Photo App Review: I’m kinda diggin’ Color Lake
Version reviewed: 1.6.1
Bottom Line: I like it a lot. Color Lake renders natural-looking, quality water reflection effects, quickly, in high resolution.
I grabbed it when it was free. Initially, I had low expectations for this app and it sat on my iPhone for a while before I took a look at it. But, Color Lake has turned out to be a very cool app for adding rain, snow, and reflective water effects. You can create some interesting contrasts by adding these elements where they don’t belong. Best of all, the effects look great and render very well.
Color Lake lets you add great-looking water reflection effects to your photos. There are also rain and snow effects, as well as control over some of the tonal qualities of the image. Images can be saved as high-resolution stills or “video photographs” — pictures that move.
After you import in image, Color Lake pretty much does its stuff. It loads and previews the image, complete with water effect. Onscreen, the water moves, shimmers and reflects like the shore of a lake.
The water reflections render accurately and account for distance and perspective. Effects look natural and are rendered extremely well. Reflections are accurately distorted. The overall “lake effect” looks great!
The base of the image can be cropped in-app to position the “water line” to better match your image. Simply tap onscreen or drag the water line to the desired position. Super easy. From the options, the wave size can also be adjusted.
You can also add rain and snow effects to the image. Rain creates a subtle motion blur to simulate raindrops. Snow is kind of a random blurry snowflake effect — much like what you’d get when the snow is out of focus.
There are limited color controls for hue and color saturation. There are also a few color effects, including sepia and black & white. I can not see a need for a hue shift in an app like this, but the mixing and adjusting the other tools created some interesting combination effects for me. If you use them, the color effects don’t preview in real-time onscreen. You have to make the changes in the options screen. There’s also no way to disable the water effect and just use the rain or snow. These are minor quibbles and far from a dealbreaker for me.
Color Lake does not downsize your images at all. Images save in up to double device resolution — 3264×4896 for a landscape image. It strips out most EXIF data, though, including Geotags. Effects render fairly quickly, a very impressive feat given the amount of image distortion the app needs to do. The app was very stable in my tests.
Color Lake was a fun app for me to test and play with. I didn’t use it to simply extend images with other bodies of water. I added a lakeshore to the park near my home. I created a rainstorm in the desert — a “gullywhumper” as we call them. While testing the app, I experimented with images you wouldn’t normally associate with shorelines to create some very interesting scenes.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by Color Lake. It’s an app that I first thought would create cheesy, poorly-rendered, low-res effects. Actually, Color Lake renders natural-looking, quality water reflection effects, quickly, in high resolution. It’s a surprisingly good app. It does what it says and does it well.
Color Lake is $1.99 in the App Store. It’s a Universal app designed for both iPhone and iPad. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.