Now, based off of this screenshot from my phone, one thing should be quite obvious! I love taking pictures! And I owe this to camera phones in general. My first camera phone was an old LG 8300 flip phone. It had a 1.3 mega pixel camera. And, well, it sucked, so I didn’t use it very much. Actually, up until about 3 years ago, phone cameras were so hopeless that I didn’t really pay much attention to the camera as viable spec. Nor did I own a camera either as taking pictures was far from my mind. However all that changed when I got my Motorola Droid. It had a 5 megapixel camera and, while it was not a great shooter, was a thousand times better than any phone camera I had used till that point.
Fast forward to today. Currently my phone is the HTC EVO 3D, and it’s camera is a kind of meager 5 megapixel shooter. Now, obviously the name of my phone gives away its supposed claim to fame and yes it does shoot 3D images, but honestly I find that to be non essential. What is essential is that even with this only decent and not great camera, thanks to some amazing apps, I’m able to capture some good, and sometimes great, photos. So what I’m going to do is talk about some of my favorite apps that I use to edit photos on my phone. This will be a long process so it will broken down into a series of articles by myself.
The first one I want to talk about is a relatively new one to the Android Market Google Play Store, called After Focus.
After Focus is a neat little piece of software that enables you focus on some designated point in a picture after its been taken. And it does so in a fairly simple to do manner. When you load up the app, it presents you with a clean cut home screen, giving you 3 options.
The first is “take picture”, which will take you to your default camera and then load the picture directly into After Focus.
The second option is is Select a photo. This will bring up a list of your gallery apps and your file managers so you can find the photo you desire in the manner of your choosing.
The third option is to a bit of a mystery. It simply says “Take two pictures”. And as of this writing the button doesn’t work. It says that the feature is only available in the pro version however, as the team would kindly like to remind you on their page in the market, the pro version isn’t out yet, but will be in the coming months.
When you select a photo, it brings you to what I like to call: Phase 1. And before you can do anything you’re asked to choose a mode of editing. There’s manual edit and smart edit. Manual edit is a bit more involved, as you might think, and smart edit takes most of the guess work out of it. After choosing a mode (I’m showing off manual first) it will show you a short tutorial on the mode and then it brings you to this screen:
Now off the bat starting on the top, going left to right, it gives you options to go back to the home Page, to undo the last move, to clear the screen of all changes, to change the editing mode between smart and manual, and to go to Phase 2. On the bottom it shows you Focus, Mid, BG (Background), zoom, brush size, and help.
In manual mode all you do is highlight the area you want to be the focus (as shown by a red brush effect), then highlight the mid ground if you want a gradual fade effect (as shown by a light red brush) and then move on to Phase 2. You can change brush sizes as well to be on point as you need to be. The reason manual mode doesn’t have an eraser brush is the background brush does that function.
Now if you were going to do the easier way and use “Smart Mode”, you would be brought to a screen that looks a lot like this:
Now the options are essentially the same, the only addition is an eraser button so that you can erase strokes of the brush. But what makes this different is that instead taking control and airbrushing over the areas you want focused, you draw lines to border off the area or areas of the picture you want in focus. The focus button will outline in a white line, the mid ground in a gray line, the bg in a black line.
Now, we are at Phase 2, and no matter which editing mode you chose, both of these will lead to this screen:
As you can see, the whole picture is blurred except for the area that is in focus. Now the options on this screen are also simple. On the top you have the home button, the back button to take you back to editing, the save button, the share button, and the settings button. On the bottom you have Blur, Aperture, fading BG (Background), Filter, and Filter 2. Now this is where things get interesting. The Blur button will show a pop up that gives you two modes of Blur, either lens blur, my favorite, or motion blur. Lens blur will essentially put everything out of focus as if you’d focus a camera lens on just one or two sections individually. Motion blur, while self explanatory, makes the decided upon background seem as it was in motion when the picture was taken. Aperture settings are self explanatory to a photographer (which I’m not :-P), Fading Background is an option that I can’t quite figure out, it seems to unblur the bottom of the picture a bit as opposed to how it would normally be. I can see this having some use, but hopefully they include a description of it in later versions. The last two are where this app proves its mettle. Filters. This app also includes 9 separate filters on top of its focusing feature. Those are: Color Mask (turns the entire picture black and white except for the focused area which is still in color), Black and White, Black and White Contrast (just black and white with a higher contrast ratio), Sepia, Sepia Contrast (Sepia with more contrast), X process 1 and X process 2, Vintage, and Antique. And all of these filters work really well. It may not be as fleshed out as say, Pic Say Pro, but considering that the primary focus of this apps is to put things in focus, it’s very nice and welcome addition.
Filter 2 options include Vignetting which shades the edges of the picture, Bokeh (which I’m still unsure as to what it does), Sticker, which surrounds the main focus area in a sticker looking border, and sharpen which fine tunes the focused area.
After you have made all the adjustments you want, you can hit save up at the top to save your creations in four different resolutions, and share to send it off to various social networks. Not what’s cool about this is that this has built in sharing options for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Picasa! I kind of love that it has options to share to Picasa because I actually use that service and very few apps support it. It also just has the standard share button that will enable you to send to anything that sends images, including Google Drive, Kik, Facebook’s own app, Instagram, etc etc.
So, all in all, this app, despite being in its first stages, is really amazing and incredibly featured. It’s definitely worth a download because its FREE and can be found in the Google Play Store. I personally can’t wait for the paid pro version, as the pictures I’m able to come with using this are always unique and sometimes really good! Here are some finished pictures I’ve done to give you an idea of how this app might be used. Happy Snapping!