VSCOCAM: turning mobile pics into gold


You'd be surprised at how great a picture taken with a camera can be. It just takes a little know how to get it looking it's best. If you didn't read My post 5 Tips for Better Mobile Photography definitely check that out because we can't edit a bad image and make it great now can we!

My favorite app.... and by far THE standard in mobile image editing is VSCOCAM. If you don't have it then definitely get it asap. VSCO actually also has programs for computer based editing as well which is honestly what I edit all my images with. 

What separates VSCO from any other editing app is that it is more than an app... it's a collective. It's inspired by visual artists and story tellers so it has a richer substanance to it. It's meant to be a tool to deepen the imagery of mobile photography. It sounds rather grand but the lofty ideals behind the makers of VSCOCAM have led them to create a sleek and elegant editing tool which in my opinion is unprescedented. 

Check out their super beautiful minimalist website here: http://vsco.co/

Above is the final image and below is the original unedited file taken on my Galaxy Note 2

With this image I first applied VSCOCAM preset E3 to give it a nice contrast. I then boosted up the exposure a couple of steps to bring out the shadows.

I almost always find myself adding some magenta in my photos as I did with this image.... mostly because I like pink, but also because I find that most digital cameras - including my 5dmkiii pull green so I counteract that with a little rosiness. 

If possible I shoot so that I don't have to crop. But, sometimes a little crop and horizon straightening helps clean up an image a little bit which is what I did with this image.

To give it a more vintage feel I like to take the edge of the saturation down a bit which usually ends up being about 1-2 spots on the saturation tool in VSCOCAM. Also one of the absolute greatest features of the app is it's fade tool. I usually will add 1-3 notches of fade, this image has 2.

Another one of my favorite features in VSCOCAM is the highlight and shadow tint tools. I almost always add some magenta to my highlights. This image has +3.

To finish it all up I used the shadow save tool to bring out some of the shadow detail in the waves. Just a hit of +2.

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You can take it from an instagram addict that it's really hard to create a fresh, modern image directly from a cell phone without VSCOCAM. Download it and give it a try! Some of my favorite presets: E6, E3, E8, T2, C1, A6, F1.



5 tips for better mobile photography

The best camera isn't just the one you have with you, it's the one you also know how to use. Often times we take a nice picture but there's one or two elements that hold it back from being great. I may not know all of the tricks in the book but I know a few that will help improve anyone's pictures.

 1. Remove distracting clutter in the image. By far my number one tip. Too many visual elements distract the viewer from your main subject and feeling. This often includes cars, signs, random objects, telephone lines and buildings. Of course sometimes these elements add to a more grungy edgy look as long as they aren't overbearing they can potentially work. But it's my recommendation for beginners to try to cut these things out to practice being super aware of what's in the frame.

2. Get a good exposure. Camera phone sensor quality is rather poor and doesn't usually respond very well to editing. Most all phone cameras have exposure adjustment settings where you can brighten or darken an image. On my camera I have it so that the exposure adjustment control is quickly accessible in the shortcuts panel. Also note that the camera makes the image brighter or darker based on the overall brightness level. Sometimes it's necessary to change angles to adjust the exposure.

3. Make the horizon straight! It just looks unintentional when it's crooked :/

4. Post sharp images. Often times, especially in low lighting, the subject can be blurred either because they are moving too fast or the camera isn't being held still. Usually the best way to fix this is to brace the camera very close to your body or on a stable object. Other than that you can try to add more light so the camera doesn't have to keep it's digital shutter open to collect more light, allowing the movement of objects to cause streaking. Or, you can try to keep your subject from moving as fast, try to slow them down somehow.

5. Clean your lens. For those of us that look at a lot of mobile imagery on the daily we all know that when we see soft hazey images that glow came from a not so romantic source: greasy hands and hair! It takes two seconds to wipe down a lens and it won't look like we're looking through oil.

There are some other really important factors that go into getting the most out of your mobile photography. Light and post processing are among the most important which I'll cover in future posts :) hope these tips help and like always feel free to shoot me any questions you might have. Thanks for your time.