Recently, I came across an advertisement for a photography contest. The guy in this ad was not holding a professional DSLR, no, he was taking a picture with his mobile phone, which made me think of how much has changed in the way we think about photography and how we create our photos. In part of this process, the way of editing our photos has changed too. The list of apps and tools you can use to edit and improve your pics is sheer endless. In this post, I will show you which 3 free apps will make the most of your photos and how I use them, along with some shooting + editing tips that will instantly improve your photos.
The word iPhoneography was created in 2008 when build-in mobile phone cameras were getting better, slowly but with great impact replacing our digital cameras because, hey, one thing less in our bags. You can now take photos on the go and edit them on the go. Most of us iPhoneography-artists are not professional photographers, but still, we want our photos to look amazing if we use them just for ourselves, to participate in challenges or contests or as most of us do, share them on Instagram.
How to prepare a good photo?
A lot of these editing apps, like the ones I will talk about in this post, can do terrific things. But, you have to make sure your raw material (original photo) is good in order to get amazing pics. If the basis isn’t right, no app can change that. So, how to get a good basis? Here are some things to help you:
Shooting in high resolution
Make sure your camera settings are put to the highest resolution possible to ensure good quality (more pixels, more possibilities).
Using a grid
Most mobile phone cameras have a grid you can use to focus while shooting. This helps to make sure you’re not shooting another leaning tower of Pisa and your focus isn’t askew. VSCO-App has this grid and in your iPhone, you can find it in your camera settings. Look for the main element in your photo and turn your camera to align it with the grid. It can also help you with the composition. Graphic designers and photographers equally use the Rule of Thirds for composition. The grid is exactly that. The points where the lines cross are main focusing points = that’s where you want to put your main element. Want to know more about the Rule of thirds and other design basics check out my post The Basics of Good Design.
Look for good light
Light is the most important factor for your photo. If possible, you should opt for natural light. When you are outside, this is no problem but what to do if you’re taking pictures indoors? Put your object close to a window and position yourself between those two. This way you can use the light coming in through the window but you won’t shoot into the light. If the light is too strong you will have to diffuse it. I use a white curtain or piece of fabric, still letting through a great amount of sun but softening the shadows in my photos.
Don’t use your camera’s zoom option if it’s not really necessary. Instead, try to get closer to the object. You might have to get down on your knees but it’s worth it.
Take multiple shots
Never take just one photo. Try to shoot several from different angles and with different lighting. The first photo you take might not always be the best and a different angle might turn out to be even better than what you first had in mind.
Think about these tips before you shoot your next photo. You can save yourself time for cropping, adjusting or throwing pics in the bin and starting new.
The 3 best apps to edit your photos on the go
VSCO: is by far the most popular app. It has a great community of sharers and followers (#vscocam). This app can access your camera to shoot directly inside the app which has a couple more features (white balance and ISO) than the built-in iPhone camera. VSCO comes with some top-notch filters. Probably the best filters you can find. On top of that you have the basic adjustment tools and your modifications can be copied and applied to other photos.
Snapseed: The best thing about Snapseed is its selective adjustments tool which lets you make corrections on areas of your photo without effect on the rest of the image. The brushes work great for temperature and saturation. You can always switch back and forth while you’re working to see the actual effect. There’s a list to see all your corrections, copy them or go back to your original image. The app also has a new feature to easily add text to your photos.
Colorstory: If you love to experiment with filters and effects, this is your app. Even the free version comes with playful and fun effects e.g. flares, color fog and a selection of bright and colorful filters. The tool I use most is the curves tool. It works just like in Photoshop. You can adjust highlights, mid tones and shadows in RGB. That’s perfect for making changes only to a part of your photos and leaves the rest intact. Check out their tutorial to see how it works. The handling in this app is made very easy. Going through your edits is possible, as is saving them or recovering the original photo.
How I go about editing my photos
- Cropping and straightening I always do first (all apps do this)
- Then I look for irregularities and remove spots (Snapseed’s correction tool works best here)
- The fine tuning depends on the photo and the look I want to achieve, but I mostly stick to exposure, temperature, saturation (Snapseed: brush and selective adjustment) and color adjustments (Colorstory: curves)
- Lastly, I apply filters to see if I can reach an even better effect (my favorites are: VSCO: A5, HB1 and HB2 and Colorstory: Lipstick and Mimosa)
These 3 apps are free, I recommend you try them out and see what works for you. Play around with filters and adjustments to reach the look you’re going for and say hello on Instagram @thatistheday so I can see your creations. >> Create more awesomeness!
Hey there! My name is Sandra. I am the ace, entrepreneurs and small businesses bring into the game when they need to transport their brand message through visuals to attract their ideal clients. I have been working in graphic design for more than 15 years but I am still amazed every time an idea is transformed into reality. On my blog >>thatistheday.com, you can find advice and tools to create your own awesome visuals. Check it out!