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Photo-Editing Apps the Experts Use

Turn your smartphone into an imaging powerhouse with the right software. We talked to Instagrammers Cole Rise and Doctor Popular about the tools that have helped them attract huge followings.

Cole Rise

Cole Rise created the above picture in PhotoForge2 by layering an image of a glass of water over a landscape photo, then using the vignette and curves tools for the final look. Rise is a professional photographer whose moody shots will look familiar to any regular Instagram user — he created the Hudson, Sierra, Sutro, and Rise filters for the app, and he has more than 160,000 followers. Here he discusses some of the apps he uses to create his atmospheric iPhone photos.

I love this app. It’s got great curve controls for adjusting colors. You can also layer effects and add blurs — a lot of the stuff you’d do with Photoshop. So you can do most of your editing in-phone, no computer needed. Some Instagram filters started with stuff I was doing here. Pro Tip: I add a layer that’s just color and create a vignette on it, rather than directly on the image, so that your vignette is in color rather than just gray scale.

ts_apps_fAverage Camera Pro
I get images with this that I would have thought I could only get with my Canon 5D Mark II. The app lets you snap a ton of photos in a row, up to 128, then averages them together. If you’re shooting moving water, for example, it will get blurred while everything else stays steady. (You need to use a tripod.) Rivers end up looking like bands of fog. Pro Tip: You can use it to average out noise in low-light settings, like at sunset.

Spin in a circle and snap photos for a 360-degree panorama. But what’s smart about this app is how it uses the gyroscope and accelerometer. As you move, it looks at the previous image and tracks the scene, then snaps for you at just the right moment. Pro Tip: The stitching isn’t so accurate close up. If you experiment with this, you can create portraits that look like photo collages — turn flaws to your advantage.

The iPhone is already pretty good at creating lens flare, but you don’t know what you’re missing until you try this app. You can choose from dozens of lens and flare types and customize them with rotation and scaling to get the right effect. It’s great for landscapes. Pro Tip: Use it sparingly; it can look overdone and cheesy. The effect works best when you can’t tell it’s there. Drag the flare off the image so just a bit of it is showing.

Read on for some advice from the Doctor…

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