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9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

What are the next great apps you need for your Android and your iPhone?

There are many apps out there that are fun to use. In part two we bring you 10 more great apps for your smartphone (read part one here). Some of the ones listed below are for shooting, some are for creativity, and others are great tools for the landscape photographer. Most are available for both Android and iOS, some just available for iOS.

Shooting apps

#1 – ProCamera 10 – iOS – $4.99 9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

ProCamera gives you a lot of control over your settings while shooting with your iPhone. It is easy to use and offers advanced features such as RAW capture, a live histogram, and an anti-shake feature. In the new iPhones with multiple camera lenses, it has the ability to access either lens.

The images come out sharp with accurate exposures. The reason is that
you can separate the focus and exposure points to really create a sharp balanced composition.

You can also shoot in either Manual, Semi-Automatic or Automatic mode with on-screen display modes of standard, medium or light to hide non-critical display elements. It also has a low light mode called Low Light Plus which captures up to 64 photos and combines them into one photo with reduced noise.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - ProCamera

ProCamera 10 screenshots.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - VSCO#2 – VSCO Cam – for iOS and Android – Free with in-app purchases

VSCO Cam is one of my favorite apps. This free app has a powerful built-in camera with very clear image resolution and the ability to separate exposure and focus points which is vital in creating optimal imagery with a smartphone. This app also has built-in presets as well as ones you can purchase. It has a very active community that shares photo “recipes” to gain inspiration and create similar photographic styles in post-processing.

When taking photos in VSCO, you can have manual control of focus, exposure, white balance, and even ISO and shutter speed. Depending on the model of your phone, you can even shoot in RAW mode.

A big part of this app is the VSCO community and the navigation can be a bit confusing, but the results are consistently great.

Light Effects Apps

10 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - Lens Distortions#3 – Lens Distortions – iOS only – Free

Lens Distortions is a unique app that will change the way you see iPhone photo filters. The app’s editing platform allows you to combine subtle blur effects, light leaks, textures, sun flares, and sunbursts to help you enhance your images with light.

Lens Distortions is a great app for any iPhone photographer who is looking for unique filter effects that are easy to control and can be used to highlight a specific subject rather than apply it to the entire image. When used properly, the effect can look like it was taken on a much more advanced camera. Since smartphones don’t have an aperture which allows you to create a sunburst or sun flare effect like you can on a DSLR, this app will let you apply a sunburst, and give a realistic effect of the sun’s rays.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

 10 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - Rays#4 – Rays App – iOS only – $0.99

The Rays app is great for creating realistic light ray effects quickly and easily. The rays are only added to the bright highlight areas and have the effect of passing through objects while adding a three-dimensional quality to your image. You can add shafts of light streaming through trees, rays filtering through clouds, beams of light coming through the fog, or even rays coming out of some text. You can customize the color of the rays using a color picker and specify where the rays will be visible.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - Rays

Blend Mode Apps

Creating Your Own Textures

Before introducing some blending mode apps, I want to introduce you to creating your own textures. You can create your own palettes by taking pictures of interesting tree bark, floors, walls, or anything that catches your eye and combine it in a blending program.

Here are a few textures that I’ve used to create an interesting appearance in the background of an image.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

There are several apps available that give you stock textures to add to your compositions, but why not create your own? It’s just another way to see creatively and use your smartphone to make something unusual.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - superimpose#6 – Superimpose – iOS / Android

($1.99 for IOS, $0.99 for Android)

If you want a powerful app to combine images and textures, look at Superimpose. You can create professional level layered images on your Smartphone and easily blend one photo on top of another with this app.

You can also use this tool to blend textures, overlay borders, or create double exposures while adjusting transparency with 18 different blend modes.

To use this app, first load a background image. Then load a foreground image, masking out any unwanted elements in the foreground image. You can then move, scale, resize or flip the foreground and adjust colors and exposure. Then you can save the blended image to the photo library at full resolution.

