Explore the unknown

Even in your own hometown, it’s exciting to explore areas that you don’t often frequent. It gives you an excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and maybe get in some much needed exercise for the day.

Explore the unkown. iPhone 6 Plus. Edited in Snapseed and VSCOCam.

Explore the unknown. iPhone 6 Plus. Edited in Snapseed and VSCOCam.

I’ve taken many walks and runs along the lakeshore lately but what makes these trips more exciting is venturing off to places I normally wouldn’t go to. I often find myself taking turns to unexpected areas and sometimes even losing my bearings. No worries there, as I’ll always have my google maps with me!

You never know when you’ll find that perfect location for your next shoot so don’t be afraid to explore the unknown and find new places around your city.

Do you have favourite places in your city that you like to go to? Share them with me in the comments below.

Take a break and enjoy the scenery once in a while

Sunset by the marina in Toronto.

Sunset by the marina in Toronto.

When you’re out and about shooting all the time, it’s important to be able to pull yourself out of the business of it all and actually enjoy what you have in front of you. Not only does this refresh your mind, but it allows you to soak in the environment you’re in, perhaps giving you more of an appreciation for the spectacular view you’re always too busy to see.

While on my walks along the lakeshore, I intentionally left my dSLR camera behind, so that I wouldn’t be so inclined to taking photos every second. Of course, I couldn’t leave my iPhone behind, so I still took a picture with it. But taking photos with my iPhone is a much quicker process than taking a photo with my dSLR, where I have to find the right settings, compose, focus, and shoot. An iPhone really makes that much of a difference. And I’m thankful for that!

A little bit of post-processing was done here to accentuate the sunset colours, and lighten the boats in the middle. All of this was done within Snapseed, where I used the Brush tool to selectively lighten areas within my image. My final edit was done within VSCOcam where I added a filter to balance the overall image.

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:





App Review: Snapseed



Snapseed for iOS is a versatile image editing app with all the features an iPhoneographer would want, packed into a user-friendly and easy-to-look-at UI.


Website | iTunes ]

Snapseed for iOS is a great app for editing images, and many photographers (including myself) went to it for their quick edits. The latest update came not too long ago on Dec. 15 and brought it some behind-the-scenes tweaking with no visible changes.

So what’s up with Snapseed for iOS? Will it ever be updated for the larger screens of the iPhone 6s? The app’s functionality hasn’t changed since it added the HDR Scape and Shadow feature (in Tune Image) a while back.

Snapseed for iOS was a photo editing app released by Nik Software Inc. in 2011. It used their U-Point technology that enabled quick local editing capabilities.
Nik Software was purchased by Google in late 2012, creating outcry from photographers all over, worried about the fate of the great products by Nik. In 2013, Snapseed for desktop ceased production, while Google claimed the mobile apps would remain.

Fastforward to present day, and we see that Snapseed for iOS is still here—albeit with no new functionality or UI changes from its time in 2013.


What I really like about this app is its effective tools done very efficiently. Passing a photo through Snapseed takes little time and within seconds, my editing can be completed just the way I like it.

When selecting an image to edit, the app defaults to previewing the photo before importing it in tis workspace. This was a new feature that I personally didn’t like as it added one extra step in the workflow. I didn’t know until much later, however, that you can turn this feature off by going into Settings > General > Snapseed > Show Image Preview and turning it off.

I use this app for primarily these features:
-Selective Adjust
-Tune Image
-HDR Scape

  • Selective adjust is a great tool when you want to adjust only a certain part of your image. You’re able to boost the area’s brightness, contrast, and saturation.
  • Within Tune Image lays a number of creative options: Brightness, Ambiance, Contrast, Saturation, Shadows, and Warmth. Which option I use depends on the photo I’m editing. Ambiance does a great job at increasing the overall saturation of the image in an even and subtle manner. Shadows does a great job at opening up the darker areas of your photo. With Warmth, you can control how cold or warm you want the photo to look.
  • Details gives you the option of changing the Sharpening and Structure of your image, with the latter option giving you more definition/depth to objects in your photo.
  • The Drama filter has always been a favourite amongst many people ever since it was released. It heightens up features within your photo and gives it a look of greater contrast within details.
  • HDR Scape produces HDR-like photos using one exposure. I normally don’t like overly HDRed images, but a real subtle application of this option can create that extra special touch to your images.

User Interface

Open the app and you’re confronted with all of your imaged editing options on the bottom. Scroll through and you’ll see everything from Selective adjust, Tune Image, Crop, Details, Black and White, Vintage, and more.

Select one of these options to reveal more finer editing controls that can transform your image into exactly what you’re looking for. If you scroll up or down on your image at this point, you’ll be able to see the editing options for that specific tool. Scroll left or right and you’ll change that option. It’s that easy.

What I find really useful is the icon of the mountain on the top right of each editing screen (see screen capture below). Once pressed, you can immediately see the “before” image to see exactly how much you’ve changed the image from before you entered that editing tool.

Final Thoughts

It’s not certain what Google may do with Snapseed’s fate, but until it decides, myself—and thousands of other photographers—will be sure to keep using it while we still can. I love it because it’s efficient to use, and produces great results in each of its settings.

Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS

Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS

Drama option in Snapseed for iOS

Drama option in Snapseed for iOS

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!

Lakeview Park in Oshawa

I head out to Oshawa every other month for work. But somehow it never occurred to me to actually explore the area. So this past week while I was there, I google mapped the location and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a park and lakeshore nearby.

Seeing as it was a sunny day, I went after work to take some photos. Little did I know, a snow squall was heading my way in a matter of minutes. You can see from these photos that the sun was shining bright, blue skies were present, and white fluffy clouds were all around.

The water by the shore was by no means clean. Brown in colour, it was a contrast from the white snow and ice.

For some reason, the waves crashing against the ice caught my attention. Enough so that I had to try and capture the action.

Shortly after all of the above were taken, it started to snow and the clouds started rolling in. It finally occurred to me that I was going to get stuck in this squall. See the little part of Lake Ontario that isn’t covered by the snow?

The squall pretty much made its way on land, while I was standing by the shore.

So I made my way back to my car, before stopping to take a couple more shots.

Just before getting in my car, I spotted this dog and his owner, crossing the pathway…so naturally, I had to take a photo.

Here’s a little bonus.

When I edit my photos on my iPhone, I use a number of different apps to get the feel and look that I am after. My most recent winter wonderland posts on Instagram have been edited with Snapseed, VSCOcam, and Mextures. These days I’ve been using all three apps quite a lot. However, when it comes to photos that I post on my website, my editing style changes, somewhat because the same style on Instagram just doesn’t feel the same when enlarged on screen. I find the beauty of the edited photo is lost when enlarged.

VSCO has filters available to use on the desktop, however Google’s Snapseed is no longer available for the desktop—but is available on Google’s Picasa, a photo sharing site. The Mextures app is not available on the Mac either, but its creator, Merek Davis, has made his Mextures (textures) available for download.

So even with using some of these apps on the desktop, I find the feel of the image disappears, and I opt to edit differently.

What do you think of the differencees from these photos, compared to my Instagram photos available here?

Snapseed for iOS
VSCOcam for iOS
Mextures for iOS

Snapseed on Google Plus
VSCO for Mac
Mextures pack for Mac