Choosing When to Add a Filter to Photographs

#23 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter. Lightroom presets, how they work and looking at colour overlays.

Sometimes I wonder why so many of us put a filter on our photos before posting online. We scroll through apps like Instagram searching for the best filter without really knowing if other people will like it. A popular Instagram filter might increase engagement. On the other had it might have the effect of making it look the same as everyone else’s picture, and then it doesn’t stand out.

General Editing Tips

The best advice I can offer is to practice small adjustments with all the editing tools that you have to hand, in whatever app you use. An adjustment of just 10% on each slider for brightness, saturation, shadows, or contrast etcetera will make a huge difference – possibly too much. You want to be tweaking – not obliterating – your exposure. Instagram filters can also be added in degrees, and often just a little bit is enough.

Soon, with a bit of practice, you find your personal style and it becomes part of your self-expression. One really positive thing about Instagram seeing people develop as artists. Yes, I mean you! Everyone is capable of artistic expression and Instagram is one very easy channel for practising that.

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter.

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom

If you have access to Photoshop or Lightroom you can also import filters that do the same thing. Of course there is a bigger range of filters in the Adobe software. Also there are plenty of websites that sell plugins for even more. Personally I don’t like the loss of control with these filters, but I have to admit I’ve learned some tricks from them.

Lightroom, if you don’t know it, is photo developing software. In the old days of film, someone in the back room at the local chemists shop would alter exposure and adjust colour and contrast for you when s/he printed your photos. Now we have the slog of doing that ourselves if the image needs it.

In Lightroom there is a vast array of adjustment tools and usually I don’t use half of them. I can see where all the adjustments have been made with these presets (filters). Often creative presets are based on colour overlays.

Threave Castle

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter.This photo of the river crossing at Threave castle stood out for me because the boat seems to appear out of a circle of shimmering brightness in the centre. It’s a pretty scene but not stand-out. As there is really only one thing going for it, it’s an ideal candidate for a filter with a strong effect. This Lightroom preset is a purple overlay with high contrast and strong vignette. It’s called creative split tone 4. It certainly splits opinion, and like marmite some love it and some hate it.

 

Getting The Same Effect in Instagram

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter. Instagram editing adjustments.

I did try to use Instagram to get the same effect with partial success. Here are my settings: Brightness 10%, Contrast 43%, Warmth minus 68%, Saturation 64%, Colour shadows purple 51%, Fade 100%, Shadows minus 37%, Vignette 96%.

Choosing When to Use a Filter

Preset filters are linear, one-dimensional concepts in art. Each filter takes your image firmly in one direction and one direction only. That’s why I think there’s no point using a filter on an image with more complex appeal. What I mean is, if your photo has (for example) lovely light plus great colour and an interesting subject, then probably there’s already too much going on for it to benefit from a filter.

This is no hard and fast rule! It’s not a rule at all really, but an analysis. Who knows what may happen if you experiment? In fact, I’ve broken my “rule” once with great success and I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Read the Judging a Photograph series from the start by clicking here

Photalife

15 Comments

  1. 5th July 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Some gorgeous pics in here! and great tips. I think my photography skills will be my priority next year. I would love to take a course of something like that

  2. 5th July 2017 / 10:09 am

    This was helpful. I edit most photos, and there’s some tips here I’m going to try

  3. 4th July 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I found this really helpful. I’m useless at editing pics x

  4. 3rd July 2017 / 8:54 pm

    I have been reading a lot about filters on Facebook posts recently and had no idea what people were talking about. It appears that I should join Instagram to find out more!

  5. 3rd July 2017 / 6:34 pm

    I haven’t really got to grips with filters but do occasionally use them on instagram to make a picture stand out. I need a better camera!

  6. candice
    3rd July 2017 / 4:51 am

    wow, lots to think about. I usually just flick through Instgram and choose the best option I like, I had not even thought about other choices out there or why I am even changing the photo. I just do it to change it a bit. Food for thought, thank you!!

    • 3rd July 2017 / 12:38 pm

      The more you do it the more you find your own self-expression I think.

  7. 2nd July 2017 / 7:49 pm

    This is very interesting! I don’t use filters at all, apart from very occasionally to change a photo to black and white. I don’t like to see photos which are overly edited, but I can see that a little bit of effort can really enhance and improve them.

    • 3rd July 2017 / 12:39 pm

      There are many different ways to filter a photo to black and white, even! I rarely use filters which look unnatural but I liked this one.

  8. 2nd July 2017 / 11:44 am

    This is so interesting, I rarely use filters, but occasionally they add a depth to a colourless photos

  9. 2nd July 2017 / 9:21 am

    Great advice. I have a few filters that I have yet to use on camera. For editing I am a Snapseed fan at the moment. It’s free and gives loads of options. Thanks for sharing. #MySundayPhoto

    • 3rd July 2017 / 12:41 pm

      The ones in apps are generally easier for you to control than the ones in camera. Thanks for the comment.

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