Guest Post by Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing.
Not long ago, you needed a high-end camera and expensive editing software to fulfill your dreams of being a creative, cutting edge photographer. But Facebook’s high-profile, high-dollar purchase of Instragram – the free app that allows you to craft professional quality photographs with your smartphone – has placed once-distant dreams within reach without requiring expensive equipment.
Smartphones with built-in cameras are now ubiquitous, tech companies are creating innovative new phone apps for photography, and all it takes is a single download before you can start snapping away and sharing your professional quality photos with friends.
While Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram may have made it the new “in” app for smart phone photography, it isn’t the only one that is changing how people take and share pictures. A bevy of technology companies are delving into the photo app market, and many are carving their own niche in the marketplace.
- AutoStitch Panorama: Conceived by Cloudburst Research, AutoStitch iPhone is an image stitching app that allows you to produce wide-angle, panoramic photographs from individual photos. For $1.99, users get the ability to capture the sprawling landscape of the Grand Canyon with a phone by snapping a few photos and tapping “Stitch.” The new “StitchGuide” even displays the positions where previous images were taken, making it even easier to match up photos.
- TiltShift: If you are feeling that real life is just too real, TiltShift will allow you to capture photos and take them out of this world. For $1.99, Michael Krause’s app simulates a tilt-shift lens, and manipulates real-time photos to look like miniatures. The simple app offers a variety of features that will help you push your photos into new, playful realms including aperture controls, blur type, and landscape and portrait modes.
- Snapseed: Snapseed takes photo enhancements to new levels. Nik Software, the award-winning digital photography company, brings its reputation for industry innovation to the iPhone and iPad, as well as Mac OS and Windows. The controls are extensive, ranging from standards like brightness, color, and grain, to more extensive filters like Black and White, Vintage Films, Drama, Organic Frames, and more. The vast possibilities found in Snapseed are the selling point, and the $4.99 charge is a steal for this kind of flexibility.
- Mattebox: Ben Syverson created Mattebox in an effort to replicate the Hexar, the iconic point and shoot camera from Konica. The premise is simple: there are no complex settings, but rather a clear viewfinder, intuitive controls, and crystal clear pictures. Features include dual-stage shutter release, one-touch white balance, and flexible exposure settings. You can also give existing digital photos the Mattebox treatment with an online editing tool. The app costs $3.99.
- Hipstamatic: Hipstamatic takes a different approach to iPhone photos, and for a couple of dollars, it allows you to take your photographs back decades by mixing and matching filters and flashes to give them warm, fuzzy personalities. Furthering the nostalgia of Hipstamatic are the IncrediBooth app ($.99), which allows you to take classic photo booth pictures anywhere, at any time, and the SwankoLab ($1.99), which brings dark room developing to your iPhone and allows you to choose chemicals, process photos, and experiment, without the mess. If retro is what you are looking for, Hipstamatic and its family of apps provide an extensive palette.
For the less app-savvy, or those more inclined to manual manipulation rather than app edits, consider these photography techniques – for mobile users or shutterbugs – that will give your photos the touch of a professional:
- Turn off your flash: In low-lit scenarios, turn off the flash on your camera and let the shadows flow in. This will give your photographs a dark, dreamy aura with unique contrast from the light sources that are present in the photos.
- Get close to your subject: You can never get too close to your subjects, and this type of intimacy has stunning results, both in the colors, sizes and proportions that you capture.
- Use the Rule of Thirds: This composition rule suggests that you imagine that your vision is cut into thirds, and you position your subject slightly off center and around one of the axes. Use the grid feature on your smartphone for a little help lining things up, and the resulting depth and contrast can be stunning.
Technology is enabling a new generation of aspiring photographers. All they need is a smartphone outfitted with a camera, and they are ready to point and click. Add in the newest apps for photos and editing and even the most inexperienced photographers can take their pictures to the next level, and share their results with their friends with the slip and tap of the screen. The options are now limitless.
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.