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App introduction: Photo Pills

In the App Store and the Google Play Store you can find a collection of apps for all kinds of situations. This is equally true for photography. But there are not only programs for image processing. Especially in the fields of landscape and astrophotography, the Photo Pills app has made a name for itself.

Among others, this app offers you:

  • Information about the exact course of the sun, moon, its phases, and the Milky Way.
  • Various features and tools to avoid unwanted shadows and take full advantage of the blue and golden hours.
  • A finder function to determine the perfect time for your dream scenario.
  • Two augmented reality modes that simulate the course of the sun, moon and Milky Way so that you are perfectly prepared.

All the information and applications of the Photo Pills App make it easy for you to always be in the right place at the right time and to skillfully plan, stage, and capture the various light moods of the sun, the moon, or the Milky Way for your own shots. You will learn how to use all these functions correctly in this post.

The Photo Pills Planner: A useful companion in landscape photography

Location, display, and meaning

The most extensive and important feature of the app is the Photo Pills Planner. When you open it, the first thing that catches your eye is a satellite map. On this map you will find an orange pin with several lines emerging from it. This pin always shows your current location when the app is opened for the first time, provided you grant the app access to your location. However, the pin does not necessarily have to represent the current location, but can be placed at the position from where you want to take the photo. You can touch the pin with your finger and move it to the desired location. Alternatively, you can tap anywhere with your finger for a long time, causing the pin to jump to the desired position.

Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die verschiedenen Bereiche des Planers zeigen.

Several coloured lines emerge from the pin. There is a thick yellow line, a thick orange line, and a thinner line that can change its colour between yellow and orange. The thick yellow line represents the sunrise and the thick orange line the sunset. The thinner line represents the current position of the sun. If the mode is changed from sun to moon, the orange-yellow lines disappear and new lines appear in blue tones. Here, too, the brighter thick line represents the rising of the moon and the thicker darker line the setting of the moon. The same goes for the thinner line, which indicates the position of the moon.

The mode can be changed by clicking on the sun symbol in the field above the map (information bar). The sun symbol changes to a moon symbol. If you click on the field again, both the lines of the sun and the lines of the moon will be displayed.

Movements over time

The third part of the Photo Pills Planner is the timeline, which can be found directly below the map. This timeline displays the current date and time in its default setting. If you move the timeline to the left or to the right, not only the date and time will change, but also the alignment of the lines. As the thin lines approach a sunset or moonset, the colour of the line becomes darker. As a sunrise or moonset approaches, they become brighter. But time and date cannot only be changed by dragging the bar. To enter a specific time, simply tap the clock to enter the information manually. This lets you make larger jumps, especially when it comes to the date.

Below the timeline is the last part of the planner, the options bar, which contains other useful features. These include the Finder, two augmented reality modes, and other features, but more on that later.

Sun, Moon, and Milky Way always in focus with the help of the information bar

Position of sun, moon, and azimuth

Beside the change between the courses of sun and moon, the information bar contains a lot of other information and settings. The basic position of the bar gives us insight about the azimuth, the height and the phase of the celestial bodies sun and moon. The term azimuth refers to a horizontal angle that aligns itself with the points of the compass.

Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die verschiedenen Bereiche des Planers zeigen.

If you swipe your finger once to the left on the bar, more detailed information about the rising and setting of the sun and moon will appear. You can also switch between the individual phases of the moon by clicking on the large round symbol. You should pay attention to the changes of the date in the timeline to find out when the next moon phase, for example new moon, occurs. Next follow the exact times of the blue and golden hours, which both bring wonderful light moods that every landscape photographer likes to use for their pictures.

Visibility of the Milky Way

The next two tabs in the information bar deal with the Milky Way. By clicking on the left Milky Way symbol in the first of the two tabs, several circles around the orange pin and two thick lines in light and dark grey appear on the map. The light grey line stands for the time when the Milky Way becomes visible and the dark grey line for the disappearance of the Milky Way.

Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die beiden Reiter zum Thema Milchstrasse in der Informationsleiste zeigen.

If you move the timeline into the blue area, i.e. into the night, the Milky Way also appears in the form of a dotted, curved line. Here, the accumulation of several thicker points represents the galactic center of the Milky Way. Furthermore, the curvilinear line gives an idea of how the Milky Way will be seen in the sky. If it is very bulbous, then the Milky Way extends horizontally across the sky. However, if it is close to the centre line, the Milky Way will rise vertically into the sky.  The exact time of visibility, the azimuth, and the height of the Galactic Center are also specified in this section of the information bar. The second tab for the Milky Way, in the form of a blue scale, indicates how well the Milky Way will be visible in the sky. If the bars are filled, the Milky Way can be seen well on the horizon.

Pin-to-Pin geodetic info

By swiping from the starting position to the right, further options open up. The first is pin-to-pin geodetic info. By clicking on the button, a second pin in black appears on the map. This pin should be placed on the desired motif. Once this is done, you can quickly see whether the sunset is behind the desired motif on the chosen day. Looking at the first picture in the illustration below, it is easy to see that the desired scenario cannot be captured at this time. However, by moving the timeline, you can determine the correct time. In our example, this would have already been on October 6 and is now in the past. The next suitable date is almost a year in the future – so the motif can no longer be photographed in the near future.

In addition, the course of the sun must be observed. If this line is dotted when the desired motif is reached, this means that the sun is already too low and has therefore disappeared behind the horizon.

Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die Pin-zu-Pin Option und das Schattenwurf-Tool in der Informationsleiste zeigen.

Calculating shadow cast

The second option, which results from swiping to the right in the information bar, is a tool to estimate the shadowfall of a building or a tall tree. In order to use this function, however, it is necessary to find out about the height of the building or to be able to estimate it well. Once the building has been selected with the orange pin and a height has been entered in the information bar, the shadow is displayed in the form of a black line. This allows you to determine in advance which side of a building should not be photographed due to the amount of shadow.

