Last updated on August 8th, 2018 at 03:13 pm
I cannot remember if I first start travelling or making photos, it is probably one of that chicken and egg situation. In the young stage of my life, cameras had only films and the digital world was a movie subject.
I do remember that I booked my first flight and at the same time I passed by a shop to buy a small inexpensive camera. I thought it could have been useful. Nowadays we all have mobile phones with fantastic cameras but what are the best travel photography apps out there that can make our life easier?
I have always believed that an expensive camera does not make a better photographer. In true honesty, if you think that all your photos will stay on the internet, or just printed on small format, I would not bother buying a DSLR. It is expensive, it is heavy and it looks like you are a pro-photographer which means people will be worried about you take a photo of them.
I always take my big camera with me but mostly because I sell my photos on prints, up to one or even two metres wide. You cannot print this size with a photo from your mobile, it would be too low quality, you would notice that straight away.
But when I go into the markets, the small lanes, the interesting shops, when I see an interesting moment, that is the time I take my mobile out and I shoot. That is the moment when I need a quick photo (quick does not mean I take a bad photo, just that I want to capture the moment straight away). Usually people are happy to keep going in the own life if you take a photo with a mobile (maybe without pretending to be a photographer as well). However they usually do care if you take out your big camera and lens because they think that most likely there is a reason you are there (spying LOL) and they may ask you money to be in the picture as well.
I am on a trip quite frequently and nowadays I would not be able to leave my mobile behind. Every year I find new software to use that helps me on my everyday work.
I have been updating this list since 2015, when I created the first draft, now in 2018 things are becoming even more exciting with more powerful mobiles and new amazing apps.
All these apps are downloadable for free, which is great. I really believe in the free world and I follow this movement even with popular travel photography guide. Over 70 pages that may change your way to make (not just take) photos when travelling.
Here is a full list in order of …..well you make your order. I could not definitely live without all of them during my travel photography trip
Yes, I am addicted. The thing is that Instagram is today the biggest photography-only social environment. I love browsing through the inspiring photos and I love following people work.
Moreover I like the app because it is really simple: select the photo, select the filter, add a description and publish. In the last versions they added also new features where you can tweak further more the photo (contrast, exposure, highlights, etc).
The limit I find in this app is that the post-production (photo tweaking) is not as exhaustive. One example for all is that you can only apply filters to the entire photo, and not just areas. To do that…well you need another app
This is an Instagram on steroids. It’s a brand new app. There are no selfies here LOL. It’s definitely a social environment dedicated to photographers or wannabe photographers.
There are two features that really stand out, they have a photo market where you can sell straight away your photos and there are periodic photo competition with good prizes as well. Moreover there is no square only format which makes it great for the lovely landscape and portrait photos we all have in our archive
On the post production side, it is an app which is very similar to Instragram
The limit ….I can see it already. EyeEm started as a social environment for photographers, it is evolving already into an Instagram like app which, to me, does not make too sense because we have already Instagram. I believe EyeEm should start filtering the posted photos.
This is a serious software. Google bought the maker not long time ago and Snapseed is now the de-facto standard in the photo editing. You can edit the full photos with filters as well as just a part of it. The software is just amazing and it works greatly. Definitely the best software on the market
The limit….there is a learning curve (not steep though). There is no social environment (but that’s fine, we have so many already LOL)
This app is a must if you are in the Adobe cloud. You can work on your photo from wherever you are with your mobile or tablet, the best of the best. Adobe Lightroom is such a market standard nowadays
The limit…..it is not really free at the end because you need to be in the Adobe cloud, that is why I suggest it only to the people they have already an Adobe subscription
Use you native camera app, either you have an Iphone or you have an Android mobile, it does not really matter. I am really impressed by the quality of these native apps. There is absolutely no need to buy another app for HDR or stitching your photos in a long panoramic one.
Limit…..it’s already installed, why not using it. The are few tweaks that are only brand related. As an example, the Samsung camera app is just amazing but few things can be shared only with other Samsung phones. The same applies with the Iphones
When I need to add some text on my photos I use this app. It’s simple, no frills, no time waster, really what I need. You have a vast choice of fonts, size and colours, really anything you need to impress.
Limit…it’s nt a designing app, do not ask too much. Moreover, for some weird reasons they decided to limit the fonts number on the Android app, compared to the Iphone side. I am not sure why
This is another must have app. How disappointing is to go for a sunset or sunrise photo session and discover that the sun is not in front of you as you hopped.
Once inserted the day and time, this app tells you where the sun is. You can easily scroll through the map to see where are the best spots to take a photo.
The sunrise/sunset position is different in winter and summer and suncalc just helps you to find out the best time to visit a spot, beside finding out what time is actually sunrise LOL
The website is fantastic as well. I can only suggest it without any hesitation
Limit…none that I can think off
This is not a calculator that will help you finding the best exposure. This is something we all get it right with the experience and the meter reading built in our cameras.
This app comes in when you start using ND filters on your DSLR. If you have a N-stop Neutral Density filter, especially if you go into the 8-10 stops or more, the camera meter will not be able to read the light from outside, just too dark. You will not either be able to compose your photo (way too dark). The process is here to organise you perfect composition, check the light metering, add the ND filter and manually change the exposure value to adapt to the new light. You can all do this manually or you can get this app to add the exposure value you read and the ND filter you install, it will give back the new value to set on your camera. Just easier to get the values right without any human mistakes
Limit…this is a no-frills app, it’s basically a calculator. If you do not have ND filter you do not need it
Are you visiting a country and you do not have Internet connectivity on your mobile? A long time ago it was possible to download Google Maps on the mobile, not any more.
This app called Maps.me is the perfect alternative. You can download the country map and here you are ready to see where you are whenever you want, even if you do not have internet, all offline
Limit…the map file you download for the country is an heavy one. Remember to delete it once you leave the country otherwise your phone will be soon full.
I have just started using Later and I can see definitely a good value on this app/website.
Between me and you, the hardest thing of Instagram is posting on a regularly basis.
I like to post one photo around 6-7pm and maybe a second one at 9-10am Melbourne time. That is the time when I experience more following I noticed. The reality is that I may be busy with something else in that time of the day and importing a photo, writing the post, selecting the best travel hashtags etc takes a bit of time.
With Later you can plan all of your photos in advance, with the written post and the hastags as well. When it comes the time, the app Lategram on your mobile opens up Instagram with the photo and the post, you just need to click on “Post”….that easy!!
With Lategram you have 30 free posts per month (payment required if you exceed this limit), however if you click on this Lategram link you will get another 10 free on top 😉
this is a Microsoft app which makes a life much easier when you want to build, well, an hyperlapse video. I have a Samsung S6 and the native camera app has already a similar functionality however it can be useful when not already included in the phone
I hope you find the above an exhaustive list of the best travel photography apps. Any suggestion is obviously more than welcome.
I am usually a person that tends to load a minimal number of apps. I used to have lots of apps in my old mobiles but I ultimately decided to stay with the essentials. Sometime the built in apps are actually so good that there is no need to load new ones, as it is the case for the native camera app.
Enjoy your trip and see you soon somewhere in the world.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.