Since the dawn of photography, we’ve been unhappy with the results and we’ve taken technical steps to improve them. In the days of physical film development, photographers affected focus, brightness, contrast, color, and much more in the darkroom. In the 1860 presidential campaign, a photographer added effects to a portrait of Abraham Lincoln to make him look less weird. And if you’re worried about “Deep Fakes” these days, consider you’ve accepted a deep fake of Lincoln for 170 years. To wit:
While the ethics of plastering the head of a recently assassinated anti-slavery President on the body of a pro-slavery racist are pretty shaky, there is nothing wrong with using a filter or adjusting your brightness, contrast, saturation, and color to get your best image. Towards that end, we asked around the PogoTec team to find out our favorite photo editing apps.
8bit Photo Lab
We’ll start with the weirdest suggestion: 8bit Photo Lab for Android is only helpful if you want to make a photo look like an arcade game from the 1980s.
Color Splash for iOS does one thing really well. It allows you to desaturate particular areas of a photograph while leaving others saturated. In other words, you can take the color out of certain areas of a photo just by swiping your finger across them, drawing focus to the areas where you leave color. (There are several similar apps for Android.)
Darkroom dramatically improves the photo editing experience for iOS users. It will do almost everything you want but perhaps the most attractive feature for the amateur photographer is its premium filters which do the editing work for you.
Flare Effects is almost the opposite of Darkroom. It does one thing: add flare effects to your photos. So if you want your photos to look like J.J. Abrams or you just want to add a nostalgic sheen to your family vacation pictures, this is a great app.
Afterlight 2 for iOS
Similar to Darkroom, Afterlight 2 is a powerful full-featured photo editor for when you want to get into the details.
Afterlight for Android
From the same developers as Afterlight 2 for iOS, Afterlight for Android is more bare-bones and simple while still expanding your palette of filters and photo effects.
VSCO is an editor with a focus on film effects. It will also edit video which is a huge plus. The app also offers a larger suite of editing tools when you upgrade to the paid version.
Enlight is unique among the apps highlighted here because it allows you to create graphic designs including text and geometrical crops with your photos. This is more Photoshop than Lightroom, if you get our drift. It is for iOS only, unfortunately.
Sometimes you need help adjusting the perspective of your photographs and that’s where SKRWT comes in. It helps correct perspective and lens distortion and auto-crops to fix crooked lines.
Let’s not overlook the big name: Instagram has some impressive editing skills. Speaking of Instagram, I always crop my pictures into a square. This way I don’t have to worry when I post pics on Instagram that I may have to crop out some of the best features in my photos.
One great tip we received from our team was to be mindful that different apps do certain functions better. So don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to find out which app adjusts each parameter better.
The team member who suggested that gave us this insight on her editing:
“I will straighten a photo using the iPhone’s editor first and then load into the app/apps I plan to make other edits with. I will sometimes use 3 to 4 apps OR more to edit one photo. Why? Because I’ve found some do different things better than others.”
All of the apps suggested here will work with your PogoCam photos once you’ve moved them to your phone. We’ll leave you with one HUGELY important tip from our team:
“NEVER download an app that hasn’t been updated within the last 6 months as this is a good indicator the developer has given up the app.”