Top

Tag Archives | photo editing

Android Camera Apps

Reported by Jessica Ripley

I’ll admit it, I have an unnatural attachment to my phone. However, I am not an iPhone user. At the mercy of my husband who is the tech guru of the household, we became an Android family, and while I once rolled my eyes at those that had their very lives tied to their smart phones, I became a quick convert once I got my hands on my current Android Samsung Epic.

Yes it is a great phone, but like the iPhone, what makes Android so much darn fun is the Marketplace full of apps (short for Applications in case you are in the dark like I was not so very long ago). There are apps for everything, and after I’d found several games to waste time during my train commute (like tools to balance my budget, and ways to find a new restaurant), as a scrapbooker I naturally began to seek out camera apps. I had long envied those super cool shots that iPhone users were able to get right out of their phone. It was like they had a mini Photoshop (which is also an app by the way) right at their fingertips. But which apps would allow me to do this on my Android phone? I was thrilled to find several! Below are three that I would recommend. All are found in the Android Market:


FxCamera

Cost: Free

FxCamera is an app that does exactly what it says, instantly applies certain effects to your shot. There are a total of six different effects to choose from including:

ToyCam (provides a light leaky colorized effect):


Polandroid (my favorite of the options, includes a Polaroid type frame):

Fisheye (gives the effect of a fish eye lens):

SymmetriCam (creates a mirror image effect of your photos, not necessarily my favorite but could be neat).

Warhol (think Andy Warhol art from your photos):


Normal (normal yes, but also has color filters, sepia option, posterize, and more).

This is a simple to use app that has some basic functionality to give your photos that little extra something. Many of the effects also have options to configure them further, such as adding a faded or aged effect. My favorite of these options is by far the Polandroid, and I use it again and again.

Pros:

  • A very decent app for free.
  • Easy options to navigate and use.

Cons:

  • There are ads since it is a free app, but they are unobtrusive and only in the selection screen.
  • I only use one or two of the effects regularly, and they are similar to effects in another app I have and prefer (see below) so I rarely use this app anymore.

Retro Camera
Cost: Free or $2.99 for the “Plus” version.

Inspired by Lomo and Holga type photography, the Retro Camera app is very fun to use, and turns your phone into one of five vintage cameras. What I love about this app is not only the pictures it takes, but also just the look of the app itself. Each camera is artfully illustrated from the moment you navigate through to select one, to actually taking the photo itself. Choices include:

The Barbl (Creates a square, grungy bordered, low saturation shot):


Little Orange Box (Creates a very grungy shot, highly processed shot, and has a black and white option):




Xolaroid 2000 (Another “Polaroid” type, similar to the effect of that on the FxCamera app but with a black and white option also):


The Pinhole (Provides a shot with a full bleed “35 mm” effect, with low saturation):


The Fudgecan (A square shot with a “burnt” border and low saturation):


As you can see, all of the options provide the slightly faded, grungy look that we love about vintage photos. While I don’t use this one all the time, I do really love the ‘artsty’ effects it brings to photos that are very unique to the app. The only difference between the free and paid version of this app are the advertisements. As of the date of this article, both versions provide the same effects, though the developers are currently taking suggestions on their Facebook page for their next “camera” to add to the group.

Pros:

  • The free version is a bargain indeed.
  • Very fun to use and to play with. One photo could take on many, many different looks with just this one app. (Though you’d have to take the photo several times rather than just edit it, see more on that below)

Cons:

  • Ads for the free version are more “in your face” and never really go away. But, they stay at the bottom of the screen and don’t interfere with your photo fun.
  • The photos this app take may be a little too “stylized” for some.

Vignette
Cost: $4.00, but a free demo version is available.

I highly recommend this camera app for Android. If you only ever wanted to have to deal with one, even with a small cost associated, it is by far my favorite. With over 60 effects, frames, and styles, it provides countless opportunities to play with and edit your photos right from your phone. Here’s a collection of some of favorite shots with this app:


There are far too many options to list (there are eight categories such as “Vintage”, “Lens Effect”, and “Colour Highlight” that have several further sub-options to choose from). However my favorite feature is that I can take a photo using any effect, but apply a different effect (or another, or another) until I achieve the look I want, just like I would do with actions in Photoshop (a series of edits meant to achieve a specific look, but with the act of just one click rather than several adjustments). On other apps, the style you choose to shoot the photo in is the one you are stuck with.

