Mobile Phone Photography Editing Tips

I love to use my DSLR, in my work, and when I’m capturing my children playing and running around you can’t beat the control, clarity and accuracy of using a good camera. However, I also love to take pictures with my iPhone, and around a third of my Instagram gallery is taken using my iPhone 5s (although I’ve very recently upgraded to a 6S!). Specifically I find the iPhone camera is great for more 2 dimensional images, and I nearly always use it for “styled” shots, food, flowers, on the table images.

Great light is important with iPhone images, as they became grainy very easily in low light. The grain can be a desired effect for some some photographers and it adds ambience, but I like my images to be clean and crisp. I position myself near a window, with as much natural light as possible. Sometimes I use a cheap reflector, or piece of white card to fill in harsh shadows a little and bounce the light back onto the image, but sometimes the shadows add a little character and dimension. Evenly lit images can look very flat and almost abstract.

I tend to use either a white wall, a piece of white card or a wooden or white painted table as my backdrop. If you don’t have a characterful wooden table, white card is easily available from craft shops. I’m very lucky and have an endless supply in my framing workshop!

Once your scene is set, then snap away! You can play with angles, composition and negative space, take as many as you need to until you are happy. If I have any motion in the picture (for example a child’s hand taking some food, or your own hand pouring a drink) you can press and hold the shutter, and your phone will take multiple shots until you release the shutter. You can then choose the one you like best and discard the rest!

Once I’ve chosen my image, I usually edit phone images in PicTapGo app, I like the air and brightside filters. VSCO and Snapseed are also great, and Snapseed has a very handy tool to selectively adjust areas, so you could brighten an area of the picture that fell into deep shadow, without blowing the highlights. After I’ve edited my picture I always tweak them in PSExpress. The sharpening is excellent, and the noise reduction is great for iPhone images. You can also crop and make any final adjustments here.

blogpost2images-1Here is an unedited picture I took of some cherries and a cup of coffee. I chose a spot a little further away from the window, as I wanted a more moody shot and I like the play of light on the different textures of the fabric and the backdrop, therefore I moved a little further back from the window. This shot is perhaps a little darker than I would normally have it, but that’s ok as I know I can sort that out in editing, the fact that the light is interesting and becomes a part of the picture and composition is what I’m going for here. I tend not to change the exposure on the screen of the iPhone as I think it can make the image a little flat.

I put the picture into pictapgo, as I really like the tones the filters give to whites. I used a small amount of lights on, and then the air filter at about half strength and the bright side filter at about 1/3 strength.

This is the result after its been edited in pictapgo.

blogpost2images-2For me it still looks a little warm, as the late afternoon sunshine gives quite a warm yellow light. So I then opened the picture in PSExpress, and I sharpened it, reduced the noise (not too much that it looks like a painting, but just enough to smoothen out the image) I increased the highlights slightly to lift the whites, decreased the shadows a little, and the thing that I think makes the biggest difference to this particular image, I altered the temperature, to the cool side only by about 3 points. And that’s it! The whole picture took me a few minutes to set up, photograph and edit all within my phone.

blogpost2images-3What’s your favourite editing app? Are you a fan of filters or are you one of these clever people who add a few tweaks and Bob’s your uncle? I’d love to know, please get in touch!


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  • Reply Cassie Birtwistle December 23, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Wow – that’s such a great transformation! Really useful seeing the three images together. I’m downloading those editing apps today.

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you Cassie I’m so glad it was useful! Let me know how you get on with them! xx

  • Reply Janan December 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Genius! I don’t use either of those apps. Hmmm. Off to download them now!

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 24, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Thanks Janan! PSExpress I would especially recommend for those “post production” tweaks! xx

  • Reply Irina December 25, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    hey dear! congrats on your new blog! Loved the tips, thanks a lot! 😉

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 26, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Yay thank you Irina! Finally up and running! Although I don’t think you need any tips 😉 xx

  • Reply Shazoo December 26, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Really good tips. Thanks a lot Hannah. PSExpress is a phone app?

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you so much! Yes it is, I think it’s free too although the noise reduction tool is an in app purchase xx

  • Reply Victoria December 26, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    This is great Hannah, I don’t use any of the apps although I do have the PS one on m phone!

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 26, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you so much Victoria! It’s a great app, I love how sensitive the adjustments are, although I think actually the Instagram editing tools are excellent too! My problem there is not being able to save the edit before posting to check it looks ok next to other pictures! xx

  • Reply Danielle Arcadi December 27, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Always my favorite go to app Hannah. Love Pictapgo 🙌🏻 always gorgeous love!

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Yay thank you Danielle! Good to hear you like it too! xx

  • Reply Bee December 27, 2015 at 8:28 am

    It’s amazing seeing the before and afters , some of mine are completely transformed after using pictapgo and snapseed. I also love to use snapseeds selective adjust to decrease the warmth I decrease the saturation it works a treat xx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Thanks a lot Bee! That’s a brilliant tip about snapped, I will have to explore that further thank you! I’ve only really used that tool for exposure xx

  • Reply Natasha December 27, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Such useful & easy to understand info. I don’t know of some of those apps, must give them a try X

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Ah thank you Nat I’m so glad you think so! Xx

  • Reply Alicia December 27, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Hannah dear. Congrats on the blog. I look forward to learning a lot from you. I enjoy your style of photography and look forward to finding my own style.

