How do you find the best photo editing apps for your smartphone photography? With so many apps around, how do you know which ones to choose in order to take your travel photography to the next level?
With the mobile photography editing apps that are available these days, I no longer have to wait until I get home to edit my travel photos. I can easily transfer photos that I take on my Fujifilm X-T2 via wireless to my iPhone, and edit them on my phone while I’m still on the move in order to share to my social channels.
I have tested both free and paid photo editing apps over the last year and can truly say that the ones I have listed below work well, whether you take your photos on a DSRL or on your smartphone.
Snapseed – IOS & Android
Snapseed is a like a professional level photo editor developed by Google. It’s one of the most popular editing apps, with key features like:
- Ability to open RAW and JPG files
- Twenty nine tools and filters, including brush, HDR, changing perspective
- Saving your personal edit and applying them to photos later
- Tune image, sharp, crop, vignette
- Curve, to change the brightness levels of your photos
- Filters: glamour glow, drama, grunge, grainy film, vintage, and black and white
- Text and frames on photo
All this in a free app!
The app also offers advanced editing features, such as a healing tool for removing unwanted objects and selective adjustments.
There is no form of photo editing that you can’t do using Snapseed.
VSCO – IOS, Android & Windows
VSCO is one of those photo editing apps that everyone should have in their phones. This app is loved by amateurs and professional photographers alike for its arsenal of filters. Some of the VSCO filters are renowned for their throwback film look when applied to digital photos.
VSCO has the filters that you’ll love if you’re the arty type: think grain with reduced highlights and deep shadows in your photos to give it that super moody or faded look (this will make your Instagram likes flow from the heavens).
The filters are not harsh or obvious, like many free photo editing apps filters out there. They truly give you that film professional look that’s all over Instagram. Some filters which are popular on Instagram are the HB1 (for their muted tones), A1, C1 and S1.
The VSCO app comes with some free filters to start you off. But to find a colour palette or a look that you like, you might need to purchase some of the filter packs from the VSCO shop.
VSCO has built filters for Adobe’s Lightroom desktop app (I have personally brought their Lightroom filters to use on photos in my blog) and for Apple Aperture, so you’re in good company.
The app is very clean and stylish, yet has a minimalist interface, that doesn’t have you guessing how to use it. You adjust the filter strength by the sliders, and toggle on and off the photo to see the original and edited photos.
When you first sign up to VSCO, you’ll be offered a seven-day trial of VSCO X, which requires an annual subscription (£18.99).
This will enable you to access additional presets, exclusive new presets, Film X (contains film emulation presets and tools) and some advanced controls (where you can further personalise your presets).
If you’re not interested in this, just skip it on signing up to the app, or cancel the subscription before the seven-day trial period ends, as it does ask you for your card details.
VSCO differs from the other photo editing apps in that it has its own community, where VSCO shooters can share their photos.
The community platform, and people who are also using VSCO can follow you there too. You can also share your photos directly from VCSO to all your social media channels.
VSCO has just introduced a new tool ‘recipes’, this is where you can save your favourite combination of edits to recreate. This tool can help you keep a consistently look or colour tone throughout your photos.
The only down side to this tool is you can only save one recipe using the VSCO app and 10 recipes with VSCO X membership, which I this is ridiculous. Other apps such as A Color Story allows you to recreate your own ‘recipes’ as well and doesn’t limit the number of recipes you can create.
I think limiting the recipe tool to one for non-VSCO X members is a way of VSCO trying to up-sale the VSCO X package. I personally would not purchase the VSCO X just for this tool it’s not worth it and most people will have three presets max that they use consistently. I think users of VSCO should have been able to save 5 recipes to use on their photos using the new VSCO recipe tool.
A Color Story – IOS & Android
The A Color Story app is for people who like their photos clean, bold and bright and (colourful mural lovers will be rejoicing with this app). Made by the sisters from A Beautiful Mess, every filter enhances the vibrancy and richness of bold primary colours, without leaving your photos looking over-saturated or harsh.
