How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking process. This week, @chrisozer shares his tips for taking + editing aerial shots.

Camera: iPhone 4

Vantage Point: Manhattan Bridge. This bridge is just east of the Brooklyn Bridge but offers much clearer views of the city. There are pedestrian paths on both sides (though technically one side is for bikes only, so don’t get runover) that are great to shoot from. The only trick is the chainlink fence, which you either have to shoot through, or stick your hand underneath and around and risk dropping your phone.

Shooting: Shot in the native camera app. I intentionally underexposed this shot—as I do with a lot of my shots—because if you don’t, the iPhone will blow out portions of the photo, especially the sky, resulting in a loss of definition in elements like the clouds. To underexpose you just tap and hold on a bright area of the frame, which locks the focus and exposure. You’re then free to compose the shot however you want without having to worry about the iPhone shifting to an undesired exposure once you’ve lined it up.

Editing: Snapseed > Camera + > Photoforge 2 > Rise Filter.

  • The first step is to use Snapseed to bring out some of the underexposed areas of the photo. Tune Image—> Ambiance and Drama work great for this. Just be careful not to go overboard with the percentages or you’ll ruin any great tones you had going for you (I’ll use Drama at no more than 10 or 12% and Ambiance at around 50%). Snapseed is also great for straightening, if you weren’t able to get the shot straight during shooting.
  • After Snapseed I used the Camera + Black and White filter at about 50% to desaturate. This particular filter has great tones, so I use it quite a bit.
  • At this point, the photo was still a little dark for my taste so I finished the pre-IG editing by brightening it up a bit using Curves in Photoforge2.
  • In IG, I used the Rise filter, which brightens it even more and has those beautiful tones.