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Can’t I Just Edit my Own Photos.... For Free?

Sure! But I’m only familiar with iPhones/iPads, so we will talk about that.

The iPad has a VERY BASIC set of editing tools, but they work pretty well. I have 2 workflows:

Workflow 1: Start with Brilliance. It’s possible you’re done with this 1 tool.

Workflow 2: Brilliance + Blackpoint + Vibrance + Definition + Vignette. Technically Vibrance is “more vibrance” since Brilliance already adds some.

I might break away from that workflow for various reasons; but, if you stick with these 5 tools only, you’ll improve your photos quite a bit.

Let me break down the tools, in the order they appear on an iPad, and explain why you might or might not use it. Red = SKIP IT, Yellow = CONSIDER IT, Green = USE IT!

Auto: This is an “AI control” which can adjust multiple tools at once. I usually don’t use it and prefer the individual controls.

Exposure: I don’t use it because there’s no iPad histogram for me to see if anything is actually over exposed.

Brilliance: This is “vibrance” + shadows + highlights. This could be your 1 adjustment. But if you need a slight amount of additional adjustment, just use vibrance, shadows and highlights on their own.

Highlights: Use this instead of “exposure” to bring out details in the brighter parts of the picture. Exposure is global for the entire photo.

Shadows: opposite of highlights. It lightens or darkens shadows.

Contrast: skip it. Definition is a better tool.

Brightness: skip it. Brilliance is better. Also use highlights and shadows for a better tonal balance.

Blackpoint: Find something that should be black in your photo. Adjust blackpoint until that thing actually looks black. Mostly used in B&W photos. But hey - works great in color too! Hey Apple, why is there no white point control?

Saturation: skip in favor of Vibrance.

Vibrance: Use this instead of saturation. It brings out colors that are not very saturated, while leaving the already nicely saturated colors alone.

Warmth: skip. Why? Warmth and Tint are kind of for weird or artificial lighting. With pro tools, you can really dial these in when used in combination of other controls like black and white point. And many times these controls are changed by 1 or 2 points. But you’re on an iPhone, with a finger slider and possibly a few drinks in you, and other tools like Brilliance and Vibrance will slightly change the temperate of your photo anyway... So - skip this.

Tint: skip. See Warmth.

Sharpness: skip. See Definition.

Definition: This is sharpness + contrast. It brings out details (like the bricks of the pizza oven) more subtlety.

Noise Reduction: skip unless it’s a night shot, and at that - use it a little. Don’t make the photos look like there’s a sheet of plastic over them .

Vignette: Use it to create a slightly dark halo around your photo which engages the viewer to look at the subject matter.

... and here come the pros: "Come on, you use black point without a histogram and complain you don't use exposure because there's no histogram! BUSH LEAGUE MOVE BRO!" or "You're giving warmth a bad rep!". Come on... let's get real - we’re talking iPhone photos and free editing tools. Just Have Fun!

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