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  1. Enhancing and Editing Photos
  2. Using Common Photo Editing Tools Built in to Smartphone and Tablet Apps
  3. Using the Photo Editing and Enhancement Apps On Your Device
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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Using Common Photo Editing Tools Built in to Smartphone and Tablet Apps

Every iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile smartphone and tablet comes with an app preinstalled, called Photos. While these apps share the same name and the same overall function, each is totally different in terms of its user interface, layout, and design, and what features and functions are offered. However, the primary purpose of the Photos app offered on each mobile device is to allow you to view, edit, enhance, print, share, and organize your images.

Built in to each of these Photos apps are a handful of common editing tools, which you learn about in this section. Then, in the next section, you discover how to access and use these tools on the particular iOS or Android smartphone or tablet you’re using. Windows Mobile is not covered in this chapter, but these devices include the same sorts of features you see demonstrated here.

Straightening Shots

One of the most common mistakes photographers make when taking a photo, especially when they themselves are in motion or have trouble seeing the viewfinder screen when a picture is being taken, is that the camera (your smartphone or tablet) is accidentally held at an angle when the Shutter button is pressed. As you can see in the photo on the left, this causes the photo to look rather odd and crooked.

Luckily, most photo editing mobile apps and computer software applications have a Straightening tool to easily fix this problem. To access and use it, you typically select the Crop tool, and then use the Image Straightening feature, which enables you to manually rotate the image until it appears straight in the Crop Frame.

Once the image has been straightened, you can further use the Crop tool, or any of your other image editing or enhancement tools, as you deem necessary.

Rotating Images

While the Straightening tool is used for potentially minor straightening adjustments to a photo, the Rotation tool is used to rotate an image 90-degrees at a time, with each tap.

As you can see here, on an iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile-based smartphone, the Rotation tool icon typically looks like a square or rectangle with a curved arrow around it, or is represented by just a curved arrow.

Cropping Images

The Crop tool enables you to remove areas around the outer edges of your photo, create a virtual zoom effect on your intended subject, or reframe your image after it’s been shot.

When you’re viewing an image, if you select the Crop tool during the editing process, a frame appears around the image. It’s then possible to move any of the corners of the frame inward (at a diagonal) to cut away part of the image’s outer edges. Shown here is an example of the impact this tool can have when trimming an image’s outer edges.

Additional Editing Tools

Depending on which photo editing mobile app you’re using, most group together editing tools based on their overall purpose. Editing tools can typically be manually adjusted separately, as needed, using an onscreen slider.

Most of the available editing tools can be used with one another, enabling you to add creative or unique effects or fixes to your images. Although in some cases, using just one tool improves an image to the point you are proud to show it off, some images may require you to apply two, three, or more editing tools to make them look more professional.

In the next set of sections, to demonstrate the impact common editing tools have on an image (when used on their own), we start with one original image and then adjust the image using one editing tool at a time.

Keep referring back to this original image see how each tool impacts its appearance. Keep in mind that, in addition to these tools, each photo editing mobile app offers a unique selection of other useful tools.

The following is a brief description of popular editing tools and an example of each being used on a sample image. For most of these examples, the Photos app running on the Android-based HTC One smartphone was used.

  • Brightness—Use this tool to make an image lighter or darker. If the image appears too bright (overexposed) after it was shot, use the Brightness tool to darken it. If it appears too dark (underexposed) after it was shot, use the Brightness tool to lighten it.

  • Contrast—Use this tool to alter the contrast between the light and dark tones and colors appearing in the image. Thus, some pixels within the image are either lightened or darkened. The Brightness tool, however, simply lightens every pixel within the image.

  • Saturation—Use this tool to intensify or reduce the intensity of the colors appearing in your photo. For example, when you use the Saturation tool on an image taken outdoors, the color of the sky becomes richer, brighter, and more vibrant. Like many editing tools, this one typically uses some type of onscreen slider to manually adjust its intensity.

  • Sharpness/Sharpen—If an image (or a portion of an image) is slightly blurry, for whatever reason, the Sharpness (which is sometimes called Sharpen) tool can correct this. While this tool can make a slightly blurry image appear more in focus, it can’t transform a very blurry image into a clear one. (Not shown.)
  • Highlights and Shadows—In some cases this is one tool, while other apps use two tools to enable you to alter highlights and shadows separately in a photo. Using a slider, this adjustable tool can be used to reduce unwanted glares, reduce the negative impact of shadows, and/or enhance the detail of an image. (Shown on the next page using the Photos app on an iPhone.)

  • Blur Background/Center Focus/Vignette—To help make your intended subject stand out in a photo, this tool, which goes by different names depending on the app, either enables you to tap on your intended subject and then blur what surrounds it, or the tool simply blurs (or darkens) everything around the edges of your image, depending on the app.

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