Fun With Filters
Do you take pictures on your cell phone? I bet that’s a yes. Your pictures can look even more spectacular and you can share them with your friends by using Instagram, which is a free app that you can use on your smartphone. It’s very popular with young people because of the filters it offers.
Filters are what separate Instagram from your regular cell phone camera. Instead of editing each photo’s brightness and saturation, you can choose pre-made filters that can transform your selfie into a photograph that even James Salzano would be jealous of.
It seems like there are 31 different filter flavors, but Instagram actually only has 19 filters to choose from. It’s easy to slide through and preview what your photo will look like with different filters.
I wanted to illuminate my favorite filters and how they can be used in your epic cell phone photography adventures.
I shot the photo above on my phone in our lobby. Let’s see how it can be transformed by using Instagram filters. Each picture below the text shows what that filter looks like on this image.
Rise: This filter gives your pictures a golden glow like a rising sun (the names of the filters aren’t just coincidental). Its soft light can be great for improving the appearance of skin in close-ups (aka selfies). Goodbye makeup, hello filter!
Valencia: To give images a nice faded quality, this is what you want to use. It washes out some but not all the color by increasing the exposure. It’s great for making photos look more antique-y, bringing out delicate colors, especially for beach pics.
Sierra: If you were daydreaming with your camera, this is what it would look like. It has a cloudy quality that makes it gorgeous for landscapes. You can skip the trip to the spa and just shoot a calming pic with Sierra. Way to go, you!
Earlybird: The earlybird catches the filter. Picture a western cowboy standing in a ghost town and that’s what Earlybird gives you. It has an old-fashioned quality with its red and golden colors. It’s one of the most flattering Instagram filters, according to The Huffington Post. No need to get a tan because it gives your skin an instant bronzer.
Sutro: This one can add a spooky gothic quality to your pictures, making it good for Halloween. It adds smokiness to your images by making the highlights and shadows more dramatic. Purple is my favorite color in the universe, so I love that Sutro increases the purples in a picture.
Inkwell: One of only two black and white filters, Inkwell plays with lights and shadows very artistically. This is my favorite black and white filter (sorry Willow— nothing personal) because of how it brings the attention back to the subject of the photo. That’s what good black and white photography ought to always do.
Walden: No longer will you wonder what Henry David Thoreau’s favorite filter was. This filter gives photos a pleasant light, making it ideal for photographing young children. It increases the pic’s exposure and adds a subtle sense of being washed out. The mellowing effect of this filter can also be used to achieve a romantic glow in outdoor photos.
Hefe: Hefe gives you high saturation and high contrast, which makes for vibrant yet warm photos. It’s great for photos with lots of colors and can be used both indoors and outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to live near mountains, Hefe is your go-to filter (think of it as your new little black dress, but on Instagram.)
Hopefully, you have learned a thing or two about Instagram’s various filters. I leave you with one final potentially mind-blowing challenge: Take a picture of a coffee filter using an Instagram filter.