Over the last few months while using Instagram, I’ve been sent emails & messages by people asking how I take and edit the images I post to the photo sharing app.
Over the next few posts, I will give step by step guides on how I go about taking & editing my photos for Instagram. Hopefully that will be of use to some of you!
In this first post, I will show how I take photos using the ‘Average Camera Pro’ app, something I’m using more and more often. I will follow this up by an example of how I edit my photos in Snapseed, before uploading to Instagram.
In the past & still to a large extent now, I have used the default ios camera app on the iPhone to take photos due to it being quick & easy to access. A lot of the time, given the right light, the resulting images can be beautiful, without and post processing necessary. Though in scenes where there is a contrast in light in the scene (for example overcast weather/sunrise sunset) the camera app will try to expose either the area of the highlights (bright area) or the shadows (darker areas.) this can leave some of the resulting image either too dark or washed out.
Using the Average Camera Pro app, you can achieve a more rounded dynamic range using a few extra steps on your iPhone.
Initially I solely used the app to create long exposure style photos as the app allows you to layer different amounts of photos on top of each other, this ranges from 1 single photo through to 128 photos.
1. Setting the app to the single photo setting allows you to capture an image as you would with any other camera app. The difference here is the next step. Before saving the image, a preview is displayed with a slider bar at the bottom. This allows you essentially to adjust the exposure of the image before you save it, therefore leaving no decrease in image quality.
Above is the photo that appears as it was taken in the app, slightly on the underexposed side, but detail held in the clouds & the cliffs in the distance. I save this image first.
I then slide across the bottom to increase the exposure of the image, bringing out the shadows that would have been hidden in the original image. I save this image as well to form a base from which to work from.
2. The next step in the process is to open up the ‘Pro HDR’ app. This will allow me to merge the two exposures together.
On opening up the app, you want to selects the ‘actions’ option on the bottom right hand side of the screen. Follow this up by selecting the ‘HDR from Library’ option. This will open up the camera roll.
You first have to select the darker of the two images before selecting the brighter of the two. The images are then merged.
You are then presented with this screen, allowing you to fine tune the merged images before saving them as a single image. The result should mean that both the highlights & shadows are intact.
3. The final step in this process is to fine tune the image using the Snapseed app, though this is entirely optional.
The first step I usually take before delving into Snapseed’s treasure trove of editing options is to make sure the image is sharp. This can be adjusted by selecting the ‘detail’ option in the app control panel. You can then zoom into sections of the image (as shown above) to fine tune the sharpening whilst still being able to see the results on the phone screen.
I follow this up by selecting the ‘tune image’ option, allowing you to fine tune various elements of the image as shown above.
Another option I tend to use is the ‘centre focus tool’ this allows you to select an area of the image & apply exposure adjustments both inside & outside that area. There is also the option to add blur outside the selected area, though I tend not to use it.
Another option you can choose is to crop the image. Above is the square crop I have decided on in order to upload to Instagram. There are also other presets as well as free crops.
For this step by step, I will opt to save the image after cropping. Resulting in the image below.
The finished image has both a good mix of highlights & shadows that wouldnt have been achieved using the default iPhone app. This is just one (simple) way in which I edit the images taken on my iPhone. Further step by step guides will be posted over the coming weeks/months.