Category Archives: App Review

Top iPhone App of 2016 is Prisma

At the end of the year almost every publication names their top apps of the year. Apple chose Prisma as the top iPhone app for 2016. I believe this was the first time a photo-related app was selected. Prisma is an app that will convert your photo to a ‘work of art’ in a variety of styles by famous artists.

Local eatery shortly after sunset. Used Prisma to create the artwork.

When it was first released it would upload all the photos to their servers to process the images using sophisticated algorithms (computer code). Some were concerned about privacy issues. Since that time the app runs locally on your iPhone (at least for most of the styles – I’m not sure if there are any that still get uploaded to their servers). The app continues to improve in stability, and can even do video in a recent update!

It’s a free app, so you should download this one. I really enjoy using it. You’ll quickly learn which styles are your favorites, and new styles are often being added.

When using it there are a few things you can do. If you drag your finger left/right on the image you can apply the percentage of artwork over your image so your photo can be blended with the artwork. If you swipe your finger downward on the image it will add a ‘split line’ down the image, so artwork only covers half the image. If you swipe your finger down a few more times it will change the direction of the slice. After several swipes the line will go away again (you can also swipe upwards to reverse the process).

Currently the app seems to have a maximum size of 2 million pixels in dimensions for the image, so it does not save full resolution images. An image on my iPhone 6s will be 1608×1224 pixels. This has increased since the app was first released, so maybe that will continue to increase with future updates. I haven’t played very much with the video and am not sure what the output resolution is.

Below are a few of my images. You can find far more on their Instagram page. You can download from their home page at prisma-ai.com.

Now…why haven’t I been doing more posts? Work continues to drag me down. I’m on a multi-year software project that is consuming all my time. Unfortunately, it is running rather significantly behind. There isn’t really a project manager on this one (even worse, there are a number of people that partially do the job), and it is rather disorganized as far as timelines go. Typical frustrations of work. Hopefully I get to retire some day and I’ll have far more free time. I can dream. 🙂

SKRWT: A Necessary Tool

It took awhile before the first few perspective correction apps were released for iOS, but last year SKRWT was released. It’s one of those apps that as soon as you use it you’ll know you can’t live without it. The description starts out as:

No more crooked lines! This keystone and lens-correction tool turns your phone into a view camera. All hail symmetry.

CORRECT LENS DISTORTION
Converging lines have always been a given in iPhoneography due to the fixed focal length of today’s mobile phones – but not anymore. You can now correct horizontal and vertical perspective distortion with just one swipe. It’s really that simple!

ALL-PURPOSE LENS CORRECTION
If you have been using any adapters for your mobile phone – from wide-angle to tele-zoom or external cameras with wifi-connection – you now have your all-inclusive distortion-correction with you at all times.

Let’s just say I could live with just those features, but the list is far more extensive. If you want to know how important lens distortion can be, and what this app can do for you, spend a few minutes watching this video.

I always have a tough time remembering the name of this app, but based on the spelling I mentally use ‘screw it’ as the name when I use spotlight to find the app. I figure I need to twist (screw) the image to correct it. A screw is also a simple machine on wikipedia, and this app certainly makes it a simple process to correct image distortions.

The SKRWT app is currently $1.99 on iTunes. You can find out a lot more about the app on the SKRWT site. It is designed for the iPhone, but runs with no problem on the iPad.

This is one of those apps you absolutely need on your iPhone. Worth every penny.

NightCap Pro Adds Artificial Intelligence!

NightCap Pro, a Universal app, was updated to version 6 a few days ago with a wealth of new features and an updated interface. This app is the one you need if you want to do light trails or low light photography. From the description:

Do you find your photos a little dark and grainy in low light? Meet Aidie, the AI camera operator at the heart of NightCap Pro. Aidie (Artificial Intelligence Derived ISO and Exposure) handles the camera for you like a pro, ensuring you get the brightest, clearest shots possible. All you need to do is hold steady and tap the shutter.

NightCap Pro also has amazing tools for serious photographers, including full manual control with a unique gesture based system that gives you instant access to all controls. Simply swipe to adjust. ISO can go up to 4x higher than any other app, and there are 2 special long exposure modes: one removes almost all noise, the other captures light trails such as night traffic and even the movement of stars in the sky!

I’ve used the latest version (currently $2 on iTunes) and was really impressed. The changes to the interface (and nice walkthrough when you first start the new app) definitely made it feel more intuitive than prior versions, and ‘Aidie’ made it simple to take photos in really low light conditions. The new manual controls (and their interface) works flawlessly. There are lots of great sample images on the NightCap Pro home page and below are just a few of mine (last three edited with Snapseed).

A hand-held shot of a remote control in a dark room (you can tell the remote needs a cleaning!). The image on the right is from the built-in camera app.

