Snapseed Photo Editing

As the leaves turn from green to bright yellow and red, the fall is one of the best times of the year for landscape photography with the iPhone. When ordinary landscapes change into magnificent vistas, it’s really hard not to take photos of all that beauty.

However, when you look back at your photos, you’ll often be disappointed to see that the iPhone hasn’t reproduced the fall colors as you expected, and the photos just look boring in comparison to the same scene in real life. Fortunately, this can be corrected in post-processing, and in this article I’ll show you a simple Snapseed post-processing workflow that will bring your fall photos back to life by making their colors much more vibrant.

While the fall is well on its way in most of Europe and North America, other parts of the world have different seasons. It’s spring in Australia and permanent summer in tropical regions. However, the same editing workflow can also be used to greatly improve sunset photos, so you should also give it a try if you live in other parts of the world…

The original photo

Here is the photo that I’ll be using for this editing workflow. Since I took this photo in early fall, the leaves are rather pale, but you can already see that the trees in the background have different tones, which I want to emphasize more in post-processing.

River Photo Fall

Feel free to download this photo so you can follow along on your own iPhone.

Step 1: cropping

The three most important subjects in this image are the river, the large orange rock, and the regular rock at the bottom left. They are all located within a relatively narrow area in the central part of the photo, which means that I could emphasize them more by cropping the image into a 3:2 aspect ratio (the iPhone shoots in 4:3 aspect ratio).

Snapseed Aspect Ratio

To do this I opened the “Crop” module in Snapseed, selected 3:2 in the aspect ratio panel at the bottom, and adjusted the composition until I found something that I really liked.

Snapseed Crop

Step 2: adding structure

Next I opened the “Details” module and increased structure to +20, which helped me make the different details in the photo stand out more. This works particularly well for trees in the background, which are now better defined and stand out more. However, you want to be very careful with the structure adjustment as it looks really bad if you do it too much.

Snapseed Structure

You can find the structure adjustment by sliding up and down the screen, and change its value by sliding the screen horizontally. Once you’re happy with the adjustments, you can apply them using the arrow icon at the bottom right.

Step 3: tune image

“Tune image” is the most essential module in Snapseed since it allows you to do all the important color adjustments. There are five different adjustments in this module, and it can take a bit of playing around until you find the best combination for each image.

Snapseed Saturation

I started by increasing saturation, which makes all the colors in the image more vibrant, which is exactly what we want for a fall photo. However, I only increased saturation to +20 since I also have many other color adjustments in mind.

Snapsedd White Balance

Next I adjusted white balance, which essentially changes how warm or cold the image is (a warm image is yellowish, a cold image is blueish). For this image we want yellowish rather than blueish tones, which I added to the image by increasing white balance to +20.

My next adjustment was contrast, which determines how different the highlights (the bright parts) are from the shadows (the dark parts). Most photos can be improved by increasing their contrast a little. However, you also don’t want to lose any detail in the shadows or highlights by making them completely black or completely white.

Snapseed Contrast

For this image I increased contrast to +20, which made it much more pleasing to the eye while at the same time not losing any important detail in the highlights or shadows.

Next I adjusted ambiance, which is one of the most powerful features of Snapseed. In a nutshell, ambiance brings out the mid tones of the photo and thus emphasizes details that would not stand out as much otherwise. Ambiance also makes colors more vibrant, but like with any Snapseed adjustment, you’ll run into issues if you do it too much.

Snapseed Ambience

In this case I increased ambiance to +25, which emphasizes detail in the trees, makes the photo more evenly exposed, and also makes the colors more vibrant.

Snapseed Brightness

Finally, I decreased brightness to -5 to make the image more compelling without making it too dark. In case you’re wondering how to pick the exact adjustment values, the answer is really simple. You just have to keep changing things until you find something you really like, even if it means jumping back an forth between different adjustments.

Step 4: selective adjust

Now, at this point we could already save the image to camera roll as what we have now is so much better than the photo we started with. The trees are now beautifully colorful, there is more contrast, and the image is just so much more pleasant to look at.

But there is one more thing I still want to do with this photo. If you look at the image, the first thing you’ll notice is the unusual orange rock on the other side of the river. Even though this rock already stands out a lot, we can make that rock even more unusual by making it’s orange tones even more orange without affecting the rest of the image.

To do this I opened “Selective adjust,” tapped the plus icon at the bottom, and added an adjustment point to the central part of the orange rock. As you move the adjustment point around, you’ll see a magnifying glass with an aim in the middle. Your goal is to aim exactly at the tones you want to adjust, so make sure that the tone encircling the magnifying glass is roughly the same as the tone that you want to apply adjustments on.

Snapseed Selective Adjust

When you get the tone roughly right as I did in the screenshot above, you want to resize the adjustment area by pinching two fingers in and out. Everything that gets highlighted in red will get adjusted, while the rest of the image will remain unchanged.

