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Lesson 9 from: The Storyteller's Guide to Taking Better iPhone Photos

Dan Tom

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Lesson Info

9. Editing

Dan takes you through his entire editing process on his iPhone. He shares his key apps and how to utilize them to create professional-grade images.
Next Lesson: Editing Your Photos

Lesson Info


(dramatic whoosh) Let's talk about editing. Editing for me is such an important part of the photography process. When I first started shooting on my iPhone, I discovered these two apps, and it completely changed the game for me. It opened the floodgates, and I realized what you can do to help hone in on storytelling, and it's all on your phone. And that's really the first few years that I began to really delve more into photography, and this completely impacted the way that I see things, how I edit, it helped me find my style, and it was all on my phone, and I hope you guys can experience that too. So when I first downloaded these two apps, VSCO and Snapseed with editing, I realized that this was kind of the secret sauce of how to make your photos look good. And for me, it was just a lot of trial and error. I began to notice how to tweak colors, how to, like how important cropping is to editing and really cutting out some of the things that are not needed in a photo, which impact the...

storytelling aspect. I think overall though, I would love for you guys to take away that editing is probably 40% I would say of the process of photography. I think you can start with the photo, but obviously, you can't make a bad photo look good in editing, but if you start with the photo, you can really bring that photo to the next level. (dramatic whoosh) (dramatic whoosh) So I'm gonna review with you guys the photos that I have already bookmarked and already filtered out from the rest of the bunch. So I'm gonna import these two. Let's start with this one. So I'm gonna open up Snapseed, and I'm going to import this photo of Tyler. And as you can see here, the first thing that I like to do in my process is just figure out if I want to crop anything out. I typically crop four by five ratio when I post to Instagram, so I'm gonna do that here right now. And I am a big fan of cropping. I know some people are kind of photo purists, and they really don't want to crop any of the photo. They want to just take the original shot and not touch it. But to me, editing is also about getting the best result out of the photo, so whatever kind of you can produce to get the best photo in your mind, in your eyes, I think is fine. So I'm gonna crop a little bit of the sky out here just so you really focus on what I love about this photograph, which is looking at his eyes and how the light is hitting his eye. So I crop there. One thing I really like to do is I'll open the tune image, which is right here, and it's pretty, has pretty much basic settings. It has brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, highlights, shadows, and warmth. And so brightness is kind of, you can control the exposure. So if I go up and down, you see how the light changes and how things get exposed or underexposed. So I'm gonna, I like the exposure as it is now, so I'm gonna keep it that way. Contrast is self-explanatory, but for those who don't know, it pretty much, it pretty much makes the highlights brighter and the shadows and dark parts darker. You can kind of control the mood if you want to make it more, like more contrast I think is a bit more distracting, so I like to kind of keep things a little lighter. Saturation is the color intensity, so that the more saturation you give to the photo, the more those colors are gonna stand out. Highlights just controls the whites. So if you want your highlights not be as white or bright, you can bring the highlights down like this, and I like to always keep my highlights not too bright, so I'm gonna go a little bit negative there. And then shadows brings up the dark places, so if you want something, you want to show something in the shadows more, you can bring up the shadows this way, or you can bring it back down to even make it darker, but I'm gonna keep it right here for now. So I use Snapseed pretty much to get the photo and to balance out the light and pretty much get the photos set to bring into VSCO, which is the next step. So I'm happy with that. I'm gonna export this and save a separate copy from the original. So I always keep the original photo just in case I want to re-edit it or have to go back, or, you know, send it to someone that, like send it to Tyler, for example, if he wants it. So I exported that. I'm gonna open VSCO. Let's bring in the photo we just edited in Snapseed. We're gonna bring up the editing tools. So as you can see, what I use VSCO for, which is different from Snapseed is I apply filters to the photo, and what filters do is it kind of creates a mood. And as you can see, there are a lot of filters in VSCO. There's no wrong filter to use. It's really up to you and what you kind of like. So what I like to do is I'll click on different filters and see which kind of tones I like. And I'll pick it based off that. I find typically that if you use, you can control the intensity of the filter. So it goes up to a 12, but I rarely ever use it full power. I usually just use it just to affect the mood a little bit. So if you can see, as I scrolling through, these oranges are popping a little bit more, there's a little bit more emphasis on his skin, his eyes, and what's lit in the photo. So I kind of like it there. Then you