In part 1 of this series, we learned how to sign up for an Instagram accounts and in part 2 we looked at how to take a photo. Today, we’ll learn all about the many editing options for Instagram. Some of them are brand new. So, even if you are familiar with Instagram, you’ll want to check these out.

Once you have taken or selected your photo, cropped it and finalized your choice, it’s time to start editing. Now you don’t have to apply filters or effects. You can skip straight to the posting. But the editing tools are a fun way to express yourself or perk up a less than perfect picture.

Let’s start with this photo I took in the park. It’s already been cropped and finalized. Down at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see icons for different photo editing options.

Tapping the icon that looks like a magic wand will give you some ready-made special effects also called filters.

You navigate them by swiping right or left and then tapping on the filter you wish to apply.

The X-Pro II filter, for example makes the colors stronger and darkens the edge for  a vignette effect.

Willow applies a sepia tone. You have 20 of these filters to choose from. Preview them by tapping on them. Tap on Normal to remove the effect.

You can instantly brighten the photo by tapping the little sunshine icon next to the magic wand icon. This applies a filter called Lux, which can be a great, quick shortcut to add a little life to photos. One feature of the recent Instagram update is that you can use a slider bar to adjust the strength of the filter. Tap the handle and move your finger to turn it up or down. Lux is probably my favorite filter.

New to Instagram with the most recent update is the ability to really fine-tune the photos in addition to the ready-made filters. These adjustments are similar to the ones in the excellent photo app Snapseed that I told you about. Not quite as many options, but also probably a little less complicated to manage for new users. Tap the icon that looks like a wrench.


 You can start fine-tuning your photos. Swipe to scroll through the adjustment options in the same way you browse the filters. First you’ll see options to straighten crooked photos, amp up the brightness or increase contrast. There are also options to adjust saturation, highlights and shadows.

Just tap the adjustment to apply it. Here I’ve applied saturation to amp up the blue of the sky. I can adjust the intensity of the effect by moving the slider bar and hit the check mark to apply when I am satisfied or hit the x to undo.

Another effect that can have a dramatic impact on photos is tilt shift. Select it and you’ll have the choice of a radial or linear effect.

Here I’ve chose linear. Everything outside the center of the effect will be blurred, making the objects in the center stand out. 

 Here’s the same photo with radial applied. As with other filters, I adjust the position of the effect by moving my finger on the screen.

Here’s my finished photo with the tilt shift and saturation applied. Now I’m ready to share by hitting the arrow button at the upper right of the screen.

This is where you can choose to share the photo with everyone who follows you or just send it as a direct message to one particular person. Tap beside the thumbnail of the photo to bring up a keyboard where you can add a caption for you photo.

You also have to option of tagging friends who use Instagram. Just tap Tag People and you’ll see a list to choose from.

If you have GPS turned on for your device, you can also tap Select a location to show where the photo was taken. The location may pop up automatically or you might need to search for it.

Once you are satisfied, tap the check mark to share and your photo will appear in your feed.

In part 4 of this series, I’ll go over some tips and tricks for using Instagram.

 ~ Cynthia