I’ve already reviewed a few of my favorite mobile photo editing apps, here, here, here, and here, and now I’m going to share some additional apps that I’ve been using with more and more frequency. VSCO still has my heart, but it doesn’t do everything. (I edit all of my photos on my phone, even those I take with another camera.)
First, is Mextures, which is $1.99 in the app store. Initially I was a little turned-off by the app. I’m not sure why, but it seems I balk at every new photo-editing app at first (except for BLACK app which I loved immediately). Mextures can give a VERY processed look, and usually I’m not a fan of that, however, the cool thing about the app is you can adjust it thousands of ways. There are preset filters (light leaks, textures, adjustments) you can layer and adjust, and create your own formula. There are also preset formulas made up of multiple layers, that you can adjust and customize in myriad ways. Once you’ve created your own formula, or adjusted an existing one and made it your own, you can save them in the app and use them again. Many Mextures users also love to share formulas with each other.
I’ve had to change my thinking a little bit. I think what I dislike is a poor-quality photo, adjusted to the max, but I hadn’t realized how many truly beautiful pieces of art can be created, even if it’s obvious the photo has been adjusted. Take these two images below, that almost look like paintings once I applied the Mextures formulas I used. It’s obvious they’ve been processed, but I still love them. My intention was to turn them into Degas-inspired pieces.
I’m also obsessed with taking photos of the sky, and Mextures formulas do some AMAZING things to skies.
The X-Film formulas, and the Atmospheric formulas, as far as the pre-set ones go, are my favorites, because most of them have a lighter touch. With all of Mextures’ filters, you can adjust the intensity up or down, so it’s easy to fine-tune a shot without making it look over-processed.
Basically, I use Mextures when I want a bolder, more colorful look, or if I want my photo to have some texture.
Next, is Snapseed, which is free in the app store. This app does a few things, and has some filters, but I prefer VSCO Cam and Litely’s filters. What I LOVE about the app is the Brush. With the Brush feature, you can dodge and burn in parts of your image, or paint different areas with different adjustments for exposure, saturation, or temperature. It’s incredible! I love taking photos of the sky, and I often use the burn tool to burn my cloudy skies in. I haven’t played as much with the other brush effects, but the dodging and burning tool alone is worth it to have.
Raw iPhone6 Image:
After burning the mountains in with Snapseed:
Then Filtered with VSCO Cam:
I also think the transform feature on Snapseed is pretty cool: it allows you to adjust the angle of your photo by either tilting it on a horizontal or vertical axis, or by rotating it. It also fills in the sides when it rotates, usually decently accurately. The Selective feature in Snapseed is one that I haven’t used much yet, but it’s also really cool: it allows you to adjust sections you tap, in your photo, and bring the contrast, saturation, or brightness up or down, in just the specified area, leaving the rest of the photo alone. I don’t know if any other apps let you do this, so it’s definitely a feature worth noting.
One thing I don’t like, is I’ve noticed once I use Snapseed, my entire photo, not just the adjusted parts, is more line-y…which isn’t a word, but it appears slightly more pixelated or something, to me, which can be pretty noticeable depending on the image and how much adjusting I’ve done. That has led me to use it less-often, because I don’t love it when my images look overly-grainy or processed (unless that’s the particular look I’m going for as in my Mextures Degas-inspired pieces).
Snapseed offers a healing feature, but in my opinion, there’s a better app for that.
Enter Pixelmator, at $4.99 in the app store. More pricey than the others, but worth the cost for all of its features. Before finding this app, I used Touch Retouch for removing unwanted flecks, spots, power lines, etc, from my photos, but Pixelmator does it so much better. It guesses what the space should look like without the item you’re removing, and it usually gets it right, or close. If it doesn’t, it’s quick and easy to tap undo, and try again.
Before– Distracting background buildings and the bottom of a cup in the top left of the frame:
I really have only used Pixelmator for that feature, which is a shame, because it’s packed with some powerful editing tools, but they’re more for advanced editors. You can use layers, distort images with things like warps, twirls, and bumps, it offers a nice vignette tool, and color adjustments, on a sliding scale so it’s easy to adjust it exactly perfectly (versus the tick scale on VSCO that doesn’t offer any in-between stops for its adjustments), and tons of brushes and erasers, available in lots of options and adjustable sizes and opacities, to fine-tune. It also offers some filters, but I prefer VSCO, Litely and Mextures for filters.
I tend to be a person who wants my editing to be simple, and fairly quick, especially for an image taken on my phone. So Pixelmator’s more in-depth, advanced features, just go unused by me. The app is worth the Repair tool alone, though.
Overall, these are 3 apps worth having and playing around with. I find myself learning from them, simply by shooting things just for the purpose of trying out new features and capabilities.