As October slips over the East End, we are once again being treated to the natural beauty that makes this place so special. Fall foliage, changing skies, pumpkin patches, and weathered beaches—everything changes in October, and Kodak moments are everywhere.
Unfortunately, Kodak is pretty much out of business these days. But our trusty smartphones have stepped up to put great photographs in the palms of our hands. Here’s a snapshot of four cool photography apps that can bring out the Ansel Adams in all of us.
The Building Block: Hipstamatic
I’ve written about Hipstamatic before, and how it compares to the wildly popular Instagram. Actually, I don’t think there’s any comparison at all. Instagram is a social network that is driven by photos. Hipstamatic is a photography app—and a fantastic one at that.
Hipstamatic isn’t cheap, at least by app standards. You have to buy assorted “lenses,” “flash bulbs” and “films,” which have cool names that evoke photographic history, from black-and-white film of the 1930s to Kodachrome from the groovy ’70s. These are actually special effects programs that simply alter the images you shoot, but it’s all part of the fun.
Hipstamatic isn’t idiot-proof, either. Like a real camera, you need to experiment with different combinations and settings, but if you’re patient the results can be breathtaking. I spent a foggy morning at the Montauk Lighthouse with my kids and took dozens of photos that I never imagined I could ever produce. And, the images are rich enough to blow up to 11” x 17” prints.
Another great feature: Hipstamatic now lets you store your favorite combinations and settings, which saves lots of time when you’re trying to set up future shots.
Bottom Line: This is the building block—a must-have photo app that’s well worth the time and expense at $1.99.
The Trick Shot: Color Splash
Color Splash is a limited-purpose effects app that does one thing extremely well: It lets you convert any photo from your library into a black-and-white image—but you can mark which parts and details should retain their original color.
So a simple photo of a Granny Smith apple sitting on your kitchen counter can now become a truly artistic shot with the backdrop in black and white, but the apple in bright green. Fun.
Bottom Line: This is a one-trick pony, but it’s a very good trick indeed. Worth the $.99 price.
The Adjustor: Darkroom
Darkroom is another limited-purpose effects app that solves a very real problem: what to do when shooting in dim light.
Flashbulbs are the Achilles heel of the smartphone. They’re terrible. I rarely use my flash, if ever, because it splashes a tiny beam of light that’s so narrow it barely helps the image—except to create red eyes that need to be corrected later on.
Darkroom can really help. It essentially freezes the camera until everything in the shot is still or motionless before snapping the photo. The result is that images are distorted by light splashes here or there. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use this app at a rock concert or sporting event, where lots of things are in motion, but it can produce great results when shooting still life at dusk or dawn.
Bottom Line: It’s free, it’s fun, give it a try.
The Finishing Touch: Snapseed
Everyone always focuses on apps that help shoot better photographs, but that’s only part of the equation. Once you’ve taken the photos, you still need to edit and manage them—and Snapseed is a great solution.
Snapseed lets you easily adjust photos for better viewing and printing. You can improve contrast, brightness and sharpness with a simple swipe on your tablet. It also has a tilt & shift feature that lets you move different parts of the image forward or backward. Cool.
But the best feature is targeted editing. You can apply different effects to different portions of the photo, which gives you a new level of control and detail.
Bottom Line: It’s not cheap—$4.99 to buy—but an important tool for polishing your shots.