Tutorials on how I edit some of my iPhone and dSLR photos.

How I edited Spring Reflection

This How I Edited post is of a picture that a lot of people seemed to like. They liked the contrast of elements within the photo, which actually has a lot to do with how this was edited. In this step by step tutorial, I will show you how this wonderful Spring photo came about, all by using just one simple app!

How I Edited Spring Reflection

How I Edited Spring Reflection

The photo below is the original unedited photo (scaled down in Photoshop) that came from my iPhone 6 Plus. You can see how the bottom half is quite dark, but that’s because I intentionally exposed for the top half of the image to prevent it from blowing out too much.

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

I really love the wispy clouds here, and how it was reflected in the water below. The bushes below already have two tones to them, so I knew I wanted to keep that—or rather accentuate that.

For those of you who haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Google’s Snapseed, you should consider doing that right now—or after your read this tutorial! Their latest upgrade adds so much more control over the settings in addition to   more powerful editing tools at your disposal. Within Snapseed, I used their Dodge and Burn brush tool to increase contrast within the two toned foreground. You can see from the screen cap below all the red masked area. Those are the areas where I used the burn tool.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google's upgraded Snapseed app.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google’s upgraded Snapseed app.

I then dodged some portions as well, creating a much more contrasty foreground to my image, which you can see below.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

To match the exposure throughout, I had to increase the shadow areas slightly, and added some overall ambiance to the image within Snapseed as well, resulting in the image below.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

The image now looks pretty good, but I wanted to add just a little more colour to the image. So, as always, my final step in editing happens within VSCOcam. I used the KK2 preset (+9) and added a slight fade to the image so the colours didn’t look too vibrant. The final image, as I uploaded it to my Instagram feed is below. It’s a big improvement from the original image above. I was able to edit this nicely because I was careful not to blow my highlights out in my original image. That’s the key point!

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

 

Apps Used:

Snapseed

Snapseed

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

My Mextures formulas I

Mextures App

Mextures is a great app on the iOS platform that allows you to edit your photos with lots of great overlay textures, light leaks, and more. The best part is its ability to create, save, and share formulas that you have created yourself.

Mextures Formula Collection I

I’ve sporadically shared some formulas on this blog in the past, but this time I thought I’d share with you my entire formula collection for the past winter season. They’ve been used on several of my photos that I’ve uploaded to Instagram so hopefully you’ll be able to use them too on your photos. I made them for my winter photos but you don’t have to use them only on winter scenery. Try it out on any of your photos to see how they look. Then you can customize each one to suit your personal needs.

All you need to do to use these is to go to the Formula section within the Mextures app, and import the code you see below, under the desired effect. Have fun, and if you use them, let me know how they turned out.

Taku’s Mextures Formulas

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Coloured Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Colored Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Light Snow: CBNFANH

Light Snow: BNFANH

 

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

How I Edited Benched Sunrise

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique comes from a sunrise that I took one cool morning. This was taken on my way back to my car. I look backed as I was walking and noticed this great view, so I took a quick snap at it, with all the elements I wanted within the frame: the CN Tower, bench, foreground snow, and sunrise.

The original image as taken from my iPhone 6 Plus (resized in Photoshop) is below.

The original photo as taken from my iPhone 6 Plus (resized in Photoshop).

The original photo as taken from my iPhone 6 Plus (resized in Photoshop).

You can see how everywhere but around the sun area is quite dark. Further, the snow is a nasty blue colour, which we all know shouldn’t be that colour. I shot this with my iPhone in an app that had no white balance presets, so I wasn’t able to change it to shade, where it may have eased the blue cast in the snow a little bit. The colours near the horizon are also very muddy and not punchy at all, which makes for an even duller image. This was in need of a two-step editing process!

The photo is edited in Instaflash Pro for the top half of the photo only.

The photo is edited in Instaflash Pro for the top half of the photo only.

I had no choice but to edit this in post, with some of my go-to apps for editing. I brought this photo into Instaflash Pro (seen above) where I first edited the photo to edit the sky and clouds to my preference. The colours were fantastic that morning so I didn’t want to dull the blue, orange, and yellow hues, but at the same time, there’s not a whole lot I could do with the large cloud in the middle of the picture, that adds a lot of grey area. To lessen this grey dominance of the clouds a little, I changed the white balance to add more warmth; this added a little more yellow to the grey clouds, lessening its menacing look. Once I was happy with the results, I saved this image back to my Camera Roll.

