In our last column, we outlined five tips for taking outstanding photos on your smartphone camera. From keeping your lens clean, to making good use of light, enabling high dynamic range to improve photos in high-contrast situations, using burst mode to capture movement, and knowing how to use grid mode and the Rule of Thirds for composing images.

But, you aren’t done yet! You’ve taken all these great (and some not-so-great) photos. Now what? Some of your photos are really good just as you have taken them but many could be improved. Too bright, too dark, fuzzy focus, or too far away from the subject. In today’s column, we’ll give you some tips for editing your photos.

But before you start, here are a couple of factors to consider. Editing photos directly on your smartphone can range from the simple to the complex. Unless you are highly experienced you need to take some time to learn the editing tools and processes that you have available. Cropping, erasing, red-eye, effects and filters, and exposure are just a few of the tools you will learn. And that takes time and experience. So, don’t forget to study and practice editing techniques by reading about how they work or better yet by watching several good videos.

Another consideration is where you should edit, on your phone or on a tablet or computer. Because I prefer to use a larger screen I do most of my photo editing on my computer, especially for changes where I may need to see a greater level of detail. However, sometimes when editing needs to be done immediately, I do simpler edits directly on my phone, especially lightening or darkening and cropping. Editing tools will be similar on both types of devices but there are some fine points that will be different. Realistically, you need to know how to edit on your phone and on your computer or tablet.

Although we are iPhone users, here are five tips for editing your photos regardless of which brand of smartphone you carry.

1. Perhaps the simplest editing tool is autocorrect (sometimes called auto-enhance), a one-time correction that allows you to lighten or darken a photo. While it is sometimes difficult to discern the difference on the photo, it is that small light adjustment a photo needs. A useful and simple place to start.


2. Cropping may be your best friend when you edit photos. It allows you to focus on the most interesting part of the image, not everything that showed up in your photo. It allows you to remove parts not essential to the photo you want to show, for example, people, traffic, and more. One of the most important benefits of cropping is that it helps take advantage of composition guidelines like the rule of thirds and leading lines. Try cropping by selecting a photo, tap edit, and touch the crop icon. That places a box around the original photo that you can move to highlight the elements of your photo you want to feature. In the case of a picture of my granddaughter, cropping gives me a close-up when I had taken a photo from across the room.

3. Never zoom. Using zoom on your smartphone camera reduces photo quality very quickly. Instead, move closer to your subject or take a longer range photo and crop it in editing mode and voila…you have the zoomed image you wanted. By cropping a photo, you focus on one part of an image and bring it closer to the foreground. Crop, not zoom.

4. Get creative and try out filters. They allow you to give your image different looks, from color to black and white, and lots of specialized color effects like vivid warm or cool, dramatic, silvertone, mono, or noir. A wide variety of exposures give many different ways to lighten and darken your images as well. With markup you can draw and write on your photos, an interesting way to personalize them. While I recommend that photo novices use and master the simpler tools on the editing app that come with their own phone, there are a number of other editing apps like those mentioned below.

5. More editing help! In addition to the editing tools that come with your smartphone, I also use Snapseed and PSExpress, free editing apps for your smartphone and tablet. They help you turn a “nice” photograph into a stunning image. By the way, both Snapseed and PSExpress allow you to cut out unwanted objects in the photo.

Don’t forget to edit. Your camera has editing tools appropriate for some impressive improvements to your photos that are easy and fast to use. (Too many people ignore these tools completely.) Typically you’ll have a cropping tool that allows you to focus on a particular part of a photo or to eliminate someone in the background. Also, remember that cropping is the best way to zoom on your camera. You will probably have access to filters and a setting or two for adjusting light, color. Too dark or too light photos can be significantly improved. What is the best way to develop your editing skills? No surprise here. Practice. And more practice.

BONUS TIP: For heaven’s sake do something with your photos. Delete doubles or any photos you don’t want to keep. Do the necessary editing. Put them in some order. Prepare a slideshow, book, album, or collage to send to the people with whom you shared those moments. Use your photos, don’t just save them. Most of all, share them with your family and friends.

If you’re interested in learning lots more ways to apply these editing tips as well as dozens of other ways to make the most of your iPhone camera, plus experiencing some tasty Asian fusion recipes, check out our spring EXPLORAMA retreat in May here:

BoomerTECH Adventures ( provides expert guidance and resources to help Boomers and older adults develop competence and confidence using their Apple devices. Boomers themselves, BoomerTECH Adventures rely on their skills as educators to create experiences that meet individual needs through videos, Zoom presentations, tech tips, and timely blog posts.

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