Snapseed is a superb photo-editing tool, with an excellent selection of photographic filters and non-destructive editing tools to help you to develop some really fantastic images. It hadn’t been updated for a while leading to speculation that Google weren’t going to take this app any further, but late last year saw an excellent update meaning that you really need to consider this as your default photo editor.
For people who love their photography, Snapseed is not only fun, its positively addictive. The more you wander around its large range of exposure, colour, masking, and reshaping tools filters and brushes, you can find yourself experimenting with a whole heap of different settings, and perhaps settling on a signature style for your creativity.
The best place to start orienting yourself to this app is in the Tutorials section by clicking the little 3-dot menu in the top right hand corner of the opening screen.
Here’s where you’ll find little videos and tip sheets giving you hints and detailed instructions, and how-to guides. It really is an excellent resource well-worth checking into before you dive into photo-editing. Even if you have used a photo-editing app before, Snapseed might do things a little differently than you’re used to, and there’s probably more available here than you’ve used before.
You use gestures to make edits in Snapseed. For example, in the Tune Image tool tool, swipe up or down to select from brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, highlights, shadows and warmth. Then swipe left or right to increase or decrease the intensity of that effect.
Snapseed uses Stacks (think layers of edits) for you to compile a series of changes on top of each other. But he best thing is that any editing that you do is non-destructive. That means you can adjust or eliminate any edit you change your mind about. Or you can even come back to an image weeks, months or years later (potentially) and change the look according to your needs. For example you can use a black and white filter on your entire image, and in the Stack you can paint back all or part of the colour in a specific area of that image. You also have the ability to save Stacksof edits you've applied to a picture as a "Look," which can then be applied to other photos and shared with other users
Snapseed is slick. Using it on my iPhone 7 plus is a pleasant experience and the app hasn’t frozen or stuttered at all then I’ve used it. The app seems pretty stable - unsurprising given that it is a Google product - and seems to optimise its performance well.
Looking at these images below you can see the sorts of things you can do. You can get an idea of the dramatic difference you can make to images, just using exposure, structure and drama settings. See how much detail is brought into the clouds (some would say too much, but I’ve exaggerated things so you can clearly see the difference). You can also see more detail in the hills in the distance and also the grass in the foreground. There’s so many ways you can get different images based on the same original image capture.
There are curves settings so you can alter the red, green and blue parts of the image, lens blur, black and white, noir, grainy film and other filters as well as many other tools such as the ability to create double exposures and brush tools to treat different parts of your images.
Some things to remember
Snapseed probably isn’t something for the very casual user - you will get the most out of it when you know a little bit about what you are trying to achieve and some idea about how to go about it. It can even be a bit overwhelming for some at times. But if you take the time to get into the tutorials, the learning curve isn’t all that steep and you can get going pretty quickly. As a bonus, there's a lot of people out there already using Snapseed and they've also posted lots of videos on YouTube about how they use it to achieve some wonderful images - there's a lot to learn from them too.
For the photographer on the move, especially if you’re shooting and / or editing on your smartphone, its pretty much as good as you’re going to get out in the marketplace at the moment. And it’s free - so what have you got to lose?
What do you think about Snapseed? Do you think it might be useful for you in your photography? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.