This Is How I Edit My iPhone Photos On VSCO Cam
For iPhonetography (or iPhone Photography) Editing, the main tool I use is the VSCO Cam app. It’s a free photo editing app that has beautiful presets to choose from, make editing easier with just a few touches.
In this article, I will demonstrate how I edited two flat lay photos from my coffee escapades featured in my previous post, where I showcased my favorite flat lay coffee photos.
Introducing: Hypebeast VSCO Cam Preset Collection
My favorite VSCO Cam preset collection is called Hypebeast, which was a collaboration between VSCO Cam and HYPBEAST, a lifestyle and fashion editorial. There are two kinds of presets under Hypebeast, HB1 and HB2, which are both great for street and architecture photography.
But what’s the difference between the two presets?
Hypebeast 1 / HB1 creates a cooler tone and emphasizes on highlights, making white spaces look more contrast and clean against shadows or a darker background. I used it for editing the photo below, which I will refer to as Photo A from hereon.
I used HB1 for Photo A to emphasize on the white plates and (super) cute white milk froth, and to bring out the blue colors of my journal more. Notice that this preset changes the hue of the table from yellow brown to bluish dark brown, which I prefer in most of my photos.
On the other hand, Hypebeast 2 / HB2 creates a brown tone and gives an overall moody look. Since my original photo below – let’s call it Photo B – is bright and warm, I used the HB2 preset to tone down the brightness and focus more on the blues and browns.
As you can see, HB2 accentuates the yellows/oranges/beiges, making them look more saturated, contrast, and brown. Instead of creating a blue hue that’s great for street photos, HB2 produces a rustic style.
All right! Now that I’ve briefly introduced my favorite presets, let’s get started. The following is the usual 10 steps I take when editing photos on my iPhone using VSCO Cam.
The Kagrammable Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Select your preset
In my case, it’s the Hypebeast preset. Photo A (left) uses HB1 while Photo B (right) uses HB2. The intensity level of the preset is automatically set to the maximum, which is +12.0. I usually leave it at that and then adjust later as needed.
Step 2: Adjust exposure
I personally like my photos to have a dark, moody aesthetic and so I tend to lower the exposure. Photo A was already dark enough for my liking, hence the minimal adjustment. On the other hand, Photo B was brighter compared to Photo A so I had to lower down the exposure more.
When lowering the exposure level, I make sure that the important details on the photo (i.e. latte art, texture) are not very different from the original. I also make sure that the food and coffee still look appetizing even with less light.
Step 3: Sharpen the image
My insecurity with iPhone photos is that sometimes they don’t come out as sharp as I’d want them to be. So adjusting the sharpness level is one of the first things I always do.
However, I don’t go overboard with the sharpness level as it could make the quality of the photo more grainy.
Step 4: Increase level of clarity
Sharpness. Clarity. Aren’t they the same?
Whereas sharpness level makes the details – as advertised – sharper and clearer, clarity helps define edges and gives deeper texture. It adds or lessens detail and depth by enhancing mid-tones and overall sharpness.
If I am already content with the texture of the details, I only (very) slightly increase the level of clarity. By avoiding too much clarity, I also avoid higher contrast and grain that may make my photo look less natural.
Step 5: Increase level of saturation
Saturation is the way to go to make up for the lost “happy” colors due to lower exposure. However, I also don’t go overboard with saturation. I’m not a big fan of highly saturated and highly contrasted photos. Instead, I try to keep it as natural as possible when it comes to food.
Step 6: Make tone warmer/cooler
This is my favorite part. I usually find myself leaning towards cooler tones, and that’s why I use the Hypebeast preset all the time. But when it comes to food, I like to create a balance between cool and warm tones as I want my food to still look natural and appetizing.
Photo A: Since I used HB1 preset, which already emphasizes the blue tones, I adjusted the temperature to be just a LITTLE warm.
Photo B: With HB2, the photo looks more brown and rustic. Thus, I turned down the temperature a bit (pun intended) to add cooler tones. This is especially noticeable on the colors of the coffee, banana bread, and plates.
Step 7: Adjust fade effect
Sometimes, I skip this part. But when I do feel a bit more moody, I then increase the fade effect.
Unfortunately for these photos, I wasn’t feeling that moody, hence the small adjustment.
Step 8: Add vignette
Who doesn’t like that old-fashioned vignette style? In my opinion, this adds more drama as it darkens the edges of the photo.
But at this point, I think my photos have already gotten enough drama and mood, so I saved them from having more.
Step 9: Adjust intensity of preset
As mentioned in Step 1, I normally adjust the intensity of the preset towards the end if needed. Now that I know how my photo looks like (after the adjustments we did previously), I then lower the intensity level of the preset to see how much less of the blue tones I want.
As you can see, at intensity level +10.4, there isn’t any obvious difference (lol). Thus, I would prefer to have it at this lower level of blues than at the maximum to preserve its natural look (or whatever natural it has left.)
Step 10: Crop for a tighter shot if needed
And of course, my best friend – the crop tool. This is my best friend because I use it a lot to crop out my big arms in photos.
But in the case of flat lay photos, I use it to create a tighter look and to get rid of unnecessary extras that were included on the table.
Here’s a tip when taking flat lay photos:
Lay out the items on the table such that some parts are cut off from the frame. Then, take photos from different angles and proximity – have a close or tight shot as well as a zoomed out version.
This way, you can later crop out other items that add noise to the overall photo.
Now, go forth and edit photos
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. It’s now a lot easier and convenient to take photos and edit using our smartphones (iPhones). Moreover, there are a lot of free photo editing apps just like VSCO Cam that you could easily download.
So, make use of your God-given gifts – hands, eyes, and nowadays, technology – and get your creative juices flowing by trying out the beauty of photo editing.