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Going Mobile: 5 Must Have Photo Apps



Photo by: John Curley

Award-winning photographer John Curley "loves to create unforgettable images". These are his words.

I love photography apps.

I have more than 70 of them on my iPhone. They take up much more room than any other media, and there's hardly room for music anymore!

But that's ok, because the one thing I love more than photo apps is taking photos, and sometimes you need just the right app for just the right photo.

Still, I find myself using some of the same apps over and over again. They've become the ones I go to most consistently, even though I've accumulated a lot of options. Here are the five I simply couldn't do without:

1. Instagram:
The Instagram app is on most lists for "app of the year," photographic or otherwise. In a little more than a year, the little San Francisco startup went from no users to more than 14 million. It's a free app that can turn an ordinary photo into something special through the use of their very attractive, and very easy-to-use filters. There are filters for black and white, sepia, cross-processing and other looks that will add drama and interest to your photographs. Plus, you get to share them easily, and you can see what other iPhoneographers are up to, too. If you like to experiment with your photos, you'll be inspired by what you see there.

2. SnapSeed:
The app with the funny name initially appeared as an iPad app, then arrived a little later on the iPhone. At $4.99, it's one of the more expensive photo apps, but it's also one of the most sophisticated and most powerful. The icing on the cake is, it's fairly easy to use, too. It's made by Nik Software, and that's a well-known name in photography circles. You can make overall adjustments to color and tones, and you can apply powerful filters in varying intensities to your photos. Maybe most interesting, you can adjust portions of your photos and leave other portions untouched. So if you have a group shot but all the faces are in shadow, you can really make a difference with SnapSeed.

3. FilterStorm:
This is one of the most powerful photo apps available, and it comes with a bit of a learning curve. But if you are familiar with Photoshop and the concept of adding layers to your photos, you'll be amazed at the editing you can do with FilterStorm. You can make all the essential adjustments to tone, contrast, temperature and sharpness, and this app also has an extensive array of filters you can apply to give your photos a unique look. This app will be most useful to photographers who already have at least some familiarity with post-processing their images.

4. HDR Pro:
This is an app you use to take your photo, rather than using the regular camera in your phone. It actually records two images, one exposed for the highlights, the other for the shadows. Then it blends them together so you can get increased dynamic range, which is a fancy way of saying that your highlights won't be blown out and your shadows won't be too dark. The HDR look is extremely popular now, and with a little additional tweaking, you can give your photos an almost surreal, hyper-reality look.

5. Slow Shutter:
Do you ever wonder how photographers make water or clouds look really smooth and dreamy? This is how they do it. But unlike the equipment you need to do it with a heavy, expensive camera (a tripod, a timer, maybe some neutral-density lenses), this app lets you get the same effects on your phone with no additional gear.

5 Others Worth Checking Out:
Plastic Bullet, Photo Wizard, Scratch Cam, Noir and LensLight.