How to remove annoying objects from your photos

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How will TouchRetouch manage with this delicious breakfast?
How will TouchRetouch manage with this delicious breakfast?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

We’ve all taken the perfect photo, only to have to have it ruined by some unwanted element. A pole sticking out of someone’s head. A passing car in the background of an otherwise-perfect street scene. Or a political enemy in one of Stalin’s portraits.

But whereas the Soviet regime employed a team of photo retouchers to chop the gulag-bound dissidents from Stalin’s selfies, iPhone apps can remove clutter in seconds. Today we’ll see how to use my favorite: TouchRetouch.

How to use the new iOS Comic Book photo filter

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Shoot your own comic-book remake of
Shoot your own comic-book remake of A Scanner Darkly.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

iOS 12 has a great new camera filter: Comic Book. It turns your selfies and photos into pretty convincing pen-and-ink-style drawings, complete with flat blocks of color. It even works with Animoji selfies.

But hold on one second. You won’t find this filter in your iPhone’s Camera app, or even in the Photos app. Instead, you need to fire up the Messages app and use the camera there.

Cult of Mac’s 50 Essential iOS Apps [The complete list, sorted!]

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50 Essential iOS Apps
The best and most useful apps for iPhone and iPad
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

With our 50 Essential iOS Apps series, the goal was to help you find some of the best apps for iPhone and iPad. Picking the finest offerings from the more than 2.2 million iOS apps in Apple’s App Store proved challenging. But we highlighted apps that offer excellent features or make life easier in various ways.

To wrap up the series, we’ve sorted the apps by category to make the list easier to browse. We’re also showcasing Cult of Mac readers’ alternatives to our picks.

(You’ll find reader faves linked at the end of this post. That’s especially helpful since one of our must-have apps is about to die an unceremonious death.)

How to enable iPhone Photos extensions

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Photo filters can be subtle or … not.
Photo filters can be subtle or … not.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Apple’s Photos app offers a very good set of editing tools. On both Mac and iOS, you can pick filters or perform a quick fix with the auto feature. You can also really dig in with some tools that are easily as comprehensive as anything on iOS.

These tools rival many desktop photo apps, but sometimes you want to do something extra-fancy. Maybe you have a favorite filters app. Or you want to combine two photos side by side in one frame or overlay one picture on another. Or use an app that lets you remove distractions in the frame, like power lines, cars or trash. Then you need to turn to Photos extensions.

How to make sure your iPhone fireworks photos go off with a bang

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These tips will help you take better fireworks photos.
These tips will help you take better fireworks photos.
Photo: Richard Dongses/Flickr CC

Last year’s Fourth of July fireworks made you say ooh and ahh, but when you look at your iPhone photos from that night, the sound you make is more of an ugh. Want to shoot better fireworks photos this time around?

Don’t blame Siri or some engineer in Cupertino for previous photo fails. The iPhone camera, as mighty as it is, can’t do all the thinking for you — especially in challenging lighting conditions like a fireworks display. But with a little thought and preparation, you can make this holiday worth reliving on your iPhone camera roll.

Below are some simple tips to make your fireworks photos sizzle.

Obscura 2 is a manual camera app you can understand [50 Essential iOS Apps #18]

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Obscura 2 camera app taking a photo of a dog
Obscura 2 gives you powerful camera controls in an easy-to-use package.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Obscura Camera For several years in a row, the iPhone has been one of the most popular cameras in the world. Apple’s image sensors, paired with top-notch image processing, results in exceptional photos time and time again.

One thing absent from the default camera app, though, are manual settings. With Obscura 2, you get all the manual controls you want, plus a wide range of image-processing features, perfectly implemented haptics, and a slew of vintage filters to make your photos pop.

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Is your Mac photo library a mess? The PowerPhotos Mac photo app can help.
Is your Mac photo library a mess?
Photo: picjumbo.com/Pexels CC

Retrobatch for Mac means you can finally ditch Photoshop

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retrobatch
Even Retrobatch's icon is fantastic.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Acorn is one of the two best1 Mac image editors for normal humans. Retrobatch, from the same developer, is a batch-processor for images, letting you build simple or fancy workflows that can do pretty much anything to your images, automatically. If you regularly resize photos, remove location data, add watermarks, or anything else, this is for you.

Even crazier is Retrobatch’s machine-learning component, which can apply filters and operations based on what it sees in the image. For instance, you could drop a folder of images onto Retrobatch, and it would check them all and only apply filters to pictures of hot dogs. That’s right. It can detect pictures of hot dogs.