Last Summer I created a blog post: How I edit my Instagram photos with VSCO. In that tutorial, I showed people how to create bright, white, washed out pictures.
But a month ago, I changed my Instagram feed. Now I edit my pictures with a Minimal, HDR look. I noticed that VSCO wasn’t the right app to create that look.
That is when I decided to switch to a different photo editing app: SnapSeed. With Snapseed it is really easy to create that look. And that is what I would like to show you now. Are you ready?
- Part 1: How to capture professional photos with your iPhone camera
- Part 2: The 5 key elements you need for capturing better iPhone photos
- Part 3: How I edit my Instagram photos with Snapseed + Free reference sheet
- Part 4: How I edit all of my Instagram / iPhone photos in one minute
Opening the photo in Snapseed
The first thing I start with is opening the photo (obviously). If you open the SnapSeed app, a text will appear that says: Tap anywhere to open a photo. So if you tap on your screen, you will get redirected to your gallery automatically, so you can choose a picture.
In this case, I will pick a picture of my brother with his tattoo.
I choose this picture as an example because you will see all the results immediately after every step of my editing process.
Warning for some users: Don’t close the app while you edit your photo. If you close the app, the photo will disappear.
Tune image menu
I always start with the general settings like brightness, contrast, saturation. You can find this under ‘’Tune Image’’ after you tapped the pencil icon in the bottom corner.
Brightness: For every effect I create, I adjust the brightness to 30 or more. 30 is just the minimum amount of the photo. Unless the picture already has a lot of white details.
Contrast: I always increase the contrast for the picture slightly. For this picture, I use 16+. The contrast should be between 15+ and 25+.
Saturation: Decrease that saturation yo! Every Instagram picture of mine is low saturated. That means I always decrease my saturation between -50 and -25
Ambiance: This is almost the same effect as the saturation. So I always decrease it only for a little bit. Mostly between -20 and -5
Highlights: I always add extra white to my pictures. For the highlights, I mostly use between +15 and +35
Shadows: The style of my Instagram images are HDR, Minimal and with a lot of contrast. And you probably also noticed there are a lot of black/dark elements in my pictures. That is why I decrease the shadows, to make those dark elements, even more, darker.
Let me give you a preview of all the settings I used in 1 picture (So you don’t have to scroll after every picture ha!). So these are the settings I am using right now:
Snapseed recently released a new feature: Curves. If you used Photoshop or Lightroom before, you probably already know how to use it.
How it works: You can simply drag the stroke to create more contrast. Here is how I use the curves panel for my Instagram photos
You can also choose some pre-made presets if it’s a little too overwhelming, of if you just simply want to save time.
Sharpen your picture
As you already noticed, I like it when there is a lot of contrast in my pictures. To increase the contrast a little more, I am going to add some details in my picture.
That’s where the sharpening part kicks in.
Structure: First I am going to add more structure. This will add more detail in the picture. And since the tattoo is really detailed, it will ‘pop’ more. For the structure, I mostly use between 15+ and 25+.
Sharpening: This will only make the picture sharper. The trick is to be really careful with this option. Mostly I sharpen my picture between +5 and +10
You have to see it in this way: If you sharpen a picture, the picture is going to add more pixels that weren’t there first. So if you increase the sharpening too much, your picture will become grainy, and it will loose quality.
Make it glow!
To increase the contrast a little bit more, I am going to add some glow. Tap the pencil again, and look for glamor glow. From there, pick the third option, and decrease it until +15 and +25.
HDR. Aka where the magic happens
Let the magic happen. Tap the pencil again, and scroll down to HDR Scapes. In this case, I tap the option ‘’People’’. Now the picture changes drastically. But the trick here is also to go really light. In this case, I decrease the Filter Strength to +26.
To increase the HDR effect, I go to Tonal Contrast. In this case, I only touch the High Tones option. For this one, I use between +25 and +35.
Add some drama!
And last but not least, I add some drama. Here is where the last part of the magic happens, hehe. For the Drama, it depends on the option I choose. For this one I choose Drama2.
You will see there is a lot of drama right now. But we are going to decrease that. For the filter, I use +15 now. I mostly keep it between +15 and +20
I will also bring the Saturation back. So instead of -40, I will increase it to -11.
After that, it’s time to export the picture. Click the save button, and tap export. It will add the image to your Camera Roll automatically.
And now you are done. It’s time to post it on Instagram.
But I am not going to let you walk away without a gift. I understand that if you want to edit your Instagram photos like I do, you don’t want to look for this post and find the right settings every time you are going to edit your Instagram photos. That’s why I created a free Snapseed Reference sheet for you. With this reference sheet, you can edit your Instagram photos like me really easily and fast, since it has some easy guidelines.
Click the button down below to download the Snapseed Reference Sheet. If you sign up, you will automatically get access to the Snapseed Reference Sheet, but also to my resource library: The Creative Library. This free resource library is for everyone who wants to improve their photography and graphic design skills. Did I already mentioned it’s free?!
If you want to receive more photography and editing tips, then you should definitely follow me on Instagram. I always post quality content, and I never disappoint.
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Lots of love,