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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 unkown. 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.

iPhoneography: How I Edited Toronto the Beautiful

Today’s photo editing process comes from a photo that I took during one of my sunrise shoots. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with just the right amount of clouds and light reflection to give off a spectacular image. Or was it?

Here’s the original image that was taken with my iPhone 6 Plus. It was an 8 sec. long exposure using the Slow Shutter Cam app.

Original image (scaled down in Photoshop). 8 second long exposure using Slow Shutter Cam App

Original image (scaled down in Photoshop). 8 second long exposure using Slow Shutter Cam App.

You can see that all the ingredients of a great looking photo are here, but just isn’t punctuated enough: the orange glow near the horizon, the ominous clouds rolling out, the long exposure water, and the rocks seen beneath the water. I wanted to show all of these great features in my final edit.

To do this, I used the Filterstorm Neue app, which I had, but hadn’t used in a long time. It has great editing features like curves and masking, and those are what I used for this photo.

The first thing I did here was accentuate the orange and blue glow of the sky. I did this through a number of procedures like saturation, colour temperature, and tone, all within the Filterstorm Neue app.

I then used the curves tool to give it more contrast, which heightened the colours a little and accentuated the rocks in the foreground from the snow. It looks a lot better now than the original photo, don’t you think?

"S" curve in Filterstorm Neue to increase contrast

“S” curve in Filterstorm Neue to increase contrast

With all this editing done on the overall image, the snow had also turned a blue hue, which we all know is not the norm. I wanted to keep the snow white to make things look more natural. Using the same app, I applied another curves adjustment. This time, I selected the blue channel and reduced the brightness of it by pulling the curve down in the highlight areas (the snow). Since I didn’t want this adjustment to affect the overall image, I used the mask tool to select only the snow in the image.

Lowered the blue and increased brightness only in the snow, using a masked curve tool in Filterstorm Neue.

Lowered the blue and increased brightness only in the snow, using a masked curve tool in Filterstorm Neue.

This made the overall photo more natural looking, which was my goal. I was happy with this image, but wanted just a little more pop in colour.

I therefore brought it into VSCOcam where 99 percent of my photos undergo a finishing touch. In this case, I applied the KK2 filter (+12) which boosted the colours overall-in particular the right side of the water-making it a standout image, and one of my favourite iPhone sunrise images this season.

Final image after applying KK2 filter in VSCOcam.

Final image after applying KK2 filter in VSCOcam.

That’s it! That’s all there is to this iPhoneography editing.

Have you ever used Filterstorm Neue before? Let me know how you use the app if you do. Would you like me to do a Filterstorm Neue app review? Let me know below as well!


Apps Used:

Filterstorm Neue

Filterstorm Neue

VSCOcam

VSCOcam


 

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