Experimenting with Google+’s photo editing features

I have written recently about how I am becoming a big fan of Google+. Now I have found another great reason to use it — its awesome photo editing features.

I am currently thinking about taking up photography more seriously as a hobby. Up until now, I have tended to just take snaps with a relatively basic point-and-shoot camera, and upload all except the very worst photos to my Flickr account. Now I’m interested in getting a bit smarter about the way I go about it.

I’m not yet sure if I want to dive straight in and buy a DSLR camera. So just now I’m simply experimenting with the various options on my existing camera.

Something else I’m trying is more post-processing. Typically, I just do a bit of cropping and create a few autostitches. I have tended to avoid things like filters, because if used badly they can look cliched and tacky.

On the recommendation of some friends, however, I gave to photo editing options in Google+ a go. I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.

The photos I published last week from my trip to the Highlands were all edited using Google+.

Icy lake on the way up Fyrish (original)

The original photograph

Photograph after being edited in Google+

The transformation is quite impressive. So much detail from the tree, difficult to see in the original, becomes clear in the version I published. Being able to tone down the harsh white of the sky, and its reflection in the ice, was another huge improvement.

I will definitely experiment in Google+ with all my future photographs before I upload them.

Moreover, I have become increasingly frustrated with using Flickr. The website’s recent redesign was an opportunity to breathe new life into it. But instead they have transformed it into an ugly, unusable disaster zone.

With photos being such a core part of the Google+ offering, I am now very tempted just to bypass Flickr in future and simply host everything on Google+.

Everything on Google+ happens so easily. If I take a photo on my phone, it is automatically backed up on Google+, ready for me to edit and share if I want to.

Auto-awesome continues to surprise me. I uploaded a photo of my Christmas tree as my new Google+ cover image, and I was surprised to see it automatically creating a ‘twinkle’ animation.

Some auto-awesomes, like the snow one, are a bit tacky. But the more subtle ones are great.

This week, Google+ will automatically create videos for each user containing highlights of their year, based on photos uploaded to Google+.

Google+ is innovating with photos. It’s making photos fun, and it’s making them look great.

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