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