In the few years I’ve had my iPhone I’ve played around with dozens of apps. I’m very ruthless when it comes to getting rid of apps that I don’t need. My criteria is simple: clean user interface and easy to use. If I can’t figure out what I need to do in 10 seconds, I can’t seem to press that red ‘X’ button fast enough.
I’m always curious to see what apps a person has on the phone. If you look at my phone, you’ll see that photography and travel apps dominate. Here is a collection of travel and photography apps that have made the cut.
90% of the time the only adjustments I do to my pictures is brightness, contrast, and white balance. Snapseed is perfect for these because you can do all three on 1 screen easily through a combination of horizontal and vertical swiping movements. Another very cool feature is Snapseed’s localize adjustments which allows adjustments to be made only on a certain part of the photo.
I love Snapseed even more for its price – free.
Camera+ – $1.99
If you use your iPhone a lot to take pictures, you need to get this app. It allows you to adjust your phone camera’s exposure and focus independently simply by tapping 2 different points on the screen.
Camera+ alos has a much-lauded Clarity effect which I have to say is pretty awesome. It’s sort of like Instagram’s Lux filter that gives a photo an almost HDR quality, but better.
Camera+ also comes with a small collection of filters. And the best part? You can layer multiple filters AND adjust each filter’s opacity.
ProHDR is my default HDR app. 80% of the time it does a great job. Admittedly, it’s pretty slow. From the moment you press the button until it takes all the pics it needs, 5 seconds might have lapsed. That means having the phone supported or using a tripod is essential. All pictures from my Bodie post were taken with this app.
HDR – $1.99
Remember what I said about ProHDR doing a great job 80% of the time? Well, the other 20% of the times, HDR does it better. I like that it takes consecutive pictures very quickly, reducing the need for robust phone support. However, HDR seems to be more prone to produce photos that have a ‘halo’-like quality around small edges.
Since taking an HDR photo already requires a time investment, I usually use both apps and see which one I like better.
NOTE: For a picture to be a true HDR, the app needs to take multiple versions of the same shot (usually 2 or 3) to later process into a single image. This is different from ‘HDR filter’ that some apps try to simulate.
InstaCollage – FREE
I don’t do collages often, but when I do, InstaCollage is free and it has a nice collection of frames to choose from. It also allows you to add texts to your collages.
Tired of Instagram’s square cropping restriction? So am I. This app allows you to share your pictures in its original format, either landscape or portrait. Or even as a collage. You can then export the result to Instagram or Snapseed for sharing or further processing.
Travel Related Apps
Likes its name suggests, CityMaps2Go allows you download maps onto your phone so they’re available offline. Once I have these maps, I can drop ‘pins’ to mark my hostel and places I’m interested in visiting. For example, on my Istanbul map (where I’m currently at), I’ve marked the location of my hostel as well as restaurants that people have recommended.
The maps themselves contain hundreds of points of interests to travelers: hotels, restaurants, transportation lines, and attractions. Many of these are linked to their respective Wiki entries (that can also be downloaded onto your phone). This can be very handy when you don’t want to carry your guidebooks around.
I love this app because it allows me to know where I am and what’s around me without an Internet connection. I’ve found it useful when I jump in a taxi and I want to make sure I’m not taken for a ride around town. Or when I’m not sure where my stop is when taking a public bus.
I want to like TripIt very much. I really do. But I honestly haven’t quite discovered what it is that makes so many people love it. Yes, it’s nice that you can forward confirmation emails to TripIt so it can keep track of your flights and hotels, but is it worth the real estate on my phone? I haven’t quite decided yet.
I think this app will benefit people who travel a lot and pre-plan many details of their trips. For those who tend to ‘wing’ it when traveling – this might be superfluous? It’s also possible I’m using it wrongly, so if you love TripIt, let me know what I do wrong.
DayOne – $4.99
I’m in love with this journal app. It has a beautiful user interface and easy to use.
DayOne allows you to record thoughts and memories very easily. You can tag your entries, add pictures, and even tweet them if you like. It uses GPS to add a location to your entry (it also integrates with Foursquare).
I use the app keep track of interesting food I’ve come across. I take pictures of business related receipts. I write notes about the people I meet during my travels. Or… well, whatever I want really. Along with my pictures, I treasure these digital scribbles as souvenirs from our travels.
(If you run a travel blog, these notes also come in handy when writing about places you’ve been to).
With so many apps out there, I’m not saying that these are the best travel and photography apps available. But these are the ones that have worked best for my needs. Hopefully you’ll find at least one to be a useful addition to your collection.
If you have a favorite travel or photography app you think I’ll like, let me know in the comment section below.