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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with Rusty, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

Hi friends!

This has been a blog post that’s been sitting in my drafts for a long time. Ever since we got home from Walt Disney World in January I’ve been meaning to get this post out to you, but you know how it goes – life happens, things get put on the backburner, etc. Forgive me? Thank you. :)

So today I’m going to show you how I edit my photos on my phone. It is still amazing to me how well my phone takes photos so instead of reaching for my big camera, even on trips, I’m happy to just use my phone. But no matter how well of a photo I take, I still want to be able to edit it, even just a tiny bit.

If you remember, I wrote this post awhile back about how to take proper photos using your phone. I talked about exposure, composition and lighting – the basics of a decent, frame-worthy photo. (If you want a refresher, go ahead and reread and then come back. :))

At the end of that post, I mentioned how I use VSCO Cam for editing and how easy it was. Yes, it is super easy to use and up until recently I used it on photos I was about to post on Instagram. However, I was always a bit disappointed at its flexibility. To be honest, Instagram’s built-in editor was more versatile than VSCO (in my opinion). The slider on VSCO is very exaggerated, making huge edits with one notch, something I really didn’t like. Plus, one of the main things I use with Instagram’s editor is highlights, something which VSCO was also lacking unless I wanted to simply reduce the highlights, not increase. (Think of highlights as the over-exposed areas in a photo – my editing style has always been about increasing those over-exposed areas, making the photo brighter with more contrast.)

So, I began looking for a new photo editor. I wanted to be able to edit my photos on my phone and then simply upload to Google Drive where I keep them until I download them onto my hard-drive (lots of steps, I know). With VSCO, if I didn’t post the photos onto Instagram, I would upload them to Google Drive unedited, download them onto my laptop, and then edit them into Lightroom. No thanks, too much hustle and bustle.

I decided to download Adobe Lightroom’s app! I use it on my laptop already, why not use its app for my phone?! In the next few photos, I’m showing you exactly how I edit using the Adobe Lightroom App (I have an android if that makes any difference, by the way) with a photo that started off with typical bad lighting and color.

**Before I begin, here’s a disclaimer. You need an Adobe ID (you can get a free one by clicking here) and the program does eat up my phone’s battery quicker than other apps I’ve used. But I find it’s worth it for its simplicity and versatility.**

Here is the main screen when you’re ready to edit your photo. The menu is below with all the icons. Click on any icon to begin editing. I’ll show you which ones I use, starting with Crop.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Here’s the main Crop screen. I don’t do anything except rotate/straighten and crop, but there’s options to flip the photo, mirror it, etc. Once you’re finished, hit the check mark sign in the corner to continue.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Next, I move on to Exposure. I will usually increase my exposure, highlights, and shadows to make it brighter. Don’t go overboard otherwise your photo will begin to look grainy. (Hint: when taking your photo, tap your finger on the object you want to be exposed properly and the camera will auto expose for you, that way you don’t have to edit the lighting too much – I go over that in the previous blog post I mentioned.) I also bump up the contrast a bit – again, that’s just my style of editing. Play around with the sliders and see what you like best. :)

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Still in the Exposure settings, I also bring the blacks down. It gives it an extra boost and contrast, darkening the blacks in the photo.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Next, I work on the coloring. You can see there’s a hint of green in the photo as well as a cooler tone (see above photo). I increased my temperature slightly and to counter the greens I moved the slider to the magenta side. Magenta will always cancel out green, and green will always cancel out magenta (opposite colors on the color wheel). I usually leave Vibrance and Saturation alone, but feel free to increase those a bit – not too much or it will begin to look fake.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

I always sharpen my photos but that might just be a habit formed over the years. If you do want to sharpen your photo, make it a bit crisper, here are the settings I use. Feel free to play with the sliders on here, too. Mine are never exactly these numbers but they’re roughly the same.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Super simple! All we did was fix the lighting with a few sliders, changed the coloring with just 2 sliders, and if wanted, sharpened it a bit! Here’s the before…

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

And here’s the after! It’s a huge difference, isn’t it?! And it only takes a minute once you get used to the controls and what you prefer with your editing style.

