The Smart Guide to smartphone photographers

It is just as important for smartphone photographers to have a good post-production workflow as it is for conventional photographers. Tim Clinch shares his ideas on developing a process that works for him.

 Workflow. The dictionary definition is: ‘The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.' In the world of digital photography, we should all have one. One day I was asked by one of that strange but likeable breed - a young person - about how I used Snapseed. At the end of our conversation they said something along the lines of ‘thanks for sharing your workflow'. It had never occurred to me to think of it this way, but it makes a lot of sense.
 So I decided that it would be a good idea to share with you my workflow and explain why it is that I do things the way I do. To my mind, it is important to treat post-production in our mobile photography the same way we treat any sort of postproduction.
 Choose your software and take the time to learn how to use it properly. For all my camera based post-production, I use two solutions: Adobe Lightroom, which I use 90% of the time; and Alien Skin's excellent Exposure X, which I use for some advanced effects about 10% of the time. Although I have Photoshop on my computer, these days I very rarely touch it.
 Similarly on my phone I have Snapseed, which is my go-to processing app; and Hipstamatic's TinType app, which I use very occasionally and only then with all the effects turned down to almost zero. I also have Hipstamatic and VSCO, but quite frankly can't remember the last time I used either. So, my workflow using Snapseed to produce a hi-res B&W image is as follows...

‘It is important to treat post-production in our mobile photography the same way we treat any sort of post-production.'

 1: I open my image in Snapseed.

 2: I crop and straighten my image. You could try a 5x4 crop on your pictures - it's the classic photographic dimension to my eye.

 3: I go to the Tonal Contrast Filter and by scrolling vertically I adjust the high, mid and low tones. This is a subtle filter and has completely replaced the Drama filter, which I no longer use at all.

 4: Because using the Tonal Contrast filter can sometimes affect the saturation of the image, I then go to the Tune Image Toolbox and by scrolling vertically, adjust the saturation. OK, so here's the bit where I have to reiterate that I'm not saying I'm right, merely telling you what I do - because I will always wait until I have a fully corrected colour image before converting it into B&W. I don't know why, but it suits me. You can, of course, convert straight to B&W and apply all the filters to your B&W image but, for some reason, I find I get better results my way.

 5: I convert my image to B&W, choosing whichever filter suits the image best. I will also occasionally look at the Noir filters, which can be useful if treated with moderation.

 6: I then employ the brilliant Brush tool and lighten or darken any areas that need adjusting. It works really well, but if you have fat fingers you might want to explore using your pinky!

 Before I start, it's important to say I'm not insisting I'm right, merely explaining what suits me. Take the time and work out what suits you best.
 I will look at one of the Vintage filters to see if it suits the image, but more and more these days I prefer the look of straight B&W. The brilliant thing about having a workflow and getting used to the discipline of working with it is that once you've got the hang of it you waste much less time messing about with your pictures and more time looking at them. And by saving them as a copy you can keep the original, so if your tastes in processing change or simply if you feel like you'd like to have another go at it - you can!
 Don't forget also that Snapseed (like most photography apps) has a YouTube channel and there are some very good tutorials on all aspects up there. Well worth a visit. The pictures illustrate my workflow. Number 1 is the unprocessed image straight out of the phone - all the way through to the finished picture, number 6. A nice, simple, strong image. Processed - now that I know my workflow - in a couple of minutes.

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