How to edit your smartphone photos (on a Huawei P10)

Although I export my smartphone photo’s to my laptop’s Lightroom from time to time, most of the post-processing I do is usually on my smartphone. That’s really not that strange. You make the photo’s with your smartphone to have them consumed on another smartphone. So why add extra devices to that process?

Advanced Edit on the native app

Every Huawei (P10 but probably also all other smartphones) comes with a build-in post-processing tool. Super handy. Although it might not give you that unique edge you want, it is great to start working on the basics of your photos. Here I crop my photo’s if necessary, adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation and sometimes add some sharpness. The latter I usually do in a later process.

Export and import to Snapseed

It’s a free app. So there is no harm in trying this app yourself. I recently did a poll on Twitter, and it seems most of you use this app already.

Again: I work on the brightness, contrast, saturation and start on the ambiance, highlights and shadows. I often skip warmth or don’t go further than -10 or +10. A bit of extra structure and sharpening to give extra character to the photo.

Usually that’s the end of my post-processing. I then upload the photo to my blog, social media or my Instagram-story. Yes, I sometimes work on the photos before I post them there. It makes for a more beautiful and consistent story.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I work a bit further on the image. I’ll go in on the curves, the vignetting and the healing. And in really rare cases I use the build-in filters of Snapseed.

Sometimes I don’t even use Snapseed and use the photo straight out of the Huawei P10 processing. Or I use the Lightroom app. Although I am a big fan of Lightroom on my laptop, I don’t seem to get the hang of it on mobile.

So, what do all these sliders mean?

It can be hard to understand what all these sliders do. What is the difference between exposure and brightness? Or saturation and vibrance? Understanding these can help you get better results quicker.

Exposure vs Brightness

Exposure: When adjusting this you make the entire photo darker or lighter. Your darker and lighter parts will be adjusted in the same amount. So if you feel your photo is to dark or light in general, you need to use this slider.

Brightness: This might sometimes feel as the same adjustments as exposure. But be aware you are only boosting the midtones. This means you are not touching the darkest and brightest parts. Only the colours that are somewhere in the middle of that range.

Highlights and shadows

These are opposites of each other, but understanding them makes your life so much easier.

With the highlights you can adjust all the brighter parts of the photo. Usually this is the sky, or a glare in the surface of a lake. Trimming down the highlights helps you get more details back in those parts. Give those clouds a proper edge.

Shadows is the opposite. It helps you adjust the parts that are darker in your photo. Usually because there was a building or tree casting a shadow. Especially with landscapes, this can be helpful to bring more details back in your photo. For example with a forest-edge in the background. Now you can have a good look on the person sitting below it.

What about vibrance and saturation?

These two sliders look alike, but they do different things. The app-developers don’t put them there just to confuse you.

Saturation boosts all colours in your photo. Even if they are already very vibrant. Great if you want to give your sunset a lot of oompf. But it can turn unrealistic very quickly.

So that’s where vibrance can help you. This slider adjusts the colours that are not vibrant enough yet. So if you’re sunset already looks amazing, but the rest of the scene looks colourless and dead. Well, try turning the vibrance up.

I have not talked about all the sliders. But there is so much to talk about. With the information about these sliders, you will already go a long way. So get out there and shoot with your smartphone! I’m looking forward to see the results.

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