Often times in photography, the image that you capture isn’t quite as exciting as what you had in mind. Beyond the subtle tone or cropping changes you can make in Preview or iPhoto, try adding a more unusual effect to give an image a whole new look. These three applications offer inexpensive ways to turn bland photos into cool creations.
dev.LUX; $15, free trial with watermarks
Applying a tilt-shift effect to a digital photo can accomplish two things: It can make objects in the photo appear to be miniature, and it can simulate shallow depth-of-field. The TiltShiftFocus application allows you to selectively keep an area of your photo in focus, while blurring the rest.
Keeping a linear focus in the center of a photo taken from afar can give the subjects a miniature, toy-like quality, while adding a little focus and blur to a close-up shot makes the subject appear to have a shallow depth-of-field. The TiltShiftFocus application can also add vignetting, tweak contrast, and convert an image to black and white.
Ohanaware’s free HDRtist software creates HDR photos from your images in a few clicks. To create a true HDR photo, you need to take the same image at multiple exposures, either by using your camera’s Auto-bracketing feature or by adjusting the exposure compensation manually (a tripod is also recommended to keep each shot consistently framed). Drag your images to the HDRtist window, and slide the Strength bar on the bottom to adjust the look of the image. Less strength will lightly pull out details on the high and low end of the image’s dynamic range—details will appear in previously dark areas, and bright sections of sky will show more color range. The further to the right you push the Strength slider, the more dramatic the changes will look.
There is other HDR software on the market, such as HDRsoft’s Photomatix (price ranges from $40 to $120) that give a finer level of control over HDR photos. But for a simple and fast way to get more detail out of a shot, HDRtist may be all you need.
Apparent Software; $30, free trial with watermarks
To use ImageFramer, drag your image to the main window, and choose the frame, matte, and colors you like. There are over one hundred different styles, ranging from playful designs for kids, to brushed metals and ornate wood-carved frames. Every detail of the frame—width, color, mats, shadows, and more—can be customized. When you create a combination that you really like, you can save it as a preset to use again in the future. ImageFramer also allows you to add your own personal watermark for a final personalized touch.
Not every photo you take is going to belong in one of these virtual frames. But when you feel like doing a little something different with a photo, ImageFramer provides a lot of fun options.
[Macworld Contributor Beau Colburn lives in Boston and posts iPhone photos on his site Snap Different.]