[MIUI Photography Classroom L6] Post-Processing: Making Good Photos Better

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    Sajal Hossain
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    Post-Processing – Making Good Photos Better

    First, lets set something straight. Post-processing your photos isn’t cheating and definitely not a crime (unless over-done and edited way too much.) Every Pro Photographer worth his salt knows that post-processing is essential to make a photo “pop.” Much more so with mobile phone photographers, Post-processing compensates for the weaknesses in our cameras.

     

    If you happen to be a member of photography group or chanced upon one. You might come across the wordSOOC or straight-out-of-camera. This means that a photo was captured, saved and shared as is. That’s it. But let’s face it, a PERFECT picture isn’t easy to come by does it?

     

    In this lesson I’m going to teach you how to use a FREE app called Snapseed. So head on over to the Playstore and download it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Done?Let’s get to it then.

     

    Example #1

    1. Select the Picture: Open Snapseed and tap on the camera icon with the plus sign found at the top right corner. Choose the photo you want to edit from the gallery. (You can also take a photo directly from the app, but I like to use the MIUI camera so I just pull the image into the app from the gallery.)

     

    1. Crop for the Right Composition: The first thing I usually determine is whether I want to crop my images or not. But more often I find myself cropping to improve composition and framing. Tap the “CROP” module then use the icons on the left to choose the aspect ratio and the icon on the right to toggle between landscape and portrait. When you’re done, tap on the “check” on the lower right. (I’ll be refering to this check as “OK” from here on out)

    1. Rotate to Get the Right Angle: I also try rotating the image a bit to see if it would look better from a different angle. To do that, tap on STRAIGHTEN.

    1. Before v.s. After: You can always check how your image looks like before and after applying your choices just by tapping on the image.

     

    1. Automatic: Before applying any further tweaks, I always try the “Automatic” option. Usually Snapseed does a pretty good job of figuring out what needs to be done.

    1. Edit it Yourself! Fortunately for us, the image didn’t improve much with AUTOMATIC selected. (Yes, FORTUNATELY. Because if it did, there’s no point in continuing with this tutorial. Haha.) Moving on…

     

    1. Tune Image Module: The bulk of my post-processing is done in the “TUNE IMAGE” module. Here, you can increase/decrease brightness, ambiance, contrast,saturation, shadows and warmth (or white balance).

     

    For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with these controls, here’s a brief description of what they do and how they affect your photos:

    • Brightness – Swiping to the right brightens the photo, while swiping to the left darkens it.
    • Ambiance – The Ambiance control is a special type of contrast that controls the balance of light in a photo. It can be used to balance backlit photos or to accentuate contrasts throughout your photo. Swipe right for photos where the subject is darker than the background. Swipe left to increase the contrast of dark objects and create a slight glow around darker objects. This is especially helpful in photos that are slightly flat.
    • Contrast – Swiping to the right increases the contrast, while swiping to the left reduces the contrast.
    • Saturation – Swiping to the right increases saturation, or vibrancy, of the colors. Swiping to the left decreases saturation. A value of -100 will result in a photo completely without color.
    • Warmth – Use the Warmth control to adjust the color balance of the image. This is helpful if the image was shot in a difficult lighting situation. Moving the control to the left will cool the image, making it bluer and less orange. Moving to the right will warm the image, making it more orange and less blue. At the extreme ends of the control are the ability to correct for fluorescent and other more extreme colorcasts.

    1. Just Scroll: It may take some figuring out how to use the app but once you get the hang of it, it becomes very simple. When you’re in a module, just scroll up or down to choose from the available options and scroll right (to increase) or left (to decrease) the levels.

     

    1. Brightness: With brightness selected, I scrolled right ’til I reached the brightness I want at +14.

    1. Ambiance, Saturation and Warmth: Scrolling up and down, I quickly set the Ambiance to -32, Saturation to +7 and Warmth to +15.

     

    1. Details make all the difference: I’m a bit satisfied at this point but I wanted my dog’s fur and the grass to be more detailed so I go to “DETAILS” to fine tune the photo’s clarity. You can tap on the magnifying glass to see the difference in increasing or decreasing the options. So, inside DETAILS, I first choose “Sharpening.” My subject is a bit blurry at +0 so I scrolled to the right and found +100 to be good (you can slide this down a bit. I don’t normally go this high unless absolutely necessary.) After that, I scrolled down to “Structure” and set this to + 39 to give the fur some texture.

    1. Final Adjustments: We’re almost done, but since this is kind of a portrait shot, let’s add a tweak one last time. So swipe on the modules and select “CENTER FOCUS” and tap on the icon with a star and select Portrait 2. You can still adjust this by tapping on the image and scrolling up or down and left to right.

    1. Done! The last thing to do now is to save your masterpiece so hit the on the top bar. Saving… Done. Congrats!

    BEFORE

    AFTER

    Example #2

    For this example, I’m going to assume you’ve already got the hang of navigating inside Snapseed. So this would just be a quick rundown of my editing process. I know what you’re thinking: “This photos already looks good as is, why edit it still?” You’ll gonna ruin it you say? Well we’ll know soon enough.

    1. Automatic first: In this photo, I used HDR mode on my MIUI camera to bring out more details but I find my subject a bit dark for my taste. So I open Snapseed and tapped on ‘AUTOMATIC”. I’m satisfied with how it brought out the clouds so I tap OK and move on.

    1. Selective Adjust: Next I go to “SELECTIVE ADJUST”, tapped the plus(+) icon at the bottom and tapped on the face. Now you can see a letter “B” inside a blue circle (I’ll refer to this as Selective Adjustment Point or SAP.) You can scroll on that and adjust brightness, contrast and saturation.

    1. Make it better: I went ahead and brought the brightness to +58, then created another SAP and placed it on the arms. I gave it a +32 brightness.

     

    Tip: You can make the area you want to selectively adjust bigger or smaller by using a two finger swipe.

     

    1. Different Ratio: I’m a bit satisfied with the aspect ratio andhow my subject is composed so I go to CROP, chose 3:2 aspect ratio, cropped it according to the rule-of-thirds then clicked OK.

    1. Drama: But, I’m not quite satisfied yet, so I go to DRAMA, tap on the star at the bottom, chose Bright 1

    1. Adjust again: I find it too bright so I tap on the image and scroll left to bring the filter strength to +50. Then scrolled up to Saturation and brought it down to -22. Now all that’s left is to…

     

    1. Done! Save the image to my gallery by hitting SAVE and I’m done!

    Now doesn’t that look nicer?

    There are a lot more things you can do with Snapseed so I suggest you experiment with it. There are also tons of other photo editing apps on the market to give your #miphotos that extra oomph. Listed below are few of my favorites apps:

    • Pixlr Express
    • Aviary
    • After Focus
    • Perfectly Clear

     

    Do take note that with hundreds of photo editing apps and thousands of filters available at your disposal, it’s easy to go over-board with the editing and effects. It’s nice to experiment, but there’s a difference between POST-PROCESSING and PHOTO MANIPULATION (That’ll be next.)

     

    The key to post-processing is bringing-out the best while keeping your photos looking natural as possible. Just keep it simple. keep it clean.

     

    Good luck and keep on shooting!

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