Even though the primary tool for Project i365 is obviously the 8 megapixel camera on my iPhone 4s, there is an ever-growing set of apps I used to do my editing, and even some of the shooting for this project. We’ll start with the 2 most important first:
1) Snapseed by Nik Software: I do almost all of my editing with this app. Granted its one of the more expensive ones ($5.99 from the iTunes App Store), but it well worth every penny. I get a lot of use out of the “Tilt $ Shift” feature, I use the crop feature to get my exact 1:1 ratio for uploading to Instagram, use the center focus feature a lot, and when needed use the selective adjust feature to change brightness, contrast and saturation in small areas of the image.
2) Instagram: A neat little app for photo sharing that seems to be catching on pretty damn quick! It has some quick little filters of its own, use exclusives 1:1 aspect ratio shots, allows you to find your Facebook, Twitter and other friends who are also using it and follow them. You can “like” their pictures, make comments, forward them as emails… its quick, easy, and that’s pretty much my app of choice for getting my pics out quickly. I use it to simultaneously share my shots when I’m done editing with my Instagram followers and also post the photo to Facebook, Twitter, and even use the geotagging feature to check-in to wherever I’m at and add the pic to that venue on Foursquare. (def look for some of my shots when you check in to some of my favorite spots!)
3) Diptic: Used for creating framed multi-shot compilations, and yes, its is another paid app. (This one is only $0.99 in the iTunes app store) It has its limitations and its advantages. For the negatives first: The boarders can be a little tricky to navigate, and they’re also locked in at 90 degree angles, no free form collage work here. Advantages: There’s a lot of different layouts to choose from, 2, 3, 4 and even 5+ image layouts, the image manipulation includes zooming, brightness, contrast and saturation while being places in a frame and the output is very high-resolution so you don’t lose any quality in any of the images.
4) AutoStitch: Panorama’s and more with this one! Its well worth the $1.99 from iTunes. It will take up to 16 individual photos and “stitch” them back together. This can be 16 shots side by side for an ultra wide panorama, or even 16 shots in a grid pattern of 4 across and 4 down, or any other combination you can dream up. I’ve used it for long wide shots of city skylines, and even the grid approach to get much wider and taller shots like the few out the window of a building. A good tip is to go into the setting and set the options for Resolution to “Advanced” (which gives you up to 18MP shots) and for “Blending” to “Best” which gives you much better transitions between images with far less blurring and obvious seams. Takes a bit longer and it can be a bit of a battery killer, but hey… that’s the price you pay! 😛
5) PhotoSplash: Finally, another FREE one!! This one has a slightly messy interface, but for free, you can’t really complain about it. I actually use it all the time to create the black and white single color highlight effect you see in a lot of the pictures. Basically, you import and image into the app, it converts the entire thing to black and white, then with a paint brush tool on the screen you paint back over the section of the shot you want back in color. Sounds a little confusion I know, but its free, give it a download and try it out. It’s a great way to draw focus in to a single part of the shot and make some stand out from a potentially noisy background.
6) Pic Collage: Another free app you can download right from the app store. It’s very similar to Diptic that I talk about above, but with two very important differences. The first one is a change in image composition. Pic Collage allows you to free-form the images. Meaning you’re not locked into those 90 degree layouts. You can have as many pictures as you want, any shape and size you want, rotate them, overlap them, change the boarders, and zoom in and out and layer them. It all sounds pretty good right? Well, there is a cost though. The cost there, is the resolution. Unfortunately, the images after export are much lower in resolution than Diptic, and even much lower resolution than the original images and because of this, I use Pic Collage very sparingly. Only when I lower resolution/image quality won’t really take away from the composition.
7) SlowShutter: This is one I’ve started using more and more, and does exactly what you’d think it does. For $0.99 from the iTunes app store, it gives you that long exposure type control you might be used to on a larger more traditional camera. It will allow you to set the sensitivity of the camera, set how long the shutter is open for, there’s automatic modes, modes to capture light trails, after shot exposure adjustment settings. It takes a little bit of practice, but chances are, if this is something you’re going to start working with, whatever you’re shooting isn’t moving anyway. Its saved my butt a few times when it seems like that perfect shot is just the tiniest bit too dark. Setting SlowShutter to give you a 1 – 4 second open shutter time lets in enough natural light that you can usually get a pretty decent shot without having to turn on the harsh LED flash!
So that just about sums it up for now. I’m sure I’ll be adding more tools to the list as I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting to play with. If you’ve got any suggestions, questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments box below or to buzz me on twitter! (@scastano)