Instagram filters can be the bane of a photographer’s existence, but sometimes, it can just be fun to experiment with filters to get the end result. Today, I’m going to show an experiment I tried with layering filters. I’ve used two iPhone applications to create the image: the social networking app Instagram and photo editing app InstaCollage Pro (I’m using the free edition here for a demonstration of what you can achieve).
First, I’m going to start with this quick picture I snapped:
I’m going to be concentrating on some of the cloud formations to create a more dramatic look. First, I’m going to open the photo using InstaCollage Pro and I’m going to crop the photo.
Since I’m here, I’m also going to apply a Sharpen filter quickly on the image.
At this point, I have the image I want with a degree of sharpness to make it easy to work with for future filters. Now I’m going to apply InstaCollage Pro’s ‘Pink’ filter to jump up the color and make it more dynamic.
Now we’re talking! I’m going to overlay this image again with the ‘Haze’ filter to make the tones a bit richer and more vibrant.
We’re not quite there yet. Let’s add that filter one more time.
Ooh, now it kind of looks like the sky is on fire, or we’re looking across a strange ocean with mountains in the background. Let’s add one last filter with InstaCollage Pro before we move over to Instagram. This one’s going to be the ‘Polaroid’ filter.
Okay, now I’m going to bring the photo over to Instagram, and start using the additional editing tools that Instagram offers. First, let’s drop the brightness a little bit. This is going to help some of the other filters and adjustments’ changes be easier to see; if it’s too bright, it’s hard to see what you’re doing.
Alright. Let’s knock down the warmth a little bit, as well. After all, this is a picture of a sunset, not a bonfire!
The next few steps deal with what is similar to Photoshop’s Levels tool; we’re going to make modifications to the highlights and shadows in the image.
You can see that the lightest areas in the photo (in this case, the yellow in the clouds, and a bit of the purple sky in the bottom right) are brightened up and a bit more vibrant. Our next step is to darken the shadows, which you’ll see most in the top left, and around the clouds in the centre of the image.
Now I’m going to sharpen the image again. The reason why I’m choosing to sharpen the image is to make the clouds in the centre of the image more identifiable. Rather than only making a small change like I’ve done in previous steps, I’m going to sharpen the image a bit more.
When you look at the image, you can see a lot of vertical lines occurring throughout the image. This is sometimes called artifacts, and it’s the result of so many filters and adjustments being applied to the same low-resolution image that was taken on a cell phone.
My next step is going to be to try and hide some of these vertical lines using Instagram’s linear tilt shift. I’m also going to zoom in and crop the image again, just to help eliminate some of the vertical lines that won’t cooperate with me.
It helps, but it’s not enough. Let’s do it one more time (with another small zoom and crop, as well).
Alright! We’re blurred enough that it doesn’t seem like there’s hideous lines going through the image again. I don’t want to blur it one more time using the linear tilt shift, in case we start losing some of that fancy cloud detail. In fact, let’s try lightening the shadows to help hide some of those artifacts.
I’m finding those highlights a little bright now. It’s distracting me from the clouds. So, let’s darken up the highlights just a little bit.
The whole image seems really pink and purple, so I’m going to use Instagram’s saturation tool to desaturate the colours a bit. It’s not quite like just lightening or darkening an image, but simply fading the depth of the colours to be less intense.
Well, now it looks kind of boring! Let’s make the whole thing look a little warmer, while still not being as bright, by using the warmth adjustment again. This time, we’ll increase it by about 20%.
Increasing the warmth made some of the detail get lost, so we’ll decrease the brightness to show more detail.
Okay, final step! As if we haven’t done enough sinful things by using 19 different filters and adjustments on this image, let’s twist the knife a little deeper. We’re going to use the contrast adjustment.