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!