How can I edit my photos like a pro on my phone? I recently got a new phone and I have some photo editing tips for you!
Cell phone cameras are an easy way to capture special moments wherever and whenever they happen. What’s more, the quality of the photos is improving all the time. That said, it usually takes a bit of editing to make them truly display-worthy. With that in mind, here are some cell phone photo editing tips.
Always try to take your best shots
The idea behind photo editing is to improve on what’s already there. This means that you want to make the original shots as good as possible. The three main issues with cell phone photography are camera-shake, lens smears, and poor lighting.
If you like taking cell phone pictures, it’s a good idea to put a pop socket on your phone. That way you can usually get a decent grip on it even with one hand. This will also help reduce lens smears but wipe your lens from time to time just to be on the safe side.
You can also get selfie-lights that clip onto your phone. These are meant for the front camera but some of them can be used with the back camera. Also, if you have your phone, you probably also have your keys so you can put a small flashlight on your keyring. This is a good idea even if your cell phone has a flash function as flashes eat up your battery.
Learn the basics of photo composition and apply them whenever you can. This can be a bit tricky as a lot of cell phone shots are taken quickly. Try whenever you can. It really does come with practice.
Free editing software is usually fine
Both iPhones and Android phones come with in-built photo-editing software. This covers the essential basics. There are also lots of free and freemium apps that can do even more. If you’re serious about photography but on a budget, then GIMP is a great free photo editor. It does, however, take a bit of effort to learn to use it.
The paid-for apps do have additional features compared to the free ones. They also tend to be more user-friendly than GIMP. They are, however, generally only worth the money if you’re really serious about photography, for example, you want to use Instagram for your business.
Always edit from a copy
If you like a photo enough to keep it and edit it, then take a backup of it and store it until you’re completely satisfied with the finished product. You might even want to hold onto it after you’re happy with the new photo. That way you can update it again later if you want.
Never be afraid to crop hard
Cell phone photography is generally about capturing small vignettes. Usually, you want to get as close to your subject as you can. Once you get your image, you can often improve it by going in even closer.
Think about the specific feature that makes your subject interesting. If there’s more than one, think about creating a different image for each one.
The one disadvantage of cropping into an image is that it will often expose issues you hadn’t noticed before. In particular, if you had the camera at an angle, it will become more obvious. The work needed to correct these issues is, however, generally worth the effort.
Light can make everything better
The main reason why even the best smartphone cameras don’t match up to entry-level standalone cameras is that they have smaller sensors. This means they have less available light to use.
Compensating for this in editing can really take your photos to a new level. You generally want to start with white balance, followed by exposure and sharpness. This will often clean up a lot of issues that might have looked like they were to do with color.
If you have a photo with great composition but you can’t sort out the issues with lighting and color reproduction, try dialing back the exposure to make it black and white. This can be a very forgiving option.
Go easy on the color changes
Unless you’re deliberately going for a stylized look, go very carefully with the color changes. It’s very easy to overdo these and make a photo look fake.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re photographing the natural world, including people, leave the color alone. If you really must update it, do it very gently. If, however, you’re photographing something artificial, then you have more scope to play.
If you add or remove elements, think about dependencies
Adding and removing elements from photographs can really enhance them if done properly. If done badly, however, it can create some classic “Photoshop fail” situations. The reason for this is that changing elements successfully often requires thinking about their dependencies and correcting them too.
For example, say you take a picture with a random stranger in it. You want to remove them. That’s fine but then you may also need to remove their shadow and correct the background where they were placed.
When you’re removing elements, it’s often fairly easy to spot when something “isn’t quite right”, at least if you look. When you’re adding elements, however, it’s on you to think everything through without any visual clues. This is a whole lot harder and generally left well alone.
Understanding the limits of cell phone photos
Even though cell phone cameras have improved massively since they were first invented, they’re still not up to the same standards as amateur digital cameras. They’re certainly not up to the same standards as professional-level digital cameras.
The most obvious sign of this is the fact that cell phone photos generally only look good at a relatively small size. If you want to turn them into something with a large format, like a poster, you usually need to build them into a collage.
If you want a really special photo of a really special object, like a moon print from a memorable day, then it’s best to pay for professional work. This not only gets you the best image, but also the highest printing standards.
Do you have any photo editing tips to share? Drop them in the comments please.
You’ve used your photo editing tips, now what? Check out this video!
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