I have been asked to explain what it is about photo apps that is so good. Each to their own I suppose but I really love using the iPhone Photo Apps because the area I work in is really visual of course. However on social networking sites it is often the image that gets a conversation going and tells a story more than a thousand words can of course.
The camera on the iPhone4 is remarkably good, OK it is never going to replace a Leica in the hands of a professional but for the point and shoot fanatic it is much better than just adequate and, with the range of Apps available for the phone, good quality photos can be snapped and more importantly shared instantly. The basic camera app allows you to take photos which by default are stored into the camera roll on the phone. This camera roll is then shared with the apps for treating your pictures and allowing sharing in social networks or to friends.
The basic camera has a flash which you can turn on or off of course but the first app we are going to look at here is Camera+ which can be used instead of the Camera app itself. I only use Camera+ for taking pictures and some retouches at times, like contrast and colour enhancing. However you can go much deeper into it. The best part for me is it has an LED light as well as a Flash you can use for making the subject stand out. Camera+ has decent sharing options too but not as good as Instagr.am currently which is where I do the sharing from.
I don’t tend to take the picture itself in Instagr.am because the camera is limited, no zoom for example. I do however get the photos from the Camera Roll and import them into Instagr.am for the treatment. What is the treatment though? Instagr.am gives your photos a look that ranges from dated 1970′s through black and white to lo-res and more. There is even a new treatment called Valencia which is a good fit for me but unfortunately in the latest update the Gotham treatment was taken out of the app which was a high contrast black and white look to the photos. When you save the photo with the treatment it saves that version and leaves the original on your Camera Roll which is important because Instagr.am reduces the size of the file hugely and therefore the resulting file is not great quality.
The power of instagr.am isn’t so much in the look of the photo though as the ease of sharing and the exclusivity of it for iPhone users currently. Currently you can share with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare and Posterous and of course by email meaning you can also share with your Facebook page if you have a business or simply your friends and family.
You have a stream of your photos too and that of all of your contacts which you can like and comment on too but as I write this you do not have an RSS feed for your photos although there is a workaround. The instagr.am API has allowed developers to make an RSS feed available on their own platform. I use Followgram and my feed can be found here. Follow me if you like! So what does a photo look like before and after the instagr.am treatment?
It has been cropped to take out the cars, the colours have been emphasized and the reflections and lights work a lot better with the frame. (The problem is I cannot remember which filter I used) On people, a similar treatment might not work but what does work really well is the black and white look for example.
Again cropped to a fill the frame ratio and the concentration is much more on his concentration. You can notice the uality of the photo has reduced but the use of black and white in portraits I like.
Once you have started sharing using instagr.am then maybe you are ready to do the same with Snapseed and Diptic.
Snapseed started of as an iPad photo editing tool and I got it on there and love it. However it is now available on the iPhone and it is almost as good. I say almost because I actually like playing with a larger screen size to see what the effect will look like. You can do a lot more with Snapseed than instagr.am but its sharing is limited to email, Flickr and Facebook currently. Obviously you can share to Twitter or Posterous using email addresses but if that were within the app it would be even better. There is one thing I really love in Snapseed and that is the “drama” effects, six choices of them. You can see a quick comparison below between original photo and drama version of a sunset. (Yes I know it is cheating but I had to get the pylon out of the shot too.
Snapseed does a lot more, including basic changes like brightness, white balance, saturation, contrast etc… and it all works with gestures and you can always compare the original with the new version before saving. I have to say I really love the black and white versions you can get out of Snapseed too much to the annoyance of a few of my Facebook friends.
The latest weapon in my photo armoury on the iPhone that I have started using is Diptic. You can see what it does below. The top photo had already been treated with Snapseed. The other two are taken from the originals. Diptic allows you to place two or three photos together into one. You can then export the photos into Instagr.am or directly to where you want them to go be that email, Facebook, Dropbox, Flickr or wherever. Hours of fun!
Now this is an entrepreneurial blog so what is the point of all of this?
If you are sharing with your market then tools like these photo tools allow you to stand out from the crowd a bit. Photos catch the eye in social networks and if your photos stand out then you will get more attention. Equally there is a chance here to actually branch out your reach to other places where you might not be comfortable. Let’s face it we are not all born photographers. However a decent image can be made into a really good one using the power of the iPhone image apps. And, as you will know, the best camera is the one you carry around with you of course and you alway carry your phone around with you. Take advantage of its power to capture the instant and tell a story.