Want to experiment with photographic filters without the heavy price tag of Photoshop? Then consider CameraBag (@camerabag), even if you don’t own an iPhone! This photo processing app for the iPhone and iPad also comes in a desktop version for Mac and PC.
Why use a filter application?
Before the digital era, a photographer’s choice of camera and film had nearly as much artistic impact as the subject matter. Rediscover the fading, tinting, blurring, chemical processing techniques, and “happy accidents” which gave film photos life.
There are lots of reviews of CameraBag for the iPhone ($1.99): MacWorld (n.d.), NYTimes (2009), PCMag (2008) TechCrunch (2008). This review is of the Mac desktop (v1.5) app which retails for $19.00 (free demo). Note: licenses are operating-system independent and will work on both Mac and PC. This is a civilized approach to licensing.
Using CameraBag Desktop
To get started, drag an image onto the application icon; I have the app in my dock. Or double-click the application icon, then either select “open” and navigate to your photo or drag the image file onto the icon or workspace. If the image orientation is wrong, use the “left” or “right” buttons.
Stock filters live in a row beneath the image view. A tiny preview hints at how each filter modifies your image. To use a stock filter, simply click its icon; CameraBag will instantly show you the change . Choose from various cropping options (including “none”). I cropped this image using the “cinema” preset. Choose your border; there are preset borders for each filter as well as “none.”
But this is only the beginning! CameraBag desktop allows you to combine filters. You can also achieve subtle changes with the “Reprocess” button, which toggles on and off; default is off. Interface quibble: this button should be located near the Multi-filter button because it is a creative action, not a functional one.
- To combine filters, select the “Multi-filter” option. Experiment! The order in which the filters are applied will change the final output, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically.
- If you develop a combination that you might want to re-use, be sure to save it. Select “More” and Save Filter. These filters will be accessible under the “Custom” menu. (CameraBag Desktop comes preinstalled with some custom filters.)
- If you don’t like an effect, just click “original” and you’ll revert to the basic image.
It’s really that easy!
Once you have achieved the effect you’re looking for, decide on the export size. Smaller will be friendlier to your visitors; larger is important if you want to print an image. Then click “save as.” CameraBag will warn you if you are trying to “save as” using the same file name; it will not let you easily overwrite your original photo. A nice implementation of error prevention!
CameraBag Desktop Gallery
I have created a gallery of some pre-installed filters in action as well as a custom filter (Slate) downloaded from the CameraBag filters page. These are variations on an image of the Seattle skyline shot with my iPhone 4 on Saturday 18 September 2010. Check Out The Gallery!
CameraBag Desktop How-To On YouTube
Try It Now!
CameraBag has a try-before-you buy option. Play with the application for 15 days for free. However, saving is disabled, and images contain a watermark. I’ve used the application for several images on my 365 project, which is into its fifth week.