A new year brings the urge to start anew by purging. My own Instagram (IG) feed gets the same purging treatment. As I went through my earlier photos on IG, I noticed how the photos have evolved. It has definitely been a learning process. From photo composition, to styling a space, to cropping a photo to hide unsightly cables (as most I could), Instagram has been a fun ride and I'm still learning lots from my fellow interiors enthusiasts!
Now that I'm not limited to taking photos at night with incandescent lighting, the photo quality has definitely benefited from more daylight shots. Ideally, I would be taking photos at the time of day when the room has the most natural light. Of course, this ideal situation rarely exists. So, I started to experiment with photo editing apps.
I apologize to have deceived you that our house is filled with an abundance of beautiful sunlight... well, at times it does, depending on the time of day. But sometimes it's just impossible to shoot with bright daylight, when we're experiencing a string of gloomy winter days. This is when these photo editing steps would really come in handy.
I want to share with you these easy photo editing steps that will help your photos appear even more beautiful on your followers' feeds.
Disclaimer: I'm not a professional photographer, nor a graphic designer. I rarely take photos with a tripod (ya, and I'm an interiors blogger!). This is not a tutorial on how to take nice photos, but a post-editing method that works for me. Although I know the camera settings, sometimes I just want to turn the camera on and snap a photo, enhance my photo in seconds and upload it to Instagram. (This post is NOT sponsored by the apps mentioned).
My goal is to enhance my original photo to be brighter, sharper, and yet still appear natural and untouched.
First and foremost, learn your own shooting style and start with a well-composed shot. Secondly, try to take the initial shot as straight as you can (using the camera's on-screen level), or straighten the photo as the first step of editing.
Just as importantly, since you're using phone apps for editing, make sure your phone's screen brightness is set to its brightest before you start editing photos. If your screen's brightness isn't at its brightest, you may over-compensate the brightness, making the photo extra bright.
Without further ado, these are the steps that I go through before I post on IG. They may seem lengthy, but it only takes me seconds now that I've got the hang of it.
Here's the original version of this interior shot:
It wasn't a particularly gloomy day, but the lighting from the window behind the sidetable made my shot appeared gloomy. I opted to take the photo without cranking up the exposure compensation too high to avoid washing out the light at the window.
PRIMARY EDITING WITH A COLOR STORY
A Color Story is my favourite photo-editing app for interior photos. It's an awesome free app that's user-friendly and comes with filters that suits my needs without resorting to in-app purchased ones. Just like dirty laundry, I like the whites in the photos to appear white, not a light grey nor tinted. A Color Story does just that, brightens and whitens photos amazingly!
Once I've selected a photo for editing in A Color Story, I usually up the exposure for the photo. The quickest way to do that on the app is by going to Tools > Adjust > Curves.
Then just drag the middle dot out to the left slightly, until you're satisfied with the brightness. I usually drag it to a point until the objects look like the photo was shot in good light. Tap on the check mark after you're done with this step.
Next up, we go back out to the main menu to access the filters. I found the ESSENTIALS > EVERYDAY filter to look most natural for interiors. It brightens the photo and increases the contrast.
I usually choose a setting somewhere in the middle of the filter meter to avoid over-exposure and washing out the details of the photo.
Click DONE, then SAVE & FINISH.
That's right, the photo looks a lot better than its original version already. You can tell the white is now whiter, and the reflections from the accessories are shinier. I used to just leave it as is and then would go ahead to post on Instagram.
However, your photo can still appear better on Instagram! Here are a few more finger-sliding edits that I would attempt at before the final posting.
SECONDARY EDITING ON INSTAGRAM
I don't use any of the filters on Instagram... they just never seem natural for interior shots. But their built-in editing features are great for interiors. I go in the order from left to right, from Brightness, Contrast, Structure, and to Sharpen.
Start by accessing the editing tools:
Increasing the brightness just a tad more (I usually go to at least 10) gives the impression that the photo was taken with beautiful daylight. For this photo, I went to 14, and well, we all know this photo didn't start off like this:
Adding brightness to the photo would wash out some details, so I would bring up the contrast to balance the brightness. Around 10 would be a good point.
I love this editing tool, which gives some clarity to textures in the photo, making the objects appear less flat. I usually go up to 15, anything beyond that would make the photo seem too harsh.
The sharpening tool is what makes everything pop in your photo, giving it a crisp finish. For me, the magic number seems to be 27.
These are the 4 edits that I use every time before I post. I would occasionally touch on some others, like Highlights, Shadow, and Saturation. It all depends on the photo quality and the enhancements it needs.
And that's it! Now you can add your hashtags and post!
Here's a summary of the progression using the editing steps above:
This is the enlarged final Instagram version that I posted:
It might've seemed like a long process. But it takes less than a minute for me to do all the editing involved. To get an equivalent shot, I would need to set up my tripod, since my camera would have to be out of my shaking hands and be still to capture an equivalent amount of light for a sharp shot. Again, I'm not a professional photographer...
Here are several more photos that went from drab to a bit more fab...
Original version of these white roses on our coffee table:
Editing with A Color Story using the same steps mentioned above:
Final editing on Instagram, adjusting parameters mentioned above:
Here's the original version of our bar cart photo. Taken on a gloomy day with my shaky hands...
First edit in A Color Story:
Final edits in Instagram:
Another favourite photo of mine, our coffee table mirror tray adorned with freesias:
Final product posted on Instagram:
Here's a photo of the largest white flowers vs. the tiniest, Hydrangeas vs. Angel's breath:
I feel like a magician who has just divulged secrets of the trade. I hope I'm forgiven for deceiving you with the bright photos you see on my Instagram feed by sharing these editing tips with you. They're super easy, so do try them out and play around with the steps!
I actually do enjoy the editing process as much as taking photos around the house. It's almost an art form in itself. Just remember the goal is to enhance the photo to bring out its positives, while still looking natural. Hope this post will help you in your IG journey!
What are some of your favourite photo editing apps? Do share in the comments section!