The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You

The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You

Chase Jarvis really says it best with his now rather well known phrase, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” But I jumped into the fray last year and wrote two posts with extensive information about the iPhone apps I use, the things I appreciate most about mobile photography and the ways in which I think it can be beneficial for others. At that time, I had not experimented with any other smart phone besides my iPhone nor had I any experience with any Windows or Android tablets. So, I was calling what I did iPhoneography.

I was given the Sony Android tablet to test, as well as the Highline, Lifeproof case and dot360. However, the opinions I have stated are my own and I was not compensated by any company for a favorable review or press mention.

All that has changed. A year later, I’ve been experimenting with Sony’s Android Tablet and I have had my hands on a few non-iPhone smart phones. Becoming an expert in all things mobile for photography and video on every platform I can get my hands on is now a daily task and an on-going goal. I continue to write and teach, just a few weeks ago I was speaking during TBEX in Keystone, Colorado.

So much has changed since I began the journey and so this seems like a good time for an update. Starting with my current favorite apps for photos on the iPhone 4S:

VSCO CAM – This app is definitely about the filters but I like that none of them are very extreme. It also has nice detailed editing features that affect things like fill light and grain.

Over – Never has adding text to images, whether for the purpose of watermarking or meme-making, been more easy or enjoyable!
ProHDR – While I’d never do HDR with my dSLR images, I like that on the iPhone it can help you capture a perfect exposure in difficult lighting without looking over-photoshopped. Not all HDR apps are created equal, this has what I think are the best options and the most pleasing end result. The sliders allow you to control the final effect.
Camera+ – It’s an old standby and a good app to go to when I want to be quick. I don’t overuse the filters but I do love the aptly-named “Ansel” filter for beautiful, high contrast black and white images. I also dig Contessa for a good sepia look.
Instagram – I no longer use it for the filters. Now, my account is like a photographic travel guide and portfolio for my mobile photographs. It’s not a daily digest of my life, it’s the better images from my travels around the world, or my life in NYC; usually with a story behind each image I share.
Hipstamatic – This is how I photograph food while traveling, using Hipstamatic’s Foodie Snap Pak. They were my first photo app, they’re still dear to my heart.
Diptic – I continually use this app to make collages of photographs into one image that I can blog or share online easier than sharing multiple images at a time. Frametastic is another app I’ve used, there are many. Diptic is still my favorite.

PS Express – What I like most about the app now is its “noise reduction” and this is a fairly new feature.
Filterstorm – This app is more full-featured than PS Express yet it’s much like Photoshop for the iPhone. I use it for very detailed editing, re-sizing, and adding text to images.

Video apps I recommend:

FiLMiC Pro

I stopped buying postcards that I never end up sending anyway, instead I use my own photos while I travel and create personalized notes that friends and family receive via Postagram. I also stalk Social Print Studio so I know all the ways I can use my online photos…offline; because I’ll never get over the happy geeky feeling of having my photographs printed and in my hands. Also, their books and posters make terrific gifts.

I have a bag of accessories that have now traveled the world with me and they include: The olloclip (my favorite!), Lifeproof case, glif, gorillapod, dot 360 (thank you to Walks of Italy for insuring I had my very own), plus a Mophie case to make sure I can always charge on the go. I have also had great success with the charging packs that Brookstone sells in their airport pop ups. Additionally, I love the Highline and really wish that I had owned one in London and Argentina both times I had previous iPhones stolen. It might be a “must have” and you can get 20% off your own, using code: kirstenalana. I still want the iPhone boom mic, scuba suit and shutter grip that Photojojo is taunting me with.

How do I gain access to my iPhone photographs on other devices after I have taken them? I back up my iPhone photographs using the automatic sync feature built into my Dropbox account. Or through ImageCapture on my laptop. The Photo Transfer App has also helped in a pinch more times than I can count and I love that it’s available for Android as well. My Sony Tablet also syncs completely to Google so anything that is uploaded through Google+ from my iPhone is then synced to my tablet. This is so handy because the camera built into the tablet isn’t as good as the one in my iPhone 4S but the photography features are nice and I like that the larger screen gives me more room for editing than my iPhone has. (It’s been interesting to learn more about the Android platform for photographers.) These two lists of Android apps came in handy when I was beginning my search for the best photography apps to use on my tablet: 12 Best and Top 20. My favorites for the tablet so far have been Pixlr-o-matic, Pudding Camera, LittlePhoto, Diptic, EyeEm, Panorama, and Instagram. When I want to quickly get content onto my Facebook profile or fan page I use iLoader2. Also, did you know Facebook now has their own page management app?

You might enjoy these tip-filled posts I’ve recently authored or been featured in:

Flight Centre UK Photo Tips, Flight Centre UK Q&A, HostelWorld Tour of London via Instagram.

