HDR, the HDR App with the Shortest Name

A new HDR (high dynamic range) Universal app was released earlier today with the fancy name: HDR. It is one of the fastest HDR apps I’ve tried. It uses the two shot technique and grabs a light and dark image, and then combines them to get the final image. The app lets you save the two original images along with the final image.

Here were two sample HDR images. For the one on the left my hand was a bit shaky and the app didn’t do a great job aligning the images. On the right I managed to hold my hand a bit steadier and you can see the difference. The two images further down were the dark and light images that were used to make the steady image on the right.

I managed to point my iPhone at a light bulb and get a shot where I can read the print on the bulb and get a clear view of the rest of the interior. That is a good HDR shot :)

HDR is a very fast Universal app that seemed pretty nice in my limited testing. In a daytime shot the final image looked similar to other HDR apps.

You can download this app on iTunes. It is currently free, so grab it quickly. Usually it is $2.

Big Lens Continues To Improve

I briefly mentioned this Universal app a few months ago, but wanted to mention it again as it continues to improve (and was updated for the iPhone 5 last month). The basic summary of this one is that you get to blur regions of your photo to simulate a big wide aperture of a DSLR.

Big Lens gives you the ultimate in focus and filter tools for your iPhone. Simply focus where you want, with Reallusion’s Big Lens which turns everyone’s iPhone into a professional SLR camera. Snap a picture and then edit it like magic by setting the aperture, changing periphery blur levels, and adjusting background light to create a Bokeh effect with just a few gestures.

Here is a really quick example of what I did for a photo. I first used TouchRetouch (that link is iPhone, also free and iPad versions) to get rid of the extra table on the right side of the photo.

Original Shot Table removed from shot

When I took the original photo I’d focused on the coffee cup by tapping my finger on the screen of my iPhone where I saw the cup (this tries to focus and expose for where you tapped). That partially gave me the effect I was looking for, but I wanted a bit more blur in the background, and a ‘coffee house’ look. I opened Big Lens, imported the photo, and selected the advanced mode.

I drew a very rough outline around the coffee cup with the brush and then chose the ‘auto’ option. It did a really nice job. I moved to the next step by clicking the right arrow on the upper right of the screen. I then chose a wide aperture (to increase the blur) and chose the Sepia BG (BG = background) option. I chose the ‘heart’ lens to make the shot happier. :) To really see this lens effect take a nighttime shot with street lights in it.

At this time it was really close to being finished. I used the Focus and Blur brush to tweak a bit around the cup. I also selected the HDR option at the top to brighten up the background.

Final image that used Big Lens

Final image that used Big Lens.

It’s not a brilliant artistic image, but it gives a good example of what you can do with Big Lens. Currently this Universal app is just $1 over on the iTunes App Store. Easily worth it. Some of the lens effects are really nice. I’m hoping in the future that we get an option to adjust the light source location for the filters that have light effects.

The app also has a few quirks. It is tough to really get a smooth edge around objects such as the coffee cup in this shot (more noticeable in full size image). And every now and then if I blur or focus a region I’ll end up with larger ‘blocks’ of a focus/blur region. Hopefully a smoothing feature for the edge regions gets introduced at some point. The ability to selectively blur portions of the image still make this app one of those that is nice to have in your iOS tool belt.

There is a nice demo video on YouTube. And here is another image in which I made use of Big Lens with one of the ‘Light effects.”

43/365, Sunny Horse

Steal Colors with Color Thief

Color Thief has been around for awhile and in the most recent update it has become a Universal app (runs nicely on both your iPhone and iPad). This app does one thing, but does it very well! It lets you apply the tone from one photo to any other photo. The interface even makes it fun to just swipe through your photos to see random combinations. Here is a very simple example using myself in a coffee shop and a building during sunset. The original images are in the upper right corner and the lower left corner.

Examples of tone changes when using Color Thief

Examples of tone changes when using Color Thief

When the coolish sunset was applied to my face I got a bit cooler (the lower right photo). You can see the little arrow pointing from the cool sunset downward towards my face. On the left side the warm colors from the coffee shop were applied to the sunset. The sunset then became much warmer (upper left photo).

Here is a really nice video that shows the features of the app.

Color Thief is currently on sale for just $1, which is easily worth it if you are ever trying to get a similar look to a group of photos. If you have one shot with ‘good’ tones you can get that look on all the other shots. Just like a nice preset in Lightroom (for those that use Lightroom).

PicsPlayer Pro: ‘That’s The Way’ I Like It

As always, I’m often a bit late looking at the latest snazzy app, but I finally got around to checking out PicsPlay Pro. I think it’s been around on Android for awhile and made it to iOS a few months ago. There are already a number of reviews out there so I can’t really add much. It is an app with a lot of presets, as well as a rather large set of editing tools. The description on iTunes is long, but here is the very start.

PicsPlay Pro contains 200 presets and all editing features which allow you to express the best moment of your life.

Photos of your daily life and travelling can be depicted as the most memorable moment.
PicsPlay Pro is easier and more convenient than any other editors. Touch and touch! With few taps your photo will be amazingly changed. You can be a professional photographer!

* PicsPlay Pro is a universal photo editor with optimized user interfaces for both iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch devices!
* New & Noteworthy selected by Apple staff in over 110+ countries, November 30, 2012

Thinking of a Photo: Created with PicsPlay Pro on iPhone

Thinking of Photography: Self portrait created with PicsPlay Pro on iPhone

The company that makes the app (JellyBus) has a nice video that shows a lot of the features.

Here are two of the reviews I stumbled on: a review on AppAdvice, and a review in French with some nice photos (English translation).

It really is a nice Universal app for just $1 over on iTunes. There is a free version that has limited features.

And for those that liked the music in the video, here is a link to the song by Zack Borer called That’s The Way (thus the title of this blog post!). Zack Borer- “That’s The Way” LIVE on YouTube

Why is My iPhone out of Space? What Can I Do?

For those that take and edit a lot of photos on your iPhone (or iPad), storage space can become a concern after a few months have passed. For those that use iCloud to do backups of your iOS device, this can also become a concern. I made a video (about 6 minutes long) that includes just a few tips that I use regularly. I’m sure there are far more that I’m not aware of.

iPhone Space Available Image

The three main things I cover are storage space of photos themselves, apps that can take up storage space, and backup space on the iCloud. To get started you’ll open the Settings on your iPhone and then choose General > Usage. It may take a few moments (about 10 seconds on my iPhone 5) but you will then see a screen with a lot of information. The top most thing is the storage. It shows you how much is available and how much has been used.

In my case I’m doing OK right now since I still have 8.3 GB available. How much is that? A large game app might be 1 GB, and a 1000 photos taken with the iPhone 4S/5 built-in camera will be around 2 to 3 GB. So with 8 GB available, I can take a few thousand more photos. So I will keep taking shots. :)