Time to take stock. What have I learnt? Which iPhoneography apps are valuable to me and which apps have I cast aside?

The answer to the last question is reasonably straight forward. My iPhone is littered with apps that I used and for one reason or another don’t anymore. Maybe my style changed and they just don’t fit. Or maybe taking Decim8 as a prime example, I look on in awe at the wonderful art created by so many and just accept for now that it will remain my arch nemesis for a while longer. They say self-editing is important and everything I’ve attempted with Decim8 has been discarded. One day I will share something. I am determined!

My iPhone is also full of apps I have never really got around to testing properly. These sit patiently waiting their turn. My iTunes account is littered with even more with the box un-ticked. These must be the lowest of the iPhoneography low.

I’m not going to focus on those. One man’s trash in another man’s treasure as the saying goes and who am I to judge. I could well be missing out on a great app through my misuse or lack of patience and I’m not going to influence others to make my mistake.

Instead my focus is on the iPhoneography apps I use(d) the most. I’ve written enough workflows now to make a little initial analysis worthwhile.

iPhone photography apps used:

 

iphoneography apps chart

By

A quick explanation using ‘Snapseed’ as an example:

  • It can be seen from the bar that I have used it in between 20 and 25 workflows (22 actually).
  • The dots are read against the right hand axis and demonstrate its download popularity measured against iPhone (not iPad) iPhoneography apps in the iTunes store.
  • The dots show that at one point is was ranked #1 and it is currently ranked #24. (This data is from http://www.topappcharts.com/).
  • Those that use it give it approximatley 4.5 stars
  • 61 ratings is a good volume compared to those apps looked at and so can be regarded as a reasonable assessment.

 

Conclusions

iphoneography-editing-app

Choice editing iPhoneography app – Snapseed

Great to see that I’m not alone in my adulation of this outstanding app. Whether my workflow is a simple tweak or a more involved painterly process, Snapseed is invariably an essential tool. Most of the workflows I share tend to be more involved so in reality its standing as my number 1 app by volume of images edited will be more significant. My own usage of Snapseed regularly includes almost all of its features:

  • Intelligent selective adjust – brightness, contrast and saturation adjustment of specific area(s) of an image enables detail to be pulled from the background.
  • Straighten – obviously my images are always perfect at capture … but don’t you just hate soulless digital perfection. A little correction occasionally doesn’t go amiss though.
  • Crop – my preferred ratio tends to be 1:1 and my camera replacement app of choice (see later) although capable of capturing at that ratio is set to capture full screen.
  • Structure – I’m not one for sharpening an image and where I do I tend to use the High Pass Sharpening method. However, structure is a different filter and pulls some amazing hidden detail from a JPEG. Very powerful.
  • Black and White conversion – my aim is always to get atmosphere into my iPhoneography. I tend to start on the basis that a ‘low edit’ image will be converted to black and white and allow occasional exceptions to present themselves. Snapseed colour filter black and white conversion combined with it’s ability to adjust brightness and contrast and introduce grain make it my go to app for this process. The only other app I would give an honourable mention to in this area is Simply B&W which includes what is regarded as a specialist ‘blue’ conversion filter lacking in Snapseed.
  • Drama – Introduce clarity to an image. Often used in my higher edit processes where I’m trying to get maximum definition before destroying it in a controlled way.
  • Grunge – This was the first filter I really enjoyed in Snapseed. So powerful it can be used randomly and then tweaked or used completely manually. A wonderful initial filter before further painterly textures and processes are applied.
  • Center Focus – various presets plus the ability to fully control all the options including centralising the focus away from center. Very often used before the black and white conversion process.
  • Retrolux – a new addition and a very welcome one. Introduces light leaks, scratches and other quite delicate aging textures to images. As always can be used randomly or controlled manually. Red light leaks combined with a red filtered black and white conversion can produce some powerful results.

 

iphoneography camera replacement app

Choice iPhoneography camera replacement app – ProCamera

In some ways I’m going against the crowd with this one. Camera+ far outranks ProCamera in terms of both downloads and star rating (although looking at the app store I think there may be an issue with the star rating attached to ProCamera). There’s no doubt that Camera+ is THE benchmark for iPhoneography camera replacement apps. As far as I can remember Camera+ is the first photography app I downloaded and I had many happy expeditions using it. I switched from Camera+ to 6×6 and also tinkered with some specialist and high level camera replacement apps such as Lomora, Slow Shutter, Fast Camera, 645 Pro, Pro HDR (which I now regard mainly as an editing app) MPro (Monochrome only) to name just a few. At the moment I’m settled on ProCamera as the best for me for the following reasons:

  • Primarily I am focused on the functions associated with the image capture and not additional functionality. Editing apps are for editing the captured image. (Although ProCamera comes loaded with a range of image editing options and predefined filters).
  • I have yet to find a capturing app with such a wide range of capture options all of which are useful and not just gimmicky. The options I value include:
    1. Option of simple or pro mode – suitable for all levels of knowledge and an app you can grow into.
    2. Live display of shutter speed and ISO.
    3. Live histogram.
    4. Composition grid lines to assist positioning and keep the rule of thirds in mind at the point of capture.
    5. Horizon level indicator helping keep captures ‘square’.
    6. Multiple options for setting the ratio of image capture ranging from ‘full frame’ to ‘1:1’.
  • ProCamera is very quick to load. From firing the app up to clicking the image. I personally have it on my always visible bottom bar (together with Hipstamatic).
  • The most responsive and reliable focus and exposure controls I have come across. Exposure lock can be properly verified via the live shutter speed and ISO display.
  • Processing speed is unrivaled – at full resolution on an old iPhone4 it writes the image instantly and is immediately available to recapture.
  • Even allowing for all the excellent functionality I suspect speed of processing is a key influence on battery usage. ProCamera seems to be light on battery usage.

