I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

Editing Photos on Your Phone | A How-To Guide

Hi friends!

This has been a blog post that’s been sitting in my drafts for a long time. Ever since we got home from Walt Disney World in January I’ve been meaning to get this post out to you, but you know how it goes – life happens, things get put on the backburner, etc. Forgive me? Thank you. :)

So today I’m going to show you how I edit my photos on my phone. It is still amazing to me how well my phone takes photos so instead of reaching for my big camera, even on trips, I’m happy to just use my phone. But no matter how well of a photo I take, I still want to be able to edit it, even just a tiny bit.

If you remember, I wrote this post awhile back about how to take proper photos using your phone. I talked about exposure, composition and lighting – the basics of a decent, frame-worthy photo. (If you want a refresher, go ahead and reread and then come back. :))

At the end of that post, I mentioned how I use VSCO Cam for editing and how easy it was. Yes, it is super easy to use and up until recently I used it on photos I was about to post on Instagram. However, I was always a bit disappointed at its flexibility. To be honest, Instagram’s built-in editor was more versatile than VSCO (in my opinion). The slider on VSCO is very exaggerated, making huge edits with one notch, something I really didn’t like. Plus, one of the main things I use with Instagram’s editor is highlights, something which VSCO was also lacking unless I wanted to simply reduce the highlights, not increase. (Think of highlights as the over-exposed areas in a photo – my editing style has always been about increasing those over-exposed areas, making the photo brighter with more contrast.)

So, I began looking for a new photo editor. I wanted to be able to edit my photos on my phone and then simply upload to Google Drive where I keep them until I download them onto my hard-drive (lots of steps, I know). With VSCO, if I didn’t post the photos onto Instagram, I would upload them to Google Drive unedited, download them onto my laptop, and then edit them into Lightroom. No thanks, too much hustle and bustle.

I decided to download Adobe Lightroom’s app! I use it on my laptop already, why not use its app for my phone?! In the next few photos, I’m showing you exactly how I edit using the Adobe Lightroom App (I have an android if that makes any difference, by the way) with a photo that started off with typical bad lighting and color.

**Before I begin, here’s a disclaimer. You need an Adobe ID (you can get a free one by clicking here) and the program does eat up my phone’s battery quicker than other apps I’ve used. But I find it’s worth it for its simplicity and versatility.**

Here is the main screen when you’re ready to edit your photo. The menu is below with all the icons. Click on any icon to begin editing. I’ll show you which ones I use, starting with Crop.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Here’s the main Crop screen. I don’t do anything except rotate/straighten and crop, but there’s options to flip the photo, mirror it, etc. Once you’re finished, hit the check mark sign in the corner to continue.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Next, I move on to Exposure. I will usually increase my exposure, highlights, and shadows to make it brighter. Don’t go overboard otherwise your photo will begin to look grainy. (Hint: when taking your photo, tap your finger on the object you want to be exposed properly and the camera will auto expose for you, that way you don’t have to edit the lighting too much – I go over that in the previous blog post I mentioned.) I also bump up the contrast a bit – again, that’s just my style of editing. Play around with the sliders and see what you like best. :)

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Still in the Exposure settings, I also bring the blacks down. It gives it an extra boost and contrast, darkening the blacks in the photo.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Next, I work on the coloring. You can see there’s a hint of green in the photo as well as a cooler tone (see above photo). I increased my temperature slightly and to counter the greens I moved the slider to the magenta side. Magenta will always cancel out green, and green will always cancel out magenta (opposite colors on the color wheel). I usually leave Vibrance and Saturation alone, but feel free to increase those a bit – not too much or it will begin to look fake.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

I always sharpen my photos but that might just be a habit formed over the years. If you do want to sharpen your photo, make it a bit crisper, here are the settings I use. Feel free to play with the sliders on here, too. Mine are never exactly these numbers but they’re roughly the same.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Super simple! All we did was fix the lighting with a few sliders, changed the coloring with just 2 sliders, and if wanted, sharpened it a bit! Here’s the before…

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

And here’s the after! It’s a huge difference, isn’t it?! And it only takes a minute once you get used to the controls and what you prefer with your editing style.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHere’s a few more before and afters, just to show you how big of a difference a few quick edits can make. Other than increasing the saturation on the last photo with the bridge, I used the same sliders in these next few photos. (Befores are on the left. :))

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHow to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHow to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

I hope this was helpful, friends! If nothing else, I hope it showed you that it doesn’t take too much to turn a blah photo into one with a bit more interest. So, go through some of your favorite photos you’re planning on putting in frames and hanging on your wall, find this editing app or something similar and play around with editing! If you don’t use this app, the concepts are the same. Boost the contrast, increase exposure, highlights, and shadows, tweak the temperature, magentas and greens, and sharpen a bit. Simple. :)

If you ever have any questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. :) Happy Tuesday, friend!! xoxo