies and inspired smartphone users to get creative with their mobile cameras. As with most things that are successful, the underlying idea is brilliantly simple yet effective. Users snap a photo using the app, choose and apply one of the retro-looking filters, and then upload the end result to the web. Instagram takes some cues from Twitter and Facebook, as people can choose to subscribe to other user feeds to follow and 'like' their work as well as leave comments. Alternatively, you can set your account to private so only your circle of friends will be able to view your photos.
Instagram app

The only real downside is that there never seem to be enough ways to enhance the pictures. For a greater number of effects, overlays, filters and frames you should check out Pixlr-o-matic, or for richer social features. Despite its lack of advanced features, Instagram balances it out with a quality vs quantity approach, and the immense number of users means better chances that your images will get noticed.


Status: Basic free version + £1.11 Pro version (Android), £0.69 (iOS) Developer: MotionOne

If you’ve ever found yourself craving for the fancy blur effects that are typical to expensive DSLR cameras, then this app should be right up your alley. In short, AfterFocus allows you to blur certain parts of an image in order to bring more prominent objects into focus. Developer has provided two distinct editing modes to help accommodate different kinds of users.
AfterFocus app
The 'smart' mode will handle most of the work, and you'll be only required to draw approximate borders that separate the foreground and background focus. Should you, however, require more direct control over your creative work, there's also the manual editing mode that gives you the brush tool to mark the desired focus area. You'll also be able tweak the level of blur next to applying a range of common filters such as vignette or sepia. It may require a bit of practice to get the most out the app, but you'll be sure to be pleasantly surprised by how much character and life you can bring to your photos with AfterFocus.

BeFunky Photo Editor

Status: Basic free version + £2.49 Pro version (Android), Basic free version + £1.49 (iOS) Developer: BeFunky Inc.

BeFunky Photo Editor is something of a rarity these days. While many free apps strip away essential features to force its users into buying the full version, BeFunky showcases some of its best features without asking even a penny in return. There are no watermarks, no pesky ads that occupy the screen, and no pop-ups that pester for registration details. This leaves you with a very clean and intuitive interface that has controls neatly organised at the top and bottom sections of the screen.
BeFunky Photo Editor

The app itself is packed with options to edit and enhance the look of your pictures, from amending contrast and brightness to cropping, sharpening and applying a myriad of different effects and frames. The recent update also introduced a visual history for all the edits, which makes it extremely easy to revert back any changes you make. The full version claims to have over 60 different effects to experiment with, but frankly, after seeing this much effort from the developers, it's hard not to want to support them with your wallet. 


Status: £0.62 (Android), £0.69 (iOS) Developer: ActiveDevelopment

Picframe is a relatively simple editing tool made essential under the growing influence of online photo-sharing services such as Instagram. It comes with an abundant supply of different styles of frames that can accommodate up to nine photos. After selecting the ratio of your collage, you can then tweak the individual sizes of compartments, adjust the width and colour of frames, and even add labels to each photo.
PicFrame app

Basic filters can also be applied by double tapping the individual photo. After you're done creating your collage, you'll be presented with a menu where you can upload your work to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Instagram. Sadly there's only paid version of Picframe available, but if the above described features left you interested, then PicFrame is well worth its modest price.


Status: Basic free version + £0.62 Full version (Android), Basic free version + £0.69 Full version (iOS) Developer: Adva Soft

As the name suggests, this app brings professional photo retouching techniques to your smartphone. In short, the app will help you readily get rid of any unwanted objects or imperfections from your photos. TouchRetouch is surprisingly easy to handle on a touchscreen even when addressing the smallest of details. Simply highlight an area you wish to remove using the lasso or brush tool, and then hit the start button to watch the magic unfold.
TouchRetouch  app
It's important to keep in mind that the larger the object you wish to remove is, the more difficult it's going to be to maintain a realistic look of the photo. But TouchRetouch is also very fun to play around with, and is sure to bring some unexpected and hilarious results. The full version will get rid of the ads, remove watermarks and unlock the clone stamp tool for more advanced photo retouching.

The 5 listed apps are, of course, merely a fraction of what smartphone users have at their disposal, so we'll be having another round of photography oriented apps in the near future. What's so brilliant about these kind apps in particular is that they teach users how to tell more expressive stories through their smartphone cameras. The process of learning can be a bit challenging at times, but the amount of satisfaction it can bring is immense. Happy snapping!

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