 

iphoneography retro app

Got to love – Hipstamatic

In years to come I have a feeling iPhoneography and Hipstamatic will be uttered in the same breath. If I could predict the future, I imagine I will have the same feelings about Hipstamatic that I have now about memories playing Manic Miner or JetPac on the ZX Spectrum in my younger days. In my view this is absolutely a modern classic. This was probably the second iPhoneography app I bought and time and again I revisit it:

  • Too often digital photography removes the element of surprise. Hipstamatic reintroduces a random element to images. Their catchphrase is “Digital photography never looked so analog.”
  • Via a series of in app purchases you build up a library of lenses and films resulting in many many combinations.
  • The image is processed in keeping with the lens and film combination selected at the time it is captured. No post processing.
  • There is an entire community built around Hipstamatic.
  • The latest Pak released is a real game changer and introduces some impressive combinations. The lens especially with facial recognition technology to help define multiple blur and focus areas is just brilliant (Tinto 1848).
  • There are some downsides:
    1. Expense. A regular range of new lens and film ‘paks’ are made available via in app purchases and these are normally only available for a limited period. (Occasionally for those new to iPhoneography they open the ‘Hipsta Vault’ and make old paks re-available for a limited period).
    2. Speed. As images are processed at the point of capture Hipstamatic uses processing resource in real time. This means that a limited number of images can be captured whilst processing is occuring
    3. Battery. The amount of processing taking place in real time is quite a drain on battery life.
  • These downsides mean Hipstamatic needs to be used sparingly without access to recharging. That aside it remains attached to my always available bottom bar. It is one of the 2 apps I use to capture most images.

These are examples of pure unedited Hipstamatic images:

going downhill

best friends

urban forest

biking

 

A collection of slightly edited Hipstamatic Images can be viewed at my portfolio page { sunday morning fossdyke path }.

 

iphoneography hidden star app

Hidden iPhoneography Star? – Modern Grunge

As described in the app store… GRUNGE IS DEAD, or is it? Modern Grunge totally rocks out your photos with disheveled scratchy textures and tones, like those in the angst-filled lyrics of the grunge era, then contrasts them with modern ideas of the present using outlined borders, as well as cuts and rips created with finger gestures. I was really surprised to see this app with no rating or significant download figures in the App Store:

  • Applies tints, grunge and distress effects.
  • Allows grungy vignetted borders, rips and holes to reveal underlying (or overlying) textures.
  • Effects can be randomised, adjusted or manually created from the wide range of textures, tones, rips, tears and cuts.
  • I prefer to use it delicately where its ability to ‘stain’ an image is impressive.
  • Preferred bespoke combinations can be saved for use in future images.

Probably the best way to demonstrate Modern Grunge is to look at some collections and workflows using it:

iphoneography - green

iPhoneography - hydrangea

encore

iPhoneography - rose

 

iphoneography layers app

Missing iPhoneography editing process – Layers

Snapseed, my editing app of choice doesn’t do layers. Many of my painterly images involve multiple layers. Some have complex composites and others have much simpler processes. Depending on my requirements, I use one of three iPhoneography apps, although several others also provide the functionality. When I need to work with layers, I turn to either Image Blender, PhotoForge2 or Superimpose. Which app for what purpose?:

  • Image Blender. My default choice for speed and simplicity. Handles 2 layers at a time, foreground and background. All the usual layer blending methods are offered together with masking facilities. Foreground layer can be rotated, re-sized and positioned as necessary.
  • PhotoForge2. This is my go to app for multiple layering (up to 5 layers can be active at a time). All the usual layer blending methods are offered. Powerful variable opacity masking is also possible. It has the ability to duplicate layers which forms the basis for my ‘High Pass Filter’ method of sharpening.
  • Superimpose. A powerful iPhoneography app enabling individual elements to be masked via various tools to add to a background image using the usual blending methods. Masked elements can be saved in a library to be used in future projects. Filters are available within the app to adjust various levels of both foreground and background images.

Probably the best way to differentiate these apps is to look at some workflows using them:

in the moment

iPhoneography - you and me

iPhoneography- video - Violin Girl (surreal)

autumn walk video tutorial

 

Do you agree with me? If so, please consider endorsing my recommendations at Klout.

 

xMore! Available at the [index page] listing all apps used in my workflows together with comments and appropriate links.

 

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p31VpY-mV




9 Comments

  1. Joseph Cyr says:

    Love this post–great graphics and in-depth critiques–thanks!

  2. Marco P. says:

    Thanks for your informational and very precise blog info about using the apps. I’d be interested in learning more from you, please visit me on instagram @vastumarco

    Tks,
    M.

  3. robin cohen says:

    this is a great article!!

  4. Tricia Seabold says:

    Hey Skip! I’m a follower on IG and a big fan. So appreciate your tutorials. So concise and informative. And over the top creative!

    • Skip says:

      Hi Tricia, thank you so much. I know your work and I follow you across there also. Really good of you to drop in. BTW – your favourite image of the year on your IG profile I agree with. It is a beauty!

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