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Better Mobile Photos of the Kids and You!

We all love the taking photos with our phones, it’s quick and easy and usually right in your pocket!  But they don’t always look as good as you hope.  In this post, I’ll give you a quick guide to making the photos you love to share even better.

Step 1 Snapseed

I’ll use the Snapseed app for this guide. You can find it in either the Apple or Google app stores. The concepts shown will translate over to many popular camera and editing apps. Once you have a photo selected and opened in Snapseed on your phone let’s move on.

Step 2 Editing

My before photo, nice and dark isn’t it?

I had no time to use the exposure adjustments in my camera app to brighten the photo before the moment had passed. So let’s see what we can pull out of the photo with some editing.

When Snapseed is first opened we have the Done button, the Sharing icon, the Undo icon and the Edit button.

The Edit button is where we will hang out.

In the Tools menu, we will be using the sub menus with the little stars the most. Feel free to explore the others, you can always undo something if you don’t like it.


Let’s start with white balance. Select the eyedropper and move it around your photo. Notice how tones and colors change. I like finding a white or light gray neutral area to place my eyedropper. If you don’t have one, find a spot that will give you pleasing warm tones. You can fine tune tint and temperature in the menu next to the eyedropper.


Hit the checkmark at the bottom to accept your changes, and Snapseed will return you to the main screen. Pressing your finger on the photo will give you a before and after to see the changes you’ve made for your photo so far.

Now let’s head over to the Tune Image menu. This is where the heavy lifting gets done. If you have a dark photo nudge the brightness up if you have a bright photo nudge the brightness down. Slide your finger left for darker and right for brighter. Don’t go overboard in either direction subtlety is the key.


Now move down the menu by sliding your finger down the photo and choose Contrast. Move the contrast all the way to -100. Yup, I contradicted myself immediately. Don’t worry we will be adjusting the contrast again.


Now move down the menu to Shadows. This is where being subtle is needed again. In general, I move my shadows up, so I can see the details hiding away. Play with the amount and see how much you can see in your photo. I usually end up around +20 or less.


Do the same thing for the Highlights, bright photos can go down and dark photos can go up. Watch the sky when moving the highlights clouds can get a dull gray look to them if you are too aggressive, so be subtle.


Now that we’ve moved the highlights and shadows around we can head back to the contrast. Creep the contrast back up until the haziness is gone from the photo but stop before you get a harsh crunchy look. Paying attention to the skin when doing this step will help. Balance the skin between dingy gray and harsh dirtiness. Hit the checkmark to save.


Step 3 Getting Creative

This next step doesn’t have any rules and can be tons of fun. From the edit button, lets head into the Curves sub menu.


The far left menu button will bring up the curves adjustments. Here you can play around by adding different colors to the photo or removing others. Play around with moving the points on the graph and see what you can create. The far right menu has preset filters that you can choose if you are feeling lost.


The next sub menu to explore is the Vignette. I’m a vignette junkie and find it useful for pulling attention to a specific spot in my photos. The key again is being subtle. Use the blue pin to move your vignette to the perfect spot. There is no rule saying you have to have the vignette centered.


My last step is in the Filters menu area. Below the tools section is the lens blur. You can choose from linear or circular blurs, use what you think works best for your photo. I drop the vignette from the lens blur menu and change the transition to +100, then adjust the blur strength.



After you’ve perfected your photo, hit the check mark. Now you can choose your crop, fix any rotation issues and then share or hit the Done button.

Before and After


Below are a few before and after examples from Sibley Park. Take notice of the difference in the details you can see in the shadow areas and the warmer skin tones. Try it out yourself and post before and after photos and share what you think about mobile photo editing.

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