Perfect Your iPhone Editing With These Pro Tips
Right now business owners, individuals and even pro-level photographers are taking snaps with phone-cameras for posting their daily lives to social media. And alongside professionally-shot images, phone-camera shots can add an element of authenticity and real value to your online presence - But they still need to look decent. So we’ve put together a basic run-down for you on editing those quick snaps to perfection. Let’s have a look at a few basic tools we use, and how you can master them straight from your phone:
The first question you want to ask yourself is this - “Is my subject properly exposed?” You probably already know what proper exposure looks like - (Basically you don’t want too many blown-out highlights or shadows obstructing your subject). But knowing to expose for the subject is what’s key here. Sometimes your exposure varies drastically across the shot. If you have a shadowy face and a bright sky, the more you try to expose for one, the more you lose detail on the other. So what do you do? The answer is this - Revert back to rule #1: “Is my subject properly exposed?” If the focus of your shot was the sky, then great! Expose for that, and let the face fall into shadow. If the focal point was the person, vice versa. It’s okay to lose some detail to over/under exposure on your pic, but avoid having it on the subject. Unless you’re creating a silhouette of course.
Some Extra Tips On Exposure:
If you take a snap of a person wearing a white shirt, how do you expose for both their face and their outfit? Inevitably their face will be darker than the shirt. And both of those elements are the focus of the shot, right? You can use the ‘Highlights’ slider to bring down the brightness of the white shirt, and then lift your overall exposure incrementally. That way your entire subject is properly exposed without losing any detail to blown-out highlights. Tip* You could also use your ‘Shadows’ slider and work backwards to lift the darker areas of your image. If parts of your pic were completely white when you snapped it, you’ll never be able to bring that detail back as it was never recorded. It’s always best to take your pics slightly darker and then lift them later. Tip* When taking a snap, tap on the brightest part of your subject on the screen to tell your phone-camera to expose for these areas. A lot of detail is preserved in the shadows and you’ll be able to brighten these up later. Tip* Adjust your ‘Noise’ slider to lessen the appearance of speckling caused by lifting shadows. #TooLongDidntRead: Make sure the focal point of the image is properly exposed. Use ‘Highlights’ ‘Shadows’ and ‘Noise’ sliders for fine adjustments.
2. White Balance
It takes a good eye and a lot of practise to be able to read and adjust colour temperature. I have a little trick that I’ve used for years to help me with this. This is how it works - If you look at a white area on your photo such as a bright highlight, the white will be tinged with the colour temperature of the shot. For example, images with a warm undertone will have yellow/orange highlights. Images with a blue undertone will have cooler blueish highlights, and so on. By being aware of the colours in your unedited image, you can figure out what colours you need to add to get the end-result you want. Try this. Open a photo on your phone and select ‘Edit.’ Tap on the option to adjust ‘Warmth’ and push the slider to the very end on each side. On the warmest side, notice how the highlights in your photo appear orange/yellow? Warm-toned highlights indicate that your image has a yellow-ish undertone. You might want to balance it by adding blue/coolness on your warmth slider. Now slide it to the opposite end. Notice how the highlights appear cooler/blue? When your highlights look very cool, adding warmth on your warmth slider will help to create a neutral colour temperature. There are two sliders that adjust colour balance. The first is ‘Warmth’ which you’ve nailed now. ‘Warmth’ balances between warm (yellow) and cool (blue). The second slider is called ‘Tint’ and it balances between your pinks and greens. Play around with your tint slider using the same rule as above. You’ll find that greener highlights mean a green undertone is present in your pic, and might require adding a bit of pink on your Tint slider to neutralise your colours. The same would apply in reverse for pink undertones.