After the top half of the image has been edited.

Step 1: After the top half of the image has been edited to my liking.

I then went back to Instaflash Pro where I re-edited this same image so that the snow in the foreground was more to my liking.

The photo is edited for the bottom half of the photo only.

Step 2: The photo is edited for the bottom half only.

To eliminate the blue cast, there’s really only one thing I could do without going too overboard with my editing. I desaturated the overall image so that the blue turned to white, which is what we all know snow should be. You can see how the sky in this photo has also lost much of its brilliance. I saved this version back to the Camera Roll as well.

Benched Sunrise

The resulting photo after removing the blue cast in the snow.

 

I then combined these last two images using Image Blender. I used the top portion of the first image, and combined it with the bottom portion of the second image to make the image much more to my liking.

The top part of the photo is masked out so only the bottom is used in the final photo.

The top part of the photo is masked out so only the bottom is used in the final photo.

And finally, the combined image using the best parts of each image.

The combined image looks much better now.

The combined image looks much better now.

I fixed the perspective so the CN Tower is no longer leaning toward the centre, using Perspective Correct. However, I still found some areas to be a little flat, in particular near the horizon, so I brought the combined image into VSCOcam, where I applied the KK2 filter (+12), which enhanced the overall colours more to my liking. This gave it an overall warmer feel to the image, in addition to slightly punching the colours up near the horizon.

The final image after perspective correction, and edited in VSCOcam with the KK2 preset.

The final image after perspective correction, and edited in VSCOcam with the KK2 preset.

I really didn’t want to crop this into a square because I felt the full width needed to be present to really get the feel for the shot. And force squaring the image (with white bars on the top and bottom) also didn’t really appeal to me either. But nonetheless, I cropped it right to the edges so the CN Tower and the bench were both still fully visible, which is just ok in my books. I’ll post this full image somewhere else eventually.

The Review

Check out the first image on this post, and compare it with the final image right above. there’s a drastic improvement and I’m much happier with the end result. But all this editing does wreak havoc on the image quality. You can tell that the image has gotten noticeably grainy in many places—look at the clouds, blue sky in the top left, and shadow areas of the buildings in the skyline.

If you’re reading this post on a regular computer monitor, these will be much more pronounced than if you were reading this on a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad. Suffice it to say that, the more you edit, the more you degrade the quality of your image. That’s why it’s so important to start off with a good quality image. Don’t try and rely on post-processing for everything that you want in your image.

But honestly, if you’re just going to Instagram it, then all this image degradation may not really make a difference after all.


Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Image Blender

Image Blender

Perspective Correct

Perspective Correct


 

 

How I edited Purple Beach on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique comes from the photo that I took off the shores of Hamilton, Ontario. It was a freezing cold day, and I almost never took this shot, had it not been for me looking back returning to my car.

This is a simple edit but one that makes a big transformation thanks to some of the great apps available on the iPhone.

The photo taken from my iPhone 6 Plus using the VSCOcam app is seen below (scaled down with 65% quality on Photoshop). As soon as I saw this scene, I knew it had some potential to be something great. The wooden logs leading to the ice, with the slight yellow/orange from the morning sunrise, and the mixture of sand and snow in the foreground all made it for an interesting composition.

Purple Beach

Image as taken from my iPhone 6 Plus

In reality, there was more colour to the clouds, especially near the horizon, where the sun was rising. Given the amount of clouds here, it made for a rather bleak photo overall. I wanted to punch up the photo by adding a little bit more colour to it, so I went to Mextures, which does a great job at this.

To give some much needed colour to the clouds, I added the Lily and Eventide filters. These gave the scene the overall pink and purple hue to it that I instantly loved. Next, I added Winter Dusk to give some depth throughout the image so that the edit doesn’t look so flat. Finally, I added the Neutral Density filter to darken the clouds a little more, adding some much needed shadows within the clouds.

For those of you who have Mextures, my formula is: TSCYGFR

After some slight adjustments in temperature, tint, saturation, sharpening, and shadows, the image now looks like this.

