Editing with Instagram: A Personal Challenge

This past week my aunt sent me a link to Royal Caribbean UK's contest and it excited me to try something new. Usually when I edit photos for Instagram, I go straight for VSCO, a super fantastic app that has so many filters and levels to play with, I could easily spend hours editing photos. However, the contest, which encourages photographers to shoot images and tag #ExtraordinaryExplorer for a chance to be chosen as their seaworthy intern, states the inquiring individuals should have an "extensive knowledge of Instagram filters." That's when I thought, have I ever actually edited in Instagram, sans those early days when I was way too obsessed with Lo-Fi and Nashville and borders?

I decided to give it a go: editing only in Instagram and going back to my roots. No fancy layers in Photoshop, not lens flares and VSCO film filters. Just me and the photos I had already taken on my camera roll. Now, I should preface, I don't always shoot the most exciting things or during the best light. It's a problem I know I need to fix. So, I realize that my photos won't be the most exciting things in the world, but (but!) I did make a promise to myself that I was going to not stress over these things and that I was instead going to enjoy the fun of photography, no matter the subject or time of day.

I shared in my original post that I was going to put up a basic list of what I did to achieve the final images I got. Now, this is my first "to do" step-by-step so any feedback is totally welcomed! Oh yes, my other part of the challenge was this: only using photos taken with my iPhone 6S. Okay, moving on.

The first image I wanted to edit was one I took while in Venice. I loved (and still do) the small arched bridges connecting street to street over winding canals. Below you'll see the original and final image.

 
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What I did in this case was start with the Ludwig filter. I really like that it sort of monotones the photos by bringing out reds and whites while calming blues. It also creates beautiful contrasts with the buildings. I then blew out the photo so to speak by brightening it and also upped the highlights. I've been trying to find a simple but consistent look to my photos and after playing around with various edits, I think this is going to be my new fave go-to. I then played with the contrast and HDR settings (the sun at the top) until I got the balance I liked. I feel really terrible because I didn't write down the exact numbers while editing but I'll pop them below the best I can remember. 

Edits: Ludwig +80-85 | Brightness +40 | Highlights +20 | Contrast +12 | HDR + 15 | Warmth -12

 
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Edits: Ludwig +91 | Brightness +35 | Highlights +27 | Shadows +2 | Contrast +11 | HDR +20 | Saturation +10 | Warmth +3

 
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This one I didn't edit as strongly as it was a bit dark when I took the photo and I didn't want to distort it too much. Mostly, I wanted to share the store of Claudio and Elena and my weekend in the mountains above Lake Como.

Edits: Ludwig +83 | Brightness +21 | Highlights +13 | Contrast +15 | HDR +5 | Saturation -3 | Warmth -10

 
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This one was not shot in the best of light (at all!) so you can see where I have to learn. I'm still playing with flat lays and figuring them out. I completely recommend you read humphrey & grace's post on how to set up and photography a flat lay. She is my complete inspiration on this subject and many, many others.

Edits: Juno +91 | Brightness +36 | Highlights +21 | Contrast +10 | Warmth -11

 

And that's it! My goal is to work through Instagram only photos for awhile just for fun and then maybe I'll go back to VSCO. Who knows. Now, if I could ask a favor, please feel free to go to my Instagram and like or comment on any of my Royal Caribbean UK posts. The winner gets a three week internship with Royal C to photograph for them. There are dozens and dozens of worthy applicants, but every little bit helps.

Have a gorgeous week! 

Rachael xx