Edit on a smartphone
Jo Bradford enjoys the benefits of image-editing on the move, and shares her favourite techniques for the Snapseed app
One of the great pleasures of pursuing smartphone photography is that I can shoot and edit on my phone wherever I am, and whenever the mood takes me. If I have a spare minute between meetings or while I am on a train, I use the time on my phone editing photos. I never have a wasted minute anymore: being made to wait or queue for something is just an opportunity to get my phone out and work on my photos. It’s life-changing! I used to shoot with a big DSLR camera and spend weeks processing on my computer, in programs laden with clever tools that took years to learn.
Let’s look at how to give your picture some finesse during the editing process. There are many great apps out there to help improve your photos, I favour the free Snapseed app (iOS and Android) on my smartphone for quick edits, and Affinity Photo on my iPad Pro for more detailed work. Both Snapseed and Affinity Photo have a facility to develop raw files, where you can adjust Exposure and White Balance, amongst others. ‘Do less in order to do more’ is the motto I apply in the photo-editing phase. Edit wisely and sparingly to reveal the beauty in an image and to enhance a great shot. Don’t let your photos be defined by the apps and filters you choose: use them with a light touch and let the picture’s inner beauty sing out.
Most smartphones automatically boost the saturation when you take a photo. This can look punchy, but it also looks fake! Turn the saturation down slightly now, so that you are not overlaying even more fakery onto it to begin with. Make it look realistic for now, and trust that you can boost your saturation again later in just the right amount. It will be like a final layer of varnish to enhance your masterpiece at the end.
1 Rotate and Crop tools
Begin with the Rotate and Crop tools to get lined things up. If your horizon is wonky, this is the tool to sort it out. Use the Crop tool next. Move the edges of the image to crop to one of the aspect ratio presets, or make a free crop.
2 Brush tool
For precision adjustments, use the Brush tool. Tools include Exposure and Saturation; my favourites are the Dodge and Burn tools. Dodge brightens by adding light, so move towards the + sign for this effect. Burn darkens by decreasing light, so move towards the - sign for this.
3 Selective tool
For larger-area adjustments, use the Selective tool. I primarily work with Brightness here. Using a pinch gesture on the touchscreen, you will see a red blush appear across the area to be affected by the adjustment. Swipe left or right to increase or decrease the tool effect.
4 Tune Image
The Tune Image menu offers a range of useful tools such as Ambience. (The result is like an HDR effect.) There are also useful Highlights and Shadows tools, plus Detail, which adds a tiny amount of extra contrast to the edge details in order to make the shot appear sharper.