After a simple edit in Mextures, the scene is completely transformed.

After a simple edit in Mextures, the scene is completely transformed.

You can see that while the edit has drastically transformed the original image, it looks a little flat. To remedy this, I brought this into Instaflash Pro where I edited the brightness, sharpness, contrast, and added a little bit of vignetting. The final image, seen below, is how I envisioned this photo to be. A little crop applied for Instagram, and there you have it.

A finishing touch in VSCOcam creates my final image.

A finishing touch in VSCOcam creates my final image.

Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

Mextures

Mextures


 

How I Edited White Nature on my iPhone 6 Plus

Today’s iPhone Post Processing technique is of the high-key image that I took one cold and windy day at Colonel Sam Smith Park in the west end of Toronto. I wanted to capture the winter scene along with the colours of the sunset, so I took to the park to see what I could find.

The photo below is what I captured from the native camera of my iPhone 6 Plus. You can see how the plant in the foreground is quite dark, but I still managed to get the subtle pink and blue of the sky in the backdrop. The overall photo is underexposed on purpose so that I can simply brighten the areas to my liking.

As shot from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus

As shot from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus

My first step was to open up the shadow areas in Instaflash Pro. I wanted to get some colour in the plant so using that app, I was able to significantly open up the shadows without adding too much grain or degradation in image quality. I also sharpened the image a bit, added a little bit of glow to it using the Orton filter, and increased the saturation slightly to bring in that colour of the plant.

Opened up the shadow area using Instaflash Pro

Opened up the shadow area using Instaflash Pro

The image was brightly lit now, but I wasn’t happy with the colours within it, so I brought it into Snapseed where I’m able to selectively edit areas of an image using their Selective Adjust tool. That tool is a pretty powerful one as it lets you adjust the contrast, saturation and brightness of certain areas of your image. The photo below shows you how many points I’ve edited for this photo. My goal here was to make the snow more white, since it had quite a blue cast to it from all the editing I’ve been doing. For each point you see, I’ve adjusted its saturation and brightness.

Selective editing in Snapseed to adjust certain areas of the photo.

Selective editing in Snapseed to adjust certain areas of the photo.

The resulting photo was ok, but was still looking a little too dark for my liking. So, also within Snapseed, I used the Drama filter to brighten up the entire image. I used Bright 1 with a strength of 66, and boosted the saturation to really bring out the colours, as seen below.

Using Drama to brighten up the entire image.

Using Drama to brighten up the entire image and boost saturation.

The image was now more to what I wanted it to look like. My last step these days has always been to bring it into VSCOcam, where I adjust anything I want for the final look. For this particular image, I was more or less pleased with how it looked, so I didn’t add any filters to it. Instead, I increased the saturation (+1), warmed the temperature by +2, and cropped it for Instagram. The final image, uncorked is below.

Bringing in the image to VSCOcam, I did some final tweaking.

Bringing in the image to VSCOcam, I did some final tweaking.


 

Apps used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Snapseed

Snapseed

How I edited the Sunset Path on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing comes all the way from the west end at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke. In fact, this is one of my favourite places in the west end to shoot since there’s a variety of compositions. It’s right by Humber College and, there’s even a skating rink to boot if you ever get bored of shooting landscapes—who would get bored of that?!

You’ll see below the original shot taken with the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus. It’s a little on the dark side, but that’s done on purpose so that I could get more detail in the blown out area on the top right (where the sun was setting). I still blew out the area on purpose since getting even more detail there meant darkening up the shadow areas even more. Any darker in the shadow areas and I would have some obvious noise issues there, so I tried to find a happy medium, if you will.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

The first thing I did was to bring back the sun in the top right corner. When taking this shot, I knew I could bring back the sun again in post, so I intentionally let it blow out a little. I brought it back in one of my favourite sun-creating apps, The Light Camera by stuckincustoms.com.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

The top right was still a little blown out so I gave the white areas some colour, using VSCOcam. This app does a great job of tinting the highlight (and shadow) areas with selective colours, so I gave the highlights a little bit of yellow to match the sunshine.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

That tinting was a good start to adding orange to the highlights, but I wanted to bring in even more warmth to the image, so I brought this into Mextures. I’m starting to use Mextures a lot more now since I love its ability to give subtle colour and texture enhancements to the overall image.