Not only does this app have a plethora of effects from which to choose (from normal to highly stylized), it also includes support for the front facing camera (for those of us who like to take those self portraits for Facebook which again, I’ll admit to that), a self timer, and even a digital zoom. For a $4.00 app, I’ve replaced my $200 point-and-shoot. Why take photos on a regular camera which I then have to download into Photoshop and edit when I can do it in one easy step on my phone? I am also able to further customize the app by saving certain favorite features I like together, such as “Action Movie” (vivid reds against a blue-green tone) together with an “Instant Transfer” frame. Just another two of the many options.


Pros:

  • So many options to choose from, I consider the $4.00 price tag a big bargain.
  • Includes additional features such as support for the front facing camera if your phone has one, self timer, and digital zoom.

Cons:

  • It can be a little slow to load due to the number of options available, but this isn’t a huge deterrent for me to make it my go to app when taking a photo.
  • The number of options could be overwhelming, but I just find them fun!

There are of course many, many other camera app options both free and at a small cost out there to choose from. I’d love to hear if you have an Android phone and have another favorite and why, or if you use any of those above what your favorite feature is.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Photo Printing Sites: Shutterfly, Winkflash, & Snapfish

Reported by Jessica Ripley


Chances are, if you have a digital camera, you have also invested in some kind of printer to print out the photos you collect on your memory card. If you nodded your head yes to both of those scenarios, then you most likely also feel the pinch of the cost to purchase photo paper and ink for those printers. And while printing at home is convenient, it can get quite pricey if you print out those photos very often.

Personally, I only print out photos that I scrapbook (which I don’t do as often as I’d like) so the cost does not particularly add up to print at home. However there are times when I need a special print or several of one copy and just would rather have them printed professionally. Luckily, there are a multitude of online options to choose from, but which one is the best? Are they all reliable? And most importantly, are they a good value rather than printing at home? I set out to see for myself and am more than happy to share the results with you.

For this article, I did a mini-test run of 3 popular photo printing sites; Shutterfly, Winkflash, and Snapfish. I ordered the same 5×7 print from each site on the same day (within minutes of each other) and awaited the results. Was there a clear front runner in who I’ll use in the future? Pretty much yes.

The Websites:

Preferred: Shutterfly

Of all three, Shutterfly has the most to offer in my opinion, not only providing the basics of uploading and ordering, but also a community for sharing projects as well as many how to videos and articles. I like Shutterfly’s website for more than just a place where I could order prints, I could actually just spend some creative time there.

My next choice would be Snapfish, due to their editing options once you have uploaded a photo to their site. Complete with fun frame options, it’s a personalization step that has just a little more to offer than the editor at Winkflash.

Snapfish Editor:


Winkflash Editor:

Shutterfly also has similar editing options to Snapfish.

I found each of the three websites fairly easy to navigate, and actually very similar in the way they work as well. Upload your photo(s) of choice, select printing options, pay and you’re done.

Shuttefly Uploader:
Snapfish Uploader:

Winkflash Uploader:


You must create an online account first to do so which is also an easy process.

Something to note, since I created my account with each of the sites I have of course received promotional emails as well with special offers for future orders. The total to date?

Shutterfly – 4 (1 welcome, 2 order related, 1 promotional)

Winkflash – 3 (1 welcome, 2 order related)

Snapfish – 22 (let’s just say the majority are promotional)

I was sometimes receiving 2 emails from Snapfish per day! I have since opted out of their promotional offers due to the sheer volume of them, which is a shame, because they do have some good offers from time to time.

All three websites also offer a majority of products such as photobooks, holiday cards, and calendars as well. For this particular review however I was only interested in an actual photo print.

The Ordering Process:

Preferred: Any are fine. This was quick, easy, and basically the same process for all three sites.

Once photos are uploaded you are able to select the size of print, quantity, shipping options, etc. before check out. All sites also had a low quality warning for the resolution of the photo I chose to upload.

