“Excuse me sir, can you please take our photo?” “NO!!!!”
Alright, so maybe you’ve never heard that as an answer to that question, but you may have feared it. It doesn’t always feel right asking total strangers in the street to take your photo with a friend — not to mention the very real possibility they might sprint off with your precious device.
If you’re a dSLR or point-and-shoot person, I can’t help you. If, however, you’re using your smartphone as your camera, you’re never going to have to ask for these favors again.
Imagine this: you’re having a great time with a friend in a new city. You arrive at a beautiful landmark, and you want a souvenir photo of both of you standing in front of it. Pretty common scenario, right? What you do in this case is either ask a stranger to take your photograph, try to take a selfie which usually comes out awkward, or give up on appearing in the picture together.
Groopic, a brilliant app for iOS and Android, solves that. And once you try it, you’d be wondering how come no one thought of this simple trick before.
What does Groopic do? Essentially, it combines two photos into one, thus making sure everyone, including the photographers themselves, appear in the final picture. There’s nothing really innovative about the technique — all you have to do is align the second photo with the first before taking it, and Groopic will combine the two. The process is similar to aligning the two sides of a panorama.
The theory sounds great, but does it really work?
Free vs. Pro
Before diving into using the app, it’s important to understand the limitations of the free version so there are no undue disappointments. The free version of Groopic lets you take as many group photos as you want. It lets you apply filters to those photos and browse both combined and original photos, but there’s one important thing it won’t let you do: save them.
If you want to save these photos outside the app and share them, you’re going to need to upgrade to Pro. This costs $0.99, and is done through an in-app purchase.
In addition, the list of Android devices Groopic currently supports is a bit limited. It does include most of the common high-end devices such as the Nexus 4 and 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, all three versions of the Galaxy Note, the HTC One and One X, and other select devices by Motorola and Sony. If you’re having problems, check the full list of supported devices, and contact the developers if yours is not supported.
Groopic In Action
To start using Groopic, you need to take your first picture. This means there’s one photographer, and the rest are having their picture taken. In order to get a good result, you need to leave some space for the photographer so they can appear in the second picture.
Once that’s done, you switch. However, in order to get the best results, it’s important to align the two photos as carefully as possible. So first, the photographer shouldn’t move from the spot until the second photographer comes to trade place with them, and once that’s done (doing your best to keep the phone in the same spot), the app helps you align the two photos by showing an overlay of the first photo on the second.
Now you need to tell Groopic who the photographers are. If there are only two people, simply tap the first person and then the second. If there are more, show the app the photographers by tapping on them in the photos they appear in.
Now sit back and watch as Groopic creates your group photo. Here are two I did myself with my colleague and husband, Erez (yes, they’re not the best. But they get the point across!):
As you can see, the first one had a problem: Erez’s hand got cut off. This happened because his arm was stretched out in the first photograph, and entered the frame of the second one. Other than that, though, the picture is really impressive. So we tried a second one.
Can you tell we weren’t actually sitting together in this photo? I can’t, and I know we weren’t for a fact. You can also see the two originals on top as proof.
Once you have your group photo, Groopic lets you apply one of several filters, if you wish. The selection is not huge, but it’s nice enough, and if it’s not enough for you, you can always export the picture into a different app (if you paid for Pro).
If you paid for Pro, you can now share or download your final result using Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, text-messaging apps, and more. If you didn’t, you can enjoy the photo inside Groopic, but that’s about it.
Never Ask For Favors Again
There’s no doubt that dSLRs still produce better pictures, and if you’re going on a trip and own one, by no means leave it at home. However, you can still take great photos with your smartphone. and not only that, your smartphone’s camera has some pretty surprising uses, and can also perform some neat tricks a dSLR can’t.
One trick you now know about is this ability to take group pictures without resorting to strangers, favors or selfies. So next time you go on a trip with friends, don’t leave your phone at home. It could be responsible for the best souvenirs you have from that trip!
Image credit: Loren Kerns