Some extra tips on White balance:
How you edit your photos is entirely up to you. However it’s important to be aware of how colour affects the mood of your pic. If you want a neutral/realistic colour temperature for your photo, those highlights need to appear pure white to you. Finding this quite tricky? Here are a few hacks to help you out: If your photo was taken under florescent lights, it will have a greenish tint. Correct it by adding pink. Tungsten light bulbs have a warm orange glow. Add blue to neutralise the colour. Daylight has a natural blue/pink colour temp. Balance with warmth and some green tint. Cloudy daylight has a blue undertone. Add warmth. Sunset lighting will have a warm/pink tone. Add coolness on your warmth slider and a touch of green on your tint.
With those rules in mind, you can also create the time of day you want by working backwards and pushing certain colours into your shot. For example, we once had a bridal couple who really wanted sunset shots for their post-wedding photo shoot. But when the day arrived, the weather was overcast and the sunset didn’t happen. So we went ahead with the shoot anyway, and when we edited the shots we added warmth and a slight pink tint to the portraits - Turning cloudy-blue shots into sultry sunset portraits.
3. Enhance: Contrast and Vibrance
These two tools are best used by eye. But for a clean and simple edit I find a light-handed approach is best. When you’re working with your contrast slider, you want to add a slight punch to your snap without losing detail. Try sliding your contrast to the max. Did it? Good. Can you see how a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights has been lost? If you add just a touch of contrast in comparison, you’ll notice how things start to look a bit more snatched, but the integrity of the shot has been kept. This is what we’re going for. (#photogoals)
Vibrance, in my personal opinion, is a game-changer for phone edits. The ‘Vibrance’ slider is similar to Saturation, except that instead of intensifying all the colours across the entire image it only enhances muted tones and tries to preserve skin tones. You can think of vibrance as a smart saturation.* I generally add just a touch of vibrance to my phone snaps to enhance the colours. 4. Cropping
Surprisingly, cropping can be a really creative tool when editing. You can crop a shot of a landscape into a long panoramic to accentuate its features, or a portrait of a person to a tight 2:3 ratio to bring attention to them - It all comes down to the statement you’re making with your photo. I personally love shooting in portrait, but the problem I have with this is that Instagram is optimised for square crops. So we meet half-way and crop our images at the 4:5 ratio (On iPhone this is called 8:10) - Which is still technically a portrait but with some extra width to it. To access these standard ratios, tap on the icon on the top-right of your screen when the crop function’s activated. The icon looks like a square within multiple squares. From here you can play around with various ratios and see how they work for your photo. Instagram stories on the other hand are optimised for a 9:16 ratio. So when you’re putting together a story post, look for (ideally portrait-orientated) shots that’ll work comfortably with this crop as they’ll perform best there. When cropping, it’s especially important to be aware of preserving or recalculating your composition. In every crop we consider the technique called the ‘Rule of Thirds’ to help us keep our composition clean. If you’re not familiar with it, this is how it works: Imagine a grid over your image dividing it into thirds both horizontally and vertically. By placing your focal point on one of the intersection points you will achieve a composition that’s proven to be very pleasing to the eye. The handy thing with cropping is that when you’re resizing your crop, the tool will actually display those grid lines across your shot - Allowing you to fine-tune your composition and place your focal point on an intersection area perfectly. If this is a bit much to take in, check out our ‘Tips’ highlight on Insta where we break it down and give an actual demonstration on using Rule of Thirds.
Extra Tips on Cropping:
If you’ve taken a snap of your friend and you’re not quite sure how to crop them, here are a few tried and tested crop formats that photographers abide by:
Full-length : Crop just below the feet, and just above their head 3/4 length : Crop at the middle of the thigh and just above the head 1/2 length : Crop at the hips and just above the head Portrait : Crop mid-way between the elbows and shoulders, and just above the head Close up : (Crop at the neck and at the top of the head)
If you want to see more on photo-editing, check out The 4 Most Highly Effective Tools On Photoshop.
Sources: Fstoppers.com - Article: The Difference Between Vibrance and Saturation in Photoshop: “You can think of vibrance as a smart saturation...” - Jesus Ramirez