How I Edit My Pictures

Guys!! I am SO sorry it’s taken me this long to put up this blog post! I wanted to make sure that I cover everything and go through all the details needed to clear up all your questions! I’ve been receiving so many questions on how I edit my pictures, and I only want this post to be helpful to you guys, so bear with me – we have quite a bit to get through!

A little *disclaimer* before I start – I wanted to highlight that the editing technique I use work specifically for my pictures only, and that I do not sell presets, so please take anything I say in this post with a grain of salt! I cannot guarantee that your photos will look exactly like mine, but that’s the beauty of editing! πŸ™‚ No two pictures look the same, and this post gives you the chance to experiment with different editing tools and lets you find your own style πŸ™‚

Also, just in case you guys are only here to know the apps & filters I use to edit my pictures, here they are:

  • VSCOA6 filter on FULL
  • Lightroom – mostly tweak highlights and shadows, play around with the color mixer (usually the red, orange and yellow) as well as temperature. Then enhance clarity and sharpen the image
  • Pixlrbrighten brush and darken brush to adjust pictures
  • Retouch – Blemish brush to remove tiny flaws in pictures (eg. spots, stains, etc)

Now, onto the full tutorial!


Here is a snapshot of what my feed looks like at the moment:

As you can see, most of my pictures have a mix of orange, brown and yellow tones. These colors are what help achieve my warm and cozy aesthetic, and I try my best to include as little blue and purple in my photos.

The apps I use to edit my photos are VSCO, Lightroom, Pixlr and Retouch. I use VSCO and Lightroom EVERY TIME I edit, whereas Pixlr and Retouch are mostly used to edit out minor details in pictures. All apps are free except for Retouch, however each app does have its own pro version (which of course you need to pay for). VSCO‘s free version does not include the filter that I use for my pictures (which is A6), but I think VSCO’s yearly membership is absolutely worth it for all the filters and additional tools you get. If you’re new to editing, VSCO is a great app to start with! If you don’t want to spend on a yearly membership (which is $28.99 AUD), you can opt for a monthly membership (which is $6.99 AUD) and even start a 7-day trial before making any commitments. πŸ™‚

Lightroom on the other hand does ALL of the magical editing :’) and I would HIGHLY recommend getting the paid version of Lightroom (which is about $14.99 AUD a month). Paying $14.99 AUD a month is not cheap, but if you’re serious about building up your Instagram, Lightroom is the best investment you can make to doing that. I use the free version of Pixlr because I only use very specific features on the app, and you’ll see which ones later in this post! As for Retouch, you pay $2.99 AUD for the app and it’s yours for good. I use Retouch quite a bit, so the price is definitely worth it for me!

Okay okay, that’s all I have to say for the apps! Now I will be sharing three different scenarios in which I take and edit my pictures. Each tutorial will be based on the pictures that you would normally see on my feed (white sheets, tables, cafes).

Examples

Here is the raw/unedited picture. I took this picture by a table that had a window with natural lighting pouring in, but it’s still a little “cold” and dark.

Before I go into Lightroom, I always, always upload my pictures to VSCO and use the A6 filter. Here is how it looks once I’ve applied it. It has a sort of ‘bloom’ effect where everything looks much cleaner and softer.

And here’s the final product! See how there’s more yellow and brown and a less blueish tinge?

Following the same formula, here are a few more examples:

Raw/unedited

A6 filter

A6 filter + Lightroom

Raw/unedited

A6 filter

A6 filter + Lightroom

Raw/unedited

A6 filter

A6 filter + Lightroom

Most of my pictures are, as you may have noticed, taken indoors. I have this sort of woody, warm orange-y tone that I would like to think depicts a cozy theme πŸ™‚ Naturally, to achieve any theme, you should start with a raw picture that has its base color (eg. neutral tones = beige/brown/white, soft tones = pastel colors, etc). Almost all my pictures have a splash of orange, yellow, red and brown, and you will recognise a pattern in the way I edit my pictures in Lightroom (eg. my most used tools, different enhancements, color balances, etc).

PICTURE EDIT #1 – Indoor White Sheet

Before

After

<——————- Editing Process ——————->

Unedited picture

  • Raw/unedited
  • Shot in natural lighting (next to a large window)
  • Tones present: Brown, yellow

Here’s an example of an unedited flatlay that I recently posted on my feed. This picture was shot on an Iphone 6.

