I shared this photo a few days ago on instagram:
We just recently had the walls painted, new trim and carpet installed and things are looking so much fresher upstairs (more on that soon!). We still have trim to caulk and paint, pictures to hang and furniture to arrange but I couldn’t help but bring up a struggling fiddle leaf fig tree into our bedroom.
While walking through the room on Saturday morning, the tree looked so pretty with the light of the window and so I did what I do and stopped to snap a photo and posted it on instagram.
Instagram is a funny thing because while, yes, this is an actual photo I took, it is also teensy bit untrue.
We could talk about this all day long and go super deep into how social media can become just a snippet of the best of the best and leave out the not-so-pretty of everyday life and cause feelings of inadequacy and comparison and ugly things.
I’ll save that conversation for another day.
Today I’m more talking about enhancing reality. Kind of like how makeup enhances our features, I’ve found some tricks that enhance what comes out of my camera.
Let me show you what I mean.
Here’s the photo of the fiddle leaf fig tree straight from my phone:
I promise it looked much lighter and prettier in person, but this is the best my camera could do with the minimal natural light it had to work with.
NOTE: I turn off all artificial lights when taking photos – both with my real camera and iphone camera. It was what the pros did when they photographed our old house for the magazine, so I’ve just followed suit. I do find that photos are much less grainy and true-to-life color without artificial light. It just makes it super tough during our very dark and gray winters/early spring here in the Pacific Northwest to take natural light photographs.
This is where helpful tools come to the rescue.
To get my photo instagram-ready, I do a bit of editing.
After snapping the photo in the regular camera app, I first edit the photo using Afterlight, and then do any retouching using the TouchRetouch app. Both are paid apps (.99 and $1.99, respectively) and worth every dime.
Here’s my process:
Start by opening the photo in Afterlight.
To make edits, click on the second icon over and scroll through to find the appropriate tool.
All photos I post on instagram go through at least an adjustment to the brightness. It makes a huge difference.
For this particular photo, I brightened it twice and reduced the contrast just a bit, then saved. When saving for instagram, be sure your finished size is 800 px or higher for optimal resolution.
I usually stop at this point for most photos, but in this case, I wanted to remove those two uncovered outlets to clean things up a bit and let the tree be the focus.
NOTE: I struggle with this a little bit. I mean, isn’t it totally a misrepresentation to photoshop out outlets, crumbs, cords, spots, etc?! I waffle between LET’S BE COMPLETELY REAL! and ENHANCE IT ALL!
For this photo, though, I decided those outlets were just distracting and was happy to make them go away.
Here’s how that happens:
Rather than opening photoshop on my computer, uploading the photo, editing, saving, air dropping it back to my phone and then posting … I use the TouchRetouch app. It is certainly not as powerful as photoshop, but it does the trick for iphone photos.
Open up the brightened photo and click on the Quick Repair button. With the tap of your finger, you draw over the spot you want to remove and it magically disappears.
It’s seriously so fun. And so easy. The software just clones from a nearby area, so it may take a little bit of trying before it comes out right.
Once you’re done, click to save and you’re set. You can post directly to instagram from this app, or open instagram directly.
Again, here’s the side-by-side:
Kinda crazy, right?! Do you hate me for posting doctored photos?!
I discovered the retouch app while on our road trip and used it a couple of times to clean up some photos.
One was this photo of a random bus sign we parked nearby while getting gas:
The old sign, blue sky and fluffy clouds were just so eye-catching. What wasn’t great was the highway billboard and extra wire running along the bottom and so through the magic of three taps I pulled those out.
Another time the app came to the rescue was when a random kiddo at the pool found his way into our photo with our besties:
With some brightening and retouching, the colors are happier and the lurking boy is gone.
Here’s one more example:
After a full day of sweaty sight-seeing in Savannah, we ate at the most delicious restaurant and felt so grateful for these kids who were such great travel companions. I wanted to document their cuteness, and loved that great boxwood-covered wall and industrial light, but was not so happy with that white thermostat. By removing that and cloning the boxwood out further to the left, the photo becomes cleaner and highlights my little darlings.
I don’t use the retouch app often, but it sure is wonderful when I need it.
I do, however, brighten every single photo I take.
It’s a tricky little trick that makes my instagram photos one million times better.