Not everyone can afford a DSLR. But with these tips and tricks, you can learn how to edit your pictures to look professional on your iPhone.
My husband thinks I already have a problem with my iPhone. In my defense, I’m certainly not on it all the time like other people I know! I don’t play games or on social media all the time. But, I do LOVE to take pictures.
I have an old iPhone 4 (2018 UPDATE: I now use an iPhone 7Plus but was using an iPhone 4 for this post) and I have been increasingly frustrated by the low quality images it produces – especially compared with my friends who get the latest and greatest gadgets and phones right when they are released. Luckily, I found Snapseed. And I have figured out how to edit pictures to look professional on my iPhone – for FREE!
I learned about Snapseed while I was reading the seminar transcripts from BlogHer Food 2013, as I was not able to go… again. Frankly, not much caught my eye. Then I read Todd and Diane’s (White on Rice Couple) session, “Making Mobile Photographs that are Print and Cover-Worthy.” And I found nuggets of gold hidden in there.
Now, I use my Nikon D7000 and Photoshop for the recipe pictures here on my blog (here is my tutorial on adjusting white balance with Photoshop). I like the quality and the control I have using these tools. I totally get those people that do not have the knowledge, money or patience to do this.
And frankly, I can’t carry my heavy camera and lenses everywhere I go. But, I always have my cellphone and I want to edit the crappy pictures I take on it. Enter Snapseed.
We are all familiar with Instagram and the filters and editing capabilities of most social media apps on our phone. I have also tried (and paid for) a number of photo editing apps. None of them compare with the capabilities and fun I have with Snapseed. And best of all, the app is FREE!
This post is a tutorial on the different things you can do with Snapseed. My 12-year old Professor has it on his iPad mini and he is loving it, too. I am totally loving the fact that I was able to show him all the different things Snapseed can do that he didn’t figure out yet himself. Oh yeah, this momma is still smarter than her 12-year old!
The pictures with text tutorials were created in Photoshop. Only text was added, the photos were not modified. And, by the way, I was not asked to write this post by anyone.
Ok, let’s begin!
These are two pictures I took with my iPhone of olive oil poached figs made by Mary/California Greek Girl. Pretty blah color, blah contrast, blah sharpness. Just BLAH!
Now open Snapseed and select the picture you want to use from your photo library.
You will see a whole selection of options on the bottom of the screen. I typically start with the “Tune Image” option to get the color, brightness, saturation and contrast where I want it. But, a lot of the times I start with the “Drama” filter. Although I do not consider myself much of a Drama Queen, I really like this filter a lot!
Now you will see the image on the left. Click on the star and you will see several options to choose from all under the drama filter. I selected “Bright 2.” You can adjust the intensity of each filter option, so choose the one you like the most.
No matter which filter or option you use, the way you edit remains the same. You slide your finger side to side to adjust the levels, whether it is for brightness, contrast, filter strength, whatever.
To select the menu options under each filter, slide your finger up and down the screen.
If you want to compare what you have done to the original image, click on that mountain picture on the top right of the screen. Confused? Click on the help icon, the question mark, on the top left.
You could spend so much time having fun with this, let me tell ya! I typically use multiple filters and options while I edit my pictures, depending on the mood I want to depict.
Remember, if you do not like the filter, you click on the left triangle (bottom left corner) to go back to the main menu and cancel the editing you just did. If you like what you see, click on the right triangle (bottom right corner) to save your changes and return to the main menu.
I usually return to “Tune Image” after fiddling with a filter, to get the color exactly as I like it. That’s why I adore Snapseed!
So this picture has been adjusted with “Drama” then “Tune Image” then I added the “Grunge” for more mood:
So “Grunge” is exactly what it means: it gives your picture a weathered, dirty look. There are 1500 options here, people! Can you see why I’m lovin’ this app?
Another great feature of Snapseed is to select a part of the picture and edit just that specific section – this is soooooooooo important when editing pictures.
“Selective Adjust”can be a little tricky, but you’ll get the hang of it. Remember, you can always cancel the editing and try it again until you get it right. After “Grunge,” I wanted to make the figs pop.
So I selected the figs in the pan and added more color saturation and contrast. When that was done, I selected the figs in the small bowl and edited them. I also edited the figs on the bread.
This is just a small sample of what the other filters can do. Remember, each filter has a number of different options, so the choices are endless. You can also do what I do, and use multiple filters on one picture to get the exact mood you want.
Other great things you can do with Snapseed? I save these for the end. My pics are typically lopsided and off center. So I always have to straighten my picture out:
Then there are the frames. So many fun choices here:
You can also crop your picture to a square and add a frame to that. This way you can have the same beautiful square picture to share on Instagram.
Remember, you do not need to add all the crazy filters.
You can use Snapseed to simply edit your picture’s color, contrast, white balance and sharpness without using the moody filters. There is even an automatic adjustment option if you do not want to make the choices yourself. You can now totally use your iPhone pictures not only for fun and social media, but also for your blog and to send to print.
Most importantly, do not forget to SAVE your final picture onto your photo library when you are done. You can share with social media directly from Snapseed, but ALWAYS keep a copy on your phone, especially if you want to use it in the future. To save, click on the arrow on the top right of the screen when you are at the main menu.
Alrighty, here are my before and after shots:
Again, the options are endless. I could have spent more time editing the pictures, but I made these edits pretty quickly for the sake of the tutorial.
Have fun with your phone, like we needed another excuse, right?! You don’t need an expensive DSLR to figure out or buy. You can still produce quality pictures, even with a 3 year old iPhone 4, like I have!
As I only have an iPhone, I do not know if Snapseed is available for the Droid or other smartphones. But I did read from Stephanie/Food & Fitness 4 Real that she used Snapseed on her Samsung Galaxy 3. If you have any other great photo apps you’d like to share, leave them below in the comments. And if this tutorial helped, please share on social media!