30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 2 Snapseed

Day 2: Snapseed

I love to take pictures. When I travel, my trusty SLR is usually by my side. My go-to editing tool is Photoshop, of course. However, over the past several years I have become fascinated with mobile photography. That amazing technology in our pockets can take incredible pictures. And is a lot easier to carry than my SLR beast. As we take more pictures with our mobile devices, we can also move the editing from our desktops to our phone. Photoshop has a very nice app – Photoshop Express. I’ll write about that one at a later date. Today I want to talk about Google’s addition to the mobile photo editing apps – Snapseed. Snapseed is available for both IOS and Android.

What can you do with Snapseed?

HDR Scape filter applied to top image. Original is on the bottom.

What can’t you do with Snapseed? This is a solid photo editing tool. You can use the basic tools to tune the exposure and color of your image. You can crop and rotate. They also have more advanced editing tools such as Curves, White balance, and a Healing tool. The fun begins with the more creative tools. One of my favorites is the HDR Scape. This filer boots tones and saturation for a more vivid image. (Warning – it can be overdone making your images look over-processed but it can be fun to play with.) The image to the right shows a before and after HDR Scape image. The top image is a bit overdone in this example but when done right, the HDR Scape filter can create a lovely image in a few simple steps.

Top right is the original.

Other creative effects include Grung, Retrolux, Black and White, Grainy Film and Noir. Each of the creative filters can be adjusted and modified allowing for a great deal of creative freedom. As an avid Photoshop user, I’m used to having total control over my images but don’t always have the time or patience to create multi-layered special effects. Snapseed is the right amount of canned filters and effects mixed with enough manual adjustments to make a photo control freak like me happy. Also, I can do it all right on my phone. No need to download the images from my phone and do my editing to my desktop. Easy and convenient. What’s not to love?

Swen Parson Hall
Multiple filters added to create the final image on right.

Along with the creative filters, you can add vignetting, create tilt-shift images, and apply fun frames. Snapseed recently added new tools for making sure your selfies and portraits look amazing. Including eye enhancing tricks and portrait lighting adjustments. You can even change the angle of your face so you have just enough head tilt. I find this feature both cool and creepy. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.

There are a few drawbacks to this tool, but not many. If you like to make collages with your images, this app is not for you. There are many collage apps out there so don’t be afraid to app smash. These photos were modified with Snapseed and the collages were made using Google Photos. Unlike Photoshop, you cannot work with multiple layers which limits the type of special effects and composites you can create. But, it’s not that type of editing tool. Also, there is no desktop version of this app. You need a mobile device to take advantage of the creative tools. (I’ll talk about my favorite web-based Photoshop alternative in a future post.)

Overall, this is a solid app for photo editing. Best of all, it is free! It is also simple enough for students to use. There is a very low learning curve but also a lot of advanced features to keep even the most advanced users happy.

So get out those phones, capture the world around you, and use Snapseed to make the images magical.



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