Afterlight Editing

Editing time! We love a little bit of editing. It's the way to make the photos as awesome as things looked in real life!

For those of you that don't have iPhones, hopefully you have found yourself a similar app to do your editing in. The controls won't be exactly the same, but if it's an app that is worth using they will be pretty similar. 

For the rest of you, if you haven't downloaded this wonderful app yet, then head here now and click purchase! It will be the best $1.29 you have spent! Click here to go to Afterlight in the Apple Store

We always shoot with the built in iPhone camera on full frame (not square) and with no filters. Then we open up the photo from the camera roll in Afterlight to edit. It is possible to shoot in the app, but it's best not to, as it slows down the photo taking process and it won't let you shoot a whole bunch of photos at once. 

The way we edit in Afterlight is to first rotate and crop, and then go through most of the adjustment controls from left to right and adjust in little increments until our image is looking as close to how we saw it in real life as we can get it (we never want to make our photos look too fake, it's all about capturing real beauty, not making things look cool by slapping filters on them). Once we have things looking pretty good we pop a filter over that at a medium opacity, never 100%

The easiest way for us to show you is in a series of little video walk throughs... 


First up is is rotating, we do this to get our straight lines as straight as we can get them.

1. Click the Rotate and Crop button in the main menu

2. Next click this button. Then just adjust the slider until the line you want to be straight is as straight at it will get. Often we are only straightening by + or - 0.2 degrees. Click tick to apply.


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Next is cropping, most of our composing is on camera, we only ever crop a little bit. Often not at all.

In the same set of tools is the Crop button. Click on that, then change the highlighted option to Original. This will make sure your Aspect Ratio stays the same, so all your photos are cropped to the same dimensions. We always keep photos at the 4:3 ratio that the iPhone shoots in, as we find it a more dynamic image than a square photo and we like the breathing room it gives you in instagram. If you prefer square, that's cool too! To crop, just pull in the dots at the edge, and hit tick to confirm.


Now we get into the fun stuff! Image adjustments! We go from left to right through these, skipping a couple along the way.

1. Click on this button to take you to the Adjustments tool set.

2. The first tool we use is the Clarify tool, it adds clarity to the image. It makes clouds look really intense in a not-so-great way, but it can be good for bringing out detail in the scene. This is one a light touch is best for, or sometimes nothing at all.


This button is for the Brightness tool. It can be used to brighten or darken the photo. We use it in either direction, depending on what the image needs and how it has been exposed. Again, adjust the slider until the image looks closest to how it looked in real life. The brightness slider starts in the middle of the range, you darken by moving it to the left, and brighten by moving to the right.


Next up is the Contrast tool. We both use this one in most edits. Just a light touch though. This is another one that starts in the middle, left lessens the contrast and right increases it. We usually increase the contrast in our photos.


Saturation is up next. We usually skip this one. It would be a rare instance that we would use it. If we did, it would just a tiny little bit.


This is the exposure button. We never use this one as it washes out the photo too much. If we need to adjust exposure we would use the brightness tool.


Highlights tool is next. This tool adjusts the brightness of the highlights in the photo only. Left to darken and right to lighten. We almost always bring down the highlights a little bit.


The Shadows tool adjusts the brightness of the shadows in the photo only. Left to darken and right to lighten. Often you don't need to touch the shadows, but sometimes it is nice to have a play around with them, it can be nice to lighten them a bit in some photos. Others will look good with them darkened a tad.


Fade can be kind of cool. It lightens the shadows and darkens the highlights in equal amounts, but leaves the mid tones as they were. It doesn't work on every photo, but can be nice to soften an intense photo or bring out the wintery mood of a winter photo.


These three tools adjust the colour tone of the Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. They are more than we really need for iPhone edits, so we nearly always skip them. The only time we would really use them is if we were being super pedantic about a sunrise or sunset photo.

Instead we use the Temperature tool to adjust the tone of the overall image. Usually iPhones shoot a bit cool, so we move the slider to the right to warm things up a bit.


The Vignette tool can get cheesy pretty quickly. We usually skip it. Left to add a light vignette, right to add a dark one.


This is the Grain tool. We don't know about you, but we don't want any added grain in our digital photos. To us that belongs in film territory, but if you do that's ok! Here is where you will find it!


Sharpening is lucky last. We always use this one. The iPhone shoots quite soft, so this is great at sharpening up all the details and making your photos look awesome. Most photos will need somewhere in the 30-60 range, we wouldn't go all the way up to 100%, that would make things a bit too crispy!

View Original

At any point in editing, when you are in the Adjustment Tools main menu, you can toggle the photo from edited to unedited to see where you came from. Just make sure you are on that main Adjustment tools menu and hold down on the photo with one finger and it will toggle back to unedited. Let go and it will go back to how it looks now. If you find that you have gone too far, you can always revert what you've done by pressing the little circling arrow button next to the Adjustment Tools button. Once will undo the last step you did, and the second click will take you all the way back to the start.


We always add the white border to our photos to get around the fact that Instagram will only let you upload images as squares. The border adds however much white is needed to the top and bottom or to the sides to make the outside dimensions square.

1. Click the Borders menu button

2. Choose Original

3. Pick the one with the two little lines.


Filters time! This bit is pretty fun! It is where you can get a bit more arty, but we try not to go too arty. We don't want our photos looking like they were taken in an alien planet.

This is where you will find all of the filters. There are fun options within all four filter groups, have a play with them all until you find a look you like. We find we have our go-to faves that work well with specific moods or lighting situations. We always use the filters at low opacities, somewhere between 30-60% is a good zone to be in. 

Some of our faves are:


Bright Fire



Saving and Posting to Instagram

When we are done we always save a full sized version to the camera roll. You do this by clicking done then choosing Max resolution then clicking on the camera roll. You can then post straight to Instagram by choosing Medium resolution and clicking on the Instagram button.

Let's Watch a Full Edit

Note that we skipped over some things that this particular photo didn't really need? After practicing you will get a good feel for what photos need in editing. 

Assignment Time!

Edit a few of your fave photos you took over the course so far and upload them to Instagram. Hashtag them with #thephotoschool so we can check them out!