Not only are smartphones sporting increasingly powerful camera components more than capable of taking breathtaking photos (the new iPhone 5s has a larger pixel, f/2.2 aperture lens, while the Nokia Lumia 1020 sports a gigantic 41 megapixel sensor!), the accompanying apps make it easy to share photos, store, or process them into unique works of art in ways casual film photographers could never dreamt of doing. Photo enhancement apps are a dime a dozen, however there are a few special apps truly worth downloading, whether taking your 1st photo or your 10,000th.
Left: Layover - Right: Percolator
Layover The best advice to adopt as a photographer is to simply take a lot of photos. This means out of numerous shots, at least one should prove worth keeping. But all photos are possibly worth keeping when using Layover, an app that combines several photos into one picture as layers with astounding results. Layover is perfect for photo editing beginners; users can make use of 15 blend effects to morph a photo of a cat into a wonderland of color with an intriguing textured background. The possibilities are virtually limitless and allow photographers the ability to consider not only composition, but texture and color whenever snapping their next "roll" of images. $1
Percolator Coffee lovers will get a kick out of Percolator, a creative photo editing app inspired by the bubbles that float atop a finely brewed cup of coffee. Simply select a photo on your iOS device, choose a "brew" from the list, and Percolator will transform it into a mosaic comprised of colorful circles, creating an Art Deco-meets-graphic novel effect. Each result is noticeably quirky, vibrant, and unique and the retro cappuccino machine interface is charming to play around with. $3
ToonPaint makes it easy to play digital artist without years of practice or expensive schooling, allowing easy artistic style changes to photos that may result in something worthy of framing and putting up onto the walls. Import a photo from the Android photo gallery and ToonPaint will remove the colors, leaving only bold lines and darkened details in a comic book/color book style illustration. Users can then paint simple shades to transform the simplified image into a compelling graphic representation of the original photo, as broad or detailed as your artist intentions desire. $1.99 - Also available for iOS
Snapseed is quite popular already, and it's no surprise why. Powerful editing tools, including cropping, straightening, adjusting exposure, brightness, contrast, and other image alteration options are easily accessible using the apps swipe and tap interface. However, Snapseed's strongest feature is its focus based tools, which gives users the ability to select specific sections of a photo to brighten or alter the focal range for a change in depth of field. Using Snapseed, I've found these control points can affect small regions or the whole photo, and the results have on several occasions made previously boring photo worth keeping/posting. Free - Also available for iOS
Sometimes the most dramatic way to make a photograph's colors pop is to desaturate everything else around it. Photo Splash FX changes photos into greyscale and allows users to determine which parts of the photo where they'd like color to remain. It's even possible to go the extra mile and change certain colors in the photograph to give it an abstract and unique feel. Free - Equivalent for iOS / Android
Fantasia Painter is a Windows Phone exclusive armed with 32 unique brushes, alongside molding and cloning tools for expressive, if not exploratory image editing (e.g. change facial expressions, thin/fatten waists). Adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness or add visual effects of a ridiculous nature, like faux fur or a mood enhancing gloomy lens effect. $1.99