As a mom, you know the best photo ops are frequently unplanned. Which means while the perfectly capable point-and-shoot sits on a shelf at home gathering dust, your baby takes his first steps, or your daughter holds her little brother’s hand while walking into preschool, or your little one has the most adorable meltdown.
Lucky for us, cameraphones have come a long way in the past few years, allowing us to capture more of those special moments. Though the capability of these devices continues to improve, I have found that they don’t quite produce the quality of my main camera. But I have found a couple apps that you can download to help the photos from your smartphone transform from forgetful to interesting with just a few tweaks.
- Instagram (iPhone, free). Instagram allows users to take stunning photographs with the help of an array of filters and tilt-shift blur effects. Snap a photo with your iPhone, and then choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot into a memory to keep.
- Retro Camera (Android, free). As its name implies, Retro Camera lets you take photos that look as if they were shot with old-style cameras. This is a good free Android alternative to Hipstamatic, with five vintage cameras to choose from and a number of other digital effects.
- CamWow (iPhone, free). If you love your Mac’s PhotoBooth app, you’re going to love CamWow, which operates in similar fashion — real-time filters let you see what your image will look like, and lets you share with your friends online.
- PhotoGrid (Android, free). With PhotoGrid you can convert your photos collection into amazing collages. Who doesn’t love pictures that tell a complete story?
- Camera+ (iPhone, 1.99 – .99 for a limited time) The Camera+ app boasts of the ability to turn the iPhone’s standard camera lens into a high-quality SLR (single lens reflexive) lens. And it includes a burst mode for action shots, an image stabilizer and even a timer for self-portraits. Photos can be cropped, rotated and given any number of effects and borders. It’s developed by a professional photographer, Bettany. Check out her “Apps to Riches Story.”
- CameraZOOM FX (Android, 4.99). This has been called the “best camera app for Android.” In addition to the great zoom and picture quality, the many post picture extra features make this a winner.
- Hipstamatic (iPhone, 1.99). Looking to enhance your images with a little old-school flair? Add a Retro feel with Hipstamatic, an app based on the discontinued 1982 camera of the same name, has eight options that add artful blurring, fading, and flashes to your photos to create that vintage-snapshot look.
- Photogene (iPhone, 2.00). A few tweaks can turn even the most drab camera-phone images into frame-worthy photographs. Use Photogene to add backgrounds and colorful borders, crop out unflattering details, or just remove red-eye from that otherwise-flawless family portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower. Have fun improving your digital photos!
- Jelly Lens (Any cell phone, price varies). Who says smartphones should have all the fun? As long as your cell phone has a camera you can use a little gizmo called the Jelly Lens to add special effects to any photo you take (and if you do have a smartphone, you can use this with any app you like).
- Sketchmee (iPhone, 1.99). SketchMee is the most advanced automatic pencil sketch generator in the world, but very easy to use and super fast. The New York Times says, “This app turns your photos into pencil sketches of remarkable quality.”
- Iswap Faces Lite (iPhone, free). I talked about having fun before, but now I really mean it. Ever wanted to swap two faces in a photo for the enjoyment of all? Now you can! It used to take a Photoshop master to transplant one face onto another, but iSwap Faces makes it so easy that anyone can do it in under a minute. Morph one person into another for everyone’s entertainment!
Smartphones may not be the world’s best cameras but their convenience, plus all the fun and interesting apps make them a great way to capture and portray all of life’s best moments. Now, go download some of these apps and let me know your favorite smartphone camera app, or better yet, post one of your favorite examples on our facebook wall.