VSCO filter applied

  • Warmer tones
  • Brown and yellow color generally stands out more!

I uploaded the unedited picture onto the app VSCO and used the A6 filter at its highest level. You can see that the picture is much brighter and the colors look more enhanced.

Lightroom edits

  • Darker & clearer journal pages
  • More pronounced yellow & brown tones
  • Has a more “cozy” look
  • Sharper image

I imported the picture from VSCO onto Lightroom, which is where things get complicated (and fun!!). Basically I wanted to make sure that the brown and yellow matches the tone of my feed (which takes a bit of trial and error). You may also notice that one post-it looks a little brighter than the other, which I will try to fix after this step! But first, I have a little video tutorial on the whole Lightroom editing process to show to you guys, which will hopefully make it easier for you to see how each tool can be used to enhance a picture.

Using Lightroom (Video)

For anyone of you who has not used Lightroom before, this can look quite complicated. My number one tip is to obviously try it out for yourself if you can and play around with the tools and features of Lightroom πŸ™‚ As I mentioned, it is a paid app and, yes, it is a little pricey, but personally Lightroom is worth every penny for its versatility and performance. I can always rely on it and I cannot see myself using any other app to edit my photos to “perfection” apart from Lightroom! It’s available on mobile & on your desktop so it syncs and makes your lives so much easier when editing!

I always get asked if I use/sell presets, and the answer is yes, I do make my own presets, but no, I do not sell them. The presets I use would most probably only work on my photos only, and I do not want to sell something to someone if there is a chance that it may not work the same way for them. I probably have more than 20 presets saved in Lightroom, however it can still take me up to an hour to edit a picture because even with the use of presets, a picture still requires numerous tweaks in order to look the way I want it to look AND match the feed of my page. But sometimes these presets do work wonders, and using the right one can save you SO much time. πŸ™‚ I just need to get a hang of it and maybe then I can share my presets with you guys!

Lightroom Formula

If the video is a little hard to follow, here’s a screenshot of each Lightroom tool I used and how much of it I applied in the edit.

Often my pictures are way too overexposed after the A6 filter is applied, so I like to reduce the highlights and whites. Shadows brightens a picture and reduces any dark patches that may be present (eg. shadows of objects). This command, along with Blacks, reduces the contrast of an image while enhancing the colors of the picture.

Here I’m applying Temp to add just the tiniest bit of orange-yellow tinge to the picture to make it look warmer!

The color mixer is probably my worst enemy and my best friend. I rely on this tool SO much because I have to constantly adjust my ‘base’ colors to match my feed. I often play around with the red, orange and yellow colors, and I almost always set the red hue to a really high level. This makes any red color in a picture look more orange. luminance brightens any red in a picture and saturation intensifies the color.

There was minimal red in the image to start with, so I went ahead and adjusted the brown tones in the picture so it looked brighter and more orange.

Yellow is just as important for me because I also have a lot of white in my pictures. I always try to decrease the yellow tinge in my journal pages, white sheets, book pages, walls, etc to create a much more minimal look. Low yellow saturation levels also balances the warm tones in my picture, especially since I already applied a little bit of Temp in my picture. I often go back and forth between Temp and this yellow color mixer πŸ™‚

Dealing with white sheets mean lots of light glares, so I try to adjust any intense lighting by toning down the blues in my pictures. To do this, I reduce its saturation to give it a more grey color (rather than a jarring white).

Lastly, clarity and sharpening. I ALWAYS use this effect in all my pictures. Always. It just enhances the overall quality and brings out the texture in an image. Sharpening does the same, but it isn’t as intense as clarity.

Additional tweaking

  • Journal pages and post-its now have the same brightness level
  • Balanced color coordination and lighting
  • Completes the picture

You can see now that both journal pages have (roughly) the same brightness, and that is all thanks to the app Pixlr! I use Pixlr for their “brighten” and “darken” brushes, which is a similar tool to Lightroom’s “selective” tool, but is much simpler to use! Having the same color tones really help complete the picture and makes it look more put together.

Using Pixlr (Video)

Here is a quick video tutorial on how I use the brushes! I love how you can change the intensity of each brush, and it’s super easy to use too!

I’m hoping this first picture editing example is detailed enough! :’) My next couple of picture editing examples tutorials will be much shorter because I don’t want to repeat myself too much (unless I have an app/tip to mention). So let’s just jump in to my next example!


