Get a Hobby: Photography with Camera Apps

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Flickr: victoriapeckham

The primary rules of photography have not changed much in the digital age. The Rule of Thirds still stands, as do traditional perspective, balancing, and framing guidelines.

But advances in technology now used in this medium have made it possible for anyone to take truly creative photos, with or without following those rules. In fact, you don't even need a camera to take great shots. Anyone with a smartphone can do it.

As an avid film photographer, I was one of the last holdouts of the traditional camera with my trusty Canon AE-1 strapped to my side at all times. But on my vacation last month, I didn't even take a camera with me -- just my iPhone. With all the fancy camera apps, I figured I wouldn't miss my heavy SLR, and I was right. I had a great time manipulating my images and was delighted with the results.

I've only got a few apps, but they seem to do the trick.

  • Shake It. Brightens colors, spotlights the center of the image, and adds a chunky white border around it. You can apply the app to existing images, or take photos directly form the app.


  • CameraBag. This is a trove of photo tools. My favorite is the Helga filter (below), which creates a vignette around the image and brightens the center. But it's got many other filters, too: silvery black-and-white, muted Polaroid, Vanity Fair-style warm and saturated are just a few others.

  • Tiltshiftgen. The free version of this is good enough for me, though there are more multifaceted versions too. I can pull the focus of the photo to one specific spot by touching the screen, and blur the rest, as I did below.

  • Hipstamatic. I cringe at the name, but the effects are amazing. Depending on which lens you choose, the photos take on a hyper-surreal quality (like the John S. lens below).


You'll find many more camera apps for all types of smartphones, and if you like photography as much as I do, they can be addictive. The variations are endless.