Reviews of Photo Aps

If you, like me, are from the era of Kodak Instamatic, Polaroid, and (for the more sophisticated), Single Lens Reflex, then you probably share my awe for the power of 'simple' phone cameras, and the wizardry now offered by photo processing aps.

Over the past year I have been discovering the amazing power of my (then new) Samsung Galaxy S5 phone camera.

The quality of simple 'snaps', can be astounding, and the behind the camera operations, functions and options are also (with a little practice) impressive.

But the ultimate photographic experience is combining the sophisticated little camera on the phone, with a range of (usually free) photo processing aps.

Perhaps the most popular photo ap is Instagram, used by over 500 million people, which offers photo editing, a range of beautifying filters and a social media combo - allowing you to publicise your great photos to people/friends who may be appreciative of you and your work.

You are warmly invited to "follow" my Instagram page:

I also use PicsArt. If Instagram makes a good picture more beautiful, then PicsArt turns a good photo into art. Easy photo editing, prepares your photo for transformation with an array of creative filters and effects.

As I understand the theory of 'filters', as used by artistic photo aps, consider a famous artist, say Picasso. During his cubist period, Picasso didn't simply draw out random shapes and colours. He saw an object and changed it in a consistent and creative fashion to produce his end result, a cubist painting of that object. Picasso applied a process, even rigorously.

This artistic process can be recreated in software algorithms, to give a computer generated Picasso-like effect to your 'regular' photos. Or any other real or imaginary artist's creative processes.

The photo processing ap Prisma excels in their artistic filters, or processing algorithms. As a user, you can flip through the various filters and chose which effect you find most satisfactory for your specific photo. The range of output images from any given photo is astounding.  

The down side, is you have little control over the filter output - basically you can strengthen or weaken the effect, but not much else.

Here are some examples of my photos using Prisma:

If you are looking for more control over the facets of your photo processing, then I recommend Snapseed. Snapseed's tools set and filters can create dramatic and beautiful images, while you remain in control.

Snapseed examples:

For lighter fun, I recommend PIP Camera, which offers (regular) tools and some fun and impress-your-friends effects and filters. (I understand if you pay, you can remove the PIP watermark).

I must also mention Google's "Photos", which is part of the google suite and is integrated with Google My Drive.

As well as storing all your photos (free up to a point, after which you may have to buy Google Drive memory space), you can also edit them and use filters.

But for me the most astounding feature is the image recognition. For example, it will recognise specific people and animals, or objects, and group them for you.

So it recognises that I am in certain photos. I can label me as "David". I then select a picture of my wife Julie, and label a photo of her "Julie". Not only will it recognise (to a reasonable accuracy) all the photos with "David" or "Julie" in them, but also "David + Julie" to find any photos where we both feature.

"Photos" will also group your photos by date or theme, and even create collages and short video sequences using related photos.

Here's a "Photos" automatically created collage of my daughter and her family which caught my eye:

There are many more aps and tools for processing your photos, and publicising & distributing them.

Other well known products, which I haven't explored yet, include Pixler, Camera360, Flickr and the iconic Photoshop.

I advise you to use your cellphone camera regularly, select the better snaps, and experiment with any of the photo procesing and editing aps.

When all said and done, a good photo is indeed worth a thousand words!


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