I’m breaking this up into two posts, because as I’ve been compiling my notes, it’s going to take some ‘splainin. So, you’ve dowloaded vscocam, what now? Two things: take photos and edit photos. Or both. (For help taking better pics in general go back to this post.)
To TAKE PHOTOS your screen will look like this:
Along the top you’ve got your flash on/off, Options, and the front/back camera. (Please note: your front camera in any app is crap. Only use if gun is pointed to your head.) The option button just gives you the option to turn the grid on or off. Use the grid if you need help centering/straightening your shot. The lines don’t show up in the pic. Had to say it. You can slide it on of off. I should probably use the grid more than I do, but I forget it’s there.
Now along the bottom you’ve got two icons. The far left is the file button. It takes you to the vscocam file folder, or camera roll. Call it what you will, but it’s NOT the camera roll for your phone. And that cute little camera in the center is your shutter. Tap tap. Take a picture. (Remember my tip to hold it down and then release, instead of poking it.
When you go into your files, you’ll see the pics you’ve taken with the vscocam app. Let’s call it your vsco photo roll. This is where you will edit and apply filters.
Along the bottom of this screen you’ll see another three options.
The gear on the right is for more settings. I never use it. The middle is our cute camera, which obviously takes us back to the shooting screen/mode. And then far left is the import file. If you took a pic with a different app and you’d like to import and edit it in vscocam, just tap that and it will open up the albums on your phone for you to select the one you want.
Okay, still with me? Now let’s open a photo and see what we can do.
So when you select (tap) a photo, a dark grey menu shows up that looks like this:
Starting from left, you can enlarge to view, the paintbrush opens you to the edit screen with filters and toolkit, the conversation bubble let’s you share your pic to social media, the box and arrow is for saving your file to the phone camera role (it gives you four size options), and obviously the trash can is to delete the photo. While you’re still in your vscocam photo roll, you can select multiple images and the selected ones will brighten up. So you can also move several to the trash, or email, or save to the camera roll in batches.
If you select the microscope option to enlarge, it opens to your photo and you can then scroll between the photos in you vsco photo roll. Once you choose to edit though, you have to click DONE to get back to the vsco photo roll.
Okay, so now you’re ready to edit the photo you’ve chosen. You’re going to see two menus when you’re looking at the image you’ve selected to enlarge from the vsco photo roll:
The darkened landscape icon means you’ve found the good stuff. This is your filter menu. You’ve seen filters before in different apps, like instagram, you’re just used to calling them amaro, earlybird, valencia, cross-process, etc. VSCO cam just uses numbers. Like all filters, they each do something a bit different when applied to your photo. The first 3 (not shown here) are b&w. Don’t worry, they are displayed in b&w. Had to say it. Just go ahead and push those buttons to get a feel for the look of the different numbers. As you are playing around, you can always press RESET, to go back to your original photo. Even after you’re done editing, you can open it again 2 days later and press RESET and get back to where you started. So, it’s important to save to your camera photo roll if you want to keep a certain edit, and it’s important not to hit RESET on accident, cause it wipes out everything you’ve done. This is the voice of experience talking to you. UNDO does just what you’re used to – it undoes the last thing you did.
Depending on the photo and your exposure, you may not find a filter that works, and that’s when it is time to bust out the toolkit. See the wrench and screwdriver? They are now your friends. When you open the toolkit, you get the following menu:
You’ll see the first five, and then if you swipe left, you can get to others. Fade is obvious. It fades your photo. When you select each tool it will give you numbered increments that you can use to increase this effect (and in other tools, decrease). The little dot icon is for Grain. I never use this one, but knock yourself out. I think phone photos have plenty of grain on their own. The half dark/light circle is your contrast. The next lovely icon is an THERMOMETER. No matter what it may look like, that’s what it is. It controls the warmth (or the yellow/blue) in your photo. I tend to think of it as white balance (more on this in next post). The next circle with the horizontal lines is fill light. FILL. Make sense now? Fill light will lighten up your shadows. Next is our little sun, and that’s your exposure. You can use that to increase or decrease the light in your pic. It’s a tricky bugger. Next is vignette. The oval in the rectangle thingy – it darkens the corners of your photo for that dramatic effect. Perfect if you like your pics to look like you took them all in the 90s. Next you’ve got your gradient rectangle. That’s saturation. That’s going to increase the power of the color – saturate it or desaturate it. To the right of that is your bars. It’s not a cell signal. It’s your highlights. Highlights are difficult to explain, but try messing with this if you’ve got some blown out areas in you pic. And last, is the crop icon. You could crop it to go right into instagram, but since I use the 4:3 and squareready, I rarely use this one.
When you finally get the pic how you want it, just tap DONE and it saves it to the vscocam photo roll. Then you can do with it what you will – send to FB or save to your camera photo roll, etc.
I’m going to say this in this post and again when I talk more about editing specifics, use your toolkit before you apply filters. I’ve found after many, many experiments that it gets better results. So, tweak your photo with the tools and then apply your filter, got it? But that’s it for now. In the next post I’ll talk more about the differences between the filters and how to use the toolkit to your advantage.
That was really long. And if you actually read it, I might have to give you a prize.