6 Steps to easily improve any photo on your smartphone
There are hundreds of mobile photo editing apps available. Many of them are gimmicky and not worth the free price tag!
The Snapseed mobile photo editing app has nearly every feature you could possibly need. It is quite intuitive and available on both Android and iOS systems. It is the ideal app for me to demonstrate at in-person smartphone photography workshops because it is so simple and the results can be breathtaking.
Below, I provide the standard 6 step process that I apply to nearly all my photos.
Once you open your photo in the app, you have three sections: ‘Looks’ and ‘Tools’ and 'Export'.
We are going to dive into the ‘Tools’ options and give you the confidence to quickly enhance any of your photos. The 'Looks' are similar to filters you will find in other apps like Instagram.
Firstly, you may need to straighten the image. At times, you may deliberately angle your photo to make it look more dynamic and create some interest. However, often a photo that is slightly crooked can make you photo look ‘not quite right’. This is called ‘visual tension.’
Select ‘Perspectve’ under the tools menu, followed by ‘Rotation’. Then you can swipe left or right to adjust your image. You will notice the black corners being filled in when you let go? It is super cool!
Secondly, you may want to re-frame the photo to highlight a subject area or change the focus of surrounding elements in the photo. Experiment with aspect presets and compositions. Drag the corners in and out or hold the centre of the grid and move it around.
You may even discover several photographic opportunities within the one photo - explained in this photo cropping tutorial.
3. Tune Image
This is where the real magic happens. After selecting ‘Tune Image’, again under the tools menu, I always swipe up to ‘Ambience’ first. This adjustment is a combination of many of the enhancement options available to you. It alone, can really make your photo pop off the screen. Next, I start at the top of the ‘Tune Image’ options and work my way down to the bottom. There is no right and wrong with these adjustments. Experiment a little, you never know what you will discover. If you go too far, you can always reduce the strength of the effect.
Again under the tools menu, you will find a menu option called ‘Details’. There are two options here to sharpen the image. ‘Structure’ sharpens the edges within the photo and ‘Sharpening’ sharpens every pixel. My advice is to generally avoid pushing ‘structure’ past the number 20 because the image becomes grainy and looks manufactured or fake.
This is the final adjustment and one that I absolutely love. This feature allows you to remove any distracting objects from your photo. Pinch and zoom to get in closer to the object you want to remove. Then, tap or swipe over the object. The area you swipe over is instantly filled with content from surrounding pixels. It does a great job.
6. Lens Blur
I love this feature of Snapseed. You can choose between ellitptical and linear which is basically add blur around the subject or across the top and bottom of the image. You can increase and decrease the area in blur, the transition between in focus and out of focus, focus strength and also add a vignette - darkening of the outer corners.
Snapseed has a whole lot more to offer, but the above should be enough to get you hooked.
Also published on Medium.