The iPhone app Touch Retouch performs the kind of stunning magic that first appeared in Adobe Photoshop only a few years ago. Adobe introduced this type of instant retouching based on pattern recognition under the name of Content Aware Fill. Now a similar technology is available for smartphone photography.
Once selected, areas of an image are instantly replaced with substitute image information recreated from surrounding areas. More often than not, viewers who are unaware of the previous state of a picture cannot tell an image has been altered, even upon close inspection. There are times when the results do not blend in well and for these times, simply changing the outline of the selected area and repeating will generate better results.
You can use this technology in many ways; to seamlessly remove objects from a photograph; to fill in areas of a distorted frame, such as the ones often generated by panoramic stitching software; or to simply extend the frame; with the right source images, you may even be able to blend together two separate images. The possibilities are far reaching, which is why I consider this app part of a smartphone photographer's essential toolkit.
While the results are complex, using the app is simple.
1. Load a file using the folder icon.
2. Pinch to zoom into an area you'd like to retouch.
3. Select the lasso icon and draw a line around the area to be replaced. Or use the paintbrush to brush over the area; the eraser allows you to remove paint from areas.
4. Tap the play icon and the app will calculate substitute information.
5. If you don't like either the selection or the results tap the undo arrow.
6. If like the results, tap the disk icon to save them.
You can also use the Clone Stamp tool to copy specific information from one part of an image to another, either to cover over an unwanted element or duplicate it. Simply tap the Clone Stamp icon, position the source point to copy from, move to the position to copy it to, and paint.
With a little practice, you'll start seeing photographs that you once might have ignored or passed by because of minor imperfections, which can now be convincingly removed in instants with the tap of your fingers.
John Paul Caponigro is an environmental artist and author, who leads workshops, seminars, and lectures internationally. Learn more at www.johnpaulcaponigro.com.