From Winkflash:

As well as resolution suggestions in order to get the best quality print. I found that a nice feature, since sometimes I forget which photos I’ve already re-sized for posting on the web.

Snapfish’s warning was a little harder to see however, if you didn’t click on it to see what that triangle was for:


Cost:

For one 5×7 print with standard shipping:

Shutterfly – $2.85

Snapfish – $1.83.

Winkflash – $1.14

Shutterfly is not necessarily more expensive when it comes to prints, but definitely the most expensive when it comes to shipping. However, they are also the fastest.

Shipping:

Shutterfly – first to arrive. In my mailbox in 3 days. That was very satisfying to receive my order so quickly!

Winkflash – second to arrive. In my mailbox in 5 days.

Snapfish – last to arrive. Not in my mailbox until 11 days after I ordered. (And lots of trees went into all the junk mail that came stuffed inside too).

I’m hoping one of our readers may be able to chime in on timing related to an order they received from Snapfish, as mine seemed to take an abnormally long time to arrive when compared to the other 2 sites. However, when I contacted their customer service about my concern that it hadn’t arrived after 8 days, they were extremely helpful, and sent out a replacement print at no cost which arrived via FedEx in 2 days.


And it certainly wasn’t like pulling teeth either. They were more than willing to believe me and send a replacement.

Quality:

Preferred: Snapfish


All three of the photos were a bit pixilated due to the print size I requested vs. the image size I sent (even with their warnings). However no two were exactly alike, and I found myself drawn to the color in the Snapfish photo over the other two photos (Snapfish uses Kodak paper, the other 2 sites use Fuji).

Overall:

After trying out all three sites and thinking over my experiences I’m a bit surprised at which one I’ll go to next time. While Shutterfly’s super fast shipping was wonderful, for the cost I could probably wait an extra day or two for my prints to arrive from Winkflash or Snapfish. And then, since I was most pleased with Snapfish’s print quality, and I now know that their customer service is ready and willing to help if needed, I would most likely go with them.

The above of course is just one crafter’s trial, of course, and you may have had different experiences. With that in mind a brief summary of each:

Shutterfly Major Pro:

  • Superfast shipping

Shutterfly Major Con:

  • Most expensive

Winkflash Major Pro:

  • Fast shipping mixed with cheapest price

Winkflash Major Con:

  • Didn’t like the website as much and photo quality not quite as good

Snapfish Major Pro:

  • Helpful customer service mixed with high quality print (and fair price)

Snapfish Major Con:

  • Why did my first print take so long to come? Not sure I’d order if I needed something immediately.

Do you order prints online often? There are so many options out there, including having them sent directly to your local drugstore for immediate pickup. We would love to hear about your experiences. Your comments are a major part of helping our readers find the best of the best out there!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Little Windows Make 3 Necklaces Kit

Reported by Taylor Usry

I recently had the chance to play with an awesome product – the Little Windows Make 3 Necklaces kit. Doesn’t it come in the prettiest package?! Just like a box from Tiffany’s – stunning blue box and all. Presentation is important! I couldn’t wait to open this kit up, but before I get into it, let me share the deets: the kit retails for $48.00 and is available from the Little Windows store. It comes with everything needed to make three 1 1/8″ square resin necklaces, including:

And there are leftovers to make more goodies. Extra is great! The kind folks at Little Windows also included a small doming tray for me to try out. And for cropping your photos, the Little Windows Photo Cropping Software is available for free. It is internet-based, which means it works on both Macs and PCs.

Making the necklaces could not be any easier. The hardest part was deciding what to put in them! Once you’ve made the choice (more on my first tries in just a bit) the online photo cropping software is super easy to use.  It can be accessed from any computer, so you can take this craft on the road with you. They only make two shapes available, though – medium squares (which fit the molds included with this kit) and medium diamonds (same size as the square, only on an angle). The other sizes you see pictured in the template above can be purchased as add-ons for the photo cropping software; molds for them can be purchased as well. You can watch the demo they provide to see just how easy editing your photos is – just upload and crop. Up to eight medium square photos will fit on the 4″ x 6″ specialty photo paper. Once you’ve printed your photos out you place the cropping template on top of it, trace around the edges with a ballpoint pen and then cut it out. Now you are ready to make your jewelry!

