Picture here: You finally get the amazing angle, the perfect self. You can't wait to post it on your Instagram, except there is a problem – it looks a bit flat and the colors just seem to be off. Maybe it's the lights? Or maybe your new smartphone camera is not as good as you thought? How do your friends get the beautiful pictures they have published on social media?
The answer is simple: editing. If you do not have perfect lighting conditions, your iPhone or Android phone will probably not take the shot you were thinking – especially if you are using the front camera. But you can achieve a professional image by making some simple lighting adjustments with Adobe Photoshop Express, available on iOS and Android.
Step 1: Take a photo with decent light
The lighting for your own needs to be perfect, light only good enough to capture all your facial features. If you do not snap the image with zero artificial or natural light, it should not be difficult to do. While you can still make some improvements to a photo that is quite dark, you will not have the full effect of this adjustment.
Make sure your photo is still unfiltered. You can add desired filters after the adjustment is complete, either in Photoshop Express, Instagram, VSCO or another image editing app that has filters.
Step 2: Select your photo in Photoshop Express
When you open Photoshop Express, you see the image selection screen right away if you are not using the app recently. If so, tap the back arrow icon (iOS) or "X" (Android) at the top left, which will return to the image selector. The app is set so that you can select a photo directly from the device's main photo gallery by default.
If you press the drop-down menu next to "Camera Roll" (iOS) or "All Photos" (Android) at the top, you can choose another location from which you import. On IOS, you can choose between Facebook, Dropbox or Google Photos. On both iOS and Android you can take a photo with your camera or choose a photo from any album on your device, as well as from Lightroom, Creative Cloud and CC Library.
Adobe allows you to connect all of its products through what they call Creative Cloud, two of the options just mentioned. This means that everything uploaded to your cloud from any Adobe app can be accessed from a full Adobe product on your computer or mobile device. But, even though Photoshop Express is free, Creative Cloud Library comes with a paid subscription via Adobe.
Step 3: Adjust Contrast
After selecting your photo, select the adjust icon (three sliders on iOS, two on Android) in the toolbar at the bottom. First, press "Contrast", which allows you to make adjustments to the tone area of an image. Contrast is basically the difference in brightness between light and dark areas, which determines the number of shades seen.
Slide this field to the right to increase the contrast, which will give out the darker tones. You can also choose to shoot the line if it is the look you want to go for. This will reduce the darker tones, giving you a more aged look.
Next, we use the "Highlights" and "Shadows" options, which are directly next to each other. These two adjustment commands work together to balance the foreground illumination and the background of the image, in our case, to help the subject stand out in one's self.
These two tools are not only for light and dark whole images, they actually look at the surrounding pixels (or "local neighborhood") of the highlights and shadows that are visible. When you adjust the level of highlights and shadows, there are some important behind the scenes.
If the highlights and shadows on your selfie are either too bright or too dark, adjust each tool's controls until the light and dark parts of the image are more balanced. It's not an exact science, just the eyeball.