How to Improve Your Instagram Photos

By Tracey Dowdy

Who doesn’t appreciate taking a not-so-great-photo to the next level with an Instagram filter? Applying Perpetua, Valencia or Sierra over our photos can take them from “meh” to “marvelous” in a single tap. But there are several tools available in Instagram’s editing feature that can take your pictures even further. Use this guide to up your Instagram game.

Organize and delete filters. Most of us use the same filters over and over and scroll past the ones we dislike. Group the ones you use most often together by selecting a photo to post, then swiping all the way right until you see Manage. Now, drag and drop to rearrange your favorites to the front of the line-up. You can also tap the checkmark on the right to hide filters you never use.

Tap to compare original photo to filtered image. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge whether or not the photo looks better with a filter applied. Comparing the original against the filtered image is as simple as tapping on the filtered image and voila! The original will appear. Just hold your finger in place to see the original, release to see the filter.

Utilize the full suite of tools. Once you’ve chosen your filter, start editing. Instagram offers the following tools below the image: Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Vignette, and Tilt-Shift effect. Depending on the image and the mood you’re going for, you may not use or need the full suite of editing tools, but they’re fun to play with and can make an ordinary photo pop. But don’t forget Lux (the sun icon), the one editing tool above your image. Lux allows you to balance uneven exposure and adds back-lit details in areas that are too dark or too light. To keep track of what edits you’ve applied, Instagram adds a little gray dot below the effect once it’s been applied.

Adjust the intensity of filters. Ever select a filter but decide against it because it’s just too much? You can tone down filters by tapping twice on the thumbnail of the selected image. A sliding scale appears, and you can now adjust the intensity of the effect.

Use more than one filter in an album. For the longest time, I thought albums only allowed you to select a single filter for all the images. Wrong. If you want the same filter applied to all the images, tap to choose a filter below your album, and it will be applied to all of them. If you want to apply filters to individual photos, simply pull up the selected photo and filter away.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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