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHere’s a few more before and afters, just to show you how big of a difference a few quick edits can make. Other than increasing the saturation on the last photo with the bridge, I used the same sliders in these next few photos. (Befores are on the left. :))

How to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHow to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHow to Edit Phone Photos | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

I hope this was helpful, friends! If nothing else, I hope it showed you that it doesn’t take too much to turn a blah photo into one with a bit more interest. So, go through some of your favorite photos you’re planning on putting in frames and hanging on your wall, find this editing app or something similar and play around with editing! If you don’t use this app, the concepts are the same. Boost the contrast, increase exposure, highlights, and shadows, tweak the temperature, magentas and greens, and sharpen a bit. Simple. :)

If you ever have any questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. :) Happy Tuesday, friend!! xoxo

Hello friends!

I don’t have a lot of time to write today, there’s much to do around here and the weather is so nice I’m not even sure I’ll be able to stay inside all day!

I’ve decided today is the day I’ll be decorating for fall. Doesn’t that sound nice?! Magical, even?! I know. I’m taking full advantage of the beautiful sunshine and cool breeze coming through the windows and putting Gilmore Girls on the TV (the opening credits make me associate that show with fall) and pulling the tubs of autumn decor out from the rickety shelves in the basement up onto the dining room table just like my mom always does. Time to roll up the sleeves, get messy, make mistakes!! (Channeling Ms. Frizzle, too.)

Life’s been floating along as usual over on this side of the screen. Yesterday, Paul worked until past midnight on putting in a new shower door in his basement bathroom. Out with the grimy shower curtain2019 Calendar | Nikki Jean Tran | that floats in the shower with you like a menacing little ghost, and in with the new shiny glass shower door – it looks wonderful. He’s Superman around here. Yesterday, I tried to drill in a new paper towel holder into a piece of furniture in the kitchen – Superman needs to fix it later today.

While Paul’s been at work, here and at the office, I’ve been painting for the 2020 regular calendar (I have a children’s calendar and a non-children’s calendar…the children’s calendar is full of fun facts about the Earth and the regular is filled with quotes and pretty illustrations. Not sure what to call the non-children’s calendar except the Regular Calendar…) and just a few minutes ago I finished the bottom half of June, a California surfing theme. :) I love it. There’s a vintage yellow beetle carrying a surfboard, me and Rusty in full beach attire, and later today I’ll be painting some righteous surfers riding the waves. :) I finished April the other day, springtime in Paris. Romantic? Yes. Who doesn’t want to think of sipping wine and eating macaroons at a sidewalk café in Paris?! (That’s me and Rusty exploring Paris together.)

Besides working and painting, Paul and I had a wonderful few days off together at the end of August. Our good friends were going to come out and visit but unfortunately couldn’t make it – no worries! Paul and I had so much fun just being lazy together, people-watching and sipping drinks at the State Fair, sleeping in and going to bed late, eating all sorts of junk food, getting the shipment of calendars in the mail!!

2019 Calendar | Nikki Jean Tran | didn’t even tell you the calendars came in the mail!! Friends, it was like Christmas morning over here. The boxes arrived (in the rain, of course) and Paul and I went to work right away on our mini assembly line. I got all the information for the pre-orders that came in, Paul wrapped each package, I wrote Thank You notes…it was an entire day of calendar packaging but it was SO. MUCH. FUN!!! The calendars  looked beautiful, so colorful, bright, and shiny. I was so proud. Tiny tears of happiness.

2019 Calendar | Nikki Jean Tran | those of you who already purchased one, you are so incredibly kind and you’re what keeps me going when I have doubts bouncing in my head. I’ve received so many wonderful notes of praise from you all – I save each one, even if it’s a text – and I just can’t thank you enough. You’re the knees to the bees. Hugs from my screen to yours.

If you’d like to see the calendar or purchase, just click the link below (don’t forget the discount CELEBRATE10 at checkout for 10% off!!):

SHOP 2019 Calendar

Let’s see, what else can I tell you??

The garden in the backyard is doing decent enough. The strawberries are taking over more than I thought they would, but I can’t complain. Next year it should provide us with a whole bunch of fruit – we can’t wait. The basil isn’t doing so hot, but to be fair I stopped taking care of things about three weeks ago. I’ve been a bit careless with the garden, which looking back was exactly what I was like the first year at our first home…next year I’m sure I’ll be more attached and checking on them every day as long asGardening | Nikki Jean Tran | those pesky hornets leave my yard alone. There’s a bunch of crabgrass (our mistake) and they like to hide in there…not for me. Give me bees, not hornets, please. However, the roses have a life of their own! My one yellow rosebush is over four feet high! It’s towering over the picket fence! I’m in love! And the little pink roses are still producing buds everyday – couldn’t be more happy with them. I accidentally killed my cilantro. Boooooo. But the chives and lavender are still thriving and soon I’ll be harvesting them. Actually, perhaps I’ll harvest the chives today and give them some time to grow back before winter….

