I thought it might be fun to take one of my favorite photos for the week and talk a little about the process I used to get to the final image. I'm not a Photoshop wizard and don't do complex things with my pictures, so I'm hoping to show that with minimal effort and tools, you can get a decent image.
Today's example was taken with my cell phone camera. My phone is an Android - the Google-branded Galaxy Nexus, the "it" phone from late 2011. I took an online "Phone Photography" class this summer at Big Picture Classes (love that site!) and it changed my whole photo philosophy. My phone is no longer the "backup" choice - I now realize I can get some pretty awesome photos with a little work. Many of my favorites this summer are from my phone camera, since that's the camera I know I'll have with me nearly all the time.
We went out to a local pizza place that has a bright red numeral sculpture in front. The zero at the bottom makes a nice spot for little kids to sit and I love the bright color against our usually grey Seattle sky.
Another pro tip - be on the lookout for cool photo "props" when you're just out walking around - you'd be surprised at what you can find. Shopping areas and malls are great to find neat little backdrops.
Here's my original image of BabyM. Not bad, but I wanted a square photo to share on Instagram.
I use the third-party ProCapture camera app instead of the native Camera app on my phone - I find the controls more intuitive and it seems faster than the native app when I'm trying to get quick shots of moving kids.
ProCapture automatically saves the photo to the Camera roll in my Gallery, so after I get the shots I want, I switch to my editing program. I learned about Pixlr Express this summer during that class and I fell in love. It's powerful, free and fun to use, with both serious editing features as well as fun effects, text and "sticker" overlays.
Pixlr Express lets you work on one photo at a time, so I choose the photo I want from the gallery, and use the Adjust -> Crop feature to select a 1:1 (square) ratio, making the photo perfect for Instagrams.
ProCapture will allow me to take a square photo, but it slows down the photo saving/shutter ready speed *dramatically*, so I went back to the "regular" rectangle image so I could take multiple shots faster. I've gotten used to taking photos far enough away to allow for this cropping afterwards.
After cropping, I used the Adjust -> Vibrance feature to "pump up" the colors just a bit. With this camera, outdoor shots come out really well, with minimal need for editing.
I have a deep, embarrassing love for those cheesy photo effects you see all over Instagram, so I hopped over to the Overlay tab and selected Bokeh. My all-time favorite is the tiny hearts called Loove (misspelled on purpose to highlight its cheesiness). This one makes nearly all people photos look horrible, like they have some sort of splotchy skin disease, so I rarely use it. In this case, since BabyM is such a small part of the photo, I thought it might work.
And I was right, though I had to "turn down" the effect using the Fade slider, to 50 instead of 100. This makes the heart "bokeh" less prominent on BabyM and the lighter areas, but you can still see it well on the red zero sculpture.
I thought that was enough tinkering for the photo, so I saved it to my Gallery (to get the higher resolution copy) then shared it to Instagram direct from Pixlr Express, which posts and saves a smaller version.
This simple workflow - phone cam using ProCapture app to Pixlr Express to social media sites - has become my regular process for phone photos, so when I "dump" my phone onto my laptop to get pics for my Project Life album, they're already "done" - no further editing required.
I hope this was helpful. If you use an Android phone to take photos, I'd love to hear about your favorite camera and editing apps!