My Go-To Photo Editing Apps by Yulia Denisyuk

Must-have apps for digital photo editing

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.” - Man Ray

I hear the question "What do you use to edit your photos?" quite often and I've decided to lift the curtain and reveal some of my secrets. While I firmly agree with Man Ray that the editing style is not as important as the photographer's vision, some of the techniques I am about to share with you can give your photos more polish and higher quality look. 

During my initial forays into digital photography, I was a complete novice. I shot on AUTO mode, saved my images in the JPG format and did not use any editing apps or techniques. Over the years, I've become more comfortable with shooting in full manual mode and switching to RAW image format. Following these steps ensures I have full control over how I shoot my images and what I can get out of the digital file, but it also means I have to further edit my photos (as RAW camera images are often duller than JPG when taken straight from the camera).

The steps below describe my usual workflow from desktop to mobile. As always, I'd love to hear from you in the comments on what I might have missed or what other suggestions you have for me!

1. Adobe Lightroom

The first app I use on my RAW image files straight out of the camera is Adobe Lightroom. Here (usually on desktop, although the app is available for mobile as well) I make basic adjustments of alignment, exposure, shadows, temperature, highlights and so on. I try not to over-process the images, but rather pull out the best details and light possible from each.


2. Adobe Photoshop

The next app I use on my now corrected images is Adobe Photoshop CC. I also use it mainly on desktop, although occasionally I open the Photoshop Express mobile app. The adjustments I do here are mainly esthetic: I add matte finish, remove unnecessary objects and the like. Once again, I try not to overdo it and choose the natural look over the highly processed one.


3. Priime

Now my images are ready for mobile. The Priime app is my favorite app from this list, because it gives my images a certain polished finish. The app filters were developed by the likes of Pete Halvorsen and Pei Ketron (if you are into Instagram then you might have heard these names before) and the selection is top notch.

I have a few favorite filters that I use again and again. Lately, I've been enjoying Apollo and Alpine, but there are several that I use on a regular basis. Once again, I use these filters lightly (there is a sliding scale for intensity to adjust the strength) to ensure my images don't look over processed.

Most of the times, this is where my image editing flow stops and I am now ready to share my work with the world :)


4. Additional Apps

On rare occasions that Lightroom, Photoshop, and Priime are not enough, I also use LensLightSKRWT, and Snapseed (all on mobile) to add any final adjustments.

LensLight app amplifies the image's light sources and lets you select from a wide range of light visual effects (although I stick with a few that look the most realistic).

SKRWT app is a blessing for someone with a minor obsession to keep their images straight, although I don't use it as often now that Instagram app has improved its straightening tools.  

Snapseed is a complete photo editor that can serve as a competent substitute for the Lightroom and Photoshop desktop apps. I don't use it as often now but if you're a mobile only photography enthusiast it may be quite helpful.

And that is all! Let me know in the comments if there is another app I should check out or add to my flow. Happy editing!


Ten Instagrammers that Inspire Me Every Day by Yulia Denisyuk

These creators are killing it in the social media game.

Instagram is my favorite social network for three simple reasons. It pushes me to be creative every day, it allows me to connect to like-minded individuals from across our globe, and it provides a source of endless inspiration in the realm of visual - and written word - creativity. 

I especially cherish the opportunity to be inspired by this amazing wealth of creativity coming from Instagram. Be it photographers, graphic designers, artists, consultants, or marketers, this list below contains some of my favorite Instagrammers who inspire me to be more creative every day.  

1. Brandon Woelfel @brandonwoelfel

Brandon creates dreamy portraits that are always full of light, magic, and bokeh. I can look at his work for a long time, and each shot, while unique, is incredibly consistent. Follow Brandon here: @brandonwoelfel.

2. Aigul Vishnya @vi66nya

Russian Instagram scene is becoming stronger each year. There are so many wonderful creators in the country that I won't be able to fit all of them here. Aigul, however, is special for me because she combines wonderful shots of Moscow with her travels from all over the world. Follow Aigul here: @vi66nya

Расскажу о том, что узнала на собственном опыте, и что стоит знать всем, кто собирается в Стамбул. Первое - нас развели. Оказалось, способ известный: чистильщик обуви роняет перед вами щетку, вы поднимаете и отдаёте её, он в благодарность предлагает свои услуги, а потом вам уже неловко не заплатить. Когда Серёжа @sergeysuxov понял, что его решили облапошить в благодарность на его желание помочь, то очень сожалел, что не швырнул эту щетку ногой нафик. 😂 развод ну очень некрасивый, конечно. Второй момент. Мы пользовались такси Uber, потому что знаем его, и сначала я не удивлялась, что другим таксистам это не нравится, везде так. Но здесь это буквально травля,начинают говорить, что Uber в Турции нелегален, стоит упомянуть его в аэропорту, как начинаются недовольные ругань, возня и крики. Я не поверила в нелегальность, уж больно крупная компания, в сети не нашла ничего об этом. Однако! Когда мы уже ехали обратно, водитель попросил нас не говорить в аэропорту, что мы едем на Uber, а сказать, что это трансфер из отеля. Собственно, и работники отеля, провожая нас, проявили недюжинный интерес, выспрашивая, на чем это мы уезжаем. "На такси," - ни о чем ответила я, чтобы они отстали, подумав, что с такой навязчивостью я принципиально и в следующий приезд закажу проверенный Uber. Им какая разница? Такси нас ни разу не подвело, всё на уровне, в общем, пользуйтесь, но называйте его просто такси)