My formula for the below is MNZNMSD in case you wanted to use it yourself.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

When I tinted the highlights and warmed the image, I not only tinted the top blown out areas, but I also tinted and warmed the highlight areas in the rest of my photo. You can see that some of the brown shrub areas on either side of the path is punched up a little in yellow/orange. I also managed to muddy-up the snow colour a little, which I did not like. Snow is supposed to be white, so that’s the way I wanted to keep it.

I had to bring back the white somehow, so I took the image I had right after adding the sun (second photo above) and I brightened the mid-tones and highlight areas in Instaflash Pro. For this image, I made sure that I was pleased with how the bottom half of the photo looked, knowing well that I would not use the top half of the photo.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

After I was happy with how the bottom half of the image looked, I took this photo and basically combined the bottom half with the top half of the image prior to this one. I did this using Image Blender, which makes tasks likes this super easy.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

The image below is what I ended up with after blending the two together. You can see that the top half still maintains a warm feel to it while the snow is now whiter and the foreground shadow areas are less muddier.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

I always like to give my images a finishing touch in VSCOcam, where I may do anything from tweaking the colour, fade an image even more, or maybe not even do anything at all. This time, I  added the F2 Mellow filter to it as it gave it a subtle fade to the shadows, giving it a subtle moody feel to it. I cropped it for Instagram and there you have it!

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam


Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

The Light Camera

The Light Camera

 

How I edited Tokyo Bay Sunset on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique is of the sunset that I took from Odaiba, looking towards the Tokyo Bay. It was a glorious sunset and I wanted to show the world how I felt when I saw this. While the original photo doesn’t look that bad, I felt the overall photo lacked a little excitement. The sunset at the time was a warm orange colour, and the clouds were a little dark, grey, and gloomy. I wanted to edit this photo as if I were seeing one of those beautiful sunsets of Thailand or Fiji.

Let’s see how I made this happen. The photo below is what I took from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app. You can see how I exposed primarily for the highlights because that’s what I wanted to highlight in this photo.

My focus here was to capture the changing light in the clouds, so by exposing for the highlights I allowed the shadows to fill in, attracting the eye to the most important part of the image.

Tokyo sunset

Photo as it was taken from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app.

See those orange clouds in the centre of the image? I felt as if that area needed some more excitement, as it looked too plain the way it was. I imported the image into LensLight, a great app by Brain Fever Media, which allows you to add lighting effects-among other things-to your image. I added a subtle sun glow and made it peak out from the clouds. One of the great things about this app is that it allows you to fully customize the look of the lighting effect. I changed the opacity of the sun, and the colour to match my scene. In addition to this sun glow, I added a warming filter as well, which gave it more of an orange hue to the overall image.

IMG_8482

First round of editing done in LensLight, where I added a sun glow and warming filter to give rise to a more pleasing sunset.

After saving this image back to my camera roll, I imported it into Mextures where I edited the image to reflect more of what I envisioned with this particular photo. Adding the Bonfire filter in the Radiance section gave it the purple-pink hue I was looking for. It added a little more excitement to the bland, grey areas of the photo, giving it new life. In addition, I did some further tweaking by adjusting the Tint, Fade, and Sharpen options to my liking.

As a final touch, I often like to import my image into VSCOcam to see if anything else can be done to give it that extra something special. As it turns out, applying an F3 Mellow filter at a strength of 8 yielded a softer version of the image that I liked. So that’s the version I uploaded to Instagram, after cropping it to a square format.

IMG_8483

The final image after editing in Mextures and VSCOcam, giving it the overall feel that I was after with this particular image.

Cropping an image is an equally important part of editing an image. It’s important to take care in that you don’t crop out any vital part of the image, and that you retain the feeling that you wanted to disseminate.

I could have easily left out the hand rail on the bottom left of this image, but I wanted to keep just a little portion of it in the final image so that it looks like we are peaking over it. Leaving it out would have made for a nice sunset image, but keeping it in adds just a little more interest to it.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

Apps used:

lenslight

LensLight

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures


How I edited Odaiba Fountain on my iPhone

I’m starting a new series on my blog today, called iPhone Post-Processing, or iPP, for short. These posts are meant to complement my Instagram uploads as they describe in more detail how I post-processed the uploaded image. Sometimes it may be as simple as opening up a single app and straightening the image, while other times it may involve lengthier process of editing through a number of apps.