PICTURE EDIT #2 – Indoor Table Setting

Before

After

<——————- Editing Process ——————->

Unedited picture

  • Raw/unedited
  • Shot with natural lighting
  • Tiny flaws (e.g. dust on my table, typewriter looks a little slanted)

VSCO filter applied

  • Lighter tones
  • Green-yellowish tint

Lightroom edits

  • Much darker tones
  • More contrast
  • Brown/orange filter

Using Lightroom (Video)

Lightroom Formula

This is a new one! Rotate is exactly what it sounds like. It rotates an image so the objects in it will all look aligned. The typewriter in the original picture looked just the TINIEST bit slanted, so all I did was rotate the picture to fix it up!

Additional tweaking

  • Dusts are all gone!!

Here is where Retouch comes into the picture! Retouch is an app that allows you to remove objects in your photos, and though I’m not too good at using the app yet, it helps if you want to eliminate little things in your photos such as marks and stains! Below is a short video on how I use the app.

Using Retouch (Video)


PICTURE EDIT #3 – Cafe Shot

Before

After

<——————- Editing Process ——————->

Unedited picture

  • Raw/unedited
  • Tones are too ‘warm’

VSCO filter applied

  • ‘Bloom’ effect
  • Reddish tones
  • Journal pages are too bright & warm

Lightroom edits

  • Rustic tones are more present
  • Less ‘warm’
  • Journal pages look more white than yellow

Using Lightroom (Video)

Lightroom Formula


Final Word

That pretty much sums up how I edit my pictures! πŸ™‚ It has taken me DAYS to put everything together, but I really hope the wait was worth it and that it cleared up any questions you have on the way I edit. Do keep in mind that angles and lighting vary for every picture you take, so these Lightroom formulas are just meant to be references! Please feel free to tweak these formulas until you get the desired look/theme! There are also so many other ways you can achieve the rusting/brownish/cozy look, and this blog post is just one of them! I will be super happy if my tutorial helped you guys out in some way πŸ™‚

PRO TIP: I also use the app UNUM every time I edit my photos (just to make sure I create the same color consistency throughout all my pictures) and it’s a huge lifesaver! It’s a free app, though I believe it’s only available on IOS :/ You basically get 18 free grids and you can even connect your Instagram account to sync all your photos on there! The grid is moveable for pictures that you upload directly to UNUM, and it’s a great way to plan your feed ahead πŸ™‚

That should be everything! I hope I’m not missing anything.. what a shame it would be, considering it took me almost a month to put this up :/ I’m so sorry guys! Please let me know if you have anymore questions, I will be happy to help! In the meantime, have fun creating and editing! πŸ™‚ And feel free to share some of your own tips and tricks with Lightroom and/or any other apps you recommend!

Until next time,

xx Cath

17 Comments

  1. Anika May

    This is so in-depth I love it! I’m obsessed with your Instagram so it’s really interesting to look at how you edit and the apps you use! I tend to shy away from Lightroom and just use VSCO because Lightroom seems so complicated but it actually looks quite easy to use! Definitely going to give it another go. Great post!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Macey @ Brine and Books

    Thrilled that you’re sharing this with us, thank you! I actually discovered your blog because one of your gorgeous pictures was floating around Pinterest, and I was excited to discover that you’re a fellow blogger, and a book blogger at that :’) Earlier this summer, I caved in and got a VSCO membership, and it was soooo worth it! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ttg1298

    Your Instagram feed is so stunning and inspiring, thank you for sharing how you work your magic! I’ve been playing around with Lightroom for a while now, but didn’t know so much could be done with the color mixer feature! Definitely will be trying out VSCO and the others as well, I learned a lot from this post ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Harshita Kulkarni

    hi. i follow you on Instagram and save all of your pictures always. i love your book photography forget about your editing lets talk about your props. your journals. cups, laptop and pens ah! makes everything look so aesthetic. consider me as your biggest fan. i found your blog from there only and your blogs are lovely. seriously man teach me how to write so better. no kidding. i love to read your writings. i remember reading your how to write journal blog long back. i would to have a decent conversation with you over writings and literature. i am second year bachelors of arts student and next year is my third year where i will opt for English literature as my majors your help will do alot. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cups and Thoughts

      hi there!! thank you so much for taking the time to write this long message ❀ ❀ you made my day ahh! your major sounds sooo cool! i hope you enjoy your third year :')

      Liked by 1 person

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