Tech Talk: Altered images

EVERYONE knows that phones have cameras built into them these days – and it would be a mistake to think that because they’re quick and convenient they’re not also capable of great results.

Snapseed is a free photo editor for your Android or iPhone
Snapseed is a free photo editor for your Android or iPhone

What’s more, it’s easy to get creative with your pictures once you’ve shot them.

No matter whether it’s an iPhone or an Android in your pocket, you can download apps that will let you edit, improve or, if you prefer, distort your photos and then share them with your family or the world. There’s no need to upload them first to a computer; it can all be done all on the phone.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Adobe Photoshop Express is a good place to start. This vastly cut-down version of the industry-standard tool for PC and Mac-based photo editing lets you crop and straighten your shots, apply filters and borders and many other adjustments. You can then upload them from the phone to a Photoshop “cloud”, from which you can share with all and sundry. The app is free to download but you’re then nagged to buy add-ons for extra functionality.

Snapseed makes a good alternative – it’s a free photo editor with a surprisingly wide range of tools for tweaking the exposure, white balance and composition of your pictures. Professional adjustments include changing the depth of field – the area of the picture in focus – and increasing or reducing the colour saturation. The less serious-minded can add vintage film effects and create distinctive portraits with a so-called grunge filter. You may struggle to see the detail on something as small as a phone however.

Your movies, too, can be made over before making their way over to YouTube – and while your phone may have come with a basic video editor pre-installed, apps like Magisto take the process a stage further by attempting to find and assemble the best bits of your footage by itself.

If you want more control, apps like AndroMedia Video Editor (for Android phones only) behave like mini versions of professional editing programmes. But movie manipulation requires considerable processing power, and the operation is apt to grind to a halt on less well-endowed mobiles.

Some iPhone users may enjoy an app called iSupr8, which takes your high-definition footage and makes it look like it was shot on a 1960s Instamatic. It was a look that everyone in the Sixties actively tried to avoid, but two generations on, it may just make you feel nostalgic for a simpler age.