There’s no one right way to edit your travel pictures. Some methods are quite easy, simple, and fast, and some can even be done right on your phone. But, if you shoot with a camera, editing on a computer can be more precise, and the possibilities are endless. All photographers have different opinions on the best ways to edit photos, but here are my personal recommendations on how to approach photo editing for beginners.
Editing on a phone
Whether you choose to photograph portraits, landscapes, or minimalist subjects, it’s incredible what you can do with a few apps. Nowadays, the quality of an iPhone or Android photo is fantastic, so it’s easy to edit a photo without losing details or quality. Even though I only post shots that have been edited on my MacBook, from time to time I do edit quickly on my phone for Instagram Stories.
When editing on my phone, there are two apps I use before any other.
Snapseed is a must-have for iPhonography and precise editing. Whether you want to make your shot brighter or recover more details by playing with the highlights and shadows, Snapseed has many features that allow you to edit efficiently. It’s possible to crop, change the temperature and white balance, and even edit a specific spot on the picture.
I suggest not playing with the HDR feature, as this can make the picture look unrealistic. Make sure not to add too much saturation, and instead, add some “ambiance” to your shot. If you want your picture to have a certain “faded” look, tone down the contrast. On the other hand, if you prefer to give your photo a more detailed, sharp quality, add some contrast or clarity using another app called VSCO.
VSCO is, without a doubt, my favorite editing app. It’s a bit less precise than Snapseed when it comes to changing specific details, but this app has incredible filters that give a light, professional, and artistic look to your pictures. It’s a favorite among all of the Instagrammers I know. Certain filters (called “Presets” in the app) give a vintage look to your photos, while others accentuate the details. You can browse through the different packages of filters and choose those that are a better fit for your style.
There are no surefire tips or tricks, as we all have different preferences for retouching our photos. Some of us like the colors to stand out, while others prefer when the image has a cinematic or dramatic edge. What I can suggest is to choose a filter you really love and tweak it according to what you think will make the image look as good as possible. If your image is a bit too dark, don’t hesitate to add some exposure and play with the clarity so the details don’t disappear.
Editing on a Computer
First thing’s first, if you shoot with a camera and want to have the ability to change important details after the fact, it is vital to set the quality of your photos as RAW, not JPEG. That setting should be under an “image quality” category in your camera’s menu. Now that that’s taken care of, we can look at editing options.
In my opinion, the best photo editing software is Adobe Lightroom. I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom for years and I still discover new features all the time. Lightroom allows you to make any changes you want to a photo. Whether you want to intensify one color or change it completely, it’s extremely easy as you just have to “play” with the hue, saturation, or luminance.
Though this is a professional software for editing photographs, beginning photo editors won’t have any difficulty understanding it. I personally use VSCO film presets and tweak them to make them my own. What’s great about Lightroom is you can even change minor details in a photo thanks to the radial and gradual filters that allow you to, for example, change the sky. If you use a gradual filter and apply it to the sky, you can make it more colorful or change the colors.
The Lens Correction functions are also fantastic, as you can select the lens profile of your camera and transform the photo if you believe it’s not symmetrical. Lightroom allows you to keep the quality of your photo at its best, unlike some mobile apps that diminish it, which is why I always use computer software for the best, most-professional looking edit.
Now that you have all the tools to edit your travel photos, get out there and start shooting!