Adjusting photos with Snapseed

Snapseed Tutorial: Greatly Improve Your iPhone Photo Quality

Snapseed is a widely used photo editing app produced by Google. It is also free. It has numerous tools for you to alter your photos with, and I am going to cover some of the basics which will help you to turn mediocre shots into high quality shots.

Skill Level: Beginner

Some of My Snapseed

Here are some samples of photos I have made way better using Snapseed from my Instagram account.

Getting Started with Snapseed

After downloading the app open it up and let’s get editing. Snapseed allows you to either load a previously taken photo from your camera roll or to take a new photo using its simple camera functionality. Tap on the little + symbol in the upper left of the screen to select which you will do.

Snapseed opening screen

From the opening screen you can load your image and then set to editing.

There is also an option to paste a photo in that you have copied from another app, such as an email or some such. Any option works just as well and once you have a photo loaded in the app you are ready to rock.

Straightening an Image

straightening a photo in snapseedI take a lot of photos of the ocean, and it can be really difficult to get the horizon line perfectly straight across the composition. Sometimes I am walking and chatting with a friend and I need to take that magic photo real quick so that I don’t spoil the mood. It doesn’t always result in the best composed of shots.

Straightening an image with Snapseed

drag gin your finger around the image will easily help you align what you want to the grid.

Not a problem with Snapseed. Tap on the “Straighten” icon at the bottom of the app and use a finger to realign your photo to your taste.

Tuning Your Image

image tuning with snapseedTap the “Tune Image” icon at the bottom to open up a set of tools to help you quickly adjust a number of aspects of your photo. At first it will look like nothing is happening. That is because this is a very touch-oriented app. Once you get used to it it becomes very easy to use.

Tuning an image with Snapseed

It may seem a little odd at first, but with just a bit of use you will find this drag-to-adjust approach very intuitive.

At the bottom of the screen you will see the name of the adjustment you have deleted. This will be “Brightness” when it starts. To adjust the level of brightness drag a finger to the left or right on the photo itself. To change from brightness to one of the other settings drag a finger on the photo up and down.

Tips and Tricks

This are the basics of using Snapseed. Here are some of my favorite uses for Snapseed.

Adjust “Shadows” exposure: This setting is found under “Tune Image” and will help you bring a ton of detail out of the shadows. Tip: this is a good place to start on your image.

Adjust “Saturation” levels: This option will bring out the colors in your photo for when the photo just didn’t capture what you were seeing with your eyes. Great for sunsets!

sharpening a photo's details with snapseed“Sharpen” Image: This is probably my favorite setting to adjust as it allows you to bring out all the little bits of detail in the image. In this screen you have two settings, “Sharpen” and “Structure.” I suggest using structure to enhance the details of your image. Be careful not to do too much or you will end up with a grainy image, but you will see, this can be a magic adjustment. Tip: if you are adjusting the “Shadows” as mentioned above, adjust the “Details” second to get better results.

cropping a photo with snapseed“Cropping” the image: lots of apps let you crop these days, but it is often handy to be able to do so all in one editing app such as this. I will usually crop the image to my desired composition if needed first, which is often a square for sharing on Instagram.

using the retroflex photo filters using snapseed“Retrolux” the image: this is a very cool and fun little set of filters that load randomly every time you tap the redo button. The general look will be a warn photo style, and just the right one can really make a photo happen. Once a set loads you can adjust the various elements in the same way as you used the “Tune Image” tools above: drag up and down to change what setting you are using and drag left and right to adjust the levels of the selected setting. Tip: Retrolux will often soften an image’s details and desaturate it, so for some interesting results try upping both the structure and saturation settings, as mentioned above, before you apply the Retrolux.

What More Do You Need?

There are many more tools in Snapseed and I encourage you to experiment with them. However, with just the ones mentioned above I have found hours and hours of photo editing fun no too few poorly shot photos turned into excellent images.

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