Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fragment review: A great alternative for cool photo projects

The good: Fragment gives you great touch-friendly tools and cool-looking geometric shapes for unleashing your creativity on your photos.
The bad: There are no options to "undo" your last change or to go back a step.
The bottom line: Fragment has great touch controls for doing something truly unique with your photos, but if it's a basic
photo-effects app you're looking for, there are better options.
Fragment is a specialized photo tool that lets you add prism-like effects to your images, with an elegant interface layout that leads you through the process.
This isn't your run-of-the-mill retro photo filter app; Fragment superimposes complex geometric designs on your images and changes them with prism- and mirror-like effects for truly unique results. In other words, it's perfect for more artsy photo projects. If you're looking for a regular photo-editing app, you'll need to look elsewhere. But for something different from the normal fare, Fragment is in a league of its own.
Fragment your photos
Like most photo-editing apps, you can either snap a new picture using your iOS device's camera or pick one from your photo library. Once you bring an image in, your first option is to pick from a number of standard image sizes, including 1:1 (for Instagram, for example), along with 5:4, 3:2, or 16:9. Fragment sets up your project in a step-by-step process, so once you pick your size, you can hit the right arrow to move on to the next step.
One drawback here is that you can't go back just one step. The left arrow takes you back to the beginning (after a dialog box asks if you really want to start over). This is something I hope they will fix in a future update because it would be much better to be able to correct small mistakes.
The next step is picking the shape of your "fragment." The app comes with a large selection of simple and complex shapes that produce mirror-like effects. Within the fragmented shape, you can swipe to drag to move the image around. A button at the top lets you toggle between the fragment shape and the image within the fragment. In other words, by using the toggle, you can move the fragment shape around the full image, or move the image within the fragment. While it sounds confusing, once you reach this step, you'll understand what I mean.
There are buttons across the bottom to move, rotate, or zoom in on the fragmented image, and -- after hitting the button at the top -- move, rotate, or zoom the fragmented area itself.
If you just want quick results, you'll also find a randomize button in the lower right that automatically picks from shapes, zooms, and filters so you can make a Fragment right away.
Fine-tuning your image
From the same editing screen, there is an additional set of options for tuning both the fragment and the background image by swiping up from the bottom. Be careful not to swipe up from the very bottom, however, because this motion can also bring up the iOS 7 system tools screen.
This extra set of tools lets you adjust brightness, contrast, additive color, blur, invert, and desaturation effects using a swipeable slider. Just like other changes you make, you can use the toggle at the top to adjust the background image or the fragment shape. A separate wheel at the bottom also lets you add a little bit of color to your photo (or fragment) for some really cool effects.
When you're finished, you can save the project to your photo library, upload to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or open it in another supported photography app.
Get some inspiration
Fragment has a separate section called Inspiration on the first screen to show you what others have done with the app. Here you'll find all sorts of landscapes and creative photos that really show where the app truly shines. Once you see some of the ideas people have come up with, it's fun to play around with the tools to see if you can create similar visual effects.
Fragment is not your everyday photo filter app that you can find everywhere at the App Store. For that, you'll want something like Instagram, Camera+, PhotoToaster, or any of a host of other apps to make those kind of photo projects.
Instead, I think Fragment is more for the artistic smartphone photographer who is looking to make new and unique projects. With the way the app is laid out with intuitive controls and a wide range of editing options, just about anyone can make complex looking art projects as long as they follow the step-by-step process and use a little bit of imagination.

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