Say cheese! How to enhance your smartphone photos

Say cheese! How to enhance your smartphone photos

Photos conjure up memories, evoke emotion, tell a story or capture a mood.

I took my first photography class in college. I didn’t snap images with an expensive camera or smartphone. Instead, my professor handed me a vintage film camera. I spent hours in the darkroom printing photographs.

Taking that class taught me you can create eye-catching images with any camera.

But producing a photograph in the darkroom also involved many steps. I used a machine called an enlarger to darken or lighten parts of a black-and-white image. It wasn’t easy at first to get right. There wasn’t one button to click. No Instagram filters.

Nowadays, I use my smartphone to take photos on vacation or in my everyday life.

And while nothing beats proper lighting and composition, photo editing apps or tools can help you quickly enhance a photo or unleash your creative side.

Here’s how:

Adjusting the brightness and contrast

The differences in lighting and color within a shot can make it appear more dramatic.

Smartphones, including the iPhone, already have basic photo editing tools, including ways to adjust the lighting.

By using a slider, you can adjust the brightness, highlights, contrast and more.

But making an image too light or too dark can wash out the details in the shot. I typically zoom into the darkest and lightest part of an image to make sure I didn’t go overboard with adding contrast.

And if you make a mistake, you can also revert the image back to the original.

Adjusting the contrast in a photo makes the blacks appear darker and whites lighter. In the image on the right, too much contrast was added. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group)
Adjusting the contrast in a photo makes the blacks appear darker and whites lighter. In the image on the right, too much contrast was added. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group) 

Using filters

Valencia. Rose. Summer. Noir. Grunge.

There are plenty of filters out there that can transform the mood of a photograph. Social networks, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, all have them.

Still can’t find the one you want?

Photo editing app Snapseed has variations of its filters, allowing you to tailor how you want the photo to look.

Want to bring out more details in a photo? Try the Drama filter. Going for a dreamy look? Try the Glamour Glow filter.

You can also try blending filtered images together.

I once was walking through an installation called “The Rain Room” in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Capturing a good photo was tough. The lighting was bright in one spot and low in another. Water fell from the ceiling, although it didn’t touch the people who moved around.

Using Snapseed, I took two photos and used a filter to turn them black and white. Then I used another filter called “Double Exposure” to blend the two images together. The resulting photograph captured the gloomy mood I associate with rainy days.

Through the photo editing app Snapseed, I blended photographs of the "Rain Room" at the LACMA. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group)
Through the photo editing app Snapseed, I blended photographs of the “Rain Room” at the LACMA. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group) 

Touching up

A giant zit on your face can ruin a good selfie.

Photo editing apps like BeautyPlus and AirBrush have tools that can make your face look more smooth, get rid of acne, look slimmer or whiten your teeth.

AirBrush has a feature to add makeup to your face, giving you false eyelashes, lipstick and blush.

You can even appear taller, or narrow the bridge of your nose. No plastic surgery needed.

Using BeautyPlus, I got rid of a pimple, made my nose more narrow and applied the filter "natural." (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group)
Using BeautyPlus, I got rid of a pimple, made my nose more narrow and applied the filter “natural.” (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group) 

Creating a work of art

Ever wondered what your photo would look like if pop artist Roy Lichtenstein painted it?

Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Prisma can transform your photograph into a work of art.

From Cubism to Expressionism, the app includes artistic styles from well-known artists including Piet Mondrian, Edvard Munch and Edgar Degas.

I used the filter Thota Vaikuntam — the name of an Indian painter — to add bright colors into a photo I took during a beach day in Santa Cruz.

People walk on the streets near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Photo created with the app Prism. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group)
People walk on the streets near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Photo created with the app Prisma. (Queenie Wong/Bay Area News Group) 

Photo Editing apps

Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat

Filters and basic editing tools: Snapseed

Photo Retouching: BeautyPlus, AirBrush

Creating Art: Prisma


Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Published at Thu, 06 Jul 2017 14:00:49 +0000