Okay, I’m rambling now. Time to eat some food and drink some coffee and pull out some autumn tubs. Huzzah!! Happy Thursday to you, dear friend! And enjoy this blessed weather!!! :) :) :) xoxoxo

  • MelanieSeptember 11, 2018 - 3:13 pm

    Nikki, I loved catching up on your latest post! I love Gilmore Girls in the Fall too!!!! I haven’t gotten out my Fall Decor yet but probably in the next couple weeks. It *just started feeling Fallish and the weather report predicts rain ALL week long. That might be a bit much :) I look forward to catching up on video chat soon. You and your blog and your creativity is just so CUTE & LOVELY….ReplyCancel

Hello friends.

(Shall we play some relaxing music for this relaxing afternoon? Yes, let’s.)

Rusty and I are sitting on the front porch, a Caribou Cooler within arm’s reach and dozens of chipmunks rustling through the front yard with their cheeks filled with our tree’s falling acorns. I think they’re in Heaven and Rusty is either really enjoying them or really hating them. He’s on guard dog mode it seems, hoping that one day he’ll come face-to-face with those little dollies. (Momma won’t let him – I once tackled him in the mud while wearing PJ’s to save a baby bunny from his wrath. I’m a friend to all the animals in my yard.)

I love this time of year. Can you tell it’s getting near to autumn just by the way the sun hangs in the sky at this time of day (it’s 6pm right now as I write to you)? I can. Or what about how blue the sky looks lately? I always notice how much bluer the sky is in the fall – maybe it’s because of the reds and oranges contrasting the blue? I don’t know, but the other day I looked up and felt a thrill knowing how close we are to nesting season.

So, naturally I begin to think about how the summer went. Did I get a lot accomplished? Did I take advantage of the weather? Did I cook summer-ish meals, taking advantage of farmer’s markets? Did I just sit and enjoy life as it went by or did I rush through it? Did I avoid doing things out of fear, like avoiding the beach because of wearing a dreaded swimsuit? Did I watch enough sunsets? Did I take Rusty on enough walks? Did I say ‘yes’ to more adventures with Paul?

Although I’m not completely happy with how I spent my time this summer (I can always use more outdoor time and can always use more ‘not caring what people think’ attitude to enjoy the beach and can always be more spontaneous when Paul asks if I want to go on long bike rides), I’m super happy that my friend Stacie got me out of the house at least once a week to take long, leisurely walks.

Sometimes I get too comfortable in this house. Working from home and painting all day in my PJs puts me in a bit of a rut; although I love my peace and quiet, I do realize I need to get out of my comfort zone every now and then so I don’t permanently stick to the walls of my house. So, almost every week this summer Stacie and I met at different places to enjoy an hour walk. It wasn’t much, but it’s something I’m going to miss as she goes back to school, working in one of the libraries I left at my last job.

Sometimes we went to a busy shopping area to walk, sometimes we walked through woods where we couldn’t hear the nearby traffic, sometimes we walked around a sailboat-filled lake enjoying the bustling city, and sometimes we walked through romantic gardens. (I like to tell her she takes me on more romantic dates than Paul does. :))

On our walks we chatted about the cares of life, dreams getting accomplished, family outings, daily life adventures (like when Stacie wasn’t being careful and took a scissors to her poor fingers), and more. It was only an hour or so a week, but it was a moment in the week I most looked forward to. It was calming, refreshing, it got me to talk to real people (Rusty isn’t a person, no matter how I argue it in my head), and it pushed me to go to places I’ve never been before. It was always an adventure, even if the walks took us just down the road from our houses.

Now that school is starting and Stacie is becoming more limited with her time, I’m hoping I can still do the walks on my own without her. She was my motivation – now I only have to answer to myself and to be honest, I’m a bad influence on myself. :) Perhaps it will have to be something that is on my actual schedule, blocked out once a week on one of my days at new locations and Rusty can be my new walking buddy. (He’d like that, I’m sure.)

As autumn creeps nearer, I hope you’re enjoying the preparation of it all, enjoying the last pieces of summer (hello State Fair!!), and I hope there are tiny bits of your week that bring you joy like my walks brought me. Cheers, friends!! :)