There are few things worse than sitting down to go through your photos after an amazing holiday, just to find that they are bland and dreary. The bright vibrant colours of your holiday in Bali are trapped only in your imagination, the beautiful beach shots you took in the Maldives are over-exposed and burnt out, and your amazing picture of the whale shark you were diving with is washed out in blue. Photoshop is well out of most low-budget travelers price range and even if it was affordable, it takes a long time to learn to use it properly. So here is a list of ‘must have apps’ that you didn’t know you needed, which will help take your photo editing to the next level for those amazing Instagram and blog photos, for free!
I almost extensively use my GoPro to take photos and videos while travelling and if you’re a beginner you can get some great footage with these accessories and tips. But most of the time the lighting isn’t quite right, the angle is off, or any number of mistakes can make a potentially great photo mediocre. Often you can’t get to your computer to edit photos so you need something to do good quality edits on the fly. This list has been made with travellers in mind. Five of the best apps to keep your audience up to date with your adventures with beautiful pictures and videos wherever you end up. You don’t have to be a professional to get great photos!
Disclaimer: All these apps are linked to their Google Play Store page. There are no affiliate links and I have not been paid in any way to advertise these apps
5 Must have apps for any traveller
The first must have app is definitely Lightroom CC, an app powered by Adobe. From a simple auto lighting adjust on your photos to much more detailed light, colour and detail manipulation, Lightroom is a powerful little mobile app. It is free on mobile devices and it will give your photos the edge over other amateur photographers. One of the tools that I like the most is the angle correction. If you’ve got a horizon in your photos you want a perfectly level line or it stands out horribly on Instagram or a blog post. It’s often only apparent once you’re home and you’ve uploaded the photos to a larger screen so you can’t always just go get another shot. Lightroom offers a simple crop and adjust tool that allows you to get any photo straight.
The downside to Lightroom is that by editing photos on your phone you may not realise how much quality you’re stripping from the picture when you play with tools like contrast and saturation. The photo can look great on a screen a few inches across but once it’s on a computer screen it’s grainy, so keep that in mind when you’re editing. Lightroom CC is also available for free on ipads, which may offer a solution for those battling with smaller screens.
Snapseed is a free app powered by Google and it is also a must have app for any amateur photographer. You won’t need both Lightroom and Snapseed but it is worth playing around with both to find the one that suits you best because they offer very different editing experiences. Snapseed has a variety of tools that can be used almost like Instagram filters. This allows for a simple edit that lets you play with lots of different effects and choose your favourite without trying to remember what settings you used. There is also a fun perspective tool that can add that little extra to your photos.
What I personally prefer about Lightroom to Snapseed is the auto light edit. Sometimes your photo just needs a tiny touch up without any frills. It does come down to personal preference which is why I really suggest trying out both.
Dive+ is an app that I only learnt about recently but I wish I had known about years ago, as it would have saved me so much time trying to manipulate lighting levels! Dive+ is made specifically for underwater photography but it can be used for any photos. It’s an app that you really must have if you enjoy diving or snorkeling and have a waterproof camera like a GoPro. Shops will often try and sell colour filters to correct the lack of light underwater but with Dive+ you can just save that money for something else. With the press of a single button the app restores all the lost colour and makes a mediocre photo beautiful. Dive+ requires users to set up an account and you can see what photos other users are creating and posting. Editing and saving your photos doesn’t require you to publish them.
The one con of Dive+, and it is a small one, is that the free version of the app will put the logo on the bottom left of your picture, as can be seen in the picture above. The logo is tiny and it comes with your user handle, which I quite like, but to remove it requires a yearly subscription of $20.
Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram or Google and found those awesome photos where only a portion of the picture is moving but everything else is still, like a person standing under a rolling wave which never actually crashes, and wondered ‘how the hell does someone do that?’ If so then I have some fantastic news for you and it’s called StoryZ. If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about then I have 2 pieces of fantastic news for you, moving photos are a thing and it’s called StoryZ. This app allows you to add movement to a still image and the effects are awesome. The most common reaction is a simple wow. Although it’s not something that is essential it’s a feature that will make your pictures stand out even more and it’s why it is a must have app. You can save the moving photo as a video or in the .gif format.
Like Dive+ there is a free version and a premium version. The free version of StoryZ limits the quality of your images and adds the StoryZ logo the bottom right corner. A once off fee of $30 is all that it takes to get the premium version.
Moving on from moving pictures to making actual videos brings us to the next must have app on any frequent traveller’s phone, Quik. Quik is a video editor from the makers of GoPro and is the most useful fast video editing tool I have. The app offers a variety of styles which will auto-cut your videos and add music. You can bypass this to cut it yourself, change the speed of the video, add title text and choose from a variety of backing tracks that the app offers. While we were in Bali one of our tour guides asked if we could send him a video that we had got of manta rays for his own marketing. I could pull the video off the GoPro cloud, give it a quick (Quik) edit and send a relatively professional looking video in less than an hour. I didn’t have a laptop or tablet with me, just my phone. When you have access to a computer you can do more detailed edit on your software of your choice, but when you’re on the road this app is ideal.
The Quik app can get frustrating if you’re trying to get too fancy with your editing as it only offers a limited range of tools. It is for a simple edit to get short videos on Instagram or Facebook to keep your audience up to date with your latest adventures.
Not an app but a Photoshop alternative
Photoshop is one of the most powerful editing programs out there, but to be honest about 99% of its features are wasted on an amateur like me and I don’t currently have the time to learn to use them all. Enter paint.net, free software for PC or MAC. When I have the time to get my photos onto my laptop it is the only program that I need. For a look at some of the more unusual edits I’ve done with it check out my post on surrealist winter photoscapes from South Korea. Paint.net offers a simple auto-light correction, if a minor tweak is all you need. But it also lets you play with contrasts, saturation, curves and much more, as well as some fun artistic effects.
A feature that I really like about this program is saving photos for use online. For a standard blog post you’re looking for good quality pictures that are not so big that they affect the loading speed of your posts. When you save pictures in paint.net you can keep a large photo (around 2000px by 1500px) and adjust the quality so it is only around 200 KB. The difference in quality is only noticeable if you zoom right in. If you’re a professional photographer this difference may be too much to accept but for the average blog post it makes no difference. All the pictures in this post have been resized with paint.net.
Paint.net is a must have program for editing photos on your computer and it doesn’t cost a cent. If you’re feeling generous you can donate to the creators though!
Must have apps you didn’t know you needed!
Having great photos and videos doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune. It also doesn’t require you to buy the most expensive camera and spend hours in Photoshop correcting the tiniest details. Go out and just have fun with your photos and videos. With some simple editing on your phone you can compete with the top Instagram accounts and publish beautiful blog posts.
Happy travels and blue skies!
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