can go into the settings, the second icon on the bottom. There's similar tools like exposure, contrast, those things like Snapseed. But what I like to do, and my favorite part in VSCO, is the HSL tool. What that stands for is hue, saturation, and lightness. This is really important, because you can isolate a certain color and just affect those colors. So if I just want to affect the orange parts, I'll click on this orange icon, and the hue kind of controls the range of the orange. So you can make the orange more yellow, or you can make the orange parts more red. And I use this tool religiously. This is one of my favorite tools to use, and how I get some of the colors that I get for my photos. The saturation, like I said, is kind of the intensity. So if you want to de-saturate the oranges, see how his skin tone changes dramatically, 'cause his skin is pretty much in the light, and it's all orange, and then the lightness is if you want it to be brighter, or if you want to bring the oranges darker, which creates a heavier, heavier mood or tone. So I kind of like this right here. And if you hold your finger on the photo, you can see the before and after and what the difference is. So I'll kind of go through colors. Like I kind of had my own set I guess checklist in a way, and I'll just experiment. I think it's important to just try out different things and see if you like it. I don't always edit the photos the same way. I kind of just go through it like a mental checklist, and it's kind of habit to me, but you'll notice if you, the more you edit, the more those things will just kind of happen naturally for you. So I always kind of, I love blues, and I love oranges and reds, so I'm always kind of maybe bring up the blues a little bit, and then I'll also change the tone, 'cause I like it to be a little bit more turquoise versus purple. And you can see the before and after here. It's not a huge change, but the little, the little details that you have to control I think are very important, and I pay attention to those things, and I think that it affects the photo a lot. So once I'm happy with that, I'm going to export this, and guess what, we're going back to Snapseed again. So this is my favorite tool in Snapseed. So let's see, we've got our, so we started in Snapseed, went to VSCO, and now we're going back into Snapseed. So I use Snapseed for kind of finishing touches on our photo. And so my favorite tool is you click the tools, there's a selective adjust tool, or it's called selective actually. It used to be called selective adjust. And what this does is you can isolate certain parts of the photo, so you click on this little plus sign at the bottom, you'll click on the photo, and you'll see a little circle pop up, and if you see this, you'll see a B, a C, and two S's. One, the B is for brightness, the C is contrast, saturation, and structure. So this is where you can have a lot of fun. This is what really changed the game for me. So if you look the selected area, these little bubbles are intuitive. So if I just want to select say his eye, I can literally just go in and select his eye. I can bring up their brightness, change the contrast, and it'll give a little bit more emphasis to that little pop of color. And because I want this photo to be about that detail, I'm going to make this, I'm gonna go a little bit brighter, add some contrast, and then add some structure, which is essentially like texture. So the more structure you add, the more kind of grittiness it gives. If you go negative structure, it's more smooth. So to me, that's, I like the pop of color, but it looks a little too saturated, so I'm gonna de-saturate this a little bit. But see that little, just that little pop. And add a little structure to cut more attention. So you can see the before, and you can see the after, and that's, I'm happy with that photo. And then I'll export this. If I'm posting to Instagram, I'll use another app called InShot, which is right here in the middle, and this is how I add like my borders. So I'm gonna import this photo, bring in the photo we just edited in Snapseed. This is a four by five ratio crop, so I'm gonna click the four by five, and then you click on the zoom, and you can add and control the thickness of the border that you want. So I'll usually add a white border to my photos, and I'll kind of play around with the different sizes of the border. I usually stick around between 16 and 20, 'cause I like that ratio, and I like that feel, and then you export that. And that photo's all ready to post. (dramatic whoosh) (dramatic whoosh) Okay, so right now, I'm gonna edit a landscape photo from last night at (indistinct). I already have it up in Snapseed as you can see, and the one thing that draws me into this photo is I like that little patch of light that's hitting the hill just in the middle, and that's kind of my, the intention of why I took the photo as well. So I'm gonna open Snapseed and start here. Again, I go to tools, and you're gonna see a whole array of different items that you can use to edit, but I'm just gonna show you the ones that I use. So I'm gonna go to tune image. And again, you'll see the basic kind of adjustments like brightness, which adjusts exposure, so if you want to brighten that, see how it affects it, darken it. I really encourage you guys to just have fun with these. Like there's so many things you can do, and there's probably tools that you'll discover that I don't even know about. Contrast will add kind of a heaviness but just brighten the bright parts and darken the darker parts, so if you can see that effect. Again, just