Editing Your Knitting Photos for Clarity and Crispness

For today’s post, we’re going to talk about photo editing, which free apps I recommend, and specific ways you can edit your knitting photos to improve your photographs. First things first: when it comes to editing apps, I am a Lightroom loyalist. Lightroom for Mobile is the free, lightweight version of the desktop app, and it’s remarkably powerful. It is, however, a little tricky to learn, so I didn’t start out using Lightroom.


The first photo editing app I used was Snapseed. Snapseed is also a free photo editing app on your phone, and it’s pretty robust. I still use it regularly for quick cropping and rotating. I also love it for the free healing function when I want to, say, erase a wall outlet that’s visible in the middle of the photo and creating a distraction. The Instagram app has some pretty decent native editing tools, too. The brightening and structure tools, though, are great for last-minute tweaks before I post.

Use Rotation and Cropping for Better Framing

It turns out you can also fix a lot of framing problems using the cropping and rotation features in photo editing apps. While I generally think it’s a better idea to get the best photo you can before editing, sometimes, we have to work with what we have.

Adjust Brightness for Clearer Details

There are tricks you can do before snapping your photo to improve the lighting of your picture. If you’ve got a photo that is still just not quite right, photo editing apps can make a big difference. I use the brightening function in Lightroom on pretty much every photo I take. It’s hard to get a photo that is bright enough without washing out the details, so I tend to shoot them dark and then brighten when I’m editing. Try playing around with the brightening function in your app.

Play With Contrast

Controlling the contrast in your photo is it really important way to make sure you don’t lose details as you edit your knitting photos. It’s also a great way to make sure your shadows aren’t too dark and the highlights aren’t too bright. Take a look at the two photos below. The photo on the right has the contrast unchanged, and the photo on the left has the contrast increased. You can see the difference in intensity between each photo. When I first started using Instagram, I used to turn down the contrast on all my photos. Now, I tend to increase it just a little bit. I find that slightly higher contrast helps make the detail in my knits a little clearer.

Increasing Clarity, Detail, and Structure

Different photo apps call this feature by different names. In Snapseed and Instagram, look for the structure function. In Lightroom, though, you’ll want to look for the setting called Effects. When you improve the clarity and structure of a picture, it makes the fibers in the yarn pop so people can actually see the stitches, the halo, the plies, etc.

Use Presets Sparingly

Depending on what the starting image looks like, a preset might not brighten the image enough, or it might brighten it too much. You can’t use presets uncritically. Consider the results -  are they consistent? Cohesive? If not, you’re still going to need to make some manual changes. I’ve created a couple subtle presets that I think might be helpful for those who are getting started with photo editing and need a little boost before they’re ready to fly on their own. On the left: the unedited, original photo. On the right: the Warm Summer preset.

Use Selective Color Enhancement/Reduction to Improve Color Accuracy

This is a function that I think is only available in the Lightroom app, but I use it extensively. I really don’t like the way a lot of greens look after they’ve been brightened and clarified (they’re, uh, aggressively vibrant), so I go in and selectively desaturate them. If the greens are skewing yellow, I also desaturate the yellows in the image.

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