Is Snapseed Better than Lightroom for Mobile?

November 26th, 2022

I have been using the Lightroom mobile app for a few years now. It comes absolutely free so long as you’re happy to pay a small fortune for one of Adobe’s subscription packages! It does work very well though, and has a number of very powerful features for editing images on a smartphone. The selective masking tools in particular, are very capable. There is a free version of the app, however it doesn’t include some of the best features, such as the healing brush, geometry tools or selective editing tools. It can’t even edit RAW images!

In a recent video I decided to take a look at Snapseed. I took a RAW image captured with my Pixel 4 phone camera, and used both Snapseed and Lightroom mobile to edit it directly on the phone.

Snapseed’s interface is attractive and intuitive to use. Instead of moving sliders around with your finger, you choose your parameter and simply move your finger left and right across your image. It’s a small thing, but saves screen space, allowing you to see more of your image. All of the options you expect are available under the RAW development category; Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Blacks, Whites, etc. In place of Lightroom’s Texture and Clarity sliders, Snapseed has one parameter called Structure. It works in a very similar way, allowing the user to sharpen and define their image, or instead, soften it. I like to use the latter with woodland scenes like the one I demonstrate in the video. I did feel that some of the RAW development tools didn’t seem to have as much effect on my image as they do in Lightroom, but there are many more tools available once RAW development is finished. It’s possible to crop an image, fine tune tone, white balance, detail level and add a vignette, amongst others. There are also more creative tools available, such as vintage, grunge, noir and retrolux effects, which work more like Instagram filters than the more subtle tools I’m used to using in Lightroom. Glamour Glow, I found to be particularly effective in creating a soft, ethereal look in my woodland scene. What I did miss were colour tools, that allow changes to hue, saturation and luminosity for individual colours.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Snapseed and the premium version of the Lightroom app, is the lack of selective editing tools in the former. There is a tool called Selective in Snapseed, with which the user can tap to choose a colour range within the image. The brightness of this selection can then be adjusted. There is also a brush tool that allows techniques such as dodging and burning to be applied to the image with a finger tip. They’re not really comparable to Lightroom’s selective features however, and I find this to be one of the major drawbacks of Snapseed.

Let’s not forget though, that the free version of the Lightroom app doesn’t include selective editing tools either. It does include organisational features and will remember the settings applied to an image, so that it can be opened up and worked on at a later date. But the lack of RAW editing abilities makes it inferior to Snapseed.

Lightroom and the data it saves will use up lots of storage space on your phone. It’s currently using up about 750mb on my Pixel 4. Snapseed is much lighter in comparison (partly because it doesn’t save image data), taking up approximately 55mb.

In conclusion, Snapseed needs to be compared to both versions of Lightroom separately. It has many advantages over the free app, but trails behind some of the features that comes with the high costs of the premium version. If you already have an Adobe subscription, the Lightroom mobile app is a no-brainer, but for everyone else, Snapseed is a great, free alternative that can produce some high quality results.

Is Vero a Good Platform for Photographers?

October 22nd, 2022

It surprised me to learn that Vero was officially released way back in 2015. I must admit, I have only been aware of it in the last year or so. In case you’re also not familiar, it is a social media platform that markets itself as “ad-free & algorithm-free”.

It’s also pleasantly surprising to find that these two things (at the time of writing) appear to be true. The latter means that, unlike competitors, a user’s newsfeed isn’t currated by a set of code instructions. You may not even know it, but when using platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you don’t see everything that is posted by the accounts you follow. Only what the algorithms deem to be relevant is shown to you. They also feature lots of sponsored posts and advertisements which many people find frustrating.

By contrast, Vero shows you all the content posted by those you follow in a chronological feed. If you leave the app and come back to it, you will see the last thing you were looking at, and then be able to start scrolling up, through the new content posted since then. It’s a good to way to ensure you don’t miss anything. The company also boast that you won’t see ads because they “don’t use your personal data to make money”.

Another good thing about the app is how it shows photographic content. Large images can be uploaded and it’s possible to zoom in and easily see the finer detail. This is a marked improvement over Instagram, where enlarged images automatically snap back to their smaller size when the user releases their fingers from the screen. Not being able to upload images directly from a desktop computer was one critisism previously aimed at Vero. This has now, however, been addressed, with dedicated applications for both Mac and Windows.

Overall, Vero seems pretty good, and there’s very little to find fault with. Some people have expressed scepticism about the company’s policy on data protection, believing the policy does not implicitly state that data will not be sold on and that the app could be monetised in the future. The platform is also missing some of the features of its competitors, such as Facebook’s events system or business pages, and the stories feature present on many social media platforms these days. The latter points, however, will probably be of little concern to photographers who just want an environment in which to share their images.

Perhaps the main drawback of Vero is the relatively small user base. To date, I’ve only been able to connect with 8 other people on the platform, so if you would like to help me increase that figure, you can find my own account here:

So in conclusion, I’d say yes! Vero seems like a fairly good platform for photographers. Hopefully the company maintains the best features of the app as the user numbers continue to grow.

The Best Spots to Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge

September 18th, 2022

I’m back from my recent trip to California and my most recent video features a shoot at San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. I got some epic conditions for the shoot, with atmospheric fog blowing infront of the bridge and a glorious sunset lighting it up from behind.

My initial choice of location was from the Fort Point Overlook, listed as “Postcard Viewpoint” on Google Maps. Here’s one I got from that location when scouting for spots.


Free Infrared Lightroom Preset

July 19th, 2022

I’ve been doing a lot of infrared photography recently and it has been great fun. In my most recent video, you can see how I edited my infrared images.

The first stage is all in Lightroom and you can see my step by step process in the video. To make things quicker, I’m also giving away a preset of all the settings for this first stage. Just download the file with the link below.

After that you’ll need to take the file into Photoshop to complete the next stage. All the information is in the video though.

Infrared photography is a perfect genre for the harsh light of the summer months, so get out there and have some fun with it. Remember to stay cool though!

Setting up the Nikon D500 for Bird Photography

June 27th, 2022

The Nikon D500 has long been regarded as one of the best cameras around for bird and wildlife photography. Although it was released all the way back in 2016, it’s still the best Nikon DSLR for this genre of photography.

In my recent video I was at Bempton Cliffs, photographing seabirds such as Gannets, Herring Gulls, Razerbills and Puffins. Along the way I shared all of the settings I use when photographing birds with this camera.

You can watch the video above, and for clarity I’ve also included all of the settings below.