With A Color Story you can even add in lens flares and other effects on your photo to really jazz things up.
One thing I love about the A Colour Story app, is that you can stack multiple filters of varying strengths on to one photo, hence creating your own personalised filter to use on all your photos.
The curve tool is another favourite of mine and (this is the same curve that is in Lightroom and Photoshop).
It allows you to increase or reduce the mid-tones and highlights in your photos, giving you that professional clean edit. You can also recolour videos in the app up to one minute long, including Boomerangs and HD videos.
The app comes with a few free filters and has filter packs, priced from £0.99 to £8.99. Some of the filters are even created by well-known Instagram photographers and are sometimes based on the city they live in such as the ‘On the Road’ pack based on London by the photographer @a_ontheroad or mural lover like @rclayton.
A Color Story has
- Over 100 filters (some you must buy, but they also have occasional free filters that are made for specific campaigns with brands like Fossil)
- Forty movable effects including various lens flares or light leaks
- Twenty tools to edit your photos with including curves
Over the summer A Color Story also released their first ever presets for Abode Lightroom and Photoshop.
A Color Story might be the least known photo editing app on this list, but this app is giving the big boys a run for their money.
The app is unique, in that it caters to those that want to make their photos come alive with clean, bold, vibrant colours without looking over saturated or garish.
I love to use this app for brightly coloured murals (think Wynwoods Wall in Miami), bold patterned dresses, and to get warmth to my skin tone without making me look orange like an oompa loompa, which can happen with some of the filters in the other apps if you have tan or dark skin (with orange under tones).
Facetune – IOS, Android & Windows
Facetune is a beauty blogger’s best friend. This powerful little app does things you’ve only seen done in the magazines, like whitening your teeth and eyes, smooth out your skin, removing blemishes and even reshaping your jaw line or waist line!
Yes, I said reshape your waistline—so now you can give yourself that Kim Kardashian make-over you’ve always wanted in your photos.
With Facetune, every selfie you take from henceforth will make you look like you’ve been airbrushed by God.
The app is easy to use and there are even tutorials giving you step-by-step guidance on how to use the various tools.
Most editing that you will do in this app will involve using your fingers over the selected area to which you want to apply the desired effect. To see the changes, you tap and hold the blue square on the bottom right to toggle between the original version of the photo and the edited version.
Do watch out when editing photos with a patterned or striped background, they might get distorted when the edit is applied; your nosey friends might notice this and call you out.
I mainly use Facetune for the whitening, detailing and smoothing out tools in my photos.
I believe with Facetune moderation is the key when editing your photos.
TouchRetouch – IOS, Androids & Windows
Do you ever wonder how some people go to the same crowed tourist spots you visit but in their photos …it’s just them?
It’s as though they rented the place out for themselves. Well I’m here to introduce you to a little app that will remove all those photobombers, those parked cars and garbage bins from your photos.
You, too, can look like you’re the only person at the Eiffel Tower; introducing TouchRetouch.
TouchRetouch is the only app dedicated solely to removing objects from photos in the easiest and most effective way.
The way the app works is by using your fingers tab on the brush or lasso to highlight the object you want to remove. The app automatically removes the selected object, replacing the area with pixels from the surrounding area, like magic.
With TouchRetouch you can remove the following objects from your photo:
- Telephone wires and posts, power lines
- Surfaces breaks and scratches (both curved and straight)
- Pimples and skin blemishes
- Stop lights, street signs and trash cans
- You can also clone objects in your photo
You can basically remove anything from your photos that you think is distracting or is ruining them.
My final thoughts on these 5 photo editing apps
I hope that these 5 photo editing apps help in making your already great travel photos even better; combined with my tips on how to improve your smartphone photography skills, you’ll be wowing your family and friends with all your beautiful travel photos.
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