Jul 16, 2015

how i edit photos

Hi friends, I've prepared a hefty post for y'all today: my guide to editing photos. This is also my first requested post, which feels pretty awesome! In my opinion, photos are the most significant aspect of blogs. Well, in my world... photos are everything! Ever since I was a tiny elementary school kiddo, I was fascinated by cameras of all sorts—disposable, polaroid, digital, you name it. I think I bought a DSLR before getting my first cell phone! I learned how to use Photoshop before I learned algebra or how to ice skate (okay actually I still suck at ice skating). Beautiful photos can attract a dedicated audience. Photos are memories.

What I'm trying to say is: I take my time with photos, especially photos for my blog. I don't just snap and upload. Down below, I'm going to reveal my personal "secret recipe" to photo editing. Before I begin though, remember that you don't have to edit photos like this at all! Heck, you don't even need to edit photos to start with. This is simply something I'm passionate about that I've decided to share ~

Isn't it crazy how we're able to do absolutely everything on our mobile phones now? I still use Photoshop on my laptop for heavy duty detailed editing. However, when I'm editing photos for my blog or Instagram on a daily basis, I use two applications—Afterlight ($0.99) and VSCO Cam (free). I know I know, even I'm really reluctant about purchasing items from the App Store. But trust me; Afterlight is so. Worth it. Seriously. It includes not only all of the best basic necessities (contrast, saturation, cropping, mirroring, etc.), but also dozens of light leaks, filters, and frames. Most importantly, it keeps the quality of your photos clear and perfect.


Alrighty, I'm going to start off with this photo from prom. It's a pretty colorful picture, with shades of green and red. One note before I really head into this: you don't have to follow every step, because each photo is different! Explore these apps and do you.

- 1 -
Open Afterlight. Straighten your image, using any straight lines in the picture as guidelines (in this case, I used the brick wall as my focal point).
Clarify your photo. This makes the subject clearer, defining the difference between subject and background. I usually don't go farther than 10, because the more I go the more artificial the lighting looks (think really heavy contrast).

- 3 -
Increase the saturation of your photo. I've found that filters tend to discolor photos; of course, it depends on the filter.
- 4 -
Open VSCO Cam. Increase the exposure by 2. If you add a filter to a photo that has too many shadows, the filter ends up darkening those shadows. It's important that the subject is accentuated, but you don't want it to stand out too much either.

- 5 -
Time for the filter! My all-time favorite VSCO Cam filter is HB2 of the HYPEBEAST X VSCO Collection. It's free! I usually lower the level to 8.
- 6 -
Finally, I personally like my photos faded. My limit is 3 levels up; if it's higher than 3, I find that my photos look too dull.

That's it! The process might sound a bit complicating, but the final product is definitely worth it (in my eyes). The following two examples also use the HB2 filter and went through the same editing process I just mentioned.

I think HB2 works great with photos that have people in it. These pictures are from my friend's debut party! The first is from the photobooth, and the second was taken by Beccs Lee.


Next up is this photo of the beach I captured at Santa Monica. This method is going to give your photo an instant, polaroid-esque look.

- 1 -
Straighten, clarify, and saturate again. Now, open VSCO Cam. Apply the filter P5 (one of the original filters you get when you first download the app) at a level of 10.

- 2 -
Open Afterlight. Click the film roll, then go to Dusty. Choose 02. This adds an old effect to your image.
- 3 -
Go to Light Leak. Choose 29. You can adjust the opaqueness as you wish.

Tada! Doesn't this photo look like it was taken with a real film camera? I'm pretty content with it! Below, I have two examples of more pictures with blue tones. I applied different filters to each, depending on the circumstance.

I used VSCO Cam's Q3 of the Alchemy Collection (one of my favorites) to bring out the blues of this very dull original photo. It was a gloomy, cloudy day—so adding some more cool blue color doesn't hurt right?

This photo uses VSCO Cam's KK1, which is a filter I think works magic on images with warm tones. Greetings from the Grand Canyon!


Let's move on to my final group of photos: the greens. I like nature and going out, so I've got a lot of green photos in my library. In the photo above, I used VSCO Cam's A5 of the Aesthetic Series (also free). 1970's vibes?

Here's a really, really green photo I captured in a cenote.

- 1 -
Open Afterlight. Increase the saturation to bring out the color just a tad bit more.
- 2 -
Open VSCO Cam. Apply the Q7 filter (my favorite for greens).

- 3 -
Make the temperature a level warmer. This will add yellower highlights, as the photo has too many cool tones.
- 4 -
Sometimes, your photo is going to be too bright! Lower the exposure by 1.

Complete. Not bad, eh?

That's the end of my photo editing tutorial. Whew, my fingers are going numb. Altogether, it's all about enhancing a photo; enhancing its colors, its lighting, its assets. If you ever try my methods, let me know! I would love to see your results ~

Update: If you're into the "Instagram feed theme" thing going around these days, I'd say that my theme is plain colorful. Rather than sticking to one color or style, I like to mix my photos up because that's what life is really like, ya know? Feel free to follow me @chaereenpak on Instagram (shameless plug)!