Sunday, 22 September 2013

AppLove: Edinburgh, our Tiny Planet

I’m a big fan of smartphone photo apps. They can work miracles for on-the-go iPhone snaps and are a must for adding COMPLETELY ESSENTIAL girly details like scalloped borders and flowers to your pictures. Plus Instagram’s filters work like a dream for us poor plebs who don’t have access to professional airbrushing.

But the new fave in my toolbox has to be Tiny Planet, a £0.69 gem that I’m going to try very hard not to overuse. With what can be no small amount of processing power, this genius app curves and bends your photos to create a trippy, distorted, entirely new image that creates the sensation of staring at a Dali painting or peering down a wormhole – like looking at tiny planet, if you will.

As a wee city with a big heart and lots of beautiful old buildings, I thought Edinburgh would be the perfect subject matter for the app’s maiden voyage (on my phone). I took a random selection of pics of the city from my phone, as well as some my Dad had captured with his SLR (some well-known sights, others less so) and gave them the Tiny Planet treatment.

The results are mixed – some definitely work better with the TP filter (there are two you can choose from, "tiny planet" and "rabbithole", which reverses the effect) and in general I think probably sparing use of this app would be advised. But on the whole, I think they give a rather lovely alternative depiction of the city .

Here’s Edinburgh, tiny but perfectly-formed. Let's kick off with the gate at the Botanic Gardens:

The National Gallery on Princes Street:

The main man. Greyfriars Bobby:

The Scottish Parliament Building:

Swans overlooking a snowy Arthur's Seat:

Bruntsfield Links:

The "door wall" at Tollcross's new cafe FYUL:

Edinburgh Christmas' ferris wheel:

The Scotsman building, as seen looking through the glass roof at Waverley Station:

Bruntsfield's coffee and curry tardis, the Bollywood Coffee Box (yeah, I live near Bruntsfield...):

And finally, Edinburgh Castle on a wintry morning:

I'm still working out the best photos to use with Tiny Planet. I think trial and error is the best way to go, but here are my (very brief) tips if you are wanting to have a bash yourself:
  • Edit your photos before hand - just a little bit so you've got the best possible canvas to work with. I use Afterlight for cropping and adjusting brightness, contrast etc.
  • Photos with a strong subject tend to work best, and avoid using an image with a lot of clutter
  • Images with a strong, straight horizon line are great as they work well when manipulated either way into a "planet" or a "rabbithole"
  • It's possible to use photos not taken on an iPhone but the resolution needs to be really high. I assumed standard web resolution would work and ended up with a lot of nasty pixels. 
  • This app has a lot of work to do - so not surprisingly it sucks up battery pretty fast. Avoid Tiny Planetting when on 7%, or make sure you've got your charger handy.
  • If you like what you see there are a ton of really amazing images on Twitter and Instagram - just search for #tinyplanet

What do you make of Edinburgh Tiny Planet-style, and the app itself? Is it a hideous gimmick or when used in moderation, a nice option for adding a twist (literally) to your iPhoneography? Let us know!


  1. These are awesome! The Greyfriars Bobby and swan one are beautiful but the Bruntsfield Links one really does look like its own planet.

  2. Haha the coffee and curry tardis! <3 My side of town. Love this x