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How To Get The Best Out Of Your iPhone Photos

By lunamik / November 18, 2015
Industry

Since the introduction of camera phones, there has been a global photo explosion. In 2015, it was estimated that a whopping 748 billion photos were taken on mobiles alone. But amidst this digital overload, how do we make our photos stand out?

Ask any professional photographer and they’ll tell you that editing is a massive part of their everyday process. It can completely change the way people see your photo. So, here’s a smart and easy guide of what the iPhone photo editor does, and how to use it.

It all starts with the photo you take and if you’re unsure about where to start, we’ve already covered how to take amazing photos on your iPhone. But if you’re good and ready, here we go:

If you’re in the Camera app, hit Edit on the bottom toolbar. Or if you’re in the photos app, you’ll find edit on the top toolbar. Next, hit the adjustments button on the bottom toolbar.

Edit Button At Top Right Corner

You’ll be presented with this menu:

Dial Button On The Bottom Toolbar

First, we’re going to balance the light in your photo. Now, hit the drop down arrow next to Light. This will open all the Light adjustment layers.

Let’s take this in chronological order:

Light

I know it may look awfully tempting, but you’ll want to leave this setting for the time being.

Exposure

Without getting too technical, exposure has to do with how much light hits your camera sensor, if the photo is too dark and you can’t see much, you’re underexposed, and if the photo is so bright you can’t make out a darn thing, then chances are you’re overexposed. Exposing correctly when taking a photo greatly helps in the editing process. If your photo has a fair balance of light and dark, you’ll be able to easily adjust the exposure by increasing or decreasing the slider. If you’re indoors, increase the exposure by 1 – 3 stops. If you’re outdoors, and you’ve got some areas which a far too bright, decrease the exposure by 2 stops. But be careful as this will darken the rest of your image.

Highlight

Highlights are responsible for all the bright elements in your photo — the whites. If you’re to give your whites more colour and flavour, simply reduce the highlights anywhere between 3 – 6 stops. This will regulate the white elements, bringing them closer to the mid-tones. For those who are looking for a sun-safe tan, this is a very easy alternative.

Shadows

Shadows are responsible for — yep, you guessed it — the darks. So if your photo was taken at night or

Brightness

If after all these adjustments, your photo is looking a little dark, increase the brightness by 5 – 7 stops.

Contrast

Boosting contrast will create a greater divide between light values: the darks will become darker and the lights will become lighter. Decreasing will bring them closer together. however, as you increase contrast, your colour range will reduce if you don’t have enough light in your photo, too much contrast can quickly darken the entire image. So only

Black Point

Black Point makes your blacks… more black. Which may be a confusing notion to some, but it’s important to understand that when you take a photo – due to a number of different reasons — the colours in real life will always be different to the colours that come straight off your camera. So don’t stress if those black jeans you bought the other day are already looking a little grey in the photo. If your shot was taken outside on a sunny day, simply increase the Black Point by no more than 5 stops. If your photo is already lacking light, it may do you good to decrease the Black Point by 1 stop.

Now that you’re finished with light. It’s time to adjust the colour.
Hit the list button to the right to bring up your options. Now hit the drop down settings for colour:

Colour

Like the above setting for Light, the Colour tab is an overall colour editor. Fine for convenience, but not so fine for control. So unless your photo is super dull, let it be.

Saturation

This is where your photo comes alive. Saturation increases the intensity of your colours by removing white and grey shades from individual pixels. So for a more lively photo, move the saturation right by 5 – 7 stops. But beware, push it past 8 stops and certain colours may start to peak and look unnatural, which can leave your photo looking like a rainbow on a sugar high — not good.

Contrast

While it provides a different result — colour contrast works exactly the same as light contrast. Decreasing the contrast will now condense the colour spectrum, not separate it. So if you’re going for a faded look, this will work great. But if you’re like me and you want to make each colour stand out, move the slider all the way to the right.

Cast

This directly affects the temperature of your photo. Sliding left will add more blue to your shot and sliding right will add more orange. It’s easy to get carried away with this one… you can make your photos look like an epic expedition to the north pole or make it look like you’re the first human to step foot on mars, but personally, I like to follow a simple rule: If I’m taking photos of buildings and objects, I usually move my cast about 1 – 3 stops colder, and If I’m taking photos of people, I usually move my cast about 1 – 3 stops warmer.

Cold = crisp. Warm = Cosy.

That’s it, your photo is ready! Share it, frame it, show it to your cat. But remember, (while this may be obvious) every photo is going to be different. So if these exact settings aren’t making your photos pop, then have a go making minor adjustments until they fit your liking. The more you use the editing sliders, the more you’ll grow accustomed to how they’ll uniquely affect your photo.

For those of you who are looking for a little more customisation and control over the individual elements within your photos, Lunamik has published an intermediate guide where we cover some fantastic photo editing tools that are free for all users.