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Filterstorm – iOS’s Photoshop?

For those that practice the art of iphoneography, there are a wealth of editing apps available. From the inbuilt filters of Instagram to the smooth UI of Snapseed, through TiltShift apps to Lomo-style ones, HDR to framing, there is no shortage of apps to edit your photos with.

For those that are looking for a little more control over their images, Filterstorm, by Tai Shimizu is the app to get. At £1.99, it’s hardly a bank-breaker either, yet includes powerful features normally only found in desktop apps like Adobe’s Photoshop or Apple’s Aperture software.

I’d estimate at least 90% of the photos that I put onto Instagram have been through Filterstorm and that’s a conservative estimate.

So what makes it so great?

Well instead of being a one-click-fix filter style app it puts the control in your hands & leaves you alone.

There’s the usual crop, rotate, straighten and the like for editing your digital canvas, but the real power comes in the filers dropdown.


For the most part you interact through sliders on the left, (although the preferences allows you to move them,) but you can also paint on effects or masks using customisable brushes – a huge boon to the iPhonographer.
There is also a split screen feature in some filters that allows you to check your edits against either the left or right half of the original photo, or full frame.

Here’s a couple of before & afters:



I’ll briefly touch on the main ones I use in my typical workflow:

If I haven’t taken the photo with 645 Pro, And since most of my photos are headed to Instagram, I like to crop first, to get the composition set & only add edits to the final frame. Choose crop, 1:1 aspect ratio & move the image until the composition looks right — done.


Brightness & Contrast
Fairly self explanatory. I find that pictures taken with the camera app generally need brightness bumping to 60 and contrast to 20. It varies depending on the image and it’s worth remembering you can lock focus & exposure by tapping & holding, then recompose the shot. 645 Pro allows you to lock the focus, exposure and white balance separately too.


Mostly I use the middle sliders, top & bottom, to alter the luminance, but it’s worth remembering that you can edit channels for tweaks to RGB or red, green or blue individually.


White balance
Use the colour picker to alter the white balance based on the colour you choose. As a rule of thumb it works in opposition — cool colours pick yield a warmer white balance and vice versa.


Hue & saturation
Generally I use this incredibly sparingly, usually nothing more than 5% in any direction and mostly only 1 or 2% just to tweak the colour. I leave the big shifts to the white balance.


Sometimes I’ll use blur to simulate depth of field, using either gradients, like here, to limit where the blur affects:


Alternatively you can paint on the effect for total control, like I’ve done here:

Tom looking dapper

Tone mapping
Although Filterstorm has a sharpen filter, I tend to use tone mapping in it’s place. Again, moderation is key or you can end up with the over sharpened look HDR newbies tend to use and plague Instagram with. Normally I use something between 25 and 50% strength and about the same range, but usually a lower setting on radius.


For this photo I also added a vignette, which has controls for strength, falloff and brightness.





There’s a lot more to Filterstorm than I’ve covered here, including layers and blending modes, more filters, red eye reduction, curves and much more. For the money I think it’s the most powerful editor on iOS. Give it a go.

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