Post-Process Images Like a Pro

iphoneography apps

I have to be honest, because of the spontaneity of lifestyle iPhoneography and wanting to quickly capture a fleeting moment, 40% of my images are not printable and deserve to go in the trash. Either my subject is very dark and underexposed, or very bright, with high contrast and blown out highlights. Another 40% of my images need just a little creative tweaking, and the last 20% could be printed straight from the camera with no post-processing. Many of my favorite and most dynamic images of my children and family would’ve been deleted if it wasn’t for post-processing.

Some of you may be asking, ‘what is post-processing?’ Post-processing, or photo editing, is the creative and technical process of enhancing a photograph after it has been captured or exposed. Many images straight from a filterless camera, whether an iPhone or DSLR, need some sort of creative enhancement, i.e. increased/decreased saturation or contrast, highlight protection or shadow density, vignetting and selective focus/tilt shift, etc. Until just a few years ago, digital post-processing was an expensive and complicated process only achievable in programs like Photoshop. Today, beautiful photography post-processing effects and filters are either free or extremely inexpensive, very easy to comprehend and use, and more importantly, FUN! There are an obscene number of photography apps available, so the following are some of my favorite and how I like to use them.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Google’s Snapseed. Snapseed has many photo editing filters, but it’s their HDR Scape (High Dynamic Range) that I use and love. I’ve bought and tried a handful of HDR filters and cameras and thus far, Snapseed’s HDR Scape is my favorite. It’s super easy to use and looks the most natural. Below is my workflow for the colorful image of the iconic Key West mileage sign.

Photos by Kyra Ames

After I am happy with the HDR results in Snapseed, sometimes I like to make additional adjustments in Instagram. Because the wooden sign was so bright and colorful, I wanted to exaggerate the image more than I usually would. Be sure to save your image before opening in another app, or you’ll lose all your work.

Kyra Ames Post Processing for Instagram

Instagram is more than just social sharing and filters. It has a great ‘tool box’, which is simple but very effective. It saves me a ton of time because the only filter I use is SIERRA. I don’t use it every time, however, I always use it when it is a dark image with people in it. You can control any filter strength by double tapping the filter. I kept the SIERRA filter strength at 100% for the image below, ‘Girl on the River’. I also really like using Instagram’s TILT-SHIFT for selective focus—it’s simple and quick. If you want more control with selective focus, try Snapseed’s CENTER FOCUS or TILT-SHIFT filters.

Sierra Filter on Instagram

In the horse image below, it was so dark, I brightened both the shadows and the overall image brightness. By increasing the highlights, it added contrast to the highlights without adding dark contrast to the shadows that I just lightened.


Because I do so much photo editing in Instagram, I don’t want the corporation or the public to have access to all my work. To get around this, I put my camera in AIRPLANE mode before ‘sharing’. This saves the images to my phone, but doesn’t upload them to Instagram.

Kyra Ames Post Processing Tutoria

Yes, there are a ton of amazing photo apps out there, but I process a lot of photos, so I’d rather be out having fun and taking more pictures than fiddling with dozens of filters and textures. These are just a few ways an image can be edited…eventually everyone has their own favorite apps that work best for them. These tips will help you capture what’s important – the moment, not the lighting.

Follow Kyra on Instagram.


  •' Nickie says:

    Thanks Kyra, Just in time. I’m leaving on a major trip this weekend and I have found I’m using my phone more for photos but have been in need of suggestions of how to save photos.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

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