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New Apps Let You Take Vacation Shots Like A Pro

2:30 PM, Apr 6, 2013   |    comments
In this day and age, no trip need be forgotten. And no picture need look bad, thanks to these apps. (Photo: Jupiterimages, Getty Images/Brand X)
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(USA Today) -- For all you amateur photographers, there's no shortage of apps that will turn your vacation snapshots into photographs worthy of showcasing on Facebook.

Instragram has been all the rage the last few years, but several other photo apps for iPhones and Androids have popped up to rival the Facebook-owned hit. With just one tap, you can turn someone's dull brown hair auburn, make a cloudy day sunny or transform a dark hallway into a bright purple tunnel.

And for when you're done taking photos, a number of apps also are popping up that will let you create and order photo albums directly from your smartphone.

These apps have made it easier than ever to record every aspect of your trip - where you stayed, whom you met, where and what you ate - and then to share instantly with the social-media world through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other websites. In this day and age, no trip need be forgotten. And no picture need look bad.

Here are a few options you have for turning your next trip into a Vanity Fair-like photo spread:

Instagram. Call it Facebook for photos only, which makes sense given that Facebook owns it. Like Twitter, this free app for iPhones and Androids lets you accumulate followers and follow others. Your photos are public. But you can choose the option to approve follow requests.

To share photos, either choose from your camera roll or snap a photo with your phone. Then run it through 20 different filters that change the colors, brightness, contrast and other features. Add a frame if you'd like. Some of the filters give the photos old-school Polaroid looks. There also is an option to rotate and blur the photos. Once you've decided on your look, write a caption. It will go on your photo feed, where people can "like" your photo or comment on it. And just in case you want people to know exactly where you are, you can have your photo located on Foursquare.

One little quirk: Only square photos are allowed, which doesn't always work well when you're, let's say, trying to Instagram an amazing shot of the Manhattan and Central Park skyline from the 35th-floor lobby lounge of the Mandarin Oriental.

Snapseed. This app once cost $5. That is until Google acquired Nik Software, which developed Snapseed. Now the app is free and can be used on iPhones and Androids.

You can argue that it was worth the $5. Snapseed is as easy to use as Instagram. Take a photo or choose one from your photo library. At the bottom of your screen you'll find a scrollable selection of options. If you don't want to think too much about it, just hit automatic correct. Selective Adjust lets you tap a certain point in the photo, such as a shirt or someone's hair, and adjust the color or distribution of light. The tune image option lets you adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation of color and white balance. Get really creative and put it through filters, such as Black and White, Vintage and Grunge to add texture and mood.

"Snapseed provides you with so many options for photo-editing tools that encourage you to create a unique, customized photo that really reflects your mood, the location or your artistic style," says Google spokeswoman Iska Hain.

Camera+.This 99-cent app by developer Tap Tap Tap takes your iPhone camera to another level.

While pointing the camera, use two fingers to set the focus and exposure points on the screen. There's a stabilizer option to steady your iPhone for sharper photos. There's also a timer for self-portraits, a burst option to take rapid streams of shots and a zoom bar. You can use the iPhone 4's LED flash to brighten up photos, but be warned that it may drain your battery. The fun really starts once you start manipulating the photo. The clarity feature can really make a drab picture pop. Like any regular point-and-shoot camera, there are also scene modes such as Sunset, Night, Beach and Portrait. You can adjust the white balance or sharpen or blur the photo. Then there are the FX effects that make some of the shots look like works of art. There are dozens to select from, such as the whimsical Toy Camera, the colorful Purple Haze and the brooding '70s.

As if that weren't enough, you can add borders and captions. The problem with Camera+ is that it can be overwhelming. With so many choices, you can easily find yourself playing around with your photos for hours.

PicsArt Photo Studio. This began as an app for Androids, and in just over a year, it had more than 35 million downloads. PicsArt recently made the leap to the Apple Store and is trying to stand out from others by offering a multitude of editing options, some of them downright wacky.

PicsArt bills itself as the place "where everyone becomes a great artist." Want to draw on your picture of the Empire State Building? You can do that with PicsArt. Want to add your initials to that picture of the White House? You can do that, too. You can also add effects, turning photos into watercolors, comic strips, pencil drawings, oil paintings, pop art and more. And you can make collages. Like Instagram, you can follow people or accumulate followers, and you can like or comment on their photos.

If you're looking to have just plain fun with your photos, this is a good app for you.

Mosaic. This isn't a photo-editing app, but it does take you to the next step: creating a photo album.

This new free app from Mixbook, the makers of photo albums and calendars, lets you create and order 7-inch hardcover photo books directly from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad within a few minutes. Choose 20 photos from your camera roll, including any saved Instagram photos. They will then appear in a scrollable thumbnail gallery at the bottom of the screen. Tap them to see them in full screen. Then choose to "remove" or "keep" them. Move the thumbnails around by dragging and dropping. Once you're done selecting and arranging the photos, hit "next" and you're presented with a preview of your album. The front cover has 13 machined windows to showcase your photos. If you're not happy with the cover, click "shuffle" to change the roster of photos. From there, flip through each page of the book to make sure you don't want to change anything. Then place your order.

The price: $20 plus shipping. If you want to add captions and titles, you won't be able to, at least not anytime soon. But it's a quick and easy way to create a photo album.

"Mosaic is all about spontaneity and on-the-go ease," says Andrew Laffoon, CEO and co-founder of Mixbook. "It's superconvenient for travelers who want to create a photo book whenever and wherever inspiration strikes."

By: Nancy Trejos @nancytrejos USA TODAY

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