The resin is very easy to mix – just pour to the correct lines on the mixing cup, stir for 2 1/2 minutes, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then you fill the molds about 3/4 of the way full, if you are just using photos in them. When you add the photos it’s important to slide them in, not lay them on top and push down – that will cause your resin to spill over the edges. If you have bubbles, they usually disappear after 10 minutes. If they don’t you can either pop them or pull them out with the mixing wand.  Once you’ve got the the photo all set into the resin, you place the molds back in the dust cover and let them sit for about 12 hours. It’s important to note that you can do more than just photos in these molds – you can do beads too. I’m not sure if you have to have a certain type, though – the ones I had at home bled into the resin and tinted the whole thing pink.

I used a photo of my little sweeties in one of the necklaces above. I turned it black and white before I printed it. The other necklace I didn’t want to be just a photo, but I read on the site in the FAQ section that the reason you have to use the specialty photo paper was that regular photo paper was too porous and wouldn’t work. So I was hesitant to try just plain old patterned paper or cardstock. Instead I scanned a piece of Webster’s Pages Waiting for Santa paper and uploaded that. It turned into the cutest little holiday necklace! So the possibilities there are endless – you can use scanned papers, pictures of art, landscapes, people…I really don’t know what to make next!

After you’ve let the resin sit in the molds for about 12 hours, the next steps are super easy. You pop the molds in the freezer for about a minute, pull them out and twist them like an ice cube tray, and then tap them on a hard surface (I used my counter) – and out they come! The hand drill makes short work of the hole through the top. Then you put a silver pin through it, twist it into a loop, and put them on a necklace. I’m not kidding, it really and truly could not be any simpler. And the step-by-step instructions included with the kit have excellent pictures as well as written instruction (for all types of learners). It’s foolproof!

With some of the leftovers I used the doming tray to try our a technique they call doming. The concept is simple – just pour resin on top of your shapes and allow it to set. You can use these little trinkets as magnets, for custom embellishments, stick-ons for cell phones or iPods…there is no limit to the possibilities! Shown above are my first batch of domed images – the leftovers from what I printed and didn’t turn into necklaces.

I tried the beads with this technique too. But again, I think the beads I have just aren’t for use with resin. They look super cool, especially on the photo-paper base I used, but they did bleed a bit. I punched out a piece with a flower punch, poured the resin on and added the beads. I pushed them into the resin and when it dried you can see above how they sit up off of the flower. What an easy way to make cool custom trinkets for projects!

I cannot say enough great stuff about this kit – I know I’ll be making tons of things with it! Currently setting up in the molds are a cool set that uses the layering technique. I wish I had a picture to share, but it just doesn’t look right in the mold and I can’t take it out yet. So I’ll direct you to the ones on the Little Windows site.

When I first saw the price of the kit I thought it seemed a bit high. Once I used it, and saw the quality of the things that come with it I changed my tune. I can say unequivocally that this kit is worth the money. It’s easy to use, the website is super helpful and easy to navigate, and the extra components are way cool. I feel like I keep saying the word easy, but that’s because it really and truly is!

The kit would make a great gift for anyone. Or you could get it for yourself and make some unique gifts for others. Either way – just get it!!

READER DISCOUNT
Order one of these great kits or Little Windows custom designs for yourself or as a great holiday gift!  Craft Critique readers can enjoy FREE SHIPPING by entering the discount code CCFREE at checkout.  Offer expires December 14th.


EDITOR’S NOTE: If anyone is having problems entering or redeeming the free shipping discount, please email the folks at Little Windows and they will happily refund the cost. Just email them directly to correct, Thanks!

GIVEAWAY
The great folks over at Little Windows are offering our readers a chance to win one of their Necklace Kits (MSRP value of $48).  To win, just answer this question in the comments section at the bottom of this article on our website.

Have you ever used a kit to make a gift like this?  Is this something you would purchase and make yourself or give to a friend?  We’d love to hear what you think!

One Comment per Person, contest will remain open until Friday, December 10th at 6pm CST.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!