There are many photography apps for mobile devices out there. They all allow you to enhance the pictures taken with your smartphone or tablet. The most popular is probably Instagram. Instagram allows you to take a shot, then use preset adjustments called filters to make them look “cool”, or make a bad photograph appear to be acceptable. Instagram is a lot of fun to use and it helps to build communities of users with similar taste. For the seasoned photographer, Instagram’s adjustments can get old really fast. The reason for this is that you have no control of these preset adjustments. Many photographers have learned how to multi process images in Instagram. Multi processing is when you adjust an image with one filter, then without “sharing” it, reprocess it again using another filter. Still this technique is limiting to what you can achieve with an image.
Being the most popular tool doesn't mean it’s the best tool to use. However, there are other choices. Some of these choices are just Instagram wannabes while others try to give photographers and photo enthusiasts the tools they need to make creative photographic images. Some of the free tools I've found useful range from Adobe’s basic Photoshop Express to fairly sophisticated tools like Aviary Photo Editor, Dev.Macyver Photo Editor (Android only), BeFunky Photo Editor, and Autodesk’s Pixlr Express. All of these applications offer slider controls for both tonal & creative enhancement to the image. With practice you can learn how each of these tools handles your camera’s image files. This allows the photographer to “pre-visualize” the image while taking the photograph. Pre-visualization means you see the world like your camera and photo app.
All of the tools I've mentioned so far are great tools, yet they all have one issue. They perform their processing adjustments “globally”. This means when an adjustment is made, it is done to the entire image at once. For example if you want to make a dark or shadow area brighter, the whole image will become lighter. When using a traditional darkroom or full versions of Photoshop the photographer can select the areas they want to control tonality or other effects. Nik Software’s Snapseed is the only free photo editor that offers selective tonal control with its Selective Adjustment tool. Nik, developers of Photoshop plug-in, have a technology called U-Point. With U-Point you can place a “Control Point” on an area of the image you want to adjust. This Control Point generates a selection mask based on color tonality, like Photoshop's Quick Selection Tool. The user can then expand or contract the size of this selected area by pinching in or out. This app was first designed for the iPad. After Nik Software was acquired by Google, they developed the Android version, and now offer both versions for free.
Snapseed has thirteen areas of image adjustment control. Automatic, Selective Adjust, Tune Image, Straighten, Crop, Detail, Black & White, Vintage, Drama, Grunge, Center Focus, Frame, and Tilt-Shift. Visit Snapseed’s Features Page to learn what each of these thirteen controls can do. Even when using the Automatic control there are sliders to control how much “auto” you get. As with most photo apps, Snapseed will save a copy of the adjusted image or you can “Share” the file with another app on your phone/tablet or you can post it directly to your Social Networks. The Snapseed web site has a few video tutorial that make getting started with the app a snap.
With Snapseed you can create and control your images from a subtle tweak to a dramatic interpretation. After you try the mobile version of Snapseed, you may consider the desktop version for $20.00, which is a great price for such a powerful piece of imaging software. Nik Software’s brings its experience in software development of powerhouse professional class products for Adobe and Apple to mobile photography. Download it and give it a try.