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

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I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but one day a few months ago I noticed there was a big dark spot in the middle of the photos I took on my iPhone 5. It was one of those things you didn’t really notice in a photo with a lot of ‘stuff’ it in (trees, buildings, traffic, etc.), but if you pointed the camera at something with a single color it became glaring. This photo is what shows up if I take a shot of a beige wall. If this was a picture of just my face, the spot would have been the size of my nose.

a dark spot on the photos taken with my iPhone 5

It was easy to see this if I took a picture of a gorgeous blue sky, closeup of a face, or most any other photo with a singular color in the middle. I could see it while using the camera, and it looked identical on the final photos. My lens appeared clean and the dark spot never moved. It actually seemed to be getting bigger over the course of a few months.

Searching on the web revealed a number of similar issues. Most people felt it was a buildup of something on the inside of the lens – using common sense one could easily agree with that. Some people suggested thunking the iPhone against a flat surface to shake it loose, and others were rather drastic such as taking your iPhone apart to clean it out. No way would I try that!

The nearest Apple Store is about an hour away and I didn’t want to drive there for this – at least not quite yet. I was using Touch Retouch to remove the dark spot in some of my sky shots and that was good enough for the moment. Luckily I was heading up to Boston for a science teacher conference the other day and my hotel was near the Apple Store on Boylston Street. I stopped in and they replaced my iPhone 5. I asked how common the problem was and as I would expect they said they’d seen it ‘once or twice’ and didn’t think it was a big concern. My iPhone 5 is about 1.5 years old but I had the extended warranty, so the replacement was free.

How common is the problem? Hard to say, but I’m glad I got a replacement iPhone. The dark spot is gone and the sky seems flawlessly blue.

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I just got back from a week in Boston and had a great time. A beautiful city. I’ll talk more about my visit to the Apple Store in a future post (got a replacement iPhone), and I’ll post a few photos I took, but for today I just wanted to mention some great sale prices.

Waterlogue is one of my favorite apps (I really want to do a full review soon). My sister is a giant fan and she is a real artist! It creates amazingly realistic watercolor images. It’s on sale for just $1. If you are even slightly interested grab it now. This snowy scene was created with Waterlogue. [Click on it for a full view on Flickr.]

Two paths.

Brushstroke is an app that I just recently started using and it gets great reviews. It has a few little quirks (hopefully I’ll do a review soon), but it can create some really nice ‘paintings’ using a variety of styles. It’s also on sale for $1 right now. This was the very first thing I created with Brushstroke.

Red Train

Both Waterlogue and Brushstroke are Universal apps that will create some amazing art.

Although those sales are amazing (seriously), it seems there are a number of other great apps that are on sale.

Fragment is just $1
Handy Photo is just $1
Photo Motion (by East Coast Pixels) is free.
Stackables for iPhone is $1.
LetterGlow for the iPhone is $1
Halftone 2 is just $1.
Mextures for the iPhone is $1.
Waterlogue is $1.
Brushstroke is $1.

Amazing sales. If you are interested in any of these apps, get them while you can at these prices.

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Handy Photo was updated to version 2 last month and I finally got around to trying it out. It is made by the same group that does TouchRetouch and AntiCrop and I use both of those, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Handy Photo GUI

Handy Photo GUI on the iPad

The Universal app (currently $1.99) is a full photo editor that allows you adjust colors, tones, textures, and filters on the entire image or just local regions. It also lets you crop, anticrop, and retouch images to remove unwanted elements. As if that is not enough, the app also lets you move things around in your image and cloning tools. I’m really surprised and impressed with how many features are wrapped in this single app.

* APP FEATURES *

- Global and local tone and color correction options
- Partial application option in Filters tool
- Advanced retouching technology for mobile platforms
- Move Me technology for smart objects extraction and moving
- Magic Crop tool with unique photo “un-cropping” function
- High-quality textures and frames
- 100% size image editing
- Up to 36 MP image support
- RAW format support
- Optimized for multi-core and GPU processors
- Stylish and intuitive UI

I first tried the app on my iPad 3 (the first retina screen iPad) and even though my iPad is pretty old, the app felt snappy. After using it a bit on the iPad I went ahead and tried it on my iPhone 5. I was a bit worried that the GUI might feel tight on the iPhone, but it turned out to be just fine. It’s easy to zoom in/out to get close views of the image when you need to and as the menus pop in/out you get a good clear view of your image even on the iPhone.

Here is the before/after that I did on my iPhone. I snapped a photo of myself sitting here in a coffee shop while typing this post. The first thing I did was retouch to remove the artwork above my head. I then rotated the image a bit. The anti-crop (smart crop) filled in the image nicely but left just a bit of excess creases in my sweatshirt, so I once again used the retouch feature to remove it, along with the reflection in my glasses.

I applied the B&W filter but only at a 90% level, so it left a tiny tinge of color. I made use of the channel mixer that goes along with this filter. That is an amazingly well placed tool making it so easy to get a great look on your B&W shot. I used the tilt-shift filter to blur the background. I then tweaked the contrast overall and tweaked the shadow level. Finally, I wanted my eyes to be a bit sharper, so I locally increased brightness and contrast on my eyes. It took me about two minutes to do this (eyes were the longest part…always tough to improve brown eyes with “coffee shop” lighting conditions – it was much easier to see the improvement on the full size image before I shrunk these). I then added a frame to finish it off.

Of course, this picture really does nothing to show off the power of this app. The developer has posted a number of great YouTube videos to help you learn how to use the full power. I watched them and after just a few minutes I learned about some features I wasn’t even aware of. Very nice.

There are far more videos on their YouTube page that cover things such as applying filters locally, dealing with frames, and overall techniques.

One thing that may be a bit confusing is when you first go to change the look of a texture (such as the wood) a selection of different woods will show up, but only one is visible at first. The others all show up with little spinning arrows indicating they are loading. Depending on your connection speed, this can take awhile.

The only other negative on this app is the fact that it uses “destructive” editing. Once you have made several changes you won’t be able to go back and tweak a prior step and have it keep your other steps intact. However, you can go back in time in a nice drop down list, and start your sequence of changes again from that point.

Overall this app is a great app with some unique features. Having the anticrop and retouch features included really makes this app great if you don’t want to have to switch to many apps to do the same thing. If you only want to make really quick changes the auto levels feature will let you do that, but for those that want to do more heavy duty editing on your iPhone you can go ahead and do that in this app. The simplicity of the channel mixer with the B&W filter is one of my absolute favorite features of this app. Well done.

Handy Photo can be downloaded on iTunes.

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Valentine’s Day was yesterday here in the states, but it is still a romantic weekend. JixiPix has joined in with the fun and made their Romantic Photo app free. There is a separate one for the iPhone and iPad.

It’s nice, but I really wish you could adjust the ‘focus’ region, but overall the app is still great for what it does. Below you can even see how romantic our blizzard looked a few days ago.

Romantic Photo creates a romantic mood or setting automatically from any picture. Using exquisite lighting and design, your photos will look like they were taken using the highest professional techniques & camera filters.

Romantic Photo for the iPhone [download]
Romantic Photo for the iPad [download]

Created with Romantic Photo. February 2014 Blizzard, Charlottesville, VA.

Created with Romantic Photo. February 2014 Blizzard, Charlottesville, VA.

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