I went from having over 100 photo apps on my iPhone at all times to being a bit more picky about what I use regularly. These are the apps currently on my 4S: AFAR Magazine’s visual travel guide, Instagram, Camera +, Hipstamatic, King Camera, Path, iLoader2, Squareready, Diptic, Frametastic, VSCO cam, Filterstorm, ProHDR, Auto Stitch, PS Express, MoreBeaute2, Cortex Cam, Average Camera Pro, Popbooth, Incredibooth, Postagram, EyeEm, GogoBot, PictureShow, Blender, Plastic Bullet, Cross Process, Cinemagram, Photosynth, Pixlromatic, Photomarkr, Mailphotos, Photo Transfer App, 8 mm, Foap, FiLMiCpro, Animoto and iMovie.

It doesn’t matter what device you use to capture a photograph …. the basics of good photography still apply. Things like color, contrast, composition, the rule of thirds and knowing how to use light to your advantage so flash is not necessary; these things are still important with an iPhone, tablet or smartphone. Learn these first and it will become less important what apps you are using, people will stop looking at your images as being ‘clearly an Instagram photo’ and see them simply for the beautiful images they are. As a travel blogger, I really believe in the power of an image to sell a place or a thing. I think photographs speak where words can sometimes fail. However, a bad photograph helps no one. My personal goal is two-fold: for people to realize that capturing a beautiful photograph doesn’t require an expensive dSLR but to also understand that every camera is only as good as the person using it. I love teaching people how to improve their photographs and how to use their equipment to the best of their ability!

My colleague, Misho Baranovic, is the same and he recently wrote a book on Mobile Photography that I highly highly recommend. Check it out here. Full disclosure: I am an affiliate so I will earn a small portion of the sale. I would not however, recommend the book if it was not an excellent resource.

  • July 05, 2012

    Aaaaannnd, I now have more apps to play with thanks to this post.  I’m also a fan of Ansel in Camera +.  I think I might do an August exercise of only black and white photos to help break my filter habit.  I am a sucker for Lo-Fi and use it way too much.

    Is there a Hipstamatic for dummies somewhere? It’s not very intuitive.  Well, not intuitive for someone who can count on 1 hand the number of times I used a camera with actual film.

    • July 05, 2012

      Hmmmm….now that’s another post idea: Guide to Using Hipstamatic! I haven’t seen a good post yet from anyone else. But did you try doing a search online for that kind of info?

      I love the idea of doing only black and white travel photos for a while! Please do that 🙂 And make sure I don’t miss it, send me a link just in case I space out.

  • July 05, 2012

    I always enjoy seeing what apps other mobile photography enthusiasts (and those more expert than me) are using. Great post and thank you for some new recommendations!

  • July 05, 2012

    Great Post! Still dreaming of upgrading my 3G to a 5 in the fall so when I do I’m coming back here to download all these apps! I also love the idea of only shooting black and white for awhile Erin. I think I might do a post of Hawaiian sunsets or flowers in B&W. Thanks for the inspiration. 

  • July 05, 2012

    Thanks for the great tips – some apps I hadn’t heard of so will have to give them a try out. Have only just got into Instagram and loving it so far.

  • July 05, 2012

    Great post, Kirsten!  Sounds like you’ve been keeping really busy and learning a TON!  Thank you so much for sharing.

  • July 05, 2012

    This is great! I’ve just recently become a little obsessed with Instagram and iPhoneography (I know, I’m a little late to the party) and have been looking for some good apps. I will be checking these out. Thanks!

  • July 06, 2012

    Great tips! I now have this page bookmarked. Thanks Kirsten!

  • July 06, 2012

    Grateful for this post because we have so much to learn from it. Excited to have a look at Filterstorm.

  • July 08, 2012

    Thanks for all the information. Navigated over from Misadventures with Andi. I’m just getting started with taking pics on my iPad, so this is great. jen

  • July 09, 2012

    I really do miss having a smart phone … even a ridiculously old one with a camera. Here I have a dinosaur phone so it has incredibly basic options but I see the kind of apps people can use to take photos nowadays and I really think I should pick one up anyway. Those photos are really gorgeous by the way.

  • July 11, 2012

    I have no words after seen these tremendous snaps. Really awesome pics which I had never seen in my life. Actually I had never give comment, but your blog can’t stop to do that thing. Hats off!

  • July 15, 2012

    Oh you know I love it when you share the photos and filters you used. I would really love it if you included it as a weekly feature. Just a photo and the apps. Mine will never be as good as yours but I’m always so curious.

  • July 22, 2012

    Great post. I think the point you made at the end is key. A good photography can be enhanced by iPhone apps but apps can not fix an image with poor composition, perspective, etc. 

  • September 28, 2012

    Thank you for this useful information!!

  • October 02, 2012

    Clearly I’m not making the most of my iPhone and its photographic potential! (I am also a Lo-Fi addict, like Erin). Thanks for all the great tips!

  • February 18, 2014

    Great post.

    You have curated some really good photo editing apps for iPhone. I’d like to add little value to the post by adding equally good photography apps for Android, Here’s the link,

    In case anyone comes here with an expectation of Android app for photography, he shouldn’t get disappointed.

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