Tips for Editing Beautiful Food Photos on Your Smart Phone (Part 2)

I have a lot of apps on my iPhone 5s, but the one I turn to the most is Snapseed, a fun photo editing app that I use to improve my food photos. This app crops, straightens, brightens, saturates, adjusts the white balance, and a whole lot more. It turns my food photos from drab to delicious in minutes. (Snapseed is available for Android and iPhone.)

Garden Turkey Meatballs image taken with Camera+ but not yet edited

I took this image of our Garden Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti with my smart phone. It’s OK …

Garden Turkey Meatballs image edited using Snapseed

But with a few Snapseed edits, it pops.

For the past four years at FNCE, the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I’ve worked with Regan Jones, RDN and Janet Helm, MS, RDN on teaching fellow registered dietitians how to improve their food photography. In Part 1 of my post-FNCE Smart Phone Food Photography series, I shared tips from the workshop for taking better smart phone photos by focusing on lighting, props, and composition.

Snapseed App for editing images


In this post, I’ll tell you how I edit my food photos on my phone using Snapseed.

Trail mix image taken in poor lighting. Not edited.

Calling this trail mix photo “drab” would be an understatement!

It’s downright “dreadful.”

This image, taken at the convention center during our workshop, is horrible. I think we can all agree on that. The artificial lighting in the room posed an enormous challenge.

Trail mix image / before & after using Snapseed app

But thanks to Snapseed, I improved the image dramatically.

Let me tell you how …

Trail mix

Once you download Snapseed, it’s time to get creative.

– To edit an image, hit the + sign in the upper left corner of the app, and then select the image you want to edit from your Photo Library.

– Once your image is loaded, you can do a number of cool things. Along the bottom of the app, you’ll notice about a dozen little boxes that you can scroll through.

– For this image, I started by straightening and cropping. From there, I tapped on the Tune Image option. To see the options within the Tune Image box, place your finger over your image and move it up and down; six options will appear: Brightness, Ambiance, Contrast, Saturation, Shadows, and Warmth.

– Let’s start with Warmth. Once you select it, you can then move your finger to the right or the left. Moving to the left reduces warmth while moving to the right warms it up. Since my image was already way too warm (AKA golden), I toned down the warmth considerably. Moving too far to the left, however, can make your image bluish. The key here is to get your whites as white as possible. Next, I typically boost the Brightness (in this case, a lot), and then I often increase the Saturation a bit.

– Another feature I always use is Details, which allows you to boost Structure and Sharpness. This will crisp up your image.

– Select Adjust is something else I use to edit a select area on an image. I won’t get into it here, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out once you start playing with the app!

Hornstra Dairy Farm photo using Snapseed app HDR Scape feature

I love this photo, recently taken by your’s truly at Hornstra Dairy Farm. I was able to achieve this very cool “look” by using the HDR Scape option. I also cropped the original image quite a bit and used Brightness and Saturation. HDR is a nice option for scenic shots.

Hornstra Farm

This is what the farm looked like before I edited. It’s a pretty dramatic improvement, don’t you think?

Snapseed also has filter options, but I prefer using Instagram for that.

This may all seem overwhelming, but I promise that once you get the hang of Snapseed, you’ll only spend about a minute editing each image!

Before I sign off, let me show you one more “before” and “after” editing example:

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots #glutenfree

 Here’s a photo of our Quinoa with Almonds and Apricots. I took the shot using Camera+ and then put Snapseed to work cropping, brightening, and adding saturation.

And here’s what it looked like when I was done!

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots #glutenfree

What are your favorite smart phone photography and editing apps? I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Tips for Taking Beautiful Food Photos with Your Smart Phone (Part 1)

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