The Options Bar – Find, schedule, and share with friends

Simply find a dream scenario

The information bar already offers many possibilities to find the right place and the right time for the perfect photo. Especially the pin-to-pin geodetic info is very handy if you want to take a photo of a motive with the sun or moon rising or setting behind it. It is easy to find out whether this arrangement is available on the desired day. If this is not the case, it is very tedious to find the suitable time by moving the timeline. The Find function in the options bar can help with this.

Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die Finder-Funktion in der Optionenleiste zeigen.

When selecting the Finder function, there are four different constellations of criteria that can be searched for: “Sun at Azimuth”, “Sun at Azimuth and Height”, “Moon at Azimuth”, and “Moon at Azimuth and Height”. In order to be able to determine more precisely how and where the sun or moon should stand for the planned image, it is advisable to select “at azimuth and altitude”. Once the azimuth, altitude, and desired time period have been determined, the app displays a list of exact dates where you will find the desired scenario at the desired location.

: Screenshots der App Photo Pills, die die beiden Augumented Reality Modi der Optionenleiste zeigen.

Augmented Reality – Simulating photo motifs

In addition, the options bar contains two AR modes (Augmented Reality). These two modes are more or less Live View modes that display the position of different celestial bodies using the smartphone camera. The AR mode is responsible for the course of the sun and the Night AR for the course of the moon and the Milky Way. By using these modes, the exact position of the desired celestial body can be simulated on site, so that you can align the camera to the situation in advance. If one of these modes is activated, the current point in time is displayed for the time being, but here, too, the point in time can be shifted on the screen by swiping to the left or right in order to determine the exact point in time at the correct position.

Save and share with friends

In addition to the Finder option and the AR modes, the options bar also lets you save your own project and then even share it. To do this, press the “Save” button and select “Plan”.  You now have the choice of overwriting an existing plan or creating a new one. Once you have given it a name and created it, go back to the main menu and select the category “My stuff” at the top and then select the plans. If the plan is opened in this mode, a field called “Action” will appear at the bottom right, through which you can send your plan by SMS, WhatsApp, or e-mail. This is especially useful for sharing plans with a friend who is also a photography enthusiast to go on a photo tour together.

Conclusion

The Photo Pills App with its extensive planner is a very useful aid for all enthusiastic landscape or astrophotographers who don’t like to leave their success to chance. The numerous options to plan light moods and the positions of different celestial bodies increase the chances enormously to come home with successful and impressive photos from your photo tour. The app is available in the App Store for CHF 10 – we think it’s a worthwhile investment.

Image processing with the VSCO App

Image editing using an app on a smartphone is becoming more and more popular. This is not only due to the fact that apps and their functionalities are getting better and better. One of these popular apps is “VSCO”. This app is particularly well suited for fast, but high-quality and modern image processing. In addition to a number of tools, the app is also known for its many filters. These are especially popular with Instagram users and amateur photographers to give their own images a uniform and modern look. But many users also use the community function to exchange ideas with other creative users and discover trends in image processing.

Here you can download the free app for Apple and Android devices. What’s particularly pleasant is that the free version of the app doesn’t come with any advertising.

Below, we explain what possibilities the app provides for image processing in detail, what secret functions there are, what the community function is all about and what advantages “VSCO X” has to offer.

Possibilities of the VSCO app for image editing

To edit pictures with the app, you can use your smartphone to take them directly with the app or upload images from memory. A variety of filters and tools are available for image editing.

The main feature of the app and the reason why it is so popular with many photography enthusiasts are the numerous filters. In the free version, the app offers a lot of interesting filters you can spice up your photos with. If that’s not enough, you can buy additional filter collections directly through in-app purchases. The price range here is between CHF 0.50 and CHF 8.

VSCO filters are titled with letters and numbers and target different photographic situations. For example, the U1 to U6 filter series has been specially developed for different lighting conditions to improve urban photography. On the other hand, there is the filter series G4 to G9, which was designed for portrait photography.

Once you have decided on an image that you want to edit, the VSCO filters can be applied with a touch of a finger. If you are satisfied with the result, you have the option of saving the edited image directly in the app. If you like, you can also save it to a central folder on your smartphone or you can share your work on Instagram, Facebook and the like as well as in the VSCO network at the touch of a finger.

Screenshot VSCO app: Overview filters for image processing

Overview: Filters for Image Processing in the VSCO App and the Filter Shop

In addition to the multitude of modern filters, the app also offers a range of standard tools for classic image processing. Beside the normal tools for brightness adjustment or straightening, the VSCO app also has tools to make images sharper, to adjust the skin tone or to play with the light colour. All tools can be adjusted in their intensity.

Available tools in the VSCO App:

  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Straighten (Rotate)
  • Horizontal perspective
  • Vertical perspective
  • Cutting
  • Sharpening
  • Satiation
  • Light colour
  • Shadow
  • Temperature
  • Colour
  • Skin tone
  • Vignette
  • Grain
  • Fading
  • Shadow colour
Screenshot VSCO app: Overview tools for image processing

Overview: Available tools in the VSCO app for image processing

Tips for image editing

As with any other image editing app, the VSCO app also has a few “secret” functions that simplify image editing and save time. We will introduce two of these functions to you in more detail.

Adjusting the intensity of the filters

Each filter can be adjusted in its intensity. This function is a little hidden and not visible at first sight. To adjust the intensity, simply tap the selected filter again. Each filter can be adjusted this way. The intensity levels range from 0 to 12, where 12 is the highest intensity of a filter. Adjusting a filter is particularly important if, for example, there were light fluctuations during a shoot. With the customisable filter, you can now edit each photo individually to create a consistent look.

Screenshot VSCO App: Bildreihe Intensität des Filters: 2, 6, 12

Copying edits

The “Copy Edits” feature saves a lot of time, especially if you want to edit more than a handful of images in the same way. This feature allows you to transfer the editing steps from one image to another with two taps. To do this, simply tap on an image in your overview that you have already edited and tap on the three dots “…” in the lower right corner. There, you have the option to copy the changes. If you want to transfer the changes to another image, first tap on this image or the desired images and then tap on the three dots at the bottom right. There you can now “Insert edits”.

