We all have them, that photo that just somehow never fully developed into the idea that we had when we took it. Sometimes it could be our fault (e.g. we didn’t get the angle right or we focused on the wrong thing) while other times, it’s just beyond our control (the sun came out or disappeared at the wrong time…a subject moved or changed when we took the photo…etc). What do you do with this ‘average’ (at best) photo and turn it into something fun?
Well, to help you on your merry way, I’m going to touch on some hacks that can help transform your photo (even if it’s already on its way up and out of that ‘average’ category) and take it to that point where it becomes truly special.
Let’s get started shall we?
1.) Pop that colour
We’ll start with the obvious one. A lot of the times, the point where regular photography fails is that it’s never edited to increase the colour. Thing is, cameras never see colour as vivid as the human eye and so you need to help that photo a little bit by increasing the saturation. You can, of course, choose to be more artistic with the colours in the photos (e.g. using teal and blue tones – let me know in the comments if you need me to explain this some more) but long story short, try to pay attention to the colours and increase them to get a more vivid effect.
2.) Add grain (and fade)
Sometimes, a photo is just too noisy (i.e. grainy) to rescue without it ending up looking weird. This is the point where you just need to lean into the way the photo is and just add grain onto it. Adding grain to an already graining photo sounds strange but if you first add a subtle fade onto it which is a rough and ready way to get rid of the underlying grain –on its own, it’s not good enough to fix the image but will work as a pre-grain ‘basecoat’. After adding the fade, add your own grain onto it, you get to control the grain a bit more and make the photo look intentionally whimsical and rustic with this more defined more pattern grain effect.
3.) Use Clarity
This is a great tool for sharpening a photo and drawing out details. This work particularly well for photos with some texture (e.g. stone walls, faces, grassy landscapes, mountains…etc). It does add darker lines to the photos (use it to the extreme to see a clear example of what I mean) so it might be worth tempering the clarity tool with a lower amount of contrast in the photo.
4.) Sort out your filter strength
Using filters is pretty much a no-brainer for most people but what people tend to do wrong here is think that they have to use the filter at 100% on the photo. Thing with filters is that there’s no way the person who created them knew in advance what specific photo you want to use it for (it’s impossible when even you didn’t know what the photo would be till after you took it) so when you use a filter, try to play around with the filter strength as a lot of the times, the perfect filter level is not always the 100% strength level.
5.) Brush in the light and colours
Use tools like Snapseed (or Lightroom if you’re on your laptop) to selectively edit sections of your photos, especially when you know a general edit (e.g. increase saturation) would end up resulting in that one section of the photo looking great but everything else looking terrible. Case in point, trying to make the skies bluer by increasing saturation, which works for the skies but leaves the rest of the photo oversaturated – a better way to do this would be to use a brush tool to increase saturation on tce skies alone leaving the photo looking pretty spectacular and edited exactly as you had in mind.
6.) Use the Brilliance tool
I found out about this one via the iPhone so I don’t know if every phone has it but effectively what it does is reverse the light in the photos. If used correctly, it makes dark spots brighter and bright spots darker which is brilliant for fixing over-exposed images or images with ridiculously high contrasts. If you don’t have this tool, a great way to achieve similar results is by reverse shadows and highlights in the photo (and perhaps tweaking the contrast around a fair bit too). The end result should be a more balanced photo rather than one with dark and bright spots that don’t seem to match.
7.) Sharpen your images
This is such a valuable tool, especially if you’re planning on sharing images on a screen (e.g. on Instagram or Facebook). Sharpening your images just helps bring out more details in your images, kind of in the same way as clarity does (feel free to use that along with the sharpen tool) and can leave the most regular of images looking absolutely amazing!
And there you have it, 7 tools, hacks if you may, to help you take ytou transform your photos, correct mistakes and make the most of your phone photography!