Every picture that you take on your smartphone can be made better. Smartphone cameras add a lot of post-processing to every image, hiding important details. Thankfully, you can bring out those details using Snapseed for Android and iOS.
Snapseed means that you don’t need Lightroom or Photoshop to get the job done. Instead, you can enhance photos, fix issues, and generally improve the look and feel of images using this free app. And in this article we show you how to use Snapseed.
What Is Snapseed and How Do You Use It?
Snapseed is a free photo editing app for Android and iOS. In fact, it is one of the best photo editing apps on iPhone and Android. A couple of years ago Snapseed was acquired by Google and it has only gotten better since then.
Snapseed’s UI can be a bit intimidating at first. But spend a couple of minutes with the app and you’ll soon master its gesture-based interface. The app is laid out in a simple manner. Open a photo first, then tap on the Tools button to reveal more than a dozen different editing tools.
1. Start by Tuning the Image
Once your image is loaded, you’ll see three buttons at the bottom: Looks, Tools, and Export. Using the Looks option you can switch between available filters or make your own. Since we’re focussing on editing, tap on the Tools button and select Tune Image.
Tune Image consists of basic image editing features like brightness and contrast. Brightness will be selected already. You can swipe right to increase it and swipe left to decrease it. The numerical value of the brightness will be shown at the top.
To switch to another tool, just swipe up or tap on the Tools button in the bottom bar. Tap on the image and hold to see the difference between the original image and the edited one.
The Tune Image Tools
The following tools are available in the Tune Image section:
Brightness: You can use this to add light to a darker shot, or tone down a shot that was overexposed. However, decreasing brightness in overexposed shots will instantly bring out details.
Contrast: Contrast increases or decreases the difference between the darkest and the lightest parts of an image.
Saturation: Increasing the saturation makes the colors more vibrant. Use it if you want the image to pop.
Ambiance: Ambiance lets you adjust saturation and contrast at the same time.
Highlights: Highlights helps you edit the intensity of the brightest (lightest) areas of the image. So, if an image is overexposed or overly bright, reduce the highlights.
Shadows: Shadows does the same thing as Highlights but for the darkest areas of the image.
Warmth: Warmth adds either a warm orange or a cool blue tint to your entire image. Using this tool you can instantly turn a bright orange sky into a cool blue sky.
To capture and bring out more details, try capturing photos in RAW format (and here’s how to shoot RAW photos on your iPhone).
2. Play With Structure and Sharpness
Go back to the Tools section and tap on Details. Here you’ll find two editing options: Structure and Sharpening. These tools work best if your photo has a texture element to it (like wood or rust).
The Structure tool will help you add a wow effect to your photo but make sure you don’t overdo it. The Sharpening tool will improve the details of some photos but, as a side effect, it might add grain to the image as well. Use both tools cautiously and zoom in on parts of the image before you make changes so you can ensure that there is no loss of quality.
3. HDR Scape Is a Game Changer
HDR Scape is a tool that will have an instant visual effect on your photo. It works best with shots of nature and/or people. After you select it, you’ll see that the image has an incredible amount of detail and the colors are overly saturated to make them pop.
You can adjust the filter strength, saturation, and brightness from here. If you think it’s a bit overdone, you can go back to the Tune Image tool and tone things down after applying the HDR Scape.
4. Add a Vintage Feel Using Grainy Film
Grainy Film filters can be a good way to add a vintage effect to your photos. Even if you choose a sublet filter and keep the strength on the lower side, you can still get a good effect.
5. Work on the Composition
Sometimes, what does wonders to an image is not the editing but the placement of the subject in the frame. If you’ve got a high-quality image, try using the Crop tool. Crop the picture so that the subject is positioned in the center, or in a manner that they are aligned to one of the grids according to the rule of thirds (a well-known photography guideline you can apply when editing).
6. Change the Perspective
Sometimes what’s standing between a good picture and a great picture is not the editing, but the angle itself. Sometimes, the angle of the photo is slightly off.
Thankfully, Snapseed has a smart Perspective tool. You can swipe up, down, left, or right to change the perspective. Snapseed will smartly fill in the gaps at the edges of the picture. But it’s best to crop those edges out after you’ve changed the perspective.
7. Adjust the White Balance
White Balance is similar to the Warmth feature, but with a color tint. Using the Temperature tool you can first add a cool blue or a warm orange hue to the photo. Then swipe over to the Tint option to add a green or pink tint to the image. This can be a quick and easy way to turn a dull, blue sky into a warm, purple sky.
8. Fix Images Using the Healing Tool
The Healing tool helps you fix small mistakes, spots, and blemishes. You can even remove small objects from the photo. This works best when it’s is surrounded by plain objects like the sky or human skin.
After choosing the Healing option, zoom into the part of the image that you want to fix. Then use your finger to brush over the area you want to heal. It will be highlighted in red. After you release it, it will be replaced automatically by pixels from the surrounding area.
9. Embrace Selective Editing
Selective Editing in Snapseed is a hidden powerful feature you should definitely embrace.
Tap on the Selective option, then tap on a part of the image (either the sky or a face), then pinch in and out with two fingers to increase or decrease the size of the selected area. You can swipe horizontally to switch between Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Structure. All the changes you make while using this tool will only be applied to the selected area.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
It will be comforting to know that when editing photos using Snapseed, nothing is really lost. You can tap on the Undo button to quickly undo the last change. The View Edits button will list all the edits you’ve made and you can individually re-edit a previous change or delete it.
Learn to Shoot Better Photos First
For a free app, Snapseed is a surprisingly powerful photo editor. And there are some advanced features in Snapseed like Curves and Brushes which you should explore once you’ve got the hang of the basics.
But a photo editing app can only do so much. If you want to take better photos, you should try learning the basics of photography. Luckily for you, we’ve previously outlined the key photography tips for beginners.