Screenshot VSCO App: So lassen sich Bearbeitungen kopieren

Community functionality of VSCO

In addition to classic image processing, the app also has a community function. Similar to Instagram, you can follow people and interact with their images. As part of the VSCO network, you can also share your own work with the world. To do this, you register in advance with a few clicks in the network, define a user name and a profile picture and you can create individual images or entire collections and interact with other users or be inspired.

Screenshot VSCO app: Overview of the community functionalities

Community Features – Left: Follow people, right: share own pictures with the community

Possibilities of VSCO X

While the free version of the VSCO App comes with a number of preset filters and tools for image processing, there is still “VSCO X”.

“VSCO X” is a membership which is subject to a fee and offers the user even more possibilities for image processing. In addition to over 100 classic VSCO presets, the paid service also offers Film X™ presets and other tools, as well as monthly app add-ons. These include, for example, the new “Frame” tool, which allows you to place creative frames around your shots. There is also an info area where selected photographers can give photography and app tips.

Conclusion

The VSCO App offers a variety of possibilities for image processing. Especially the numerous modern filters make the app a good alternative to other apps for image processing. But the different tools with which you can fine-tune brightness and image noise are also convincing. All in all, with this app for image processing you always have a kind of mini lightroom in your pocket with you, with which you can develop your very own picture language.

Photoshop: Photo stacking for continuously sharp images

The term ‘focus stacking’ describes an image processing technique in which several images of the same motif merge with each other. Differently selected focus points enable a sharp representation over large parts of the picture, which would normally not be possible.

We will show you what you should consider for the correct preparation and execution and how the subsequent image processing succeeds.

Preparation – photography

Good preparation is indispensable and increases the quality of the results that can be achieved in image processing. Focus stacking requires as many identical image series as possible. The only exception is the differently selected focus.

That is why the DSLR camera should always be mounted on a tripod. It is also recommended to use a remote shutter release so that the camera does not have to be touched more often than absolutely necessary. In order to be able to edit the images well later, you should photograph in the file format RAW.

In poor lighting conditions and the resulting long exposure times, even the slightest shocks can lead to blurred images. To avoid this, activate mirror lock up in the camera settings. The mirror will now fold up a short time before shooting and will no longer cause any shocks.

Another factor that should not be underestimated is the lighting on site. Fluctuating lighting has a negative effect on the series of pictures and makes it more difficult to merge them afterwards. Therefore, make sure that the lighting is as consistent as possible, regardless of whether you are taking pictures outdoors or indoors.

Furthermore, you should select a suitable motif for your photo shoot. The general opinion is that the technique of focus stacking is particularly suitable for macro photography. Without post-processing, the often very detailed motifs, such as small animals or flowers, can usually not be reproduced in full focus.

However, even in landscape photography, entire image areas can shine in new splendour thanks to focus stacking. Choose your subject keeping in mind that it must remain motionless for the duration of the shot. Some photographers use specially prepared insects in macro photography.

Tips for a successful execution

Practice makes perfect

For the best possible result, take plenty of pictures with different focus ranges. It is important to focus as evenly as possible. So feel your way forward slowly. In principle, there are two ways of taking pictures.

  • Automatic focusing
  • Manual focusing

If you want to take pictures using autofocus, you should use the Live View function of the camera if possible. This allows you to see the composition of the image on the display and to move the focus point easily.

Alternatively, you can do the focusing yourself. To do this, simply switch from autofocus to manual focus on the lens. The focused area can be shifted with the focus ring of the lens.

Regardless of which method of focusing you choose, be careful when handling the camera. Any touch, however small, could cause your camera’s viewing angle to change, resulting in different shots. Therefore, make sure that the tripod is stable and the camera is firmly locked in place. Focus on the point closest to the subject and slowly work your way back over several focusing planes.

Post-processing and merging with focus stacking software

Once the entire subject has been photographed, the computer can make changes to exposure, contrast, and similar parameters if necessary. Image editing can be done with most common photo editing software. However, it is important that each image receives the same correction and that there are no differences between them.

Image editing with Lightroom

In Lightroom, value corrections can first be made for one image and then applied to the other photos in the series. To do this, make the desired changes to any image. Then select all images and press Sync. A dialog window opens, which you confirm with OK.

Bildwertkorrekturen in Lightroom und das Dialogfenster Synchronisieren in Lightroom

Adjust exposure, contrast and colour values and transfer to all images (“synchronize”)

 

If you are satisfied with the result of the image processing, open all images in Photoshop or an image processing software with similar functionality. As a free alternative to Photoshop, we recommend the focus stacking program CombineZp, with which individual images can be automatically merged together.

Das Dialogfenster Synchronisieren in Lightroom

Stacking in Photoshop

Next, select all layers and press Edit – Auto-Blend Layers.

For further processing, all images must now be superimposed as layers.

 

Inserting multiple images into Photoshop and stacking them

Insert individual images as layers into a document

 

Selecting and merging multiple layers in Photoshop

Select images and edit – Auto-Blend Layers

Then an additional window opens with the title Automatically blend layers. Here you select the option Stack images and confirm your selection with OK.

 

Dialogfenster Ebenen automatisch überblenden in Photoshop

Joining the layers may take some time, depending on the performance of your computer. Photoshop analyses the existing layers for similarities and compares them with each other. The focused areas of the individual layers are then highlighted and connected. At the end of the process you have a photo motif which is focused over the entire area.

Ergebnis des Focus Stackings

Bottom line

Focus stacking offers the possibility to combine several differently focused photos into a single sharp image. This procedure is particularly popular in macro photography, where it is sometimes impossible to focus on all desired areas of the subject despite a small aperture and high depth of field. However, focus stacking can also be used for other things, such as landscape photography. The decisive success factors are, as so often, the right preparation and a lot of patience. With the help of the most modern image processing software, image series can ultimately be combined to form one perfectly sharp image in just a few simple steps.