Use the textures you created in the exercise above to give your images a unique and creative twist.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - superimpose

The rich brown hues of the copper background layer and the blend modes give a warmth to this image that it didn’t have before. You can move your background layer around to work with the foreground. Notice you don’t see the copper texture in the sky in this sample image. That was because it was rotated to work in that space with minimum texture.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - mextures app#7 – Mextures – iOS / $1.99

Mextures app lets you create grunge patterns, textures, and light leaks quickly and easily. With Mextures, you bring in an image from your camera roll and decide what texture from their menu you would like to use as a background layer. Once you apply that texture to the first layer, you can add another layer of texture, pattern, or light.

Layers are used in more advanced photography programs like Photoshop and are useful for making color and texture adjustments that won’t affect the whole picture. In this app, you can add texture in layer one, and then add gradient color in layer two. If you decide that you don’t like the gradient color, you can just delete that layer and redo it without affecting the texture layer.

Layers in both Photoshop and apps like this work the same way. Imagine having a stack of tissue paper, and each tissue has an element that you can add to your image. One tissue layer could have color, one could have texture, and one could have light leaks. It’s easy to take them in and out or change them without affecting the layers above or below.

This app gives you formulas that are saved presets which may be a combination of textures, colors, and gradients. You can even scroll through “Guest” formulas, and use them for your own images.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - mextures app

Plumeria Flower created with Mextures App

For Landscape Photographers

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - Aurora app#7 – My Aurora Forecast and Alerts – For Android / iOS – Free

Many photographers have shooting the Northern lights on their bucket list. This app will help you track the sometimes elusive Aurora Borealis and give you a forecast based on the Aurora activity. You can track the Aurora from your present location or at another location in the world. It will also give you alerts as to when the Aurora is active and in what location.

An interesting way to use this app is to follow Aurora cams around the world and then set your alerts as to when these areas are active. Then you can tune in and watch the show!

Get the app for Android here – and iOS here.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone#8 – Geotag Photos Pro – For Android / iOS – Free

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to your photographs or videos. This data usually consists of filename, folder location, city, GPS coordinates, date, and time captured.

The Geotag Photos Pro app is meant to be used while you are shooting with your DSLR. It will record your position while you are taking photos and create a GPX file that you can export to your desktop app or to other apps and services like Lightroom, Flickr, and Apple Photos.

This is a particularly good tool for landscape photographers or anyone who wants to know exactly their route or the specific location they shot a group of images. The images below show how you can set your interval time for the track log as well as watch the track log as it is being created.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

Don’t worry, we weren’t walking in the ocean! The app did not recognize the pier in the route.

It is a quick, easy, and cheap way to keep track of your locations and log a shoot. There is no need for any expensive bulky additions to the hot shoe of your camera. It’s all tracked by synchronizing the clock on the app with the clock on your camera. It will create a track log with custom interval settings that you set up.

The best part is you can bring it into the Lightroom mapping module or connect with the Geotag Photo Pros online site and it will create a map of your shoot with thumbnail images along the route.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

Mapped route after it was imported into Lightroom.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone - sun seeker#9 – Sun Seeker – iOS / Android

$9.99 for IOS$7.49 for Android

Sun Seeker is a great app for landscape photographers as it shows the angle of the sun and where it will be setting and rising in several different views. It provides a flat compass view as well as a real time image with an overlay of the sun’s projected solar path. You can choose any date and location in the world to plan for optimal light conditions. It helps you to find the right time and location to set up for your landscape photography.

9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone

Views showing the projected trajectory of the sun in the Sun Seeker App.


Whether or not you are using your smartphone as your primary camera, or you’re using it as a tool to help you get the shot with your DSLR, these apps can add fun and functionality to any shoot. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

If there are others that we’ve missed (check part one also) please give us the info in the comments below. What apps are your favorite?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Holly Higbee-Jansen
Holly Higbee-Jansen

is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process.
Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique.
Get Holly’s Free E-Book on “Landscape Photography and the Light” and find out about her newest workshops at Jansen Photo Expeditions.com.

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