These blog posts will hopefully inspire you to try something new with your post-processing techniques, because the more you experiment with your images, the more you’ll learn what can be done with them.


The image below is what I captured from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera. I shot this through a window while travelling on a monorail, so there’s a rather ugly green cast to the image.

Straight out of the iPhone 6 Plus native camera

Straight out of the iPhone 6 Plus native camera

I imported the image to VSCOcam, and straightened the image out.

Straightened image.

Image straightened in VSCOcam.

With any cityscape photography, it’s important—or desirable-to fix your verticals so that they are straight. Eliminating any perspective distortion goes a long way in making a clean image. There are several apps that do this, but I have always used Perspective Correct, which does the job. The resulting effect here is subtle, but evident if you look on the right side of this image.

Perspective corrected to make verticals, vertical.

Perspective corrected to make verticals, vertical.

I reimported the image into VSCOcam, (deleting the first imported version). I then did my first pass of editing by applying my favourite filter of the bunch, K2. This reduces some of the green cast while making other colours a little richer. In the editing suite, I sharpened the image (typically about 2-3), and cropped it to a square format for Instagram. Normally I would go further and perhaps adjust the saturation, fade and/or shadows, but for this image, I exported it back to my camera roll for further editing.

In cropping this photo, my intention was to give more importance to the fountain. I did this by cropping out the noise surrounding the fountain, and placing it around 1/3rd of the way up from the bottom of the frame. This position is key as it allows the eye to flow naturally within the frame, ending at the fountain.

First pass of editing done in the VSCOcam app to remove some green tint through the K2 filter.

First pass of editing done in the VSCOcam app to remove some green tint through the K2 filter.

I imported this image into Mextures, which does a great job at adding subtle colour to your image. The trick is to do it in a way that it’s not recognizable. I applied some Landscape Enhance and Radiance filters, and added some Fade and Sharpen settings. This brought some much needed colour to the image and opened up the shadow areas.

My formula for this edit is: QRGMIXS.

The final edited image is below, and that’s what I uploaded to Instagram. It’s considerably better than what I started off with, and I’m quite happy with the results.

Final editing done with the Mextures app to add more colour and clean up image.

Final editing done with the Mextures app to add more colour and clean up image.

Apps Used:

Perspective Correct

Perspective Correct

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

Instagram

Instagram


iPhone-Edited Winter Wonderlands

My last couple of posts have been all about my winter wonderlands taken with my Nikon dSLR. This post, in contrast, is all about my winter wonderlands taken with my iPhone 5s.


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: F1]

The ones I had been posting recently on my Instagram feed have all been cropped to a square format. The original photos, however, are rectangular, so there are often times when seeing the photo in its entirety gives a different feel than when looked at it in a square format. You can view my Instagram feed here to compare with these photos.

The one above is one of the first winter wonderland photos I uploaded on my Instagram feed. It’s also one of my favourites this winter. With clean whites, vibrant blues that stand out, and the lighter shade of blue in the sky, it evokes a feeling of freshness on a sunny, winter day.


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: F1]


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: F2]

The first one above has the storm clouds rolling in from the left, and is overall a little bit on the darker side. The image quality suffers a little in low-light parts of this photo. The second one above was taken when the sun was still out, and adds a little bit of a fade effect to it, which further adds to the appeal of the photo.

The following three photos I’m actually quite impressed with in terms of image quality.


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: F2, Mextures]


[Snapseed, Mextures]


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: C3, Mextures]

Coming out of an iPhone and looking like this on a large screen is very impressive. Of course, the many effects that have been applied to it makes it harder to see the quality degradation of the image itself. The two images below have several effects applied to them, making them look a little washed out and painterly like.


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: S1, Mextures]


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: C3, Mextures]

And finally, I leave you with another one of my favourites of my recent winter wonderland posts.


[Snapseed, VSCOcam: S1, Mextures]

With its brighter right side, there’s a little bit of warmth to the image. The simple composition comprising of four levels with various textures within keep the eye moving from one level to the next.

In a future post, I’ll go a little more in detail with how I use these apps to create some of my images. Stay tuned for that!