Bilder auf dem Smartphone mit Beauty-Apps bearbeiten

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Facetune: Strahlende Zähne und Augen im Handumdrehen

Die Beauty-App Facetune bietet dem Nutzer zahlreiche Retusche-Werkzeuge, um aus einem Portrait das Beste herauszuholen. Insbesondere die Aufhell-, Detail- und Glättungs-Funktion lassen Augen, Mund und Haut strahlen. Daher ist die App besonders bei Instagram-Nutzern sehr beliebt. Denn nicht nur dunkle Stellen um die Augen lassen sich mit einem einfachen Wischen aufhellen, sondern auch Hintergründe. Eine zu dunkle Aufnahme, lässt sich somit schnell optimieren. Ebenso kann der Hintergrund auch unscharf gezeichnet werden, wodurch das Bild mehr Dynamik bekommt.

Funktionen in der facetune App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der facetune App

Mit Hilfe der «Details» Funktion lassen sich vor allem die Augen und der Mund perfekt in Szene setzen. Und dank der Glättungsfunktion wird der Teint im Gesicht fast schon makellos. Dazu wählt man das gewünschte Werkzeug aus und wischt mit dem Finger über die jeweilige Partie. Je häufiger man wischt, desto intensiver wird der Effekt. Damit man es mit der Retusche nicht übertreibt, kann mit einem Klick auf das blaue Symbol unten rechts auch immer wieder schauen, wie sich der Bearbeitungsprozess entwickelt hat. Hält man das Symbol gedrückt, erscheint nämlich das Ausgangsbild. Zudem bauen sich die Effekte aller Retusche-Werkezeuge in ihrer Intensität mit jedem Wischen auf. Ein stark verfremdetes Bild ist somit kaum möglich. Eine kleine Auswahl an verschiedenen Filtern und Retroeffekten rundet das Angebot der Bildbearbeitungs-App ab.

Facetune ist in einer kostenlosen Version im Google Play Store erhältlich: Android Version

Beauty Retusche mit Facetune - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: Bearbeitung des Bildes mit den folgenden Facetune Werkzeugen: Filter «Lighter»; Augen aufgehellt; Augen, Mund und einzelne Haarsträhnen mit «Details» Funktion hervorgehoben, Gesichtshaut geglättet.

YouCamPerfect: Der Klassiker unter den Beauty Apps

Die Beauty-App YouCamPerfect ist ein Klassiker unter den Retusche Apps und bietet sicherlich den grössten Funktionsumfang, um ein Selfie zu optimieren. Dabei verfügt die App sowohl über klassische Bildbearbeitungsfunktionen, wie beispielsweise das Anpassen der Kontraste, als auch über eine Vielzahl an Beauty-Tools. Neben einer automatischen Verschönerungsfunktion gehören dazu auch Hautglättungsfunktionen, eine Nasen- und Gesichtsformkorrektur sowie ein Augenvergrösserungs-Werkzeug. Aber auch das grösser und schmaler schummeln des eigenen Körpers, stellt für die App kein Problem dar.

Funktionen in der YouCamPerfect App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der YouCamPerfect App

Ebenso lassen sich mit der App auch unschöne Augenschatten, Hautunreinheiten und die Farbe der Zähne korrigieren. Besonders interessant ist bei dieser App sicherlich die Smile-Funktion. Dieses Werkzeug bringt jeden noch so grimmigen Gesichtsausdruck zum Lächeln. Anders als bei der Facetune App analysiert die App automatisch das Bild. Der Nachteil dabei: Der Nutzer kann bei fast allen Beauty-Tools lediglich die Intensität des Effektes einstellen. Selbst aber nicht bestimmen, welche Partien bearbeitet werden sollen.

Dank der umfangreichen und sehr gut funktionierenden Werkzeuge besteht die Gefahr, dass das Gesicht zu sehr verfremdet wird. Ein Blick auf das ursprüngliche Vergleichsbild ist daher ratsam. Ebenso das vorsichtige justieren der jeweiligen Werkzeugregler.

YouCamPerfekt ist in einer kostenlosen Version im Google Play Store erhältlich: Android Version

Beauty Retusche mit YouCamPerfect - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: Stark bearbeitetes Bild mit den folgenden YouCamPerfect Funktionen: Haut geglättet, schmalere Gesichtsform, Hautfarbe verändert, Nasenverschönerung, Tränensäcke entfernt, Augen vergrössert, Hautunreinheiten entfernt, Rouge aufgelegt, Lächeln intensiviert und die Augen aufgehellt.

Airbrush: Ein neuer Look per Finger-Klick

Die Airbrush App verfügt ähnlich wie die Facetune und die YouCamPerfect App über eine Vielzahl an Beauty-Retusche-Tools und Standardfunktionen zur Bildbearbeitung. Während diese Funktionen bei der Airbrush App vom Ergebnis her nur mittelmässig sind, punktet diese Beauty-App vor allem mit dem automatischen Make-up Tool. Mit nur einem Klick lässt sich ein neuer Make-up Look auf das Bild legen und in der Intensität anpassen. Auch das Überlagern der Looks ist kein Problem. Wollten Sie beispielsweise schon immer mal Sommersprossen haben oder testen, wie Smokey Eyes an Ihnen wirken, dann ist diese App zu empfehlen. Für das beste Ergebnis ist es ratsam, wenn das Make-Up des Ausgangsbildes eher neutral ist. Dadurch kommen die einzelnen Make-up Looks, die die Beauty-App bietet, besser zur Geltung.

Funktionen in der Airbrush App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der Airbrush App

Beauty Retusche mit Airbrush - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: bearbeitetes Bild mit dem Make-Up Werkzeug der Airbrush App

Fazit

Bei all den Möglichkeiten, die diese Beauty-Apps bieten, sollten Sie es mit der Bearbeitung nie übertreiben. Ist man auf der Suche nach einer App für eine natürliche Optimierung des eigenen Selfies, so bietet sich die Facetune App an. Hier lassen sich alle Bearbeitungsmöglichkeiten in kleinen Schritten anwenden. Möchte man hingegen ein wenig mit dem eigenen Bild herumspielen und schauen, was alles möglich ist, dann ist die YouCamPerfekt Beauty-App das Richtige. Einen neuen Make-up Look schnell und einfach auszuprobieren, ist mit der airbrush App mit nur einem Klick möglich.

