@how to

How I take and edit my Instagram photos

October 5, 2015

Here’s a little secret. I don’t own a single white table or have any white surfaces in my house. But I still take photos that have white backgrounds in them! How? I fake it! It’s no secret that everyone manipulates their Instagram photos to some extent, but honestly I’ll admit, I can never post a photo that hasn’t been edited in some shape or form. Let’s take the Watercolour Lettering Leaf that I created in my last blog post and use it in this example.

First thing’s first. Lay out a large sheet of paper onto your table. If you don’t have a large sheet, just lay lots of copy paper down until there’s a sufficient amount of white surface for you to place your work on. Don’t worry about the edges of the paper showing if you choose to use multiple sheets of paper. They will disappear when we edit the image!

I use my digital camera to take a photo of my work from a bird’s eye view. I use an Olympus S-H1, which works great for the things I want it to do. I like to use the 1:1 function which makes my screen square and shows me exactly how my Instagram photo will be aligned. The most important thing however, is to make sure that your photo isn’t grainy despite being a bit dark. This makes the photo easier to work with.

I then transfer the photo to my phone, where I will be using the free app called Snapseed to do the rest of the editing. Here’s a step by step with videos!

Note: If your image is not already in a 1:1 ratio, you can crop your picture (using the 1:1 aspect ratio) in Snapseed before we begin

1. Remove wrinkles in the paper

The paper has a few wrinkles, but that’s okay! I use the healing tool to get rid of them super easily! Tap on the pencil to bring up a list of tool. Choose healing, and simply tap on the area that has the wrinkle to remove it.

2. Brighten the photo

I increase the brightness and highlights. These are found under the tune image tool. Usually, I increase the brightness to about 40 or so and the highlights to 70-100. It really depends on the photo. This can wash out the colours in the picture so I increase the saturation to get the colours back. Just enough to get the colours looking more like real life.

3. Selectively increase saturation & whiten background

I want to increase the saturation of the colours in the leaf but not the overall photo. For this I use the selective function. Tap on an area you want to increase the saturation of. Slide down to choose saturation, then slide right to adjust the strength of the saturation. Tap the (+) button to choose more spots to increase the saturation of. Do the same for the brightness of the white background, selecting certain areas that you want brightened.


4. Whiten the background even more

I still think the background could be whiter, so I take advantage of the exposure brush. In the brush tool, click the paint brush with the +/- and choose exposure. Usually I increase the exposure level to 0.7. Paint/swipe across the areas that you want to be whiter. To have a smaller paint brush size, simply pinch and zoom. To zoom back out, double tap the rectangle on the left. The eye on the right will show you the areas you have ‘painted’ over.

5. The final touches

Usually I’ll just look over the photo to see if there’s anything else I want to change. I felt like the photo was a bit blue to I increased the warmth under the tune image tool. I increased the exposure on some more areas to whiten them again, and then I’m done!

In most of my photos, I use a combination of the exposure brush and the selective brightness to make my background whiter. Usually, if the image is mostly black and white, I’ll use the selective brightness. The exposure brush is used for photos that have lots of colours that I don’t want to wash out with the brighten function.

Previously on Snapseed, you could adjust how wide of an area the selective brightness effect would affect, so you could easily avoid washing out coloured areas. Now that they’ve removed that function, I have to resort to the less than perfect exposure brush.

I do hope that this post has helped you edit your photos! Do let me know if you try it out. I’m always willing to help you out if you have any trouble!

Stay creative!

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