Playing With Camerabag 2

I use Flickr to host most of the pictures that are here on Whatever, and one of the nice perks of Flickr is its integration with Picnik, an online photo editing suite with some nice features and filters. Unfortunately, Picnik is going away soon, a victim of integration with its parent Google, and now I’m left to find a replacement suite for quick-and-dirty photo filtering. I use Photoshop for serious photo editing, but a lot of the time I don’t need serious photoediting, I just want something to make the picture look different. It’s been ironically easier to find apps for that that on a cell phone (I use Vignette most of the time) than it has been on the computer proper.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon Camerabag 2, a photoediting suite that has filters, frames and editing tools, with a relatively simple scheme for mixing and matching each. I have to say I’ve been pretty pleased with it. The mix-and-match aspect of it is especially nice; some of the other photo filtering programs I’ve played with have not made it as intuitive to put one filter on top of another and tweak both. The program fulfills my need to fiddle with the look of a picture without making it a drag to do so, and I like that a lot.

In addition to a set list of styles (filters) and borders, Camerabag 2 has a category of filters called “Favorites,” which are basically preset macros of various combinations of filters/adjustments/borders. You can use them as they are or tweak them by adjusting the individual components. You can also create your own (as I did above with the picture of me and Dave Klecha) and then save them for future use. As noted before, it’s pretty easy to figure out and catch on. My one complaint is that the various “smudgy” borders don’t seem to auto-generate variations, so all the smudges/creases/whatever will be the same across all the pictures. But that’s a relatively small gripe (and seems to suggest using those borders sparingly, which I think is probably a good thing, anyway).

I’ll note that I don’t think this sort of filtering necessarily makes pictures better — we could nerd out for days about whether the Instagramming of Photography has been a bane or a benefit. I think if you start off with a crappy picture, putting an ironic 70′s Instamatic border around it isn’t suddenly going to make it good, and if you have a good picture, you can filter it down into hipster mediocrity without much effort. That said, there’s something to be said with making a photo what you want it to be, and if fiddling with it with filters and effects gets it to the emotional space you want it to be in (or, to overthink it rather less, makes it look cool to you), then why not. I think it’s a little silly to get bogged down with concerns about authenticity when you’re taking pictures of your cat.

In any event, if you like tweaking your photos on your computer but don’t want to have to break out Photoshop for every little thing, I can recommend Camerabag 2. So far, it’s been making me happy, and it gives me lots of options to play with. And it’s $25 at the moment, which doesn’t suck either. It appears available for Mac and PC; check it out.

19 thoughts on “Playing With Camerabag 2

  1. I think if you start off with a crappy picture, putting an ironic 70′s Instamatic border around it isn’t suddenly going to make it good, and if you have a good picture, you can filter it down into hipster mediocrity without much effort. That said, there’s something to be said with making a photo what you want it to be, and if fiddling with it with filters and effects gets it to the emotional space you want it to be in (or, to overthink it rather less, makes it look cool to you), then why not.

    Exactly. Fashions come and fashions go, and if people are having fun with their snapshots, why not? I do confess that I rolled my eyes rather heavily when I saw that someone on my FB feed had hipstamatic-ed their grandchild’s christening photos. ::rolls eyes some more:: But hey, it’ll give the kid something to laugh at when HE’S a dad.

    I do get annoyed when someone puts themselves out there as a “professional” photographer, and all of their photos are dressed up with these canned filters. What, exactly, are they hiding? It’s easy to fake it online, you know? A musician friend of mine asked me once if iPhones and Hipstamatic annoyed me the way Autotune annoys real musicians, and I said, “Nah.”

  2. “I think it’s a little silly to get bogged down with concerns about authenticity when you’re taking pictures of your cat.”

    Ah, but when taking pictures of your wife? Not silly AT ALL.

  3. Thanks for this pointer to camerabag 2 – I’d never heard of it. I’m miffed about losing picnik. Just when I find something perfect on the internet, some big kid has to come through and kick sand all over my castle. *pout*

  4. And from the last shot we get confirmation that your alcohol abstinence is self-induced and not the more common wife-induced.

  5. Every time I see a picture of Zeus I curse the evil overlord that gifted me with allergies. I WANT a cat, dammit.

  6. I prefer Lightroom for all my photo editing these days. Far more lightweight than Photoshop (and I will never need all of what’s in full on Photoshop). I used Picasa pretty much the same way you do for years, but LR has taken over that role too. Granted, it’s not $25, but it’s fantastic for cleanup work and picture management.

  7. I have Photoshop and Lightroom and Photomatix Pro but for most quick and dirty editing I use Picasa…Mainly because it doesn’t change the file unless you use the edit in Picnik feature. But you can do some amazing things with Picasa and export the picture out in the finished version in whatever “web” size you want for posting.

  8. If you take a picture that you kind of like, and then apply a filter or several and turn it into a picture that you like more, how is that not “better”?

    If it’s really the smudge from a drop of sweat which falls from your nose that makes a photo into a work of art, then I bet you can find a filter to simulate that, too.

    Knowing how to make your own photographic plates, or how to set your f/stop, or mix your own paint from the berries you collected in the woods makes you a technician (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Even knowing what digital filters to apply to your camera phone photos is technical. But knowing where to point your camera, and when to stop fiddling with the results is what makes you an artist.

    I like your photos, by the way. And I envy you your sunsets.

  9. Thanks, I may check this out. I’ve long since settled for doing any photoediting on my desktop. In theory, a beefy Andriod tablet can run GIMP. In practice, no mortal has that much patience.

  10. The original iPhone version of CameraBag has been one of my favorites for a while. (It’s what I used to get that snapshot of you and Mary at the party, right after she won her Hugo.)

  11. Camerabag is not bad. But after discovering “Snapseed” for my Mac i only use this one. Its also cheaper.

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