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Our favorite iPhone photo apps for capturing and sharing the holiday spirit

Here in the US it's a holiday weekend, and we'll be visiting friends and family as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Of course a holiday gathering means pictures are going to be taken, and I have put together a list of some of my favorite apps for the iPhone that will help you take great photos and share them. Most of the apps I am talking about also run fine on the iPod touch or the iPad, but I expect the great majority of iOS photos are taken with iPhones.

The iPhone camera has really improved over the years. More and more people are leaving their pocket camera at home and letting the iPhone become their camera of choice. Even better, very few conventional pocket cameras let you edit and send your photos to others (the Android-powered Nikon Coolpix aside), so the iPhone handily wins that race.

OK then, let's dig in. First, you will want to capture those scenes at the dinner table. Newer iPhones running iOS 6 (5 and 4S models) have the built-in panorama mode. It's perfect where you need a wide angle to capture the moment. Just remind people to stay relatively still so everything blends well. If you don't have an iPhone 4S or 5, you can still get those wide shots with apps like AutoStitch ($1.99), 360 Panorama ($0.99) or Panoramatic 360 ($0.99). The free Photosynth will also take some nice extreme wide shots.

Family portraits are easy as well. The iPhone camera with flash will work fine, but the iPhone, especially newer models, will do nicely in lower light, so you can forego the harsh light of the flash. Again, the built-in camera app works fine, but if you want a bit more control, or timers, and more adjustments, I suggest Camera+(on sale for $0.99), Fotor ($2.99) or Camera Genius ($2.99).

If you want to tweak your photos after the fact, there are a lot of options. Apple's iPhoto ($4.99) for iOS has a wide range of features, but I prefer Photogene2 ($0.99), FX Photo Studio ($0.99), Snapseed ($4.99) and Alt Photo ($0.99). All these apps let you share your finished photos via email or the major social networks.

If you want to fix a portrait by improving skin tones, or smoothing wrinkles on grandma, Perfect365 ($0.99) does that. It packs a lot of power in an iOS app.

Of course, sending photos out one at a time can be a bit of a hassle, so there are a few apps that will create collages or nice web presentations all on your iPhone. For collages, I like Diptic ($1.99), Photopath (free) and TurboCollage ($1.99). For getting your photos to the web easily, Apple has Photostream, but I really prefer Photoset, which is free and creates instant web pages you can share with others. We also recently took a look at Beamr (free), which builds mini-magazines for the web and devices using your iPhone photos.

Then there's the whole concept of taking thousands of still photos one after the other, and showing them to people at the frantic pace of 30 or so per second. Yes, you can bet the iPhone will be busy taking videos at many holiday parties. Apple's built-in video camera works just fine, but if you want more features take a look at FiLMIC Pro ($3.99). It has every feature a videographer could want. To do some quick and easy edits, Mike Rose suggests you check out One Second Epic ($1.99), which is a cool way to quickly string together short clips and then email them or share with Facebook.

Have a happy holiday, and be sure to check that your phone has enough space on it for all those photos and videos. If you've synced your phone to iPhoto or Aperture but you still have "zombie" photos in your camera roll, you can easily delete the unwanted images with Apple's Image Capture utility on your Mac.

Got more iPhone photo tips for the family gatherings? Please leave us some of your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

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