The secret weapon that improves your smartphone photos

By Alexandra Golaszewska

Some photographers say that the best camera is the one you have with you. I have a DSLR, but I almost never use it anymore because I always have my iPhone with me. I know a lot of people who share images via Instagram or Facebook. Some get frustrated when they see "better" photos from other users, and they wonder why theirs don't look as good.

The trick is photo editing software. I'm not talking about full-on Photoshop, which takes a long time to learn. I'm using simple smartphone apps. The two I use most frequently are Adobe Photoshop Express and Snapseed. Both are free, and both are available for iPhone as well as Android.

I'm not going to go into detail about the tools; what works best will depend on your original image, and if you play around with the software you can learn it pretty quickly.

Here's my original shot, taken while it was snowing. The church and trees are beautiful, but I think the greyness is depressing.


Here it is after I brightened it up in Snapseed, and adjusted the contrast:


A big improvement, but there's also too much going on here. The cars in the foreground become the focal point, stealing the show from the church and trees. The solid white sky isn't adding anything, so I'd like to see less of it. I don't like it when my photos bleed right into the background, like this one does where the sky color is very close to white. I want to crop some things out and add a border.

Here it is after I put it through Instagram, which took care of the cropping and border. If you aren't an Instagram user, you can get these effects within the other apps:

photo 3

If you're on Instagram, you can follow me over there: @AlexandraGo.