Top 3 Editing Tips for iPhone default Photos App
On Editing,  Tutorials

Top 3 Editing Tips for iPhone’s default Photos App

What do you think are the three most useful functionalities of iPhone’s default Photos App? Are you always jumpy and trying around different settings because you do not have a consistent workflow? The following 3 editing tips should help all the iPhone photographers.

Think of how people took photographs in the old days. I mean the very old days. I am not talking about ten years ago. I am referring to like, 1980’s. What do you need?

“A roll of film, a camera, and a lens.”

Spot on! Bear this in mind, and integrate this into our workflow.

1. Filters – Picking your choice of film

Photo by Mandy Choi on Unsplash

First things first, you have to decide what effect you want to achieve, right? The biggest dichotomy is whether you want it coloured or black and white. This is like in the old days when you walked into the store and asked for a roll of film. “Which one?” asked the shopkeeper.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in using the “Original” filter (aka no filter). And there are legitimate reasons in doing so. For instance, you may wish to use it in a portrait so as to preserve colour. This is why there was “portrait film” in the old days, for which colour is more neutral (aka less vivid) to preserve skin tone.

However if you are more adventurous, my top picks are “Vivid” and “Dramatic”. Depending on your preference, the “cool” and “warm” filters can be good ones too, although personally I use them relatively rarely. For black and white, “Silvertone” gives you a more contrasty old-film-looking style, which I highly recommend.

You can (and should) adjust the strength of the filter by the way. Depending on what you want, they may or may not look the best at full strength. So adjust accordingly.

2. Adjust – Tweaking the camera settings

Photography is the process of capturing light into the sensor (or film). To achieve that on a camera, we change the settings – shutter speed and aperture. Right?

Unfortunately once the photo has been taken, we cannot go back and change the settings, no matter how bad you have screwed up.

But there is something that we could do as mitigation, that is to edit the exposure and other settings.

To start with, I usually give “Auto” a try, and then fine tune when necessary. “Exposure” is one of the most important sliders here for an obvious reason (if you don’t get it, that is because photos are made by the sensor being exposed to light). So there is very limited you could do if you screwed up seriously. But if it is just a minor under- or overexposure, the Photo app should be able to reveal some of the “hidden” details and save your pictures.

My afternoon coffee.

“Shadows” and “Highlights” bring up (or down) the details in the dark and bright areas respectively. But what I find useful is the “Brilliance” feature – it gives you a rather optimised balance between the dark and bright area of the picture. The principle of this feature is to enhance the dynamic range of the picture. So if you go full strength, it will even give you a HDR-like photograph. In the example above, Brilliance helps bringing up the details in the dark area (such as near the handle) while preserving the bright area (top of the cup and the table)

Use with caution, however. Some people may dislike it because the picture looks a bit flattened, because of higher dynamic range. Just like using filter, adjusting the strength is important.

3. Vignette and Straighten – Playing with the Lens

“I kind of understand about vignette. But what has straightening to do with lens?” you may ask.

Ever seen this kind of lens before?

Photo by Chad Kainz on Flickr

Professional photographers, especially architectural ones, often use tilt-shift lens. This type of lens allows them to straighten and balance their image in all three axes. And guess what, you can do that too in your Photos app. Try to play around with the “Straighten”, “Vertical” and “Horizontal” tabs and you will know what it is about.

Look at this before and after comparison. Focus on the pillars. Before any adjustment, they all looked slightly tilted (upward). A little “Vertical” adjustment will straighten them up.

Last but not the least, try adding some “Vignette” to your photos. Darkening the four corners gives you a bit of cinematic feel, because that is what we usually see in a movie. Don’t belittle this little touch! It vitalises your photos so much and trust me you will love it.



So here are the top 3 tips of using the default Photos app on your iPhone to edit any photographs. Using your phone is of no difference from using a traditional, old film camera – choose a roll of film, set your camera and straighten it. Add a bit of vignette too to make it cinematic. Remember the workflow and you will create stunning pictures!

Struggling whether you should or should not edit your photos at all? Or how much you should edit? Perhaps this article can give you an answer.

Did you enjoy reading this article? What about your top tips? Would you like to share your workflow? Comment below and let us know. Let your friends know too by sharing the article if you wish! Also, don’t forget to check out the “Destinations” tab, where I share my travel photos, using just a phone, of course. Thank you for reading.

Administrator of TraPhoner. Based in Asia. Traveller-photographer with just a phone.

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