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Thank you so much Alicia, that’s really kind of you to say. Thanks for reading xx

  • Reply Sadawayans December 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Fantastic tips, Hannah. I just known that PicTapGo has such nice filters. I would love to try. Will be waiting for your next mobile photography tips.

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Thanks so much for Sada! I’m glad you found it useful x

  • Reply Poornima December 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Hey Hannah, loved reading your tips. I use snapseed and vsco to edit my iPhone pics most of the time. I would def try the remaining apps. Thanks for the info and in-between images dear.

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you so much for reading Poornima! I love VSCO too it’s a great app! Xx

  • Reply Susan December 27, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Las time I used the PSExpress, it didn’t have the reduce noise option so I never quite find a use for it but after reading this I’m going to give it a try again!. I usually use LR + VSCO ( love how I can sinc my LR desktop library with my iPhone and have everything there ). Thank you for sharing this Hanna, I always love finding out what other people do as part of their photography process:)

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Ah I think it’s an in app purchase, but well worth it! I hope you’ll find it useful now! Thanks so much Susan! Xx

  • Reply Julia December 28, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Great tips Hannah! I don’t know PSExpress at all, it’s amazing the difference a couple of tweaks can make isn’t it?

    • Reply Hannah Argyle December 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Thank you Julia! It is amazing the difference isn’t it! Xx

  • Reply Caroline January 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    So lovely to read your tips Hannah. I’ve not tried PSExpress or Snapseed, will have to have a play. I like pictapgo too, and editing in Instagram for ease, but like you say it’s annoying that you cant save it before posting. Xxx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle January 3, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Thank so much Caroline! It’s so interesting to hear how other people do it. Your images are always so perfectly exposed and sharp, I love them xx

  • Reply Michelle January 11, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Such good information here. I just recently upgraded to the 6s plus. I have never used these Apps, must get them and try. Your photos are always gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing xx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle January 11, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks so much Michelle, I’m glad you found it useful. Ooh part of me wishes I’d gone for the 6 plus but I was worried about it not fitting into my pocket! Maybe next time..I’d love to know howe you get on with these apps, your photos always looks perfect xx

  • Reply Zoë January 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I’m a big fan of Snapseed, PSExpress and VSCO too – never tried PicTapGo – will have to give it a try!

    • Reply Hannah Argyle January 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Ooh yes let me know what you think! There are so many good apps out there aren’t there!

  • Reply Michelle January 25, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Hey Hannah, on my most recent photo with the pink flowers in the tea cup, I used all the Apps and editing tools you suggested, if I should say so myself I am very pleased with the results let me know what you think ? Thanks again for sharing these tips, you are a gem xx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle January 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Your picture is just beautiful Michelle! Thank you so much for the feedback, and I’m really pleased you found it useful xx

  • Reply Straightening Lines - Hannah Argyle Photography February 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    […] Here’s an image I took with my iPhone. I almost always use my iPhone for flat lay shots (if they are for Instagram), and again, however hard I try, there is always a little tweaking to be done! With this picture I didn’t try very hard to get it right, so that I can show you a clear difference from beginning to end. Here it is edited to my liking. You can see how I edit pictures like this here. […]

  • Reply Lucy Bowen June 19, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Hannah absolutely love your pictures youre an inspiration! I’m endeavoring to start a little photography business myself but I need your advice. I just can’t seem to get the hang of making my instagram feed match. I think the pictures I take are good but they just don’t flow. I’d love to have different seasonal moods like yours but I just don’t know how to go about it. It always looks busy and messy. Can you help xxxx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle June 20, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Lucy, thanks so much for your comment! That’s so kind of you to say. Of course I can help you, if you want to drop me an email we can chat more there. I can offer one to one courses and email/telephone support and I’m running some workshops soon too. Or if you’d just like some advise over email I will certainly help if I can! xx

  • Reply Claire July 7, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Hannah, love your site and photography, it’s such an inspiration! I’m wondering what DSLR and lens you normally use, perhaps an idea for a blog post? Thank you xx

    • Reply Hannah Argyle July 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Hi Claire,
      thanks so much I’m so happy you like my work! I use a Nikon D610 and usually either my Sigma 35 mm or Nikon 70-200mm. Most posts have a little about the technical side of things at the end for those who are interested! xx

  • Reply ElizAbeth July 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    So I’m off to download PSExpress great post thanks for sharing. Elizabeth

    • Reply Hannah Argyle July 27, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks for reading Elizabeth! i hope you find that app useful, and look out for an updated blog post soon! xx

  • Reply Georgia Brooks February 13, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Hi Hannah,
    Many many thanks for sharing such a superclass editing tips with wonderful explanation. I am so impressed and appreciate your tips. I will certainly dig it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.
    Thanks again.

    • Reply Hannah Argyle February 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you so much Georgia! There will be an updated editing post coming very soon!

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