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  • Writer's pictureRick

Photo Tip #2: Touch Up Photos Before Sharing

Many times when browsing friends' photos on Facebook, Instagram or other social media, did you come across photos that look dull and uninteresting? Or rather, did you take photos with your phone camera and share them online without touching them up? They probably look dull and uninteresting to your friends too.

Instead of getting "likes" and amazement by friends about your wonderful experience, those unappealing photos are mostly being ignored. Nobody will be attracted by those dull photos, except a couple of your loyal friends who will humour you dutifully. Stop doing all that and start to share beautiful photos with this simple tutorial.

There are two ways to get beautiful photos from phone camera:

1. Configure the settings of the phone camera before taking the photos. Refer to this article on MacWorld (for iPhone) on how to set the various controls for different shooting scenarios.

2. Adjust the colours of the photos after they are taken. This is essential for correcting any photos. And is usually easier than fidgeting with multiple controls of the camera.

In this post, I will focus mainly on using iPhone's on-device Photos app (which all iPhone users will have) to enhance photos with real-life examples. Android users should be able to find similar functions in respective photo-editing apps.

Example #1: Vietnamese Beef Noodle

Below is a photo of a bowl of Vietnamese beef rice noodle (pho bo) that I had recently in a restaurant. When it was brought to my table, the thin slices of beef were still half-cooked with some redness still showing. I took out my iPhone and snap a photo of it, eager to share it on social media after the meal.

After snapping the photo, I launched the Photos app and looked at it (see photo below). The colours were off, far from the bowl of noodle sitting right before me. The beef slices looked overdone, the veggies seemed to be over-boiled and the lime looked like it was about to rot. The beef noodle in the photo doesn't look appetising at all.

What will be the point of posting this photo to my social media? Even if I say "this beef noodle is yummy!", my friends will probably rolled their eyes and think "this guy is nut, it doesn't even look good to put in the mouth" or "which restaurant did he say? Don't ever go there!".

Like it or not, the raw photo of the bowl of noodle is not a close representation to the natural colours of the real thing. And don't mention the restaurant, it may probably close down due to some unappetising photos being circulated on the Internet. This is also one of the reasons why some restaurants do not allow photos of their food to be taken by amateurs, it's bad publicity.

General Enhancements

Touching-up a photo on an iOS device is not that difficult and can be done in couple of seconds with the Photos app. Let's check out the functions available.

If the photo was taken in landscape orientation, rotate it to the desired orientation using the "Rotate & Crop" function (first button). I believe everyone knows how to do this. Rotate the photo and crop away the unwanted areas.

The second function is "Colour Filters". Do play with the filters and check out their effects. Thumbnail previews will be displayed below the photo. Personally, I prefer to touch-up photos prior to applying any special effects. However, it would be better not to add drastic effects to food photos.

The next function is the "Adjustments" and this is where most of the work are done. For basic enhancements, simply adjust the preview slider bars for "Light" and "Colour". The best way to do it will be to compare the photo to the real thing and adjust both settings until the colours of the photo looks close enough. If it is not important to be that precise, leave it to after finishing the meal and before posting to social media.

Notice that the "natural" colours of the photo lies to the right side of the slider bars. After adjusting several photos, it will become mechanical to simply slide the slider bars to the left.

There is another option called "B/W" for monotone effects. Explore its effects too but ignore it for food photos. Don't post black-and-white food photos unless they are for artistic purpose, not for gastronomy appreciation.

After basic enhancements, the photo is now more presentable.

However, the photo still looks a little dim due to the overcast of some shadows caused by bright sunlight to the right side. I will carry out further enhancements to reduce the shadows.

Additional Enhancements

If the basic enhancements above are not sufficient to correct the photo, tap on the "Down" button next to "Light" or "Colour" to reveal more options. Select the desired attribute to adjust. Play with each attribute and note what they do, it will become easier to enhance other photos next time.

For example, there is a heavy shadow to the right of the bowl of noodle. I used the "Shadows" attribute to lighten the shadow and more details can now be seen. The shadowy area is also smaller.

The photo, after further enhancements, looks much brighter and more appetising. And I shared this photo on my Instagram.

Example #2: Durians Under the Sun

Consider the raw photo of durians below, taken under a bright sunlight. The green husks look whitish, like unripe durians.

After performing basic enhancements to the photo (see below), some colours are restored but on the whole, the photo still look pale. This is the result of a colour cast due to the harsh sunlight that saturated the green component.

To correct the photo, look for the attribute "Cast" under "Colour" and slide it left or right until the green colour is restored.

And the final colours of the durians look closer to the real ones.

And that's it! Correcting and enhancing photos is that simple. Learn the skill and stop sharing dull travel photos and unappetising food photos to your social media from now onward.


Another tip?

Photo Tip #1: Remove People from Travel Photos

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