As I said last week in this blog (https://stephaniesabourinphotography.com/2019/07/26/10-tips-for-taking-better-photos-of-your-pet/) Snapseed is a free app that you can get for iPhone or android devices that is the best app photo editing software I have found (I get nothing for endorsing this software. I just like it). I want to share with you some tips on how to use Snapseed to make your photos better.
When you open the app, you will have the opportunity to open a photo from your phone. Once you select one to open, you will see some options along the side.The rainbow icon is a link to different filters. The pencil icon is a link to different tools, and the square with an arrow up is for saving or exporting the photo after you finish. I am not one for filters, but you can open them and play if you like. I am going to explain the tools.
When you click on the pencil icon, a new panel pops up. You will see many options. I always start with Tune Image. When you click on that, you will get options for a number of sliders:
Brightness will control the overall exposure. It makes everything brighter or everything darker. You can start there if your image is too dark or too light.
Contrast controls how much difference there is between the dark tones and light tones. Increasing contrast adds more drama to an image and often more power to colors, but it can make your lights too light or your darks too dark, so proceed with caution. If you make an adjustment and don’t like it, you can undo it and try something else.
Saturation controls the intensity of the colors. Too many people overdo saturation and end up with a very fake looking photo. Again, proceed with caution.
Ambiance is similar to contrast and controls the balance of light. Slide it to the extremes and you will be able to see what it is doing. I almost never use it because I can get what I want with the other sliders.
Highlights controls how bright the brightest tones are in the photo. If you have an area that is too bright, too white, bring down the highlights.
Shadows controls the darkest tones. If you are losing details in some of the darkest areas, try bringing up the shadows.
Warmth controls how yellow or blue a photo looks. Move the slider left if it is too yellow or to the right if it is too blue.
That covers the tools panel. This can make a huge difference in your photos.
tools panel showing all icons
The next icon is details. You can use this to bring out the texture of fur or to make a picture a bit sharper. Be careful about using this on people as it can accentuate wrinkles and large pores. Unlike Lightroom and Photoshop, you don’t have choices what to sharpen and what not to in Snapseed.
Next to that is curves. What I like about this tool for is using it to change midtones- areas that aren’t very light or very dark. By moving the center of line on the graph up or down, you can brighten or darken these tones. There are presets for this function that you can try and experiment to find what looks good to you.
White balance controls how yellow or blue your picture looks. On phones this is normally automatically set and generally the phones do a pretty good job with it, but you might get a really blue looking picture when in the shadows and this tool can help with that.
The crop tool changes your photo size and has a number of presets or you can choose free to make it a unique size. If you are using Instagram, most experts recommend using 4×3 in the vertical position rather than a square. Why? This takes up all the space on a phone screen or tablet screen normally so if someone is scrolling through their feed, they will spend slightly longer on your photo. For me, I hate make decisions on a photo based on this factor alone, but I will sometimes re-crop an image to fit Instagram.
My photo cropped in closer in the 4×3 format.
The rotate tool is very useful if like me you sometimes grab a shot quickly and realize when you look at it that the horizon is slanted! This tool will help you to get that horizon line straight very quickly!
These are the primary tools I use. The next blog I will explain the rest.
You might wonder why I would want to help you take better photos when I am a photographer who wants your business :). There are two reasons: 1) I want everyone to have the best photos possible of their pets 2) I offer a service that goes beyond just taking a quick shot and making it better. When you hire me for a session, we meet to talk about what you need and want. At the session you can choose to be part of the photos are not and I have lots of tricks for getting the attention of dogs, even when owners have trouble. We have fun and I take the pressure off you. Then afterwards, after the photos have been edited, I meet with you to select the best images for what you want, whether it be wall art or an album or something else. I have knowledge of wall groupings and can help you see what something would look like on your walls before you buy, and I have the tools to make all this happen. So I think there is a place for both good cell phone shots and professional photography 🙂