iPhoneography Apps – Four years of tutorials; iColorama basic photo enhancement

Well, another year has gone by. Four years ago, the day after the last US presidential elections, I started posting tutorials on iPhoneography apps. A lot has changed in those four years. I’ve covered over 150 apps, and learned a lot about how to manipulate images on your iPhone or iPad. Some consider me an expert, but all I really want to do is to make sure the average person who finds a love for digital artistry can use the tools they pick up, and perhaps let them know which tools to pick up in the first place.

If you’re interested in which 37 apps I covered in the last year, I will list them at the end of this article. But for now, let’s move forward!

Last week I covered Microsoft Selfie, an app that does noise reduction and skin smoothing on the fly on those selfies you grab. I was going to turn to Microsoft Pix, which does the same sort of thing for images you capture with the back camera. However, it’s a little more complicated than it should be and the results are mediocre. Also, it does not capture at full resolution. Quite frankly, I am getting tired of these kinds of apps that tout themselves as quick and wonderful and yet deliver below-par results. We deserve better. The technology is there, but the instant profit is not, so we get stuck with low-res images from a huge company like Microsoft.

Can I get results as good with apps I already have? Well, sure. I can even do more, in just a couple of minutes, using an app like iColorama. In order to prove that I could get good results through iColorama using a low-res original, I took a shot with the front camera on my iPad. These cameras are known for not producing very nice images, and this one had a lot of noise and blockiness. Nevertheless, I wasn’t happy with the after image since it wasn’t that good an image to start with. The lower the resolution, and the more noise you have, the less likely you are to recover dark areas, such as the ones surrounding my eyes.


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iPhonography Apps – Microsoft Selfie and Prisma: a couple of tips

Some apps, quite frankly, don’t need a whole lot of explanation. A tap, a choice made, a slider, and you’re done. However, just because they are simple and popular doesn’t mean that you can’t get more out of them with a couple of tips about them. That’s why I am covering a couple of very simple apps today: Microsoft Selfie and Prisma. (One other commonality between the apps is that they are available for Android as well as iOS devices.)

Microsoft Selfie

Microsoft Selfie is a free app that was released about a year ago. Its sole purpose is to remove the noise generated in low-light selfies created by the less-powerful front-facing camera. You are generally going to use it to capture photos, but you can also apply the same noise-reducing function to images in your library. There is a Gear button at the lower right that takes you to the settings for the app.


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iPhoneography Apps – Good Hydrations: How much water do you need?

How many hammers do you need? Given my ability to bend any nail, I definitely need a claw hammer. I’ve got a pipe wrench with a hammer head on the back, for those frustrating moments when the pipe fitting WON’T BUDGE. But since I’m not pounding dents into or out of metal, I have no real need for a ball-peen hammer. (Besides the fact that I love the phrase “ball peen hammer”. It’s fun! Say it with me: Ball Peen Hammer.)

Why am I talking about hammers when I should be talking about iPhoneography apps? It just came to mind when I saw that another watercolor app was available for free this past weekend. It’s called Paint Logue (yes, there is a space in the middle – it’s not Paintlogue) and it is by a company called Nine Curves. It was first released in September, but it’s already on release 3.1.

At first I wasn’t even going to bother downloading it, because watercolor effects are easily obtainable in many, many apps. To use my analogy, who needs another hammer? It would have to be very special, and Paint Logue is not a special hammer. So rather than go into depth with an app that isn’t that deep, I think I’ll compare it to other watercolor effects. In addition to Paint Logue, I’ll look at Waterlogue, Becasso, Aquarella, and my go-to app, iColorama.

I’ll be using this bicycle image that I captured last week at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.


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iPhoneography Apps – Musings on Mobile Art

I’m out of town for the week, so I thought I’d step outside my usual review/tutorial to give my own take on a topic that comes up repeatedly on various forums: is what I’m doing art? For that matter, is what you are doing art?

Random Notes

Random Notes

There is now a section on The App Whisperer site known as the Artist Directory. I have not requested to have an entry in the directory yet. Why is that, when I make a weekly contribution to the site with my articles on all the photographic/art apps? It’s because I don’t consider myself an artist. I don’t have training as an artist, or for that matter as a photographer. My hands seem to have their own lives to live, so I can never be sure of the steadiness of a camera or the flow of a drawn line.



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iPhoneography Apps – TouchRetouch: Now you see it, now you don’t

Back in January 2013 I covered TouchRetouch by AdvaSoft. It was an invaluable app then, with its ability to replace areas of your image with a fill based on the surrounding pixels. Recently they released an update that added new tools and changed the user interface, so I thought I’d show it to you all over again.


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iPhoneography Apps – BlackCam and Black: Dark Horse Monochrome Apps

There are many monochrome apps, and I’ve covered quite a few of them: Noir, Dramatic B&W, Ansel (now called Nova) and others. Some are merely editors, and some have shooting capabilities. Some vintage apps, like Vintage Scene, Lo-Mob and Superslides have some monochrome aids within them.

The two apps today (which, by the way, bring me to 150 different apps covered in tutorials since November 2012) are “dark horse’ monochrome apps in that they are not as fully-featured as some monochrome apps. However, each is surprising in its own ways. I am impressed with only one, however.

The first app is BlackCam by Pierre Gougelet, which is a shooter as well as editor. Gougelet is the author of Pixagram, covered last week. As I said then, his apps tend to fall well below the top tier of photographic apps. However, BlackCam is surprisingly good. It’s a universal app that sells for $1.99 on the App Store, and is also available for Android. (As a matter of fact, there seem to be some features, such as a grid, that are only available on Android.)


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iPhoneography Apps – Pixagram: What exactly have we got here?

I haven’t really become visible enough, even after writing articles about nearly 150 apps (more than 100 republished on the awesome and highly visible App Whisperer site), to have developers asking me to try out their apps for free. Therefore, I’m constantly on the lookout, like my readers, for free apps that give me value. Today’s app, Pixagram by Pierre Gougelet, has often been offered for free on the App Store.

A little over two years ago, I covered two other Gougelet apps, XnShape and XnRetro. There are a whole suite of “Xn” apps, each competent in their own way. Pixagram seems to be an attempt to step away from the Xn series. As it turns out, it’s not a very big step.

Pixagram is a filtering app, with a couple of nice effects that are somewhat modifiable. Whether that will be of value to you will probably be answered in this column.


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