Instagram is – by far – my favourite social media platform. I love to take and share daily snaps and shamelessly stalk others who do the same. It’s the one social network that I visit and don’t instantly feel like people are just trying to sell me something!
While I’m well aware that there have been a lot of articles about how to take great phone pictures written in the past, this one is different…
As a die hard Android fan, I figured there must be others out there who, like me, want to know how to take and edit great photos, but don’t want to convert to the dark (ahem, iPhone) side. So here are my top tips for taking great phone photos alongside a comprehensive list of all my favourite photo editing apps for Android users!
Take lots of photos
I never take my photos with Instagram’s built-in camera. The way to make sure you’re sharing only the very best shots is to take lot of snaps using your phone’s camera and then pick your favourites to edit and post. Just make sure you delete any duffers or your phone’s memory will fill up faster than you can say “wanna take a selfie?”
Use A Better Camera app
The eight mega-pixel camera on my Samsung Note 2 is awesome but when I downloaded the A Better Camera app my photos got a million times better. It has loads of useful functions such being able to adjust the ISO (just like on a SLR), a HDR option and settings for panoramas. The night mode is particularly great, and means that even if the light is a bit gloomy you can still take a pretty decent snap.
Don’t use your phone’s camera at all…
I recently invested in a Samsung NX3000 camera and it might just be the best thing I’ve ever bought (no really!) It has lots of amazingly snazzy features, but my favourite has got to be it’s build-it wifi which means I can take a snap on the camera and then instantly transfer it to my Samsung phone with just a few clicks. WHOA, the future is awesome!
A lot of my most recent Instagrams have been taken in this way, but still edited on my phone. Is it cheating? Maybe a little… but when you get such an awesome tool in your life it would be crazy not to use it.
Shoot in good light
My biggest tip to anyone taking photos with their phone, is to always shoot in natural light. Avoid using your flash and always move to a natural light source (outside in the shade or by a window) before taking a photo. The difference between a badly and well lit shot is immense.
When you shoot in good light the results will be much more flattering and the images will be easier to edit. If a photo is taken in bad lighting, they will just end up looking yellow and grainy if you try to increase the exposure afterwards.
Filters and editing apps:
Although Instagram has finally updated and improved their in-app filters, adding the ability to adjust the brightness and contrast and change the opacity, I still never use it to edit my photos. There are just so many better alternatives!
Snapseed: After taking a photo, the first thing I do is open it in Snapseed. It’s free and works great to boost the brightness and contrast of an image. It also has functions to irradiate shadows and increase the overall saturation (great for rainbow haired ladies like me!) These little tweaks result in my photos always being bright and colourful!
VSCO: I pretty much exclusively use VSCO for adding filters to my photos. The key is to use them subtly – never slap on a preset and leave it at 100% opacity! I always decrease it a little so the results are less harsh and obvious. The app is free to download and comes with some filters included, however extra packs can be purchased for less than a few dollars each.
Photo Wonder: This app has lots of features for editing photos of people. My favourite is the tremendous skin softening filter which makes everyone look flawless! A word of warning though – use with care and always decrease the strength or you’ll end up looking a bit Michael Jackson!
This is also a fun app to play with if you want to turn yourself into a hideous monster! You can enlarge your eyes, thin your face, add make up and even increase your cup size!! As I said, use these features with care or terrible things can happen…!
Hahaha! Beaaaautiful, huh?
Facetune: For more subtle edits, Facetune is awesome. It’s a paid app but is totally worth it if you take a lot of selfies! You can remove spots and under eye bags with the patch tool, and even whiten teeth with it! I’ve actually used this function to brighten small areas of photos without people in them too and it works surprisingly well. It’s basically like a mini Photoshop for your phone.
#SquareDroid: I don’t always want to crop my images into Instagram’s square format, so to add a border around a rectangular shot I use this (again, free) app. I usually keep things simple with a white surround but you can pretty much make it any colour you wish.
XnLight Effect: If I want to include an bokeh or light leaks in my images, this is my go to app. I like it because you can change the opacity of your selection, making it quite a subtle addition to your photos.
I do wish it had a few more options and the ability to alter the location and colour of the leaks on the photo, but it does the job OK. I know there are hundreds of light leak apps for iPhone, but us Android users seem to be getting a little left behind with this one.
That’s it! I hope this article has been helpful for my fellow Android loving babes. Why should the iPhone users have all the fun hey?
If you use any other photo editing apps that you think I need to check out, I’d love to hear about them. Oh, and if you want to follow me on Instagram I’m @RocknRollBride.