experiment. Saturations, insensitive colors, so if you want all the colors to be really, really strong, up your saturation, or you can de-saturate, which some people do too. Again, there's no wrong way to edit your photos. It's what, it's your photo. You should do what you like. Highlights, again, these are kind of like, it kind of isolates the brighter parts, but as you can see in this particular photo, the sky is affected, 'cause that's the brightest part of this photo. So if I bring the highlights up, it really kind of overexposes the sky. If I bring the highlights in the negative, it actually brings in and darkens it a little bit. Shadows will just adjust the darkest parts, so just, I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but if you up the shadows, then more of what's in the shadows becomes visible. But I don't really want that for this photo, because I want to showcase that little patch of light on the hills, so I'm just gonna leave the shadows as it is. So let's see. So yeah, I like the photo as it is. I'm going to export this. I'm gonna open VSCO. I'm gonna bring that photo in. Edit, and again, we have our filters at the very bottom. So I'm just gonna kind of click through some of these, you know, really get a feel for what direction I want the photo to go in. That's pretty much what I use the filters for. And I always kind of gravitate towards this one, which is a U5. I like the tones of what they do of the colors. So I'm gonna give it maybe like a six, which is half the strength. Then next to the filter icon at the bottom, you get into your settings. And again, these are kind of similar controls that were in Snapseed. I think right now, after the filter's applied, the shadows feel a little heavy, so I'm gonna just up the shadows or bring the shadows up just a tad, so it doesn't feel so dark and heavy. And then I'm gonna go to HSL. So HSL again is a great way to isolate colors, to maybe de-emphasize colors that you don't want standing out in the photo, and emphasizing colors that you want to stand out. So as you can see, whichever colors in the photo you can pick, the little icons at the bottom. I'm gonna pick the orange, because I want that little patch of light to really pop. So I'm gonna bring the saturation up as well as the lightness. So you can tell, like if I move the little cursor up and down, the difference that it makes. And if you're not sure which colors are on there, you can just click on different colors. You can just mess, like bring the saturation up and down, and you'll see which parts of the photo have red if you're on red, have blue, et cetera. So again, I want the focus to really be on that patch of lights, so I'm going to bring the blues down actually, because I don't want that to stand out as much. So you can see the before and after if you just hold down on the photo with your thumb. So I like that. I think I'm gonna export this. So export that from VSCO, go back to Snapseed, and this was our original photo. I'm gonna bring in the edited photo we just touched up in VSCO. And you see the difference when, so I like the orange patch in the middle with the light, but what I want to do is I think the sky is a little too saturated. So I'm gonna go back into Snapseed and again pick the selective tool, pick a little bubble here, and you can enlarge the area that you want the little bubble to affect. So because I want to de-emphasize the sky and the colors in the sky, I'm going to de-saturate it. So see how, see that big difference. This is the best, one of the best tools out there, and they have similar tools also, but I think this one, Snapseed in particular, works the best because it's intuitive to what, it's smart in selecting which colors and isolating the areas that you want to edit. So you can see the before and after, and, and then I'm gonna actually emphasize this little patch of light in the middle by adding another bubble, and see how it just selects that portion. It's, this was the game changer for me. So I'm gonna brighten it up and then add a little contrast to give it a little more pop. And then if you see the difference between the before and after, just as little details can change the photo so much. And I forgot to crop this earlier, so I'm gonna crop this four by five, which is my go-to ratio for Instagram. Actually, I'm gonna bring up the shadows just a tad, just give it a little. I'm gonna save that copy out, open up InShot, which is how I add the border, pick my photo that we just edited back in Snapseed, four by five ratio, go to zoom, and then you can control the border. So let's make this 16, export that, and ready to post Instagram.

Ratings and Reviews

Lindsay Remigio

Great Workshop - Not just for iPhones This workshop was concise but packed a lot of great information. The things taught can not only help you take better photos with your iPhone but can also be applied to any format of photography. I particularly enjoyed the section where Dan edits viewers photos. I feel inspired to get out and try what I learned.

Déborah Mocquant

I like the way Dan Tom sees the world and how he is inspired. This is more than a workshop for me. I felt like I was in an other world. This workshop also gave me a lot interesting informations about photography. To be honest, I watched this workshop 4 times already.

Emily Guldborg

He has a definite passion for what he does and encouraging people to share their stories through photography. Not a huge time commitment and he refreshed my interest in sharing my perception of the world.

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