Over the past couple of years or so as I've gotten into photography, I've realized that I am not a fan of filters. While they are a means of adjusting the look of a picture quickly, I find that they lack a personal touch. For me, I prefer using apps like the Google+ Photos app because it allows automatic filters but more importantly applying custom levels of various styles. For example, in the pictures above, I applied the full Drama mode and HDR settings to the original picture to fully sharpen it. At the time, if I wanted to apply Drama at 37% and HDR at 74%, I could do that as well. My thought in the whole process is that I am able to personalize how the picture looks, no matter if I want it to look retro, artistic, sharp, etc.
As far as these pictures in particular, the original was taken with the Google Camera app for Android using Lens Blur. I like this particular mode because it automatically blurs the background while focusing on the foreground object. On the flip side, this mode is a bit hard to use (at least for me) because the object that needs to the focus has to remain centered as much as possible for the background blur to work the best. When I get it right, I really like the result. The image comes out pretty good on its own but because it is a standard resolution picture, I find that I need to try to enhance it a bit just to see if can be improved. This brings be around to my first point in that I mess around with image settings to see where it can be improved and how much improvement I can give to the picture. That way, at least I know that I tried and I can say that the original is perfect as is or the "updated" picture is truly better. And in case you're wondering, I go through this process for most of my pictures. There are very few that I will not apply adjustments too only because I don't feel that they need adjustment or adjusting the picture would not improve the picture at all.
In any case, I post my pictures as a slideshow on my YouTube channel. You can also bookmark the playlist to get direct access to all of the videos. I started this in 2014 as a means of showing my taste in pictures for that month and across time as well to see what I was thinking at the time.