A hand-held shot of a remote control in a dark room (you can tell the remote needs a cleaning!). The image on the right is from the built-in camera app.

To compare the noise in the images this is a closeup of the '3' region. This was handheld in a dark room and there was very little noise in the NightCap Pro image.

To compare the noise in the images this is a closeup of the ‘3’ region. This was handheld in a dark room and there was very little noise in the NightCap Pro image.

'Moving Man', A shot taken in the afternoon as a person walked past the window of a local coffee shop.

‘Moving Man’, A shot taken in the afternoon as a person walked past the window of a local coffee shop.

'Porch traffic', I propped my iPhone on my front porch as the sun was heading down on a stormy day. Several cars passed by.

‘Porch traffic’, I propped my iPhone on my front porch as the sun was heading down on a stormy day. Several cars passed by.

'Underneath the tracks', Using the light trails feature let's you get some awesome shots like this one. This is a local underpass as a truck passed through. A tripod was used.

‘Underneath the tracks’, Using the light trails feature let’s you get some awesome shots like this one. This is a local underpass as a truck passed through. A tripod was used.

If you want some great long exposure, light trails, fireworks, or low noise shots you can’t skip getting this app (selected by Apple for the App Store’s Amazing Photo + Video Apps promotion April 2015). Be sure to visit the NightCap Pro home page to see lots more images including star motion for the astrophysicist in all of us.

Download NightCap Pro on iTunes

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And three more promo codes:
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Are You a Glitch Wizard? Huh? What’s a Glitch Wizard?

Glitch Wizard is a new iPhone app that lets you take your photos and turn them in to Glitch art. What is that you ask? It’s the aestheticization of digital or analog errors, such as artifacts and other “bugs”, by either corrupting digital code/data or by physically manipulating electronic devices. Here is one example where I took a photo and glitched it multiple times.

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When I first heard the app title I wasn’t really sure what it meant until I checked it out on Wikipedia. I don’t think I’m young enough to hang with the glitch wizards. 🙂

Although I didn’t know what it meant, I played with the app a bit and really liked what I could create. I immediately thought of the opening credits of Homeland and how many ‘glitches’ were involved in the creation of it.

In the app you can apply glitch after glitch (there are many different types) as you build up a sequence. You can preview the animation at any time, and you see a little square preview of each shot in the sequence. If you don’t like a glitch you made you can drag the little square out of the sequence and it will be deleted. As you learn what the various glitches do it becomes easier and easier to get the overall effect you are looking for.

After you have created your animated sequence you can share it as an animated gif via email, save it to your iPhone as a movie, or share it on a social network.

It was easy to learn how to use it. Right now it is an iPhone app, but the developer is working on making this a Universal app. In some cases when I saved it to my camera roll (on the iPad) the movie would just be black, but the developer of the app is aware of the problem and is working on it. [Note: when sending the glitch art via email it did not exhibit this bug.]

So are you ready to create some crazy opening credits, or maybe just glitch a photo in a wizardly way? If you are up for the challenge go ahead and try it out. You can find out a lot more on the Glitch Wizard home page, or download the app on iTunes. Currently the app is just $1.

Imagine Triangles. Lots and Lots of Triangles!

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been having a lot of fun creating some abstract art and just wanted to let you know a bit about Trimaginator, a Universal app. Like so many useful apps, it really just does one thing. It creates triangular shapes from your image using a method invented by the mathematician Boris Delaunay in 1934. The process behind it is complicated, but in the end the image is reduced to its essentials and turned into a triangular mesh.

Trimaginator GUI

Trimaginator being used.

Tap on your photo to add mesh points or drag your finger across it to add multiple points. You’re also able to remove points if necessary. The geometry of the image will change almost instantly while performing your drawings, thanks to an extremely optimized triangulation engine!

Trimaginator also features different rendering styles and several shape detection algorithms to achieve stunning results in no time!

· Import any picture from your library
· Take a new photo from within the app
· Draw, Erase
· Select within a range of 11 effects
· Toggle between 11 rendering styles
· Save image in high resolution
· Portrait and landscape modes are supported

You can see a lot of the abstract works I’ve done using Trimaginator as the starting point in this Flickr album. If you want to see a more artistic take on how to use Trimaginator you should check out this video created by the developer of the app.

In the next week or so I’m going to do a video showing how I combine a few apps to create my images. BrushStroke, PictureShow, Waterlogue, Camera+, RollWorld, and Artomaton are a few that I have used for these abstract shots, but Trimaginator is always the starting point.

Trimaginator is a Universal app that is currently selling for $1.99. There is also a free version that will let you see how it works – Trimaginator Lite is free.

Image created with Trimagintor.

Empty Mind by R. Pfaff, 2014. Used Trimaginator as the starting point, and then Artomaton for ‘sketch’ look.