Tuesday, September 13, 2016

White point selection in Snapseed

I was very excited to see the new white-balance features in Snapseed. I use a low-fidelity set-up for photographing my miniatures: I use a white backdrop, lower my painting lamp, and snap a shot with my mobile phone camera. The color temperature was never quite right, and it got worse with my transition to my Nexus 5X. The default camera on the 5X does not support changing the exposure, which is how I used to get slightly better images on my Nexus 4. I have been using Open Camera to photograph my miniatures since it allows for manual setting of light quality as well as macro focus, but even here, the temperature was often wrong.

Of course, I can always download my images and use Gimp to select a white point, but this makes photographing and sharing process much more cumbersome. Going this way, I would have to download the images, process them in Gimp, export them, and re-upload them to Google Photos—and remove the old ones to eliminate clutter—just so that I can easily share the images here on my blog and over on the Facebook. When I spent hours with my new Nexus 5X looking for solutions, I asked, "Why don't any of these mobile photo editing tools allow white-point selection?!" (Yes, I even went looking for algorithms to see if I could just write my own!)

One of the tools I tried was Snapseed, and I never got around to uninstalling it. I know it updated the other day, and when I opened it, I saw a little "new" marker by a WB button. Hope against hope, could it be? Yes! The new white balance tool allows picking of white points! It required a little poking around to see how to back up the Snapseed images into Google Photos, but now I think I have a good workflow.

Here's an example. I just finished up my two Stalkers from Myth—a GenCon acquisition that I played once and decided deserved a nice paint job. The big, round surfaces of the Stalkers gave me a great opportunity to practice two-brush blending, and I am really happy with the results: I think it's some of the smoothest blends I've ever painted. I took a photo and shared it to Facebook:

They look nice, but the temperature is all wrong, like so many of my photos posted here. This was the impetus to check out the updated Snapseed. One white point later, we get this:

That is much better! I think they still look better in person, but for my cheap-and-easy photography set-up, this is a huge improvement.

Thanks, Snapseed team!

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