Category Archives: App Review

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

Hands-on with Handy Photo

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.


– 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.

365 Days of Self Portraits?

I’ve seen a few apps that let you do daily photos but have never really settled in to using one. A new Universal app called 365 Photo Project came out the other day and I thought I’d try it out.

The app is free so if you want to skip reading any further you can just go ahead and download it.

Overall the app is relatively easy to use. It take a few clicks to find your way around. The one thing that briefly made me think was how to add a photo. I quickly realized you just tap on the date on the calendar. You then get the choice of importing or taking a photo. If you choose take a photo the flash settings don’t remember the settings from the standard camera app, so the flash may be set to auto. I tend to always keep my flash off.

You can export a collage of your photos in various formats. Most of the fancy collages are in the “Pro” version of the app which is a $1.99 in-app purchase. That purchase also gives you access to exporting to other sites such as Dropbox or Flickr, along with ability to export a video created from your photos (you can also add music to it).

I exported one photo from the app as I sat here testing it. Do I look like I just walked a mile through -10F windchill? Just a bit cold around here lately!

Photo of self that was exported from 365 Photo Project app.

Exported to camera roll from 365 Photo Project app.

When I exported this photo to the camera roll the output size was 1000×1458 pixels even though I’d used a full size 2448×3246 photo. I’m not 100% sure if the Pro purchase allows that to go full size or not. I do know the Pro version let’s you do “Hi Res” collages.

Other than the less than full resolution issue, and the minor issue of the flash setting, the app seems like a winner. It is straightforward and seemed to work perfectly on my iPhone 5. One thing I’d like to test, but haven’t had time, is to see if it synchs between the iPad and iPhone version. I’m somewhat guessing no, but can’t be certain.

I’m debating using it for the ‘daily’ photo of myself since at my age it might be fun to watch the grey trickle in. A video of that might be fun. Or not 🙂

Try out the 365 Photo Project. [download]
You could also check out the site home page for more information.

pixelWakker. Funny Name, Whacked Pixels.

Although it has a funny name, pixelWakker, I gave it a try. It’s a Universal app where you can create one of four different effects on a photo: lots of copies of a small images over your image, big dots, ‘lines’ of color, and drops of color. The latter two were definitely my favorites.

pixelWakker effects

The interface to choose the small image in the first effect took a minute or so to figure out, but other than that it was straightforward. You can adjust the size of the ‘grid’ used to overlay the small image or the size of the dots. It ranges from a 2×2 layout to 256×256. Overall, the app does just a few things really well, so if you are looking for this unique effect you should check it out. [download link: pixelWakker]

Fall Leaves

I created this image using pixelWakker, Glaze, and Image Blender. Click on it if you want to see the larger version on Flickr.

Oh yeah, happy 2014. My first post of the year. Many more to come. Hopefully. 🙂

Fragment(s) of Your Imagination

Fragment is a new Universal app that let’s you create some fascinating ‘fragmented’ photos. This is one of those apps where it is almost better to see how it works rather than read my description, so I strongly suggest you watch the movie on the Fragment App website. It’s about a minute long but gives you a good feel for it.

The photo app wizards at Pixite LLC, the developers of Tangent (App Store Best of 2013), have done it again and created another extraordinary app for iPhonographers. Called Fragment, the new photo enhancement app lets users transform their photos into stunning, visual artistry using a series of uniquely prismatic overlays. The overlays break up, or “fragment” images into a collage of mesmerizing patterns and shapes that Pixite’s Creative Director Ben Guerrette says, “mirrors the effect of looking through refracted glass, or the facets on a gemstone or prism.”

Fragment’s users can take any picture from their photo library, choose how they want to crop it and then manipulate the image by selecting from a creative toolbar of overlays featuring various frames, shapes, and patterns. Once selected, the image is then “fragmented” into a kaleidoscope of reflections, depending on the overlay, and can be scaled and rotated at will using simple finger swipes and pinches.

Additionally, there are intuitive shading and color controls with brightness, contrast, blurring, additive, inversion and desaturation capabilities. For users who love spontaneity, Fragment serves up a shuffle button, offering randomly “fragmented” creations that can provide further artistic ideas and inspiration.

I tried this out and it took me a few minutes to get the hang of all the features, but after a few minutes it was making sense. Starting out with the randomization button is a great way to start since you’ll immediately get a feel for the interesting images you can create with it. The reset button is also useful when you want to start from scratch. You can then begin to explore the more advanced controls. I really love the blur feature that let’s you blur foreground/background of the image in creative ways.

Fragment App GUI

The simple GUI of the Fragment App.

The GUI is straightforward. This image shows the advanced controls for adjusting contrast. The app is very quick on my iPhone 5 with no delays when moving the sliders or changing fragment shapes. The one thing I would like to see would be the ability to adjust the width of some fragment lines. As an example, with a basic rectangular frame you can adjust the overall width/height of the exterior of frame, but you can’t adjust the width of the frame portion itself (if that is clear…often hard to describe such a thing with words).

Below are a few images I created with Fragment. The app can be used to create some really nice looks. I particularly like it for the sort of abstract images you can create with it. In the ones I did below I often used Snapseed. In the first one I also used Artomaton.

If you like this sort of effect I highly recommend the app. You should grab the app while it is just $1 during it’s initial launch sale. [Download]

Note: not yet sure about the new ’embedded’ Flickr links. Will have to look in to this at some point. I’ll at least test to make sure they show up on mobile devices after I hit publish.