Wir wünschen viel Spaß beim Ausprobieren!

Photo with the photographer's domain as a watermark

Free tools for custom watermarks on your photos

To protect your photos from copyright infringements or to establish your own brand, you can work with watermarks. These marks, which become recognisable by the incidence of light, originate from paper processing to identify the producing paper mill. They were and still are used to prevent counterfeits and copies of banknotes, personal documents, and digital data. Since digital images are also reproduced and used without permission, you can add your individual watermark to your photos for protection and branding. If you regularly publish pictures on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram or run a blog, such watermarks also serve as a distinguishing feature for your followers. For this marketing effect you can use your name, your email, the domain of your website, or your logo. In this article, we’ll introduce you to free tools that make it easy to brand your photos.

Watermark freeware for Windows

TSR Watermark Image Software is a good option for Windows, for example. With this program, you can watermark several images at once and save them into any destination folder. You can also use this program to create your watermark yourself – for example using an image of your logo or writing your email adress or website URL. Font, alignment, size, and colour are adjustable, as are the degree of transparency, the position, and the angle of the watermark. You can export your photos in different formats (jpeg, png, tiff, bmp, gif) and sizes. TSR Watermark Image Software is relatively intuitive and easy to use. The free version already offers numerous functions, while special additional options such as 3D effects are only available in the paid upgrade.

Benutzeroberfläche von TSR Watermark Image Software

Free watermark tool for MacOS

With watermark PRO you can use a watermark to brand your photos on a MacOS.

You simply drag and drop your pictures into the program and you have various ways to create a watermark. Your options are, for example, text characters, logos and QR codes and even a map with GPS data. You can easily adjust the settings using the right column in the neatly arranged interface. Besides the usual photo formats you can also export your photos as PDF files. Up to five photos can be watermarked simultaneously per batch process. If you want to work with more photos, you can activate the batch function via an in-app purchase. This function allows you to edit an unlimited number of photos at once.

Benutzeroberfläche von watermark PRO

Creating watermarks on a smartphone: Apps for Android

For Android devices we recommend the apps Photo Watermark and Add Watermark free.

With the Photo Watermark app you can draw your signature directly on the display in addition to the usual options such as text, images, and timestamps. Size, transparency, position, and colour can also be set here. You can apply your created watermark individually or place it over the image as a film. With Add Watermark free you can also add your own fonts. Batch processing to brand several images at once is only available in the full version, which requires payment. With the upgrade you can also save your branded photos in any format and size. Both Add Watermark free and Photo Watermark allow you to save files in JPG format or embed your images directly into social networks.

Fliesschicht-Einstellung der App Foto-Wasserzeichen

Watermark app for iOS

Whether text, signature or QR code – even with iWatermark lite you can protect and personalise your photos with a watermark in many different ways. Many examples are available in text and graphic form as well as various settings such as font, colour, size, and transparency. With the free version you are able to use all functions, but the text “Created by iWatermark” is added to every photo. By upgrading to the full version for a modest price you can easily avoid this. iWatermark is also available for MacOS, Windows, and Android.

Conclusion

The mostly easy to use, straightforward programs and apps lead to the desired result with a few clicks – protection against unauthorised distribution and increasing the recognition value of your photos. To mark several photos at once, you usually need to pay for an upgrade.

Note: With most free versions, you may only use the watermarks for private purposes. If you want to use the apps and programs for commercial purposes, you can work with the paid version.

Photoshop: Inserting image objects into new backgrounds

Removing and adding individual image objects is not uncommon in today’s photography. With the help of Photoshop, illusions can be created retrospectively in a few simple steps. Even if a photomontage can only withstand a trained eye for a short time, interesting creative effects can be produced.

We will show you how you should proceed when creating a photomontage and how you can adapt the inserted image into the background very well.

Inserting and scaling images

Select an image and drag and drop it into the open Photoshop file. To make the photomontage appear as authentic as possible in the end, you should have the picture cleanly cropped before inserting it. You will find instructions on the topic of cropping in Photoshop in our article Cropping images with Photoshop: three options.

Once you have inserted an object, you should make sure that the object layer is converted into a so-called “Smart Object”. The conversion allows a non-destructive scaling of the image. For this purpose, the image information of the reference file is stored in the Smart Object. Any changes you make to the design are made to a separate copy of the reference file. This means that your design retains its original quality even after repeated scaling and modification.

Transformation of a Photoshop object into a Smart object

Right-click on the layer containing your inserted object. Then select the entry “Convert to Smart Object” and confirm with a left click.

You can access scaling using the shortcut “Ctrl” + “T”. Make sure that you have selected the layer that you want to scale. After activating the shortcut, a grid appears around the object, which allows you to change the size using the corners. The object can be scaled proportionally by holding down the “Shift” key. This maintains the relation of the object and does not distort it.

Scaling an object in Photoshop

The grid and the points on it allow you to change the size or rotate the object.

Pay attention to the most realistic proportions between the inserted object and the rest of the image. Otherwise, you will quickly notice that this is a photomontage.

The object should also be placed in a suitable position in the image. Make sure that the viewing angle of the subject is the same as the rest of the image. Furthermore, the subject should be placed in alignment with the focused area of the original image. When shooting with a shallow depth of field, a perfectly sharp object cannot appear in a blurred environment and away from the focused area. On the one hand, this would appear very unnatural and, on the other hand, would quickly be exposed as a photomontage.

Dandelion blossom after scaling

The sample image is a shot taken with the aperture wide open. Such shots generally have a very shallow depth of field. While the first blades of grass in the foreground are still relatively sharp, the remaining blades of grass a few centimetres further away are already lost in the blur of the image. The focused area is therefore at the lowest point of the image.

