AMITIAE - Tuesday 6 March 2012

Another Simple Photography app for iOS Devices: Image Straightener

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By Graham K. Rogers

Image Straightener

Many users may have problems when taking photographs as an exact vertical or horizontal alignment is not always the result. This is especially so if the shot is taken quickly, from a moving vehicle or without a tripod.

Not many amateur photographers carry a tripod about all the time. I have one for my DSLR camera, but it is rarely used. Although there several for the iPhone, I do not have one. With the amount of picture taking I now do with the iPhone and with such accessories as the olloclip lenses that I have. Perhaps I should.


Quite a few of the images I take need some adjustment to make sure that the Bangkok skyline does not emulate that of Pisa; or that the people I photograph do not appear to be leaning drunkenly. On the Mac, there are tools for this in both iPhoto and Aperture: a grid is placed over the image for accuracy and a slider used to make the adjustment. Applications like Graphic Converter also have such tools, so this is not a difficult adjustment to make when working on the computer.

The essence of the iPhone is mobility. Images taken on the device are often for instant use on social media sites, where images and comments are shared within minutes of the photographs being taken. That immediacy can lose from a too hastily taken image, or one that could benefit from a hint of fine tuning such as exposure, contrast or alignment.

At the weekend I reviewed Image Blender: a delightful app that combined two images to provide a semi-transparent background and also provided a number of additional filters to add to the effect. While looking at the iTunes App Store information for this, I saw that this developer, Johan Andersson, had another app shown: Image Straightener. For the $0.99 cost, this was an easy decision.

Image Straightener

While I already have apps that will rotate and straighten any images, for example, Photogene, the tools that are needed for straightening or rotating are part of a wider suite of tools within the app. If all that is needed is a quick fix of a few degrees, the use of an app tailored for the specific task seems more economical: certainly with regard to time. Image Straightener follows an idea often found on Macs and iOS: it does one thing and it does it well.

When started, the app has a bare grey panel ready for use. At the top left is a camera icon. To the right (greyed out initially) is Save. Tapping the camera icon takes a user directly to the Photo Album. There is not much point accessing the camera of course. This is for work on those shots we know can be improved.

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When a picture is loaded, the same slider that was used in Image Blender was available. Using this, it is an easy moment or two to adjust the picture. As is normal in this action, some cropping will occur. To the left and right of the slider are curved arrows which I initially thought were undo and redo icons. Instead they are provided to allow more accurate alignment, 0.1 of a degree at a time. As these are pressed, so the exact angle is displayed above the slider control button.

Tapping the screen brings up two additional tools. To the left is a grid icon. When this is tapped there are + and - icons in the center top which allow the grid to be made more fine for accuracy in adjustment.

The icon at the right looks like an iPhone with a couple of arrows at the side. Tapping this allows the image to move with the movement of the phone, using the gyroscope. As the image rotates, so the slider moves and there is a readout of the angle. Tapping the screen stops the rotation and the image is held in the last position. It is easily adjusted more, either by using the slider, the arrows, or by turning on the gyroscope again.

As with Image Blender, the Save button brings up a panel with two options (plus Cancel): Share with Camera Roll, or Other Apps. I noticed that Image Blender had been added to the list. There is a button at the bottom of the panel that reveals a list of More apps, some of which I think I should try.

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Of particular value to photographers is that the metadata is kept. If I were connecting to the iPad with the camera connection kit and making adjustments on the road, that would be of particular importance. Like Image Blender, the original size of the image is also kept.


While the purpose of the app is to straighten images, it is just as well used to change images so that they are at an angle. In the family home in the UK I have seen an album that has pictures of my mother as a teenager. As was apparently the fashion at the time, all were taken with the camera held at an angle. This can still be effective these days. With this app, straightening an image, or rotating it so that the subject is at an angle, is the work of seconds.

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Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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