Using Instagram Filters To Improve Your Pictures

Instagram filter advice icon

Instagram is a great tool for altering your photographs with minimal effort.

However, a lot of people are not using it to their full advantage, because they don’t know how. People who do not know a lot about the filters tend to have two or three favorites and forget about the rest.

Filters can do a lot for your photos. However, not all of the things they can do are necessarily what you want. Employing filters in the appropriate circumstances means having at least a vague idea of what they do so that you can only try out ones with a good chance of producing a beneficial effect.

Filters That Lighten A Photo

  •     Amaro
  •     Rise (golden glow)
  •     Hudson (icy)
  •     Walden

Filters lighten photos in different ways. Amaro increases light over the entire photo, which can make the image appear harsher. Rise increases light, but with a soft golden glow that adds warmth as well. Hudson makes an icy edge appear on surfaces, and Walden washes things out in a quaint way.

Filters That Add A Tint

  •     Rise (golden)
  •     Earlybird (sepia)
  •     Brannan (metallic)
  •     Walden (yellow)
  •     Nashville (pink)
  •     1977 (red)
  •     Kelvin (reddish yellow)

Tints can be obvious or less extreme. Rise adds a definite golden touch, but the effect is of warmth, not coloration. Similarly, Nashville offers an option to make an image warmer and more romantic without feeling like it adds color. Kelvin produces a very strong reddish-yellow hue, which can look natural on some images, but is strange on others.

Other Filter Effects

  •     Aging (Amaro, Earlybird, Toaster, Valencia, 1977)
  •     Warmth (Rise, Earlybird, Toaster, Nashville, Kelvin)
  •     Icy (Hudson)
  •     Contrast (X-Pro II, Lo-Fi, Brannan, Hefe)
  •     Cloudy/Misty (Sierra)

Many of the filters offer an aging effect of some kind, but they are often different. Amaro washes out the photo like it got too much sun, while Earlybird adds a sepia tint that speaks of old Victorian pictures.

Valencia gives just enough fading without losing color to evoke memories of pictures from the early 20th century.

Two of the filters have particularly unique effects. Hudson, while increasing light in the photo somewhat, also gives the image icy edges that are unique to this filter. Sierra subtly blots the image with a slight cloudiness, which is just enough to add mystery to the photo.

When To Use Certain Filters
Each filter has a type of image that they perform best on. However, art is not about being constrained by other people’s opinions, so experimenting with different filters on any kind of photo is perfectly appropriate.

A few pointers for getting started include:

  •     Rise is forgiving with skin blemishes
  •     Hudson gives architecture especially sleek lines
  •     Lo-fi and Hefe work to turn up the contrast and shadows for strong edges and vibrant colors (Lo-fi is a stronger effect)
  •     Sutro makes images appear sinister
  •     Inkwell turns your color image into black and white

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  1. I wasn’t very familiar with Instagram…well now i am after reading this article. I too believe filters are a great way to enhance the quality of a photograph. Now that Instagram has so many filter options to choose from, i’m definitely getting on with it! 😀

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