IPhone Travel Snapper Apps Part 2: Image Editing

by Paul Sullivan Jan 8, 2010
Image Editing iPhone Apps
In the second installment of our iPhone Travel Snapper Apps series, Contributing Editor and Photographer Paul Sullivan takes a look at image editing apps.

WHILE APPLE’S CELEBRATED iPhone has become one of the most drooled-over objects in the mobile world, its camera has always left a little to be desired . The new 3GS has pumped the megapixels up to 3 (from 2) but there’s still a spectacular lack of features: no zoom, no flash, slow shutter reaction, a lack of sharpness and no in-camera editing or post-processing options are some of the failings.

But vex not. A number of apps on the market can dramatically improve your iPhone images. While we wouldn’t claim they will turn you into a ‘pro’ (though some people are trying their best), they can certainly get you acquainted with various ‘pro’ aspects of photography such as editing, composition and post-processing.

Obviously, a lot are more for novelty than anything truly creative, so we’ve road-tested and hand-picked a bunch that we think could be particularly useful for travel snappers.

Photoshop Mobile
Photoshop Mobile

Before & After shots of photos edited with Photoshop Mobile by author.

Since the iPhone has no in-camera editing facilities, you’ll have to download an app that allows you to crop, rotate, color adjust, apply FX and all the rest. It took them a while, but software giants Photoshop have finally brought a version of their celebrated software to the iPhone. Photoshop Mobile has just four main controls.

The Basics icon offers Rotate, Crop and Flip; Color offers Exposure, Saturation, Tint & Black & White (all simple, one-touch adjustments); Filters has Sketch and Soft Focus while the Effects option lets you make your photo Vibrant, Border, Pop, Rainbow and Warm Vintage at the click of a button.

While the Basics and Color tools are definitely useful, the Filters and Effects are quite gimmicky, which is perhaps a surprise given Photoshop’s status as one of the leading post-production software manufacturers. The program could also do with a Contrast slider. Then again the app costs nothing, making it by far the best free photo editor app on the market.

Price: Free


Before & After shots of photos edited with PhotoForge by author.

More comprehensive is the photo/painting app PhotoForge, which ironically is more of a mini-Photoshop than the Photoshop app is. All the features are displayed at the bottom and top of the screen and you can easily access things like Rotate, Flip, Crop (5 different sizes) and Straighten.

There are Filter adjustments for Levels, Curves (you can adjust for RBG, CMYK, and CIE Lab), Noise Reduction, Auto Exposure, Manual Exposure, Brightness and Contrast and Sharpening.

The editing tools include Brushes (8 of them!), Smudge, Clone Stamp, Eraser, Magnify, Eye Dropper and Fill Tools. For quick-fixes there are several preset filters (Sepia, Lomo, Blur, Television, Neon and Dreamy). Not every tool gives excellent results of course, but the sheer variety allows for many creative options, and of course you get to mix photography and painting too if that’s your thing.

Price: $4.99


Less in-depth but very useful is Picoli which has less features but handles what is has very well. Using simple sliders you can brighten, saturate, sharpen and adjust things like contrast, color balance and illumination. There are also various filters such as Sepia, Night Vision and Colour Dithering, and “fun” stuff like Posterize and Sunburn.

The normal $4.99 price tag is a bit steep when you consider the superior Photoforge is the same price, but the company are offering the program for $2.99 while they work on a new update, making it a worthwhile investment.

Price: $2.99 *reduced until new update is done

Other Articles in Series

iPhone Travel Snapper Apps Part 1: Replacement Cameras

Disclaimer – All apps above have been reviewed on the new iPhone 3GS. Please double-check compatibility of your phone if you have an older model.

Do you know of other iPhone Apps that provide image editing? Please share in the comments below.

Trying to find new markets or become a successful travel photographer?

Grab Matador’s Free Report 15 Publications That Pay
For Travel Photography and help accelerate your career as a photographer.

Discover Matador