The following post may contain PR samples (denoted by asterisk *). This site makes use of affiliate links, which means this blog makes a small commission through clicks and purchases (at no cost to you). See disclaimer for details.
I think I need to start a post like this by saying that I still have a lot of room for improvement in my photography and my editing. I would really like to invest in Photoshop and actually shoot RAW, as my quality is not where I want it (lack of good lighting doesn’t help!). For now, I’m not there. However, I’m actually in a spot where I do feel reasonably okay with my photos, and thought I’d share my editing process.
If you’re interested in a demo of how I typically would edit a photo for Instagram or this blog, I have a YouTube video here.
To shoot, I use a Sony a6000. One of my favorite parts about it is that it sends my photos to my phone. I use an app called Snapseed to edit my photos on my Samsung Galaxy S5. I like this app a lot because it doesn’t negatively affect the quality of my photos and is pretty easy to use (once you get the hang of it).
Following are the different steps I take to edit:
Set up the frame
First, I rotate/straighten under the “Rotate” tool. Then, I use the “Crop” tool to set the scene shape. I typically decide the dimensions while I’m taking the shot, so there’s not too much decision-making during this step.
Under the “Tune Image” tool, I play with the Ambiance first. Ambiance just changes the balance of light in the photo. I like to set this anywhere from -20 to 0, depending on the shot, to darken black shades and highlight whites. For added brightening, I adjust the Highlights. I increase this until just before the most white item is blown out. I love bright photos, but not at the sake of being able to see the structure of an item. I don’t typically use the Brightness function because it makes my photo foggy.
Adjust the background
I’m not sure how to describe my current aesthetic, but I love to have a nice, neutral background. The lighting where I take my photos is fairly inconsistent, so I struggle with white balance in situ. The “Brush” tool comes in handy to fix this. I set the Saturation brush to -5 and draw all over my background. Any blue or yellow tint is turned to grey. This can be a bit tedious if there are lots of items.
I’ll also brighten the background further if I need to using either the Dodge & Burn brush at +5 or Exposure brush at +0.3. Dodge & Burn can be a bit tricky to use since it builds up the whiteness as you swipe, so things can get out of control and look, well, edited. The Exposure is a set amount, so it’s a bit easier to use.
Perfect the details
I use the Dodge & Burn brush (set at -5) much more frequently to darken blacks. It adds a nice richness to the photo. The Saturation brush (-5) gets more love from me on products as well when I want to control the focus or create a moodier photo.
The “Healing” tool is fairly easy to use for little blemishes in the pic. If I click on the spot, the tool will replace it with a section from the surrounding area. The only issue with this is that it doesn’t allow you to choose what the spot is replaced with. This makes things faster, but it’s not perfect, so you have to watch.
Snapseed has a “Details” tool where you can sharpen the image. I don’t like it. I use the Instagram sharpener instead. I have a secondary account where I check what pics will look like on my feed. If I sharpen the desired photo and post it to this secondary account, it will save a copy to my phone (check your Settings to “Save Original Photos”).
Following is a comparison of an example of an unedited photo (left) to an edited photo (right).
I hope this may have been helpful for someone! Snapseed is definitely my favorite app for editing photos on my phone and it can do close to everything I’d like. They now offer a “Curves” tool as well, but I haven’t quite mastered it yet.
→Let me know if you have any questions or want to see more blog posts about photography!