Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
When last we spoke (back in Episode #106), I told you all about Photoshop Elements and Acorn, a pair of full-featured image editing apps for your Mac. Both can produce excellent results and are reasonably priced, but they also include a number of features you may not need or wish to master, such as layers, histograms, levels, curves, and saved selections to name just a few.
I have good news for those who want to improve your photos but don’t want to spend a lot of time or money... That good news comes from a cool little company out of San Diego, CA called MacPhun, which makes nearly a dozen different inexpensive apps specifically designed to help you fix imperfections and improve mediocre photos quickly and easily, for not a lot of dough.
For example, Snapheal ($19.99; Snapheal Pro $39.99) makes it a snap to get rid of unwanted objects and imperfections, thus “healing” your pictures. Say you get a gorgeous shot of a sunset with a telephone pole in the foreground… Use Snapheal's paintbrush, eraser, or lasso tool to select the telephone pole and Snapheal does the rest.
I thought the water tower (left) was superfluous; Snapheal made it disappear like magic (right)
Like other programs that attempt this trick, you will probably need more than one try to get it right. That being said, Snapheal’s simple tools and before-and-after view make it easy to get good results.
Then there’s Focus 2, which lets you add bokeh — that dreamy out-of-focus effect easily achieved with a decent camera but devilishly hard to create with even the latest iPhone and iPad cameras — to any photo. Again, while many programs offer tools to add blur or bokeh, it’s not always easy to get good results. Focus 2 makes it easier to get good results quickly.
Blurring the boring background (right) makes this image more appealing (in my humble opinion)
One of my favorite MacPhun apps also happens to be the least expensive; ColorStrokes lets you select parts of a picture to remain colorized while removing the color everywhere else and leaving just black and white. It’s a simple, stunning effect and it couldn’t be easier to achieve with ColorStrokes.
Caption: Removing the color from the background (top-left) greatly improves this photo
A nice feature of most MacPhun apps is that they’re available in standard or pro versions. The standard ones are for hobbyists and beginners, offering the core features of the pro versions at a reduced price. The pro versions include features like advanced image-processing technology, additional tools and presets, improved algorithms, and the ability to use them as plug-ins with Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, and Aperture. Upgrades from standard to pro are available and reasonably priced.
I also love the way funny facts and sayings pop up while the apps render your image. Then again, I’d expect nothing less from a company called “MacPhun.”
Some are funnier than others… but anything is more phun than a (usually inaccurate) progress bar
Now, here’s some more good news: You can download free trial versions of these and most other MacPhun apps at www.macphun.com.
One last thing: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that MacPhun also makes a handful of inexpensive apps for iDevices, all under five bucks! I’ve been using ColorStrokes on my iPhone for years and you just can’t beat it for two bucks.
And that’s all he wrote…
Snapheal $19.99; Snapheal Pro $39.99; Focus 2 $9.99; Focus 2 Pro $39.99; ColorStrokes iPhone $1.99; ColorStrokes Mac $2.99.
All from MacPhun Software.