You can do much more than simply slap a filter on a photo and post it to Instagram. Here are seven ways to improve the look of your photos with Instagram's filters and editing tools.
1. Tap to compare filter to original
Better or worse? Think eye tests where Doc keeps flipping lenses over your face to see if the letters are clearer or blurrier. Like that, quickly compare a filter's effects to your original photo by tapping on the preview. Hold your finger down to see the original; release to see what the filter does to it.
2. Tone down a filter effect
Filters don't have to be all or nothing affairs. If you find a filter you like but find its effect too strong, you can dial it back. With a filter selected, tap its little thumbnail below the preview and you'll be able to use a slider to adjust the intensity of its effect.
3. Rearrange and remove filters
Instagram has 40 filters. I wager you don't use more than 10 or 15 with any regularity. I mean, when was the last time you used Toaster, 1977 or Kelvin? For filters you don't use or don't use regularly, you can hide them or move them to the end of the line so you get to your favorites first. To adjust your lineup of filters, choose a photo to post and then swipe all the way to the right of the filters and tap Manage. Here, you can drag and drop to reorder them or tap the checkmark on the right to hide the ones you don't use or want showing up.
4. Apply filters to individual photos in an album
If you are uploading multiple photos in an Instagram album, tap to choose a filter below your selected photos and it will apply to all of them. If you want to choose a different filter for each photo (and make other edits), you need to tap on each photo to bring up the filters and edit tools for applying to that photo only.
5. Tap for minor edits
After choosing a filter, I like to jump over to the Edit screen and adjust Brightness, Contrast, Highlights and Shadows. Those are the go-to edits, with perhaps the occasional Vignette or Tilt Shift effect. You can drag the slider for any of the edit tools to tweak its effect, but sometimes when you release your finger, the slider moves from the number you had it set to. For finer edits, just tap to the left or right of the circle on the slider -- each tap moves it one number.
6. Keep track of your edits
If you get deep into editing a photo and can't remember which of the editing tools you've already used, there's an easy way to keep track. Instagram puts a gray dot below any edit effect you've applied to your photo.
7. Don't forget the Lux
In addition to Instagram's filters and editing tools, there's another tool you might be overlooking. It's located not in the Filter or Edit sections at the bottom of your phone but above your photo preview. Tap the sun icon to call up a slider for Lux. It can help balance out an uneven exposure, adding back details in areas that are too dark or too light.