March 09, 2016

5 Tips For Better Editing In VSCO

Words + Photos : Vincent Carabeo

VSCO first launched with presets for photography editing softwares, such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. In 2012, the VSCO Cam app first appeared as a download in the Apple App store for $0.99. Though widely popular today, mobile editing apps are still fairly new.

Previously, photography was more focused on film and DSLR–and when social media first took off, it wasn’t normal to take a DSLR photo, send it to your phone and then share it on social platforms. Social media is catered more toward instant posting, and apps like Instagram created a demand for instant editing.

If you remember, initially Instagram only gave you the option to only choose one of a few filters offered to apply to your photo. The VSCO Cam app offered a range of presets and editing tools to quickly process your photos and upload to your Instagram feed.

With your mobile device–and with add-on lenses–you’re able to captures stunning photos, edit on your phone and instantly post. It’s made the process much faster, while still obtaining high quality.

In this guide, we’ll focus on 5 tips for using the VSCO app tools to better edit your photos.



Original
Edited in VSCO



Choosing your preset

The first step to editing in VSCO is choosing your preset. There are a variety of different presents in VSCO’s shop page–one of the most popular presets photographers use is the Aesthetic Series (A4-A6). But, the preset totally depends on your style of editing so there isn’t a right or wrong one to choose – it just depends on your style of editing and personal preference.

Most people have one preset that is their ‘go to’ for all of their photos. The reason people do this is to give their photos a consistent look because each filter has their own style. If you’re always using different filters, your feed will not feel cohesive and your editing style will be inconsistent.

Using a preset is a simple way to quickly edit photos that only need slight adjustments.  Once you’ve selected the preset you want to work with, apply it to the photo first. When you are applying a preset, you can use the sliding tool to determine how strong the preset is on your image. Then, use the additional editing tools to make further edits to obtain the final look of your photo.

In the photos above, if you look at the original on the left compared to the edited version on the right, you’ll see that the edits were very subtle. Though the A6 preset was applied, it still holds its natural tones. However, the edit made subtle color shifts, adding more contrast to make the color of the trees look darker. The strength level of the preset can be decreased to lessen the preset’s edits.


Original
Edited



Making a photo warmer

Now that you know what preset you’re choosing to work with, you’ve already applied that to your photo. After you apply a preset, first ask yourself “what additional edits do I want to do?”

In the photo on the left, we decided the image looked too “cool,” even after applying the A6 preset. You’ll notice in the image on the right, that the photo is significantly warmer. This is because we used VSCO’s temperature editing tool to play with the colors. When you’re using this tool, you can shift left to make your photo appear cooler, meaning it contains more blue. You can shift to the right to make your photo appear warmer, meaning it contains more yellow.

Since this photo was taken on a sunny day, shifting the temperature to the right helps to bring out the color of the brown leaves. We also made slight edits using the exposure and contrast tools to make the photo bright, as well as making the colors pop.

Original
Edited



Exposing an image

In this particular image, the photo on the left is under exposed. After applying the A6 preset, the image was still too dark.

As you can tell in the image on the right, we used the VSCO exposure tool to brighten the photo. When you are using the exposure tool, as you shift further to the right, pay close attention to make sure the details are not lost and still appear natural. If you over-exposue the photo, you lose details. If the photo is underexposed, you’re not able to see much because the photo is too dark. You want to find a good balance between being under and over exposed in order to best keep the details in your photo.

In the original photo above, you can barely see the details of the trees, the rocks in the foreground, and the mountains in the background. By exposing the photo, you are able to maintain a balance that brings out those details, as shown in the edited photo on the right.

Original
Edited



Composing an image with the crop tool

Here we focus on the composition of a photo. With the VSCO crop tool, you can easily center your subject. In the image on the left, the subject (the water droplet) is more toward the left of the frame and is not centered. By using VSCO’s crop tool, we repositioned the subject by cropping the photo to tighten the frame.

As you see in the image on the right, the water droplet is now in the center making the composition feel more balanced. Cropping to the center helps to emphasize your subject. We could have cropped this more to the left to make the photo even more dramatic.

As usual, applying the A6 preset helps keep the natural tones. The photo was also a little overexposed, so we shifted to the left to make it a little darker. We added a little contrast as well to make the leaf pop more.

Original
Edited


Leveling a photo

Now that you know how to crop an image, let’s talk about how to straighten it. The key is looking for your horizon line–the point of reference, or guide, for identifying if your image is level.

Use the straighten tool in VSCO to align the image to level your horizon.  If you look closely at the image on the left, you’ll notice the bridge appears slightly tilted. In order to edit this, you need to level out the photo. The straighten tool will allow you to shift the image so you can straighten the bridge out. Now, if you look at the image on the right, it appears to be properly straight.

Everyone has their own style of editing and there are many different apps you can use to obtain your own particular style. It takes a lot of practice to maintain your consistent workflow and apps like VSCO, Priime and Snapseed all enable you to do edits directly on your mobile phone. No app is really better than the other, as it’s totally based on your preference for what feels best for your personal style. We suggest playing around with the different apps to really get a feel for which one is best for your preferred style of editing.




For more VSCO editing tips, head over to see part 2:

’11 VSCO Editing Tips – Part 2′


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