As a photographer, I want every advantage I can get to create great images. I buy the best equipment I can afford, practice my lighting skills until the wee hours of the night and log 18,000 road miles a year searching for great images. I try to practice what I preach in my workshops; you have to get out and shoot to become a better photographer. And one tool that really helps me be a better photographer is my iPhone.
I can already hear readers gasping! Does that mean we should all leave our 35mm SLRs at home and just shoot with the iPhone? No! I look at my iPhone as a camera that can capture spontaneous moments and produce decent files. It’s not my 36-megapixel Nikon D800 that captures incredible detail and produces massive files. But the iPhone is more than a camera. It’s a personal computer that helps me create better photographs no matter what camera I use to get the shot.
iPhone apps fall into a few different categories. First, and most popular, are editing apps that allow you to capture and adjust the images in your phone. How could the world survive without Snapseed? But editing apps are just the beginning. There are apps that actually help you find, predict and get the image. Do you want to know where the sun rises? Then use The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Where’s the best lightning to photograph? Check with RadarScope. There are even apps to help with the business aspects of photography.
There’s an app for just about anything you can imagine to do with your photos, but the 10 apps here are the ones I use the most.
It’s rare that I’ve found a photographer with an iPhone who doesn’t have Snapseed on his or her phone. Why? Because the effects it creates are really cool, and the interface can be mastered in minutes. Everyone can create stylistic images right on the phone without complicated Photoshop techniques. Snapseed offers basic adjustments like cropping, straightening and sharpening, but I really like the creative effects. The vintage, drama and grunge effects really spice up a shot. Snapseed also offers a tilt-shift effect and frames for your image. If you just want one editing app on your phone, Snapseed will keep you entertained for hours.
This is the best overall app I’ve used for processing my images. It’s similar to Snapseed with its preset actions, but Photogene2 goes much further. You can do a wide variety of image editing, including dodging, burning, noise reduction, cloning and healing. Photogene also offers controls similar to those found in Lightroom, including clarity, brightness, color balance and curves. I love the simple wheel interface that allows you to choose what adjustments to make. After installing Photogene2 on my phone, I was editing photos in minutes.
Wouldn’t it be great on your next vacation to include the entire tropical beach stretching out in front of your hotel? Install Pano on your iPhone, and you’re ready to go. This app works by hitting the icon, then shooting the images you want to seam together in your panoramic shot. Click the Checkmark icon, and your pano is created and saved to your camera roll. As with shooting panos with DSLRs, keep your camera in the same spot for each shot and photograph distant scenes for the best results. A handy image overlay helps you line up your shots.