If the dandelion blossom, in the given sharpness, were placed even further towards the background, it would stand out noticeably to the eye. To reduce the sharpness a bit, we select “Filter”, “Blur filter” and then “Gaussian Blur filter”.

Gaussian Blur dialogue window in Photoshop

The choice of radius affects the strength of the blur. The result can also be displayed directly in the entire image.

Adjusting the image to the lighting mood of the background

For a harmonious interaction between the inserted object and the background, it is also very important that the lighting mood of the two elements matches.

By using special filters, Photoshop allows us to match the colour mood of both the background and the object. One possibility, for example, is to colour in the average hue. First select the background layer of your Photoshop file. Then navigate to “Filter”, “Blur filter”, “Calculate average”.

Photoshop-Dropdownmenü des angewählten Durchschnitt-berechnen-Filters

Photoshop then fills the selected layer with the average hue of the other layer. For further processing, we add this hue to the colour selection using the pipette.

Die Anwendung des Durchschnitt-berechnen-Filters färbt den Hintergrund im durchschnittlichen Farbton ein

The blue-grey hue recognisable in the image represents the average hue of the example image we used.

The colouring of the background can be undone using the shortcut “Ctrl” + “Z” (alternatively: “Edit”, “Step back”). Create a new layer and fill in its background in the colour of the average hue.

Eine mit dem durchschnittlichen Farbton eingefärbte Photoshop-Ebene

The aim of the procedure is to apply the average hue only to the object to be inserted. To do this, you first place your hue layer above the object layer in the layer hierarchy. Then, while holding down the “Alt” key, move the mouse pointer over the hue layer. Confirm the square symbol that appears with the arrow pointing downwards by left-clicking. The background should now be visible again and your object should be completely coloured in the respective hue.

Die Füllung der Farbton-Ebene wurde lediglich auf ein einzelnes Objekt angewandt

The opacity of the hue can then be adjusted to your own taste by selecting the hue level. Ensure that the opacity is balanced and matches the background.

The dandelion blossom was successfully inserted into the picture

Finally the stalk of the dandelion blossom was covered with a few blades of grass.

Conclusion

The creation of photomontages requires a certain amount of experience in working with Photoshop. However, advanced users have the opportunity to add their own creativity and personal feelings to the photos they have taken and can add new elements afterwards. The result of the photomontage is directly dependent on the quality of the cropped objects to be added to the image. For a credible representation, it is recommended to coordinate the relations of the image components and not to choose an excessively composed image. The inserted objects should always be adapted to the given lighting mood.

Colour in the darkness – Black light photography

The special characteristics of digital black light photography

In black light photography, the photographer determines what can and can’t be seen. The photographic staging is supported by tools with fluorescent properties, which become visible in the black light.

The wide range of tools allows for a very artistic, spectacular and colourful presentation that you don’t see in any other setting.

Conditions for black light photography

Due to the rather dark lighting atmosphere at a black light set, you should use a camera that also takes low-noise photographs in higher ISO ranges. This helps to ensure that the images meet your quality requirements and that disturbing image noise in dark areas can be avoided.

Basically, you should use a high speed lens that allows low aperture values. This allows for a larger aperture, a higher light exposure and shorter exposure times.

As the name suggests, the most important component of black light photography is the black light itself. Depending on your goals, conventional black light tubes or special black light stage lamps can be used as light sources. For selective lighting, we recommend using black light torches, which are already available at low prices.

 

Model under black light against a black background

Here you can see the fluorescent effect of the colours used. To make the colours even more prominent, both the background and the model are kept neutral in black.

In order to create beautiful and colourful images in black light photography, fluorescent materials are needed. Special online shops for black light accessories and the work of other photographers offer a good source of inspiration for possible combinations. The offer is varied and ranges from black light make-up to black light soap bubbles.

The right location for the black light shooting

The shooting should be carried out in a controllable environment. Any interference, such as incident light, can affect the success of the shoot and should therefore be avoided. In general, an indoor performance in the evening or at night is recommended, as possible disturbances can be prevented here. All windows and doors should be darkened for the duration of the shooting. It is best to use a neutral black background for your shots.

However, even nocturnal outdoor shots can lead to fascinating results. To avoid the influence of disturbing light sources such as lanterns or moonlight, it is preferable to take pictures in rural and light-protected environments. Due to their mobility and battery operation, the use of black light flashlights is recommended for outdoor shoots.

Eye-friendly handling of black light

For health reasons, you and others involved should avoid direct eye contact with black light sources. Since photography in a darkened environment can also be tiring and exhausting in the long run, you should avoid long glances through the viewfinder of your camera. It is more advisable to use the Live View function of the camera to view the image composition on a larger display.

Verwendung der Live View Funktion bei einer Spiegelreflexkamera.

Manual camera mode photography – full control over ISO, aperture and exposure time

You should select the manual camera mode for your shots, as this is the only way to adjust the ISO value, aperture value and exposure time extensively.

The ISO value should be adjusted to the brightness of the black lights used and the indirect luminosity of the fluorescent agents. If many luminous tools and black lights are used, a low ISO value can be selected. If, on the other hand, you limit yourself to the use of a few light sources, you will not be able to avoid the use of higher ISO values (up to the higher four-digit ranges). The maximum also depends on the camera model in order to avoid unpleasant image noise. Try out in test shots which ISO values are favourable.

The aperture value should be individually adjusted to the individual subjects and the desired depth of field. If you only want to shoot a single subject and make it stand out from the background, select a low aperture value. If you want to clearly display two or more subjects, you should experiment with higher aperture values. However, since the size of the aperture also determines the amount of incident light, it should also be selected in accordance with the lighting mood of your surroundings.

The exposure time should be set to ensure that the subject is always sharp and visible. The required exposure time depends on whether the subject is dynamic or static. To avoid shaky and blurred images, you should choose a sufficiently short exposure time for dynamic subjects, starting at about 1/50 second. A tripod is recommended for taking pictures of static subjects. Thus, longer exposure times, e.g. 1/5 second, can lead to sharp results and thus favour setting options such as a higher aperture value or a lower ISO value.

