3 post-processing tricks to make your smartphone pics hella good

Thanks to the latest innovations in technology, what once was considered solely a device for making phone calls and texting now has the capability to take crisp and clear photos that are wall-hanging worthy. 

First we awed over the photo capabilities of the iPhone 5 (because let's face it, 4 and 3 weren't that awe-worthy in terms of photo quality...well maybe 4 was), then the iPhone 6, and now with the advancements of the iPhone 7 and its ability to produce a blurred depth of field.

Shot with an iPhone 6 and edited with Snapseed and Mextures

But let's not forget the capabilities of some of the other best smartphone cameras. Even if you don't have the privilege of owning an iPhone 7 or similar, there are some post-processing techniques you can use to trick viewers into thinking you used a fancy DSLR. 

Here are some ways to make your smartphone photos stand-out and look professionally shot. 

1. Lighting

When shooting outdoors or indoors, lighting is going to be incredibly important. Ideally, when outdoors, you want it to be sunny with clouds. Right as a cloud blocks the sun, it acts as a filter to block out some of the harsh sunlight. 

Along with the sun’s brightness, you’ll get a beautiful contrast in your photos and it’ll give you much more tones to work with in post-processing. 

Another technique is to shoot an object with a tree filtering out part of the sunshine, which can produce a beautiful effect. 

This shot was taken outdoors with the sun directly in front of the camera. A tree in front of the object and camera helped block the direct sunlight to create beautiful lighting and a well exposed photo that didn't require any editing. 

If shooting indoors, try to avoid artificial lighting unless it's directly overhead. Window lighting will be your best friend. If it's night time you might have no other choice than to shoot with artificial lighting but try to avoid yellow overcasts as much as possible. 

Once you've nailed lighting, you're pretty much there in terms of shooting with a smartphone. But sometimes you snap a photo that's a little underexposed. That's okay! With the right photo-editing techniques, you can still make your photo look like it was shot with a DSLR camera. 

Pro-tip: Remove your phone's case! You'll get the best results without a piece of plastic in front of your smartphone's lens. I use a Lifeproof case because heaven forbids I drop my phone too much, but it's absolutely essential you remove any plastic in front of your camera for the clearest, sharpest results. 


Processed with Snapseed and Mextures

When it comes to photo-editing, think natural and save the stylistic edits for selfies and artistic work. A few of my favorite editing tools include Snapseed, Mextures, VSCOcam and Rookiecam.

I'll go into detail on Snapseed and Mextures, two that will really help your photos pop.

1. Snapseed

If I want to bring the tonalities out in my photo, or make some basic adjustments, Snapseed is always first in my editing workflow. The "Tune Image" and "Tonal Contrast" sections are a must to help make your image pop.  

For an underexposed image, I'll first make adjustments in Brightness, Saturation, Ambiance and Shadows within the Tune Image section.

Once you've made basic adjustments, scroll down to the Tonal Contrast section (under Filters) to bring out High Tones, Mid Tones and the Low Tones of your image. 

Sometimes, depending on the exposure, I'll bring a photo through Snapseed twice to make the photo really pop in tonalities.

But be aware that editing your image multiple times can worsen noise artifacts. If you plan on printing the image, this can really be an issue.  

2. Mextures

Mextures is one of those awesome editing apps that nobody seems to talk about. For one, it's a bit tricky to use and not the most user-friendly. I still haven't figured it out completely. But I know how to do the basics. 

After you choose a photo from your library to edit, you can then choose to apply a filter from one of its collections, or use a guest created formula.

For the before and after I posted earlier, I went to the Landscape Enhance collection and applied a couple of filters.

Make sure to reduce the opacity of the filter you apply so it doesn't look unnatural. Mextures has the capability to make your photo look really "out-there" but you can still apply natural edits with control.

Adding light stylistic tone will not only make your photo stand out, but it'll make it seem as if you shot the image with a professional lens. It's the secret sauce not many people know about!

Final Thoughts...

Photo-editing can be really fun, but to make a photo look natural and like it was shot with a point and shoot, you really need to learn to apply edits lightly without overdoing it. 

Creating a stunner image is just a matter of technique, practice, and developing an eye for good lighting. 

What are some of your favorite phototgraphy tricks and techniques?

Happy shooting and editing!