Basic Instagram Editing
“Lighting, Colour, Definition”
Instagram is quickly becoming a standard for displaying photography,
whether it is personal or professional. Everyone seems to be connected through it, and hashtags are displayed everywhere. Businesses advertise through it, girls boast model-like photos, and travel photographers (like myself) try to shine through the multitude of others doing the exact same on their accounts.
In this tutorial, I want to teach basic Instagram editing. The Instagram app has come a long way in the last several years, and what was once a bunch of simple filters has evolved into a full suite of tools to process your images to your liking.
Although I am not a huge fan of filters, I know they serve well in presenting artistic effects, I won’t be discussing them in this article. Instead I am concentrating on the editor, which is key in allowing generic images to shine brightly.
When editing my photos on Instagram (@officialwanderuntillost or #OWUL), I follow a set order of editing procedures that allow me to keep my grid bright, colourful, and consistent. The following is my order of edits:
-HDR or Lux
This is the order that works for me. I have tried editing in different orders, but this is definitely, by far the way that I have adopted as my favorite.
We will start with a photo I took of a chicken at a zoo in British Columbia. This will be our sample that I will use to walk you through the edits.
I believe that the shades of lighting should be the first edit to take place as light is really is the foundation of the photo. Photography is based on light, so this is the most necessary edit to take place and build a foundation for the rest of your Instagram editing.
We start off with a very simple, decently sharp, focused photo with a simple blurred background.
We start by adjusting the “Brightness” or the artificial light we allow to shine into the photo. We raise the value until there are nearly no overly dark spots but no extremely bright spots.
The Highlights edit specifically controls the brightness of the lighter parts of the photo. Because there were some shiny white parts on the beak of the chicken and the head feathers, I lowered the value.
The Shadows edit controls the brightness of the darker parts of the photo. The contrast is fairly low, so we will lower the Shadows to give this chicken a bit more definition.
Contrast separates the Highlights from the Shadows and gives each of them more power. I raised this slightly to give the photo even more definition.
Colour is the second most important aspect of editing as it is the soul and feeling of the photo. Colour can easily change the perspective or mood of anything really!
Warmth is a blue-yellow edit that controls the artificial temperature of the photo. This chicken would look a bit better on a sunny day than a cold day, so I raised the value slightly, bringing out the warmer colors.
Saturation is a big deal in photography. This edit takes the colors that are weaker and makes them more vivid. Because the chicken didn’t appear quite as colourful as I wanted, I raised the Saturation. Be careful when using this feature. Putting too much saturation in a photo can ruin it very quickly!
Definition should be the final details that you edit for a few reasons. First of all, the definition is really the finishing touches of photography. Secondly, you can notice and adjust these values much easier after the previous edits have taken place.
The Structure edit brings out tones and textures in a very creative way and should be applied after all the previous edits. It makes the photo much more detailed and structured.
Sharpness allows edges to be more defined and adds to the overall definition of the photo. Again, too much of a good thing is not good!
Finally, to finish off the photo, I will use the Lux edit, which is sort of an all-in-one, HDR, auto tool. It evens out all the edits you have made so far and adds even more definition to the photo and gives it a well rounded, professional appearance.
Once finished, I have a much finer looking photo than what I started with!
The difference after making simple subtle edits is insane!
We will do one more edit using the levels of edits slightly differently.
This floral photo I took will work perfectly! Notice several differences as we walk though this photo.
We start with a fairly dark, but sharp, well focused photo with a blurred background.
We start by dramatically increasing the brightness, cancelling out any overly dark spots.
The flowers still looked kind of underexposed so I boosted the Highlights a bit on top of raising the brightness.
I lowered the shadows a bit to really give the bright flowers extra “pop”
The photo had a sort of bluish tone, which I changed by turning the Warmth level up!
Now its time to boost that saturation! Notice how it brings out the hot pink and violets in the flowers…
The structure levels very clearly bring out the textures on the petals of the flowers and make the edges very distinct.
I boosted the sharpness level dramatically, and even though it makes the background somewhat grainy, it is worth the sacrifice for the sharp definition it gives to the flowers.
To finish, I give the flowers a small dose of Lux. It clearly adds a nice finish to the final product. The photo still lacks warmth though as you can see from the blue tones.
I turned up the warmth all the way, taking away much of the blue tones without losing saturation.
The before and after makes this look like a completely new photo!
Just like magic!
I hope that this simple walkthrough can help you to make the best of your own photos! If you have any questions or comments on theory, be sure to drop them in the comment section below! Happy Instagram editing!
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