Last Updated: January 7, 2014
VSCO Cam is one of my favourite photography apps for iPhone, it offers the ability to shoot directly from within the app, and also offers a whole host of image editing options via a beautifully intuitive interface.
In this VSCO Cam tutorial we’re going to to look at how you can get the best from this application, also remember that VSCO Cam was also recently released on Android, so this article will be relevant to users of both iPhone and Android smartphones.
Shooting with VSCO Cam
I normally shoot with the regular camera app on my iPhone and then import to VSCO Cam to edit, but let’s have a quick look at shooting from directly in the VSCO Cam application.
When you first open the app it is ready to shoot, to focus simply drag the red focus point (shown below) to where you want it, and then press the camera icon at the bottom to take the shot, it’s a simple as that.
There are also a range of tools at the top to aid your shooting further, to access these tap the settings icon in the top left of the screen (shown in the left-hand example below). You will then be presented with the top menu bar shown in the right-hand example.
The first icon is for the flash. There are multiple ways to use the flash, tap through the flash icon to get the option you want, there are four main settings; flash on, flash off, auto flash, or torch flash.
The second icon is for grid-overlays to aid your composition, you can see I’ve activated this in the right-hand example above. There are three main settings for the grid functionality, grid on (shown above), grid off, and also a square grid to help you compose shots with a perfectly square ratio. Please note the square grid option does not actually crop your image, it is only there as a compositional aid.
The third circular icon basically turns the entire screen into a shutter button, meaning you do not have to touch the camera icon at the bottom to take a shot, just click anywhere on the screen and away you go. This is useful in a number of shooting scenarios, at a concert being a good example.
The last icon is to lock the white balance of your chosen subject, here you can simply choose whether this is activated or not, it is set to off by default.
Editing images with VSCO Cam
Whilst the shooting mode is good, my favourite part of VSCO Cam is the excellent presets and image editing tools that are available, so let’s look at how to use those.
Any images you have taken from within this application will automatically be stored in your VSCO Cam library. As I mentioned earlier, I tend to shoot from within other applications, and then import the images into my VSCO library to edit and then share.
If you are in the default shooting mode, to access your library simply touch the image in the bottom right of the screen, you’ll then be presented with the screen shown on the left above.
Simply hit the ‘+’ icon and you’ll be able to import images from your iPhone camera roll (shown in the right-hand example above), just tap the ones you want to select (the selected images will have a border around them), then press the tick icon at the bottom to import.
Once you’re in your library view, choose the image you want to edit, then click the editing icon from the menu (circled in the left-hand example below), you will then be presented with a number of processing presets with which to style your image (shown in the right-hand example below).
I’ve used the ‘C1’ preset for the clock image that I’m working with in this tutorial. There are a number of high-quality colour and black-and-white presets that come free with the app, and further ranges that are available to purchase from within the app.
Once you have a preset selected, you can tap on the preset again in order to control the strength of application, you can see I’ve opted for full strength in the left-hand example below, if you want to reduce the strength, simply drag the slider to the left. Press the ‘tick’ icon in the bottom-right corner to apply the adjustment.
With a preset selected you can then fine-tune the image further via a range of editing tools, to access these, touch the bottom tab as circled in red in the right-hand example above.
From there another menu appears at the bottom, this is the navigation for choosing between presets (the first icon), image editing is the second icon and the one we want here, you can see it highlighted above, press the ‘tick’ icon again to move on.
The other two icons allow you to undo edits that you’ve already made, the first of these two takes you back one step each time you press, and the second removes all adjustments, and takes you immediately back to your original image.
Once the editing suite menu appears at the bottom there are a number of icons, each offering different editing functionality. The first three are all controlled in the same way, just adjust the slider and tap the ‘tick’ icon when you’re done.
The first icon accesses the exposure settings, the second the temperature of the image (shown below), and the third is the contrast.
The final two icons allow you to rotate and crop your image. The rotate tool is very handy for correcting slanted horizons, and the crop tool is pretty self-explanatory, there are a bunch of crop ratios available, simply select one and drag the box to fit your composition.
One last tip when editing your images, if you press and hold on the image whilst editing, it will show you what the original image looked like before any adjustments.
Sharing your images
Once you’ve finished editing your image and are back in your VSCO library, we can now share our image in a number of ways, all your usual options are there, you can share via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and also save the image directly to your iPhone camera roll.
You’ll notice the first sharing option of ‘Grid’, this will only appear once you’ve signed-up for your own VSCO Grid. This is basically a showcase of your own images and is a really cool feature, you also get your own URL (web address) so you can show your work via desktop computers too, here’s a link to my grid to illustrate the point: tomeversley.vsco.co
Once you have your own grid, you can follow other photographers that you like, and if you’re lucky enough, you may have some images selected by VSCO themselves, that will then be featured on the main VSCO Grid.
Hopefully this VSCO Cam tutorial shows what a comprehensive application this is, you can shoot images directly from within the app, apply a whole host of presets and image adjustments, and then share, not only to the usual social networks, but also to your own VSCO Grid.
All of which works flawlessly via the beautifully designed app and accompanying website.
All things considered, I’d say VSCO Cam is a serious contender as the best photography app currently available for iPhone and Android.