How I edited Ikebukuro Sunset on my iPhone

It was by chance that I experienced this magical location. I was shopping in Ikebukuro one evening when I came out from a store just as the sun was shining through this narrow walkway. I noticed that magical evening light and started taking pictures. It was overcast that day so the sun kept hiding behind clouds. As it peaked out from the clouds a number of times before it dipped below the horizon.

The picture below is what I captured with the native camera app of my iPhone 6 Plus. The area around the sun is fairly bright while the bottom half of this photo is somewhat dark. This was intentional as I wanted to get the details of the clouds in the highlights. I exposed for the highlights, making the rest of the image slightly darker. However I knew this wasn’t an issue as I could easily bring up the details in the shadow areas with a few clicks of an app.

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Original Ikebukuro Sunset image from my iPhone 6 Plus.

The first step in making this image was to create balance throughout the entire image. This entailed opening up the shadow areas and fine-tuning the colours. I did this with Instaflash Pro, which I like because it allows for individual colour enhancements. After some sharpening and selective colour boosts, the image below is what I came out with.

First edit with Instaflash Pro brings out shadow areas and enhances select colours.

First edit with Instaflash Pro brings out shadow areas and enhances select colours.

The next step, I dealt with the blown out highlight area on the left, where the sun was shining brightly. It was bringing too much attention to itself with the high contrast against the buildings. I added a warm glow surrounding that area to soften the harsh edges using my go-to app for just this situation: The Light Camera from Stuck in Customs. The only option I use in this app is the A Surprise Hug light effect—you can see its effect in the image below.

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Adding a warm glow to the sunset area to enhance the highlights.

This image may look pretty decent the way it looks now, but it could use a little more work. The white balance seems to be a little too cold to my liking, so I warmed the entire image. This final step could really be done in any app that supports white balance or temperature change, but my preference has always been to edit in VSCOcam. You can use any one of its filters to change the overall balance of the image, in addition to using the actual Temperature option.

Warming the overall image in VSCOcam.

Warming the overall image in VSCOcam, and applying a slight vignette.

Now, the picture looks much better than how it started. However, some may say that the colours look a little too over saturated. It could be the case, since adding filters to an image can saturate existing colours. If you feel this to be the case, use a different filter or desaturate the colour to your liking. I also cropped the image to a square format for Instagram, deleting parts of the image that does not enhance the overall look at all.

Changed filter to G1 in VSCOcam to reduce saturation of colours.

Changed filter to G1 in VSCOcam to reduce saturation of colours.

For me, I love the sun shining brightly and the crisp detail in the foreground. So my final preference was the B5 filter in VSCOcam to change the image to black and white. This kept the foreground details and sun glow that I like, in addition to bringing more focus to the shadows of the passerbys.

Changing the image to black and white with the B5 filter in VSCOcam.

Changed the image to black and white with the B5 filter in VSCOcam.

Apps used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

The Light Camera

The Light Camera

VSCOcam

VSCOcam


 

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