Seven of the best apps for smartphone travel photography - for shots in the dark, at sunrise and more

From location advice and almanac information to manual camera apps and time-lapse creators, these smartphone apps can improve any traveller’s photography

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 5:01pm

PhotoPills

As well as seeing where on the horizon the sun and moon rise and set (as well as exactly when “golden hour” and ”blue hour” begin and end), PhotoPills (HK$78) lets you consult depth-of-field tables, calculate star trails, and save points of interest and detailed positioning plans for future shoots. Available from photopills.com.

NightCap Camera

Although other manual camera apps exist for phones, NightCap Camera (HK$15) for the iPhone and iPad is unique in that it allows you to take smartphone photos in low light, even in darkness. ISO goes up to 8,000, it stores images as TIFF files for later processing, and there’s even a built-in intervalometer for automatic time lapses. Available from nightcapcamera.com.

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PS Express

Ideal for editing images on the go, this “lite” version (free, with in-app purchases) of the famous Adobe Photoshop software has a good basic suite of controls, though you do have to buy add-ons for noise reduction processing and many other things. It makes it easy to upload edited images to Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Available from adobe.com.

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Slow Shutter

The “milky water” effect can make for very arresting images, and Slow Shutter (HK$15) makes it easy to create decent quality shots of this kind just with a phone. Hold the phone as steady as possible for about five seconds (or use a tripod, or a nearby rock to lean your phone against) and a professional look is guaranteed. Available from luckyclan.com.

Camera+

Perhaps the easiest way to quickly upgrade the photos you take with an iPhone or iPad is the much-loved Camera+ app (HK$23). Exposure and focus can be set separately, which hugely increases your chances of more clarity, and it presents data for ISO, focal length and shutter speed on-screen. Available from camera.plus.

LightTrac

This app (HK$68) for iOS devices plots your location on a map and shows you exactly where and when the moon and sun will rise and set. As well as plotting their angle and elevation, it also presents data on exact shadow length at specific times of day, with automatic time zone detection. Available from lighttracapp.com.

Lapse It

Easily shareable time-lapse videos – of sunrises and sunsets, or fast-moving clouds across beautiful landscapes – are made simple with this impressive app (free, with in-app purchases for higher resolutions). Just put the phone on a tripod (or somewhere it will hold steady) and set it to take photos at any interval, and for as long as desired. It switches off your phone’s screen while it’s shooting and produces a small time-lapse video file ideal for sharing. Available from lapseit.com.