My Photo Toolbox Is Born, Snapseed Is First

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile and on a nice cool summer morning I’ve finally gotten around to it. I added a new page on the site called ‘My Toolbox‘ that will list all the apps that I can’t live without on my iPhone (or other iOS device). This list will start out exceptionally small since I’m going to try to do a short post about each app as I add it. If you ever miss a post, you can always find a link to my toolbox at the top of the page.

I decided to start out with Snapseed.

Snapseed is a free Universal app that has been around for several years. It was originally created by Nik Software and was for sale for $5. Google then bought the software company (along with the app) and made it free (always a great price).


There are many highlights. From the iTunes description:

‘…hands down the best photo app for the iPad to date.’ ~~ Scott Kelby, President, National Assoc. of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP).

• Easily adjust your photos with a single tap using Auto Correct
• Tweak your photo to perfection with Tune Image
• Use Selective Adjust to enhance specific objects or areas in your photos
• Experiment with fun & innovative filters like Retrolux, Drama, Vintage, Grunge, and Tilt-Shift
• Add one of the many high quality frames for a finishing touch
• Share your creations via email, Google+, and other built-in sharing methods

I use the app daily to tweak photos. The Tune Image portion is great. The HDR Scape is also a fun one for those that enjoy adding a bit of HDR to their image.

There are a ton of positives, but a few negatives as well. It is a destructive editor. After you apply a change in one of the sections (such as Tune Image, Grunge, etc.) you can’t go back and undo that change in any way. Also, you can’t zoom in on the image (except in the Details section) so you can’t easily tell how much noise you are adding when doing various edits. My one fear is that Google may decide to abandon the app one day. I certainly hope they don’t.

So if you don’t already have this one on your iPhone, grab it right away. It belongs in your toolbox. :)

Snapseed [download]

It took me about 20 seconds to convert a really bad/boring image to a prettier version of the same shot (taken as I sit here typing this blog post). Although both are pretty bad! Below those is an image of a railroad crossing that made heavy use of Snapseed.

Before Using Snapseed

Before Using Snapseed

After Using Snapseed

After Using Snapseed

38/365, Two Tracks
Two Tracks by R. Pfaff, 2013. I used Snapseed and PhotoToaster.

iOS 8 Will Revolutionize Your Camera

The Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is currently taking place and Apple announced iOS 8. Apple is finally going to let developers have access to the camera API which will let third-party camera apps can have precise control over exposure, focus, and white balance in addition to the controls they already have.

This will let developers create photo apps where you’ll have the ability manually set the ISO, focus, aperture, zoom, white balance, and shutter speed. A full blown manual camera! I really can’t wait to see some of the new apps!

iOS 8 editing photos

Several other new features were discussed. The built in photo editing is going to get a bit fancier, but Apple will also allow developers to embed their filters and editing tools directly into the Photos app. So you can apply third‑party effects to images without leaving the app where you view your photos. Apple did a demo of this on the stage and used used Waterlogue (a really nice app that I can’t live without).

Tracks at sunset
Created with Waterlogue.

Another major feature will be iCloud where you’ll be able to store all your photos. The pricing for various storage plans is competitive with companies so it will be interesting to see what happens. This should allow you to easily get full resolution photos on any device and keep them in sync as you edit them.

One other item of interest was the time-lapse option as one of the shooting modes. I’m interested in exploring this when I start using iOS 8.

There were many other things mentioned. If you want to watch the full video of the WWDC you can do that on the Apple site (warning, it is almost 2 hours long!).

Developers can already start using it to update their apps, but it won’t be officially released until the fall of 2014. I can’t wait to see the first apps that make use of these features.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

The past few months have been exhausting, but my life finally seems to be settling down to a normal chaotic level. Developing software seems to be an endless battle against bugs and more bugs. I’m really tired of the bugs! :)

Today I was going to do my first post in a long time, and I noticed this site wasn’t fully functioning. After a few tweaks I got it up and running again, but my old ‘theme’ seems to have a problem with the latest version of WordPress. I have a temporary theme in place for the moment that is nice and simple. I’ll tweak in the next few weeks and come up with something new-ish.

I guess I’ve learned I should never get so busy that I don’t pay attention to this blog!

Despite being really busy at work I continue taking photos here and there. I’m really having a lot of fun using both Waterlogue and Glaze to create some interesting images. I used those two along with Image Blender and Percolator to create this ‘it was a really hot day’ abstract selfie.

Selfie on a hot day.

And for those that were interested, the title of this post was a quote from Socrates. I wonder what he would have thought of a camera or an iPhone?

NightCap Goes Pro

For the past several years NightCap has been a great app to use for low light situations (review). That app continues to get updated, but the developer has released a version with a number of significant new features called NightCap Pro.

The Universal app is pretty straightforward and it only takes a few moments to learn what each feature does. Be sure to check the app settings page so you can set the quality of the saved image.

NightCap Pro app

I could go on and on, but with this type of app, the proof is in the pudding. I snapped these photos in my basement where a bit of light was coming in through a tiny little window. The first photo of each set was taken with the built in camera on my iPhone 5, and the second is the photo I captured with NightCap Pro. In all cases the camera was hand held, so the photos would look a bit better with a tripod.

Book cover, iPhone 5 standard camera.

Book cover, iPhone 5 standard camera.

Book cover, iPhone 5 using NightCap Pro.

Book cover, iPhone 5 using NightCap Pro.

Water heater, iPhone 5 using built-in camera.

Water heater, iPhone 5 using built-in camera.

Water heater, iPhone 5 using NightCap Pro.

Water heater, iPhone 5 using NightCap Pro.

My face, using built-in camera on my iPhone 5.

My face, using built-in camera on my iPhone 5.

My face, using NightCap Pro on my iPhone 5.

My face, using NightCap Pro on my iPhone 5.

For the selfie I was in the stairs to my basement with no lights turned on. There was just a tiny bit of ambient light from the basement window (no direct light at all). That shot was taken with the front facing camera on the iPhone 5. As you can see, there is a drastic difference in all of the photos.

I don’t do much video, but NightCap Pro includes that feature. One of these evenings at a local pub I’ll be sure to record a bit of video to see how it looks.

NightCap Pro is a great Universal app for low light, and NightCap is still good for the iPhone. The feature comparison is show in the table below. If you’d like to find out more you can drop by the NightCap Pro Homepage, or download on iTunes.

NightCap Pro is available for just $1 until the end of the month. Easily worth a buck.

Stay tuned…on Monday I’ll post a few promo codes for this app!

NightCap Pro features