Tips on enhancing your smartphone photos

By Queenie Wong in Chicago | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-02 11:06

Photos conjure up memories, evoke emotion, tell a story or capture a mood.

I took my first photography class in college. I didn't snap images with an expensive camera or smartphone. Instead, my professor handed me a vintage film camera. I spent hours in the darkroom printing photographs.

Taking that class taught me you can create eye-catching images with any camera.

But producing a photograph in the darkroom involved many steps. I used a machine called an enlarger to darken or lighten parts of a black-and-white image. It wasn't easy at first to get right. There wasn't one button to click. No Instagram filters.

Nowadays, I use my smartphone to take photos on vacation or in my everyday life.

Tips on enhancing your smartphone photos

While nothing beats proper lighting and composition, photo-editing apps or tools can help you quickly enhance a photo or unleash your creative side.

Here's how:

Adjusting the brightness and contrast

The differences in lighting and color within a shot can make it appear more dramatic.

Smartphones already have basic photo-editing tools, including ways to adjust the lighting.

By using a slider, you can adjust the brightness, highlights, contrast and more.

But making an image too light or too dark can wash out the details in the shot. I typically zoom into the darkest and lightest part of an image to make sure I didn't go overboard with adding contrast.

And if you make a mistake, you can also revert the image back to the original.

Using filters

Valencia. Rose. Summer. Noir. Grunge. There are plenty of filters out there that can transform the mood of a photograph. Social networks all have them.

Still can't find the one you want?

Photo-editing app Snapseed has variations of its filters, allowing you to tailor how you want the photo to look.

Want to bring out more details in a photo? Try the Drama filter. Going for a dreamy look? Try the Glamour Glow filter.

You can also try blending filtered images together.

I once was walking through an installation called the Rain Room in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Capturing a good photo was tough. The lighting was bright in one spot and low in another. Water fell from the ceiling, although it didn't touch the people who moved around.

Using Snapseed, I took two photos and used a filter to turn them black and white. Then I used another filter called Double Exposure to blend the two images together. The resulting photograph captured the gloomy mood I associate with rainy days.

Touching up

A giant zit on your face can ruin a good selfie.

Photo-editing apps like BeautyPlus and AirBrush have tools that can make your face look more smooth, get rid of acne, look slimmer or whiten your teeth.

AirBrush has a feature to add makeup to your face, giving you false eyelashes, lipstick and blush.

You can even appear taller, or narrow the bridge of your nose. No plastic surgery needed.

Creating a work of art

Ever wondered what your photo would look like if pop artist Roy Lichtenstein painted it?

Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Prisma can transform your photograph into a work of art.

From cubism to expressionism, the app includes artistic styles from well-known artists including Piet Mondrian, Edvard Munch and Edgar Degas.

I used the filter Thota Vaikuntam - the name of an Indian painter - to add bright colors in a photo I took during a beach day in Santa Cruz.

Tribune News Service

(China Daily 08/02/2017 page19)

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