Summer is here and more people are taking to the skies, roads and rails to travel than at any other time of year. It's great to bring a proper DSLR camera along for professional quality photos, but they are bulky and not always the best options when you are on the move. And, with the iPhone 4S, it's no longer necessary to bring along a standard point-and-click digital camera at all. Whether your iPhone has the latest optics or not, there are tons of apps that make taking, enhancing and sharing vacation pics easier and more fun. This week we look at our four favorites.
HDR, when speaking of photography, stands for High Dynamic Range and there are many apps that achieve a full range of tones, lighting and detail by superimposing different photos of the same composition onto one another and manually or semi-automatically adjusting them to achieve rich realistic end results. The photos can be beautiful, but most apps require at least some degree of knowledge about HDR to function well. Simply HDR, however, takes both the mystery and layering away. With a single image and some behind the scene magic, photos come out looking lush with no effort. That said, the app does come with a slider for smoothing and several HDR effects including black and white.
If you are vacationing anyplace with a killer view - skyline or landscape - a panoramic image allows you to capture a much wider view than traditional photography. As always there are many apps for that, but for ease of use and great results 360 Panorama remains our choice. This universal app allows you to take individual photos and patch them together seamlessly to create stunning vistas. The app uses the iPhone's gyroscope to enable a full 360 degree view and stitches the images with amazing speed.
Group and family vacations call for group and family shots. But trying to get a photo on the fly where everyone looks good is next to impossible. Someone is always looking away, blinking, or making a funny face. GroupShot solves this problem by letting you import several snaps of the same group in the same setting - you really want to snap the base images quickly so everyone stays aligned - and then with the simplest gestures you can swap out funny faces from one photo and replace them with a better facial expression from other images.
The same developers also make make StillShot, another great tool for travellers, specifically those who shoot more video than they take photos, but still want to have an album to browse through later. All this app does is capture frames from video and convert them to stills, but it does so with remarkable ease and great looking results.
Facebook is still the most popular photo sharing venue, and they recently released a dedicated camera app that puts all your friends' photos in an easy-to-navigate stream and let's you share yours. The app has a few fun Instagram-like effects, and pictures can be cropped or rotated, but what makes Facebook Camera shine is speed. Uploading pictures to Facebook is not only faster than with third party apps, it even beats uploading to Facebook directly by several seconds. Vacation time is precious time, and this app will help you keep your eyes on the view, not on your iPhone screen.