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March 24, 2012

Nokiapp Showdown #8 – photo editing

To mark the end of #NCphotoweek here at Nokia Connects, we’ve taken the imaging King and the imaging Queen and pitted them against each other in the latest Nokiapp Showdown.

Tilt Shift filter. This photo is of Melbourne city centre. From Richard.

There’s a twist this week as Richard Dorman and Jen Hanen discuss their choices when it comes to taking and tweaking their photos. Can you spot what it is?


Molome on the Nokia N8

I have always been a keen photographer, but with the release of the Nokia N8 back in September/October 2010 my interest exploded. I just cannot stop taking pictures now. I never leave home without one of my two N8s in my pocket.

That said, I have to be honest, I am not a very keen on editing photos – especially from the Nokia N8. It is just so good that you might be asking why I am reviewing a mobile photo editing application. The answer to that is quite simple; Molome not only offers cool ways to edit your images but also includes a social element – not just uploads to Facebook and Twitter – but also its own built-in social network.

You can follow people whose images you like and they can in turn follow you. You can ‘love’ their photos (similar to a Facebook ‘like’) and you earn badges which grant you more ways to edit your photos.

Once you have signed in to Molome (or created your account for first time users) your main view is a ‘Timeline’, and obviously you need to follow some people to achieve this. I must admit I don’t follow many – and those I do tend to be Twitter friends. However the ‘Popular’ screen will be populated and could give you some useful ideas on how to edit your photos. The UI is very simple, and offers all the basics. Once the photo is either taken or loaded from your gallery, filters are applied through one touch. No editing skills are involved. There are a total of 15 filters to choose from currently. Not all are unlocked at first but, once you have uploaded a sufficient numbers of photos they do become available.

I have done a couple of examples for you, one using the ‘Tilt Shift’ filter (above) and one using the ‘Bonita’ filter.

Bonita filter. ‘The photo is one I took of Main Beach from Point Lookout, on North Stradbroke Island.’

There are some downsides to the application, the main one being the resizing of the image. The N8 takes pictures up to 4000 x 3000 pixels but the application crops the image to 600 x 600. To my mind this is just wrong and almost blasphemous to the N8’s abilities.

So, in essence, this application is more about having fun and being social about your photo editing rather than being serious about editing. But let’s be honest: if you really want to be serious about photo editing, you would not do it on a mobile device.

Richard’s scores for Molome:
Usability 4/5
Design 5/5
Features 3/5
Longevity (would you keep it on your phone?) 3/5
Fit for purpose 4/5

The reason I have scored low on ‘features and longevity’ is the number of available filters. Fifteen is just not enough to my mind and other apps offer up to 40. However, Molome is a very good application and, as the developers are certainly very active on Twitter, the amount of available filters will no doubt increase over time. On the positive side, Molome is free in the Nokia Store.

Using your strongest tools

From Ms.Jen’s Twitter profile

There are a lot of potential mobile photo applications that one can use with one’s camera phone, apps that give you more camera features than the native camera UI has, apps that alter the photo to look vintage or high color intensity, ones that add comic bubbles or hearts to your photos, and more. Some folks are looking for apps to extend the abilities of the camera on their mobile, some to extend their perceived lack of photographic ability, and others just want to have fun with their photos. It doesn’t matter if you are taking photos with your new Nokia Asha 303 or the mega-riffic Nokia PureView 808, the act of photography is all in your head.

I usually use most photo apps a few times to try them out, as my favorite photo app for my Nokia camera phone is my eyes and my brain. Yes, you heard me right, my brain and my eyes. Yes, it is fun to use a variety of the photo and photo editing apps, but I enjoy the actual act of taking the photo, the act of really looking at the scene or subject, framing, taking the photo, trying a different point of view or turning off the flash or changing scene mode, re-framing and then taking another photo.

Some would say that I am being a photo purist by eschewing photo editing and that I am missing out on creating more dynamic photos with a little tweak here and a little tweak there whether in a photo editing app. No, the reality is that my joy in photography comes in really looking at the world around me and in taking the photo.

The best part about having a camera phone on hand or in pocket isn’t just never having to miss a photo opp, it is that one can hone one’s eye and photo ability over time with practice and a few active choices. Wouldn’t you rather take 15-30 extra seconds to take a couple of more photos and end up with one that is really good then spend minutes or hours later in a photo editor trying to get it to the level of good you had in your mind’s eye when you took the photo?

In the moment before you take a photo, really look at the scene or people you want to photograph and ask yourself ‘What is it that I want to capture here?’ Is it the people or scene? Is it the way the light or color is on the subject? Are the shapes really cool and intriguing? Do I want to tell a story with this photo? The act of asking what you want out of the photo is the act of engaging your mind actively into the act of taking the photo. By engaging your mind, you can then take the photo with focus.

By focusing on the part of scene or people you most want to capture, then you can make the quick decisions of ‘Do I need to physically move back, forward or to the side or tilt the mobile in a different way to get this photo or can I digitally zoom to capture the composition I want?’ Or you can determine if you need to change the scene mode or turn off or turn on the flash, etc.

Yes, babies, animals, cars, and people playing sports move fast and you may not have time to think everything out and compose your photo carefully. You may need to just take the photo, look at it quickly, make a few adjustments and shoot again. Sometimes the first photo will be the best, but other times it is the 3rd or 4th taken after a few quick adjustments that will be the best photo. Don’t be afraid to take more than a few, as you can always delete what you don’t want to save.

One of my biggest lessons in using my brain and eyes as the best camera phone app was a few years back when I wanted a photo of a few friends, I asked them to pose, I snapped the photo, the mobile showed me the photo and it was only OK with their faces in shadow, but the friends were in a rush and I didn’t want to keep them. I could have spent time later fixing it in a photo editor, but one of my friends said, ‘Shouldn’t you try from that angle?’ I moved a couple of meters around them, quickly took another photo and the second photo was magic. It sounds simplistic, but in the moment I so wanted to not miss the photo that I forgot to engage my best photo app: my eyes and brain.

Photo by Jenifer Hanen,, taken with her Nokia N8.

The photo above was one of three photos that I took of the choir stalls at the Barcelona Cathedral last week from three different angles of my mobile, by tilting the camera phone I was able to change the light and the composition. There was no photo editing other than resizing for this article and adding a watermark.


So there’s two different points of view on snapping and tweaking for you to ponder. Which do you prefer? Which do you use (two different questions). Let us know by leaving a comment or condense your thoughts into 140 characters and send them to us @Nokia_Connects.