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The late, great Ansel Adams once said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
With Filterstorm 2, universal for iPad and iPhone, you can “make” just about any photo your imagination conceives. It’s so good, in fact, that it may -- for everyone but a true professional -- obviate the need for desktop editing suites.
If your iOS photo editing experience begins and ends with apps like CameraBag, Hipstamatic, or Photoshop Express, Filterstorm might seem overwhelming at first. It’s filled with tools you won’t recognize, but in-app video tutorials can get you up to speed.
The Black & White filter: Before, during, and after. (Click to embiggen!)
And the filters are easy to use; the Black & White filter, for example, lets you convert a photo to grayscale and then paint the color back in with your finger (or the other way around, painting black-and-white areas on a color photo). We used it on a friend's wedding photo to make the bride's bouquet really pop. You can also layer images with the Add Exposure option for additional brush effects.
In addition to typical rotate, straighten, and flip adjustments, canvas options allow you to crop and scale on the fly or with ratio and pixel presets. Metadata tabs display EXIF info and let you edit IPTC tags, a metadata standard used by the International Press Telecommunications Council, as long as you're using iOS 4.0 or higher. And along with a pretty typical bevy of brightness/contrast and hue/saturation controls, Filterstorm allows you to adjust curves with masks.
Sunset photos are tricky if you'd like to include objects in the foreground. This is the original.
If you’re not familiar enough with digital photography to know why masked curve adjusting features are paramount, a quick look at these sunset images here will show you. In the original photo (above), my iPhone captured the silhouette of a tall ship against a dramatic sky, but you can barely see the foreground and you might altogether miss my dog.
Applying masks to adjust curves, bringing out the foreground. But the mask feature will keep us from blowing out the sky at the same time.
Quick curve adjustments applying masks (above) allow me to enhance the foreground image, then separately impose changes to the evening firmament -- and there she is, my previously obfuscated four-legged baby, perched on a cobblestone pier (below).
Voilà, the finished photo: My pup appears on a cobblestone pier.
When you’re done editing in Filterstorm, you can save a photo to your device’s photo library, or simultaneously save to your library as you email or send it to an FTP server. It doesn't upload directly to any photo services (like SmugMug, Flickr, and MobileMe galleries), which is a shame. It’d also be nice to see a few more preset filters for super-easy point-shoot-process fun.
Then again, after playing with Filterstorm for a while, you’ll never feel compelled to buy more Hipstamatic lenses -- you’ll learn to make them on your own, just like Ansel Adams.
The bottom line. Filterstorm won’t replace desktop suites for the most advanced photographers, but at just $3.99 it’s hard to imagine the rest of us needing anything else.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later
Remarkably versatile and varied editing options, the best on the market to date.
Cannot send photos directly to sharing galleries like Flickr, MobileMe, SmugMug. Needs more preset filters.