Editing Tricks to Enhance Mobile Phone Photos

Since stopping my one-photo-a-day project titled FUNicating 2012 with the conclusion of the year, I continue to shoot almost on a daily basis and posting the shots on my Facebook (darrenn9) through Instagram (darrenn9).  The shots are nothing spectacular but I’ve been receiving quite some emails asking about how I achieved certain effects. I am thankful for the positive feedbacks on the photos and thought I’d share in this post how they were created with free phone apps to answer the most frequently asked questions.

What camera are you using?

For Instagram posts, all the photos were taken with my Android mobile phone. I’m not stating which phone I use because I believe most current mobile devices (phones and touchpads) have pretty decent imaging capabilities. However, I would still use my Casio Exilim ZR1000 and DSLR if I want more flexibility, faster response and achieve higher quality pictures.

Mobile phone snaps are lossy on details and high pixellations (especially during low light situations or night shoots) may manifest even for online usage so I still can’t live without better photographic gadgets at the moment.

What image editing software do you use for your photos?

The good news is, I’m using FREE photo editing apps that anybody can download! The apps I use are for Android but I believe they are available for IOS too. Here’s the list of photo apps I currently have on my phone which I regularly engage :

Pixlr-o-matic (they have an online photo editor here)

LINE Camera



Of the lot, Instagram is the least flexible in image manipulation but its filters make for fast ‘pop-arting’ of shots for online postings.

How did you achieve ‘this effect’ or ‘that look’ for your photo?

Frankly, it’s all about experimentation. After taking a shot, I would usually activate the apps to apply the different filters and effects on a photo to see what enhances my subject matter and looks good to me 🙂

Here’s an example :

BEFORE : Original photo taken with my handphone of a coloured-glass butterfly fridge magnet on my work desk. No editing done.

AFTER : Image editing done entirely on phone with LINE Camera, Pixlr-o-matic and Instagram.

Here are the processes I went through :

Step 1 : Snap photo with phone’s Camera (I find that taking photos directly from the Instagram app isn’t sharp enough).

Step 2 : Activate Instagram app to crop the photo to a square. ‘Share’ the photo from Instagram to Pixlr-o-matic.

Step 3 : In Pixlr-o-matic, I applied the ‘Morning’ filter. Then I ‘Share’ the resulting image to LINE Camera.

Step 4 : In LINE Camera, I applied the ‘Grunge’ filter and used the Text function to key in the all-inspiring message (haha…). Then I ‘Share’ the resulting image back to Instagram.

Step 5 : In Instagram, I applied the ‘Rise’ filter to brighten up the centre portion of the photo further before posting on the app and Facebook.

The apps are so powerful nowadays that they allow all of us to become not just photographers, but instant graphic designers! The prescribed filters and effects from the various phone imaging apps definintely added a new dimension to creating images to tell stories beyond the realm of traditional photography.

Here are some more BEFORE and AFTER photos. Most of the staged pics were shot on my light beige work desk. A clean background removes distractions and allows more dramatic effects from the apps to manifest.

If your work desk is not of a uniform colour like mine, place a clean A4 sheet beneath the subject before shooting…

勉强是没有幸福的。Created this firey background with the ‘Wave’ filter in Pixlr-o-matic.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” – Mark 11:24. Applied these retro lines in Pixlr-o-matic. The filter didn’t come with the basic app and must be downloaded. Downloading is easy. Just scroll through to the last filter on the list and tap on the ‘+’ icon. It’ll load more filter collections which can be downloaded. Most of the apps have additional downloable filters and they are mostly free!

Tea time is a crunch back into health. LINE Camera comes with facial parts (eyes, eyebrows, nose, etc) and accesories (glasses, hats, tattoos, etc) that can be applied onto a subject.

Fruity bunny says eating more bananas will keep your most important organ alert and perky. That organ is the brain.

Rapbit says it’s time to mumbo jumbo and boogie!

We grow into the twists and turns of life.

I hope this post provided useful info on artifying mobile phone photos with imagaing apps. For more photos, please visit my Instagram gallery.

Have fun! 🙂

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. chairuby
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 12:14:37

    Wow … great tricks


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