For better colour reproduction, it is also advisable to deliberately underexpose the image slightly. Underexposure will cause the fluorescent colours to emerge more strongly.

File type RAW – The basis for subsequent image processing

If possible, you should save the images in RAW file format. This will take up more space on the SD card, but it will also store significantly more information per image. This lets you edit RAW files more comprehensively than JPEG images.

In order to emphasise bright colours better and more expressively, it is recommended to use special image editing programs, such as Adobe Lightroom. You can change the colour of the image afterwards by adjusting the hue and saturation values. It is worth experimenting, as you can often create interesting alternative results.

Two photos on top of each other - birds and dog

For smartphone photos with special effects: The most unusual photo apps for Android and iOS

Thanks to the latest technology, high-quality cameras and social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Co., taking good photos has become one of the most important tasks of the smartphone. But even the best pictures can be made even more exciting with a filter or a few small edits here and there – preferably quickly and easily directly on the smartphone. A glance at the probably most popular photo platform “Instagram” shows that the most spectacular effects and edits are used to attract attention with one’s own photos.

We have set out on a search for free apps with which you can effectively stage your snapshots.

Little planets with “RollWorld”

With this free app for iOS, the wow effect for your photos is guaranteed. “RollWorld” transforms images into small circular planets, so-called “Tiny Worlds”. For the best effect, it is best to use landscape panoramas or skylines where the horizon clearly separates sky and earth.

Die Ausgangsbilder: Ein Panorama einer Seebrücke und ein Wasserfall

Screenshot RollWorld App with landscape or panorama picture

Left: The result: “RollWorld” app with landscape image in 3:2 format | Right: “RollWorld” app with panorama image

“RollWorld” can be used as a direct camera function which conjures up the tiny-world effect on the display before triggering. However, the best way to use the app is to apply it to photos that have already been taken. For example, you can upload panorama images to the app and rotate them into a small world with various setting options. In addition to panoramas, all other images can of course also be creatively edited with the photo app and turned upside down in order to create crazy and abstract masterpieces.

For Android users, “Little Planet” is the counterpart – also free of charge.

«RollWorld» in the App Store

«Little Planet» in the Playstore

Impressive morphing effects with “Photo Lab”

Photo from two images and morph effect tiger and human

Left: Photo from two pictures | Right: Morph effect tiger and human being

The versatile app “Photo Lab” is available for Android as well as iOS for free and offers a huge range of features. With numerous filters you can turn your photos into paintings or combine them with an unusual background. For example, an old book in the picture shows your image on one of its pages or it seems as if it would be reflected in a champagne glass. But the absolute highlight of “Photo Lab” are the impressive montages, which can be created automatically from a photo and a template. Simply select a portrait or Selfie and let it merge with a tiger or the mystical silhouette of a forest. These so-called “morph effects” create unique pictures that stand out from the crowd. You can apply different styles such as pop art, graffiti and many more to these and various other photo montages, similar to filters.

«Photo Lab» in the App Store

«Photo Lab» in the Playstore

Extraordinary backgrounds with “Fabby”

Portrait with flower background and pop art style

Left: Portrait with flower background | Right: Portrait with colourful Popart background

With this app for iOS you can spice up photos with crazy backgrounds full of fantasy. The focus here is on Selfies or photos of people. The app automatically recognises them as foreground and inserts them into any background. The editing can be done afterwards, but also during the shooting you can activate the desired background and align yourself or the person to be photographed for the perfect position in the picture. In addition to the numerous ready-made backgrounds, you can also use your own photos. From the white winter landscape to colourful donuts on a pink background, there are no limits. If you want to bring some more life into your project, you can use the “Fabby” app to record small videos with bright backgrounds.

The free app “Fabby” is currently only available for iOS devices in the App Store.

«Fabby» in the App Store

Bright comics and colourful collages with “PicsArt”

Picture in mosaic look and portrait with fancy colour filter

Left: Picture in mosaic look | Right: Portrait with fancy colour filter

For all hobby photographers who like to experiment with colours, the photo app “PicsArt” is exactly the right tool. The free image editing program for Android and iOS provides not only countless filters with comprehensive settings, but also a whole repertoire of features. Extraordinary effects, colourful collages or comic-like decorations with speech bubbles and stickers – with “PicsArt” there are no limits to your creativity. To individually adjust the respective effects, you can manually adjust their intensity, colour tone and the like. If a certain area is to remain in its natural appearance, such as a person or their face in the centre of the image, this area can be freed from the set effect with an eraser function. For example, a person or object can be highlighted in colour against an otherwise black and white background, or it can appear as if it is moving in a painting. For those who like it less unusual, “PicsArt” also offers subtle filters and basic image editing tools such as red-eye correction, contrast adjustment and the like.

«PicsArt» in the App Store

«PicsArt» in the Playstore

Exif-Daten manipulieren – Auslesen, Ändern und Löschen von Metadaten digitaler Bilder

Nahezu alle modernen Kameras und Smartphones unterstützen den Exif-Standard zur Speicherung von Metadaten in digitalen Fotos. Dabei werden Informationen wie das Erstellungsdatum, Belichtungszeiten und ISO-Werte, aber auch der Kameratyp und die Geo-Location direkt in der Bild-Datei gespeichert. Die so gesammelten Angaben können bei der Archivierung von Fotos eine grosse Hilfe sein, viele Programme zur Bilderverwaltung und -bearbeitung nutzen die Daten zur Sortierung der Aufnahmen.

Einstellungen für Datum und Uhrzeit können direkt an der Kamera getroffen werden

Einstellungen wie Datum und Uhrzeit können direkt an der Kamera vorgenommen werden.

