Five handy apps for photographers

The Photographer's Emphemeris

These are five apps for photographers I use regularly in my work and on photo tours in Bath.

I considered calling this post “five essential apps”, but there must be lots of other useful apps out there, so please do add suggestions in the comments or on the Bath Photographer Facebook page.

1) The Photographer’s Emphemeris

The Photographer's EmphemerisThis is a fascinating app that can make you think about your photography in a completely different way, and is invaluable if you regularly shoot sunrises or sunsets. The website describes it as a “map-centric sun and moon calculator” (an emphemeris is a chart used to predict the position of celestial bodies). Basically, you use it to work out where the sun, moon and shadows will be at any one time. It’s great for landscape shots and any situation where you want to know the direction of light in advance. You can save locations via a Google Maps type interface. I’m slowly creating a list of Bath locations which I’ll put on this website at some point. There’s a desktop version as well as versions for iOS and Android.

2) Snapseed

2015-11-06 16.58.03I’ve tried a few photo editing apps for cellphones and tablets and this is my favourite so far. It’s a lot more powerful than the simple interface makes it appear, and handles all the usual tasks: white balance, brightness and contrast, cropping, vignettes, plus a lot more. It’s hard to imagine what else you’d need, certainly for posting images to social media feeds. I tend to mostly use the “tune image” menu. There’s even a Photoshop-like “healing brush” tool for simple image first aid.

3) Phonto

Phonto In a nutshell, this app allows you to easily overlay text on to photos in a variety of styles and fonts, say for  adding simple captions, making inspirational quotes etc. I found it when looking for something to use to create shahai (also called haibun), which are a cross between photos and haiku. You can make them with this app by overlaying a haiku on to of a photo. A haiku poet friend of mine, Alan Summers, runs a shahai course if you want to learn more.

4) Instagram

InstagramIn the unlikely event you haven’t heard of this, Instagram is a photo-sharing app with over 1 billion photos uploaded. I’m on the site as @thebathphotographer. Not everyone enjoys having their photos judged according to number of likes and shares but – at least for me – it’s an interesting process to see what’s popular with other users and what’s not, and I think it has encouraged me to raise my game. There tends to be a sensible quality-related reason why some photos get more likes than others (unless you are Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, naturally.)

5) Carousel

Carousel I’ve included this because it’s a great way to line up photos on my phone for Instagram and quickly search through recent pics. I have a far more elaborate archive on my desktop but this does the job for my phone. It’s very easy to “share” to apps like Instagram and Phonto. I use an Android phone and I prefer this to the built in gallery app. It’s from Dropbox which means it syncs particularly nicely with, erm, Dropbox. I like the name too, which reminds me of a great scene in MadMen.

… and some more

Google Maps

Great for logging places you have photographed, places you want to photograph, and generally not getting lost while about and about.

Field Trip

This is a so-far under-the-radar offering from Google that gives historical information on local places – some of which tend to be quite photogenic.

Lightroom Mobile

The mobile version of Adobe’s Lightroom. I don’t often edit on an iPad or laptop myself, but this is one way to do it and have your photos sync automatically.