Snapseed Adjustment Area

I changed adjustment area so that only the left side of the rock is highlighted, and now I can change the brightness, contrast and saturation just for that part of the image. To make the orange rock even more orange, I increased the saturation of the rock to +40.

Snapseed Selective Adjustments

You can also use selective adjust to make the colors of individual trees brighter, to make the dark parts of the image lighter, to make silhouettes darker, and so on.

The final image

After applying changes made in selective adjust, I was really happy with the end result, and I saved the final version of the image to camera roll. Note that Snapseed will not save your work unless you save the final version of the image yourself.

Edited Fall Photo

If you like what we were able to do with this image, try using the same workflow for your own fall (or sunset) photos to see how much you can improve them. While you may have to pick different adjustment values for your photos, the workflow described in this article can make your fall photos look as good – if not better – as the scene looks in real life.

Emil Pakarklis is the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website that helps people take better photos with the iPhone.

  • leart za jmi

    Snapseed its the best app for photo editing, so far, and its free 🙂

  • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

    *sniffs the air* you guys smell that? Smells like someone’s getting paid to advertise an application for photo editing!

    • I don’t think Snapseed needs the advertisement. Google owns it, I doubt this is the type of advertisements they want to do. I think he just used Snapseed because it is one of the best photo editing apps out there.

    • Cough cough. Snapseed is probably one the most popular photo editing apps in the app store. It’s so popular that Google actually bought it and made it free. Your comment assuming we’re sneaking promotions without your knowledge is insulting.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Cough, cough. Never heard of it until now. Past that, it’s my right as an American to say what I want. Don’t like it? Get off the internet. Besides, if the app is free and google paid for it, there has to be revenue coming from somewhere.

      • Umut Bilgiç

        Oh my god, People can disagree with you, chill out. Your sayings about iDb getting paid is just plain idiotic, since they really dont need it. I am just supposing you are a troll (hipefully)

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        And I can disagree with people. That’s what makes this country great. I can say what I want and you can do the same.

      • Mohamed Hassabo

        He’s the creator of this website, I think he knows what he’s talking about.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Never said he didn’t. I said I can say what I want, never said it had to be 100% accurate.

      • Mohamed Hassabo

        Sure you can say what you want, but pointless incorrect comments are unnecessary.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        The governments unnecessary, but we have that don’t we?

      • Mohamed Hassabo


      • Umut Bilgiç

        Then dont rage when people dont share your ideas and tell yhem to get off the internet. Everyone can stay on internet. Freedom and America, remember?

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Take a look at who make a joking comment and who jumped on him for it. I’m not the one who needs to “chill out”

      • Umut Bilgiç

        Event if you dont want to chill out, at least see a doctor. Startingn an outrages war of replies becouse someone disagreed with you. And you said get off the internet, but I guess you are the one who can not handle disagreements.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        I love how I’m accused of raging because I told someone if they don’t like what I have to say to get off the internet. Lol. And you think IM a troll…

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        And again. Who disagreed with who first?

      • Umut Bilgiç

        You can get off the internet if you dont like what you see as well. Your claims about freedom is just idiotic, since you are also sayingpeoplento get off the internet if they sont like what they see. First, you accused someone just becouse you thought you had the right to. Then you started pooping out comments about freedom that actually turn out to br contradicting with each other. Your interpretation if freedom is very ego-centric and ignorant.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Look who’s raging now. Dude, you need to see a psychiatrist.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Also. How am I contradictory? Cause I’m still posting? I have no problem with what’s being said under the law, but if my opinion differs, I’ll let you know.

      • Jack

        Let me get some popcorn..

    • That escalated quickly.

      Google bought Snapseed to integrate its technology into Google+, and they make no money out of this free app.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        So if I’m hearing you correctly. Google PAID MONEY for an app and to have devs work on it, but isn’t making a dime? I don’t believe that for a minute. Next you’ll tell me that freemium apps only make money if you spend money

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        No offense intended; incase you take any. As you can see, some get butthurt quicker than others.

      • Zaidan Umar

        NO!! Google sells your photos to the NSA -.-

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Who knows. All I know is companies aren’t in it for the consumer; they only care about making a dollar, so why wouldn’t a big corporation like google do the same?

      • Zaidan Umar

        Cuz they are already rich enough….

      • Zaidan Umar

        Why do u think the youtube, facebook, twitter apps are free??

      • Oh well, the guy has been banned. He’ll see that even in this great country that is the Unites Stated, freedom of speech has a limit and you can get quickly censored if you’re being an online jackass.

  • Guest

    lol no fall in florida haha

  • boogerland11

    Cool. Too bad I live in Florida. All we got here is summer and spring 🙁

    • eh

      hahaha it looks cool in a picture but i bet when the person was taking the shot they were pretty cold. Id take nice weather over cool photos lol

      From Canada

  • mrhs

    Idn’t have Snapseed on my iPhone but instead i’ve another amazing apps like PaintFX , PhotoForge2 , PhotoStudio and Vintique and they are satisfying .