Umso ärgerlicher ist es, wenn das Datum auf der verwendeten Kamera nicht korrekt eingestellt war und die Reihenfolge der Bilder nicht mehr stimmt. Insbesondere, wer Fotos mit mehreren Geräten wie Kamera und Smartphone aufnimmt, wird das Problem kennen, dass nicht alle Geräte die gleichen Daten zeigen. Wenn Fotos beispielsweise mit einer Software wie dem ifolor Designer in ein Fotobuch eingefügt werden sollen ist eine verlässlich richtige Sortierung ungemein hilfreich. In einigen Fällen kann es auch sinnvoll sein, die Meta-Informationen der Fotos zu löschen oder zu bearbeiten – etwa dann, wenn Bilder im Internet veröffentlicht werden sollen. Wir zeigen Ihnen, wie Sie schnell und einfach Exif-Daten Ihrer digitalen Bilder manipulieren können.

Welche Metadaten können gespeichert werden?

Typische Informationen, die direkt in den Bild-Dateien gespeichert werden können, sind Datum und Uhrzeit, Brennweite und Blende, Belichtungszeit und ISO-Wert. Moderne Kameras und Smartphones, die mit entsprechenden Sensoren ausgestattet sind, können auch geografische Koordinaten speichern. Insgesamt gibt es mittlerweile mehr als 100 standardisierte Meta-Daten.
Neben dem Exif-Standard existieren auch noch sogenannte IPTC-Daten. Der vom International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) entwickelte Standard wird vorrangig im Fotojournalismus genutzt und erlaubt die Speicherung zusätzlicher Informationen wie Copyright-Vermerk, Urheber und Beschreibung sowie weiterer Verweise auf die Inhalte des Fotos wie Keywords, Details zum Aufnahmeort oder Überschriften.

Wie können die Daten ausgelesen werden?

Die meisten Bildbetrachtungs- und Bearbeitungsprogramme sind in der Lage, die Metadaten auszulesen. Ausserdem gibt es eine Reihe spezieller Programme wie Exif Viewer oder Exifer (beide gratis), mit denen die Informationen angezeigt werden können. Auch mit einem Online-Exif-Viewer können die Daten ausgegeben werden. Der Vorteil besteht darin, dass keine zusätzliche Software auf dem eigenen Rechner installiert werden muss.

Darüber hinaus bieten auch die meisten Betriebssysteme selbst die Möglichkeit, Exif-Daten von Bildern anzeigen zu lassen. Bei fast allen populären Betriebssystemen können die Metadaten direkt über den Eigenschaften-Dialog der jeweiligen Dateien abgerufen werden.

Exif-Daten bearbeiten und löschen

Kam es zu Fehlern bei der Speicherung der Metadaten, zum Beispiel durch eine fehlerhafte Einstellung des Datums auf der Kamera, so können die entsprechenden Informationen auch im Nachhinein noch geändert werden. Auch das Löschen von Exif-Daten kann sinnvoll sein, denn so können mitunter private Informationen vor anderen verborgen werden.

Je nach Anspruch und Art der Daten, die bearbeitet werden müssen, können verschiedene Programme zum Einsatz kommen. Die folgende, nicht vollständige Liste gibt Ihnen einen Überblick über Software, die zur Manipulation von Exif-Daten verwendet werden kann:

Exifer (gratis, Windows)

Mit der Freeware Exifer können alle versteckten Metainformationen von Fotos und Bildern ausgelesen und bearbeitet werden. Neben Exif-Daten liefert das Tool auch einen Überblick über die hinterlegten IPTC-Informationen.

EXIF Date Changer (gratis, Windows)

Wenn lediglich die Aufnahmezeit und das Datum geändert werden müssen, hilft das gratis Programm EXIF Date Changer. Das Freeware-Tool ist in der Lage, sowohl das Aufnahme- als auch das Änderungsdatum auszulesen und zu verändern.
Darüber hinaus können einzelne weitere Metadaten mit diesem Werkzeug geändert werden. Allerdings werden nicht alle möglichen Meta-Informationen unterstützt.

Reveal (gratis, Mac)

Auch für Mac OS Nutzer gibt es Software zur Manipulation von Exif-Daten. Die gratis Software Reveal bietet die Möglichkeit, Metainformationen auszulesen und zu ändern. Auch hier gilt, wie bei allen anderen Programmen: Wurden die bestehenden Informationen einmal überschrieben, kann diese Änderung nicht mehr rückgängig gemacht werden.

Exif Tag Remover (gratis, Windows)

Um sämtliche Metainformationen eines Fotos zu löschen, kann die Freeware Exif Tag Remover verwendet werden. Das Programm entfernt verlässlich alle gespeicherten Exif-Daten einer Bilddatei. Dabei kann das Original beibehalten werden und eine Kopie generiert werden, die keine Exif-Informationen enthält.

Windows Explorer (Windows)

Einige Exif-Daten können direkt im Eigenschaften-Dialog des jeweiligen Bildes unter Windows im Explorer ausgelesen und geändert werden. Dazu genügt ein Rechtsklick auf die Bilddatei. Unter dem Punkt Eigenschaften – Details können die bestehenden Informationen angesehen und bei Bedarf angepasst werden. Leider unterstützt auch der Windows Explorer nicht alle Exif-Informationen.

Exif-Daten im Eigenschaften-Dialog des Windows Explorer

Im Windows Explorer können die Exif-Daten von Bildern direkt im Eigenschaften-Dialog ausgelesen werden.

Neben den genannten Gratis-Programmen sind auch die etablierten Fotobearbeitungs-Programme oftmals in der Lage, Exif-Daten auszulesen und (zumindest teilweise) zu verändern. Kostenpflichtige Standardprogramme wie Adobe Lightroom (Mac und Windows), Apple Fotos (Mac) und Aperture (Mac) können Ihnen bei der Bearbeitung der Metainformationen behilflich sein. Auch die Gratis-Software GIMP unterstützt mittlerweile die Änderung von Exif-Informationen. Die Bildmetadaten erreichst Du nach Öffnen eines Bildes oder Fotos ganz einfach über die Registerkarte Bild. Im Anschluss daran können Sie Metadaten wie GPS, Beschreibung oder Kategorien auswählen und nachträglich bearbeiten.