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Making the most of that camera in your pocket – an iPhone – using Instagram and Snapseed

by Scott R. Kline on January 13, 2014

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The best camera is the one you have with you when you need to create a photograph.

Professionally, I am a portrait photographer, but I have always enjoyed graphically strong images without people. Since my iPhone is always in my pocket, I snap these whenever I see something interesting. Using a few apps, I quickly create images and post them on Instagram.

Occasionally,  a poorly-exposed shot needs a little boost in contrast or saturation. One tool I really like on the iPhone is Snapseed, which has a very intuitive screen for making adjustments. You snap a photo with your normal iPhone camera app and save. Launching Snapseed, you then call up the photo. The Tune Image adjustment allows you to individually adjust the brightness, saturation, color and temperature.

Golden Gate Bridge by Scott Kline

My favorite feature is the Shadows adjustment. Without making the photo brighter, it boosts the shadow’s brightness. This is especially helpful in full sun shots where the shadows are too dark.

Another great adjustment is the Selective Adjust, which allows you to pick a spot in the photo and adjust the brightness, contrast or saturation for just that area. This is very handy when a face is a little dark in a shot.  There are also adjustments for cropping, straightening and more, along with a bunch of cool filters if you are into that.

After tweaking the image in Snapseed, I save it to the image library and call it up in Instagram. I love the “Lux” button — the sun-looking thing with the half-white/half-black center. It boosts the shadow detail and reduces brightness in certain areas while sharpening the photo. Sometimes this is a bit much, but you can try it and see before committing.

Brooklyn Bridge by Scott Kline

There are lots of filters that I tend to eschew except for the ones that create nice vignettes like Lo-Fi and X-Pro-II. Try them all to find effects you like.

One tip for a strong Instagram feed is to try to be consistent with your effects and filters, so you develop a style.  Another is to like other photos by people you like and follow photographers whose imagery you relate to. You can learn a lot looking at the photos by others. I would love to see your work. Follow me on Instagram and I would be glad to follow back. My Instagram ID is ScottRKline.

Sunset in Aptos by Scott Kline

Photographer Scott R. Kline has been shooting for InMenlo since 2011. Photos, top to bottom: Transamerica Pyramid, Golden Gate Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, sunset in Aptos

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