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Dec 29, 2017

How to make a bad smartphone photo look good

Experiment with editing tools and apps to help rescue bad images

Smartphones make photography easy and accessible for just about everyone, but sometimes photos don’t turn out as well as you’d hoped. No worries: here are some tips on how to make a bad pic look good.

Use the in-camera tools

The built-in camera apps on most handsets include basic editing tools, designed to adjust cropping, exposure compensation, colour, brightness, contrast and more. So, if your photo is overexposed or underexposed, don’t just slap a filter on top of it. Experiment with the light settings, like brightness, highlights and shadows, to find a combination that breathes life into it.

Colour saturation can also help. If the lighting in a room is too harsh and makes skin tones look unnatural, for example, lowering the saturation can help make it look more true-to-life. Conversely, if there’s little ‘life’ in the photo, a slight saturation boost can help make it pop.

Tip: When on Instagram, get better results by using its built-in editing tools. The one called Structure, for instance, enhances texture in an image and can add character to what would otherwise be a forgettable shot.

Use apps to go further

The current bevy of available photo-editing apps means you always have options when built-in tools aren’t deep enough. Some apps specialize in specific editing sequences, for blurring backgrounds or removing grain from noisy shots, for example. Apps such as Pixelmator, Enlight Photofox, Snapseed and VSCO are even more comprehensive, offering editing tools typically found in robust desktop applications, like Adobe Photoshop.

Beyond simply adjusting overall composition, you can use them to repair and stylize an image in a variety of ways. You can sharpen one part of the photo while blurring the rest, to create a distortion effect, for instance, or you can tilt and crop the photo to alter the angle, thereby making it more dynamic.

The beauty of this is that you can view your edits and adjustments as you make them. When you’re happy with the results, save the picture-perfect photo and share it with the world. Problem solved.