Newspaper article International New York Times

Filters Add Dash of Dazzle to Smartphone Pictures

Newspaper article International New York Times

Filters Add Dash of Dazzle to Smartphone Pictures

Article excerpt

Several inexpensive or free apps offer an array of options for images, like adding colors, replicating light leaks and framing photos in hearts and other shapes.

When I learned about photography years ago, one of my favorite tricks with the camera was to use a filter -- perhaps a color gel or a diffuser -- to add a special effect to the final photograph.

Now I can do the same thing on my smartphone, thanks to photo filter apps. Many of the apps are badly made, but we have sorted through some that are worth trying.

The Colorburn app, which is $1 on iOS, is my favorite photo filter app because of its professional design and comprehensiveness. The app provides more than 1,000 filters and effects, including different color filters that can add purple, red, green and other tones to images. It also lets you add stripes or segments of different tones in different patterns, so your photos can go Warhol, 1970s, vintage or sci-fi.

Colorburn works best when you use the camera system in the app to take your photos, because doing so offers a chance to see the effect live on your camera screen and tweak it or select a different effect. The app also works on photos you've already snapped, either with your phone's built-in camera or a different photography app.

Among my favorite Colorburn features are image editing for contrast and cutout filters that let you frame your photo in a square, a heart or another shape. Extra filters and effects are available via in-app purchase for $1 or more. Controlling the individual effects is easy thanks to the app's clear editing controls.

Colorburn's downside? There is so much choice in filters and effects that mastering its menus and controls and deciding which of the 1,000-plus image options you want to use can be difficult.

Infltr is another iOS image filtering app with a huge number of effects. …

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