3. Barkin Ozdemir @barkinozdemir

Barkin's images are almost always filled with gorgeous golden light. His shots of Cappadocia and New York are especially enchanting! Follow Barkin here: @barkinozdemir

4. Erol @erol_is

It's all about the details on Erol's feed! His shots are always meticulously arranged and capture tiny moments of wonder in every day life and his travels around the world. Follow Erol here: @erol_is


5. Kristina Makeeva @hobopeeba

Kristina is another great Instagrammer from Russia. Her work is characterized by otherworldly night shots filled with light and pure magic. Follow Kristina here: @hobopeeba

6. Jin Chu-Ferrer @jinchuferrer

Jin (and her insta-husband @vince.ferrer) are hands down my favorite Insta-couple. Jin's work has that wonderful matte quality and her feed is full of delicious snaps from all over the world. Follow Jin here: @jinchuferrer

7. Kristo @somewhereinhelsinki_

Kristo is the king of spiral staircases! His feed is full of wonderful shots of Helsinki and its architecture, and his Stories are always fun and well done. Follow Kristo here: @somewhereinhelsinki_

8. Nanda Hampe @100gramsofsun

Nanda and her husband Bartolomeo travel the world in search of the most beautiful places. While her images are always stunning, it is Nanda's wonderful positive message and outlook on life that brighten my day - every day. Follow Nanda here: @100gramsofsun

9. Sara Melotti @saramelotti_

Sara's work has become my go-to for 'golden hour' inspiration. The light in her photos is soft and almost ethereal. Be it American Southwest or classic Italy, Sara's shots are packed with gorgeous wanderlust feels. Follow Sara here: @saramelotti_

10. Simone Bramante @brahmino

I've followed Simone ever since the beginning of Instagram. He is such a prolific creator, and his work is filled with light, hope, optimism, and playfulness that so befits him. Follow Simone here: @brahmino



Instagram-Worthy Spots in Riga, Latvia by Yulia Denisyuk

Ten locations to visit in Riga, Latvia for a great photo

If you are as active a member on the popular Instagram platform as I am, then you know this: finding Instagram-worthy locations for a great photo is an important part of trip planning. I spend quite a bit of time before each trip to scout possible locations for that one great photo! My primary sources include hunkering down on Google, asking my local friends, as well as mining the app itself. Many great spots, however, are found through the old-fashioned trial and error. 

Here are 10 spots I found to be Instagram-worthy from my recent trip to Riga, Latvia. I have deliberately stuck to the Old Town area, but let me know in the comments if I missed any spots there or in other parts of Riga!

1. House of Blackheads

Location: in the heart of Vecrīga (Riga Old Town), directly in front of the Akmens Bridge that connects the center of Riga with its suburb parts. Bring wide lens to fit in all the gorgeous buildings surrounding the square.

2. Rigas Doms

Location: Riga Old Town, a few blocks north from the House of Blackheads. The Riga Cathedral is the postcard symbol of the city, and the surrounding area is a perfect starting point of exploration of Riga's many tiny streets. This spot is also the most likely location for annual Christmas markets.  

3. Petera Baznica (St. Peter's Church)

Location: Riga Old Town, across the street from the House of Blackheads. The tallest peak in Riga offers the best views of town and the nearby Daugava river, in my opinion. If you visit in winter, come prepared: the air at the top of the 130 meter spire is freezing. If you can, bring telephoto lens for the up-close shots of the city below.  

4. Rozena ielā (street). 

Location: Riga Old Town, just behind Rigas Doms. Come here at dusk for tight shots of the narrow street and bring wide angle lens.

5. Riga Art Nouveau Museum

Location: North of the old town centre, on Alberta iela (street). About one third of buildings in Riga are built in the Art Nouveau style (called Jugendstil), but the Art Nouveau Museum's main draw (for me) was its stunning spiral staircase. Bring wide lens!

6. Akmens Bridge

Location: near Latvia National Library. The motor/pedestrian bridge is a great spot to capture multiple shots of the city. If you're facing north, the Old Town across Daugava river, with Rigas Doms and St. Peter's Church piercing through the cityscape, will be on your right. On the left: the ultra modern building of the Latvia National Library will be sure to delight you. Bring a tripod if possible to capture some long-exposure shots of the ongoing traffic at dusk. 

7. Tirgoņu ielā (street)

Location: Riga Old Town. The main street between the House of Blackheads and St. Peter's Church, Kungu iela, will eventually turn into the smaller Tirgonu iela. This street is one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in the Old Town, perfect for those umbrella jump shots!  

8. Jauniela

Location: Riga Old Town, near Riga Doms. One of the many tiny streets around the cathedral, Jauniela street is sure to get you into medieval spirit. Bring wide angle lens to fit in all the details into frame. 

9. Kaku Nams (The Cat's House)

Location: Riga Old Town, few blocks west of Rigas Doms on 10 Meistaru iela. An iconic building in the old part of Riga has an interesting legend associated with it. The building's owner, a rich and prominent Rigan, was trying to become a member of the venerated Blackheads traders society and they wouldn't take him. To annoy them, he turned the cat statue around so that its behind was directly facing the Blackheads Great Guild building... once they had accepted him into membership he turned the cat statue back around. Passions were running high in the medieval Riga!

10. Trīs brāļi (the Three Brothers)

Location: Riga Old Town, near Riga Castle on Maza Pils iela. The Three Brothers are a building complex of three houses dating back to the late 15th century. Bring wide angle lens for sure as the houses sit in a narrow street. If you do forget your wide angle lens (like I did), worry not - there are several nooks and cranny alleyways nearby to make up for the loss!