Dramatic Black and White
Dramatic Black and White aims to do more than just convert your images to black and white equivalents. Instead it aims to help you create black and white images with a touch of drama to them, by allowing you to modify the light source, contrast, detail, tone and even grain in the photograph to create a truly compelling image.
When you first launch Dramatic Black & White (DBW), you are presented with a brief splash screen before the app loads proper. On loading you are presented with a menu that offers you two choices, either to take a picture (Take Photo) or load an image from the library (Get Photo).
Which ever one you choose, once the image is loaded, you will be presented with the main interface for the app. The first thing that you will see is that the image has a white ellipse overlaid onto it. This ellipse represents the spot light and it's centre point is where the light will be the most intense. By dragging one of the handles on the outer rim of the ellipse either inwards or outwards, you can affect the amount of light and vignetting on the photo. By dragging the centre point, you can move the focus of the spotlight to another area of the photo to better highlight it. Tapping the image will remove the ellipse to allow you to better see the image. Tap once again to bring the ellipse back.
Beneath the image, you will see six icons. The first, Get Photo, brings up the main menu again. The next button, Style, brings up the apps built in pre-sets. You can choose from three main groups: Black and White, Infrared, or Dramatic Black and White. Tapping on the image takes you out of the presets and back to the main editing screen. The next icon is Adjust. By selecting this, you are able to adjust various aspects or things in your image, such as the tone, grain, brightness, contrast, sharpness, intensity of the spotlight, RBG levels and so on. The last three icons should be self-explanatory. Reset undoes all changes that you have made and takes you back to when you first loaded the photo. Save, saves the image to your Camera Roll. Original, if you tap and hold on it, displays the original colour version of your photograph.
Along the top of the main screen you will see two more icons, an Info icon (i) and a pair of dice icon. Tapping the info icon, takes you to a brief getting started tutorial. Pressing the dice will apply a random set of filters to the image.
Working with the app
One of the nice things about DBW is that it is a very easy app to work with. As soon as you make changes, then a couple of seconds later they are visible on the screen, so you can see exactly what effect your actions had.
As I mentioned earlier, the presets are grouped into three sections, each with about 10-12 presets. Applying one is simply a matter of choosing the appropriate thumbnail and tapping it. If you don't like it then you can always reset the image and apply another preset, or use the Adjust options to fine-tune the image more to your liking.
The first group of filters, called Black and White, attempts to create the moody and tonal black and white images that have so famously captured people's attention in the past and sometimes with the right image, the results here are striking and don't require much in the way of adjustment later. The next group of filters, Infrared, produce as the name says, Infrared versions of the images. Finally the last group of filters, Dramatic Black and White, produce what are essentially Black and White HDR photos that are full of the kind of details that HDR photography brings out. Again like the previous groups of filters before it, if you use the right image then the results can be amazing.
Making adjustments to the images is also an easy process and is simply a matter of choosing Adjust and then moving the sliders around on each of the three tabs (Adjust, Filter and Grain) until you have an image that is to your liking. As soon as you place your finger on a slider, then a little info box pops up showing you the current setting for that slider and follows you as you move your finger along, making precise adjustments easy.
When your image is ready and you press the Save icon, you are presented with a multitude of options. At the top are two buttons that provide you with more information about JixiPix's products. Next is an upload to Facebook option which will be welcome to some I'm sure, followed by a follow us on Facebook option for Jixipix. Finally underneath those, you have the options to save the image to your camera roll, save a preset, email or print the image and curiously at the bottom, a settings button.
Settings provides you with an opportunity to alter the size of your image, you can choose between low, medium and high and there is a small warning underneath that choosing high can increase the save times later.
Saving a preset, creates a preset using the current settings for your image inside the group that provided your base, so if you used an Infrared filter at the start and then saved a preset, it would be grouped in with the other infrared presets.
Finally saving an image itself, as the app warns you, is a slow process. You can easily start a save going and then wait a minute for it to be done while the app renders the final image. The saving process can be a little frustrating sometimes as other black and white apps in the AppStore don't seem to do this but it does seem to be a common trait amongst all JixiPix apps. Images with the High setting are saved at 2592x1936, so a 5mb image (on an iPhone 4).
Personally I have a soft spot for DBW. It was the first black and white app that I bought, one of the first apps that I bought for my iPhone, and one of the easiest (compared to something like Blender for example), to understand immediately without really needing to play with it a lot.
The main thing about the app is it really does produce good black and white images. Unlike some of the other apps out there, it is the only one (that I know of), that does the black and white HDR type image to good effect and can apply a good level of detail to the image. I think that this aspect of it alone makes it worth the price and the only downside to the whole app is the amount of time that it takes to save something. That aside if you are looking for an app to produce good black and white images and give you a lot of control over them, then you can't go wrong with Dramatic Black and White.
Examples from My Gallery
The Galeria - The Church Door - The Fountain - Charlotte
This app review was written by aproudlove. Check out his blog, and follow him on twitter and instagram (@aproudlove). If you would like to submit an app review to be featured in the App Critiques section, email django@iPhoneArt.com.
Published on March 14, 2012.
To purchase this app at the iTunes store click here: