I've been preparing for another smartphone workshop and exploring the many photo editors on the market. One of the most useful (and more challenging) editors is the Iris Photo Suite. It is $1.99 and provides a wide range of whole image manipulations- exposure, white balance, shadows and highlight, sharpness, histograms, and noise. There is also a wide range of filters that apply textures and color treatments to the complete image. In addition, it has layers and selective masking so that a texture filter can be applied to a selective portion of the image. All pretty powerful, but supported by pretty sketchy tutorials.
Here is one image that I first corrected for image wide settings, leveled and cropped, and finally added two masks to create greater texture on the wooden rail fence.
Overall, I am pleased with the result. One very helpful feature is the ability to zoom in on a local area to achieve some precision in selecting the area on which to apply the mask effect. The result matches how I felt about this little corner of the Herb Garden at Cornell Plantations.
Another more creative app is MobileMonet which allows you to select where in the image to show colors. I played with this using a photo of a brilliant orange Cana at Plantations. First, the image was optimized using Iris Photo Suite. Moving on to MobileMonet, a black and white line sketch is created, and using a stylus brush, I painted in the areas where I want the underlying color of the input image to show.
The result, far removed from the original image, appeals to me because it removes the competing background, and produces a stronger artistic interpretation of the subject without the background colors to confuse the eye. It reminds me of some wonderful watercolor images done on pure white paper with no color beyond the subject plant.
As I've evaluated the many photo editing apps, I have come to realize the awkward mess we have where no one app has all the tools. One app may only cost $1.99, but building a set of apps does accumulated a higher cost, and the different apps have so different approaches and icons that it becomes confusing. In addition, the small screen does create a poorer result than can be achieved when the image is brought into a desktop computer with much larger screen. As an example, I cannot imagine how you would see image noise on the small smartphone screen, nor how to correct for it. That would best be left to the desktop.