A must-have in the arsenal of any photo fanatic, the photo filter has gone from a novelty to the essential after-treatment for images. Filters come in all sorts of styles and are usually renamed and rehashed for the app they belong to. So here are the top 10 photo filters you should know and be using:
The classic. Sepia takes your photo and gives it an old-school makeover, leaving you with a colour palette of warm browns. Easily applied in photoshop, and replicated in almost every photo editing app available, sepia is perfect for making those scenic shots look more dramatic, for making portraits look a touch more romantic or just giving a slightly cosier touch to an urban image. Sepia can completely transform an image and remains a firm candidate for photo filters of choice.
This Instagram filter actually requires nothing more than a bit of creative fiddling with the brightness and contrast of your image. Applied in Instagram, your photo will enjoy a yellow coloured filter as well, but you can just as easily do this in photoshop or other editing software. The end result is a warm glow that looks especially good on backgrounds that might otherwise be a bit grey and drab.
Another Instagram filter that can be applied in any photo editing suite with the colour level options, Lark adds a cooling tone without making the image appear drab. Ideal for nature shots the Lark filter gives a gorgeous, ethereal feel.
Black and White
Also known as desaturate or grayscale, black and white filters do exactly what they say on the tin, removing the colour from your image to leave it feeling like a classic, antique image. Black and white is especially favoured for urban photography where removal of colour can help enhance the lines and shapes of an image or for event photography like weddings, giving shots a timeless effect.
Who doesn’t love a bit of bokeh? This Japanese invention applies precisely placed blurs on your photos, accessorising it with soft orbs of light. The result is whimsical, delicate and very, very pretty. Especially effective in night time photos and pretty much unrivalled as the filter of choice for adding sparkle and glamour, bokeh comes into its own during the festive season, when a few twinkling orbs can make it look like you’re adorned with fairy lights, fabulous!
A filter in the free online editor Canva, this effect is perfect for, you guessed it, street photography. Running images through a grayscale filter and then giving them a healthy dose of sharpen, this filter will give shots of urban life just the treatment they need to really pop.
An app that specialises in one type of filter, PixelWakker gives your photos a whole new look that goes far beyond a bit of softening, sharpening or colour adjusting. This filter embraces the art of pointillism – AKA dot-art – and can turn even an epic landscape into a collection of dots worthy of any modern art gallery wall.
The inspirational quote, the profile image, the artsy application of key information – it may not be a filter exactly, but a touch of text to any image is a popular choice. Typography is big business and adding some to your image can have a big impact. Editing software like Photoshop will let you add any text you want, in any font you care to download, while mobile apps like Path On make it simple to add text in a way that perfectly matches the shapes of your image.
The Beauty Filter
Every app and phone has their own take on beautifying filters, from softening skin to enhancing eyes. In general terms, or for those who want to replicate this in Photoshop, it essentially means blurring skin to remove imperfections, pores and blemishes, and sharpening the eyes for a flattering look. The most popular version of this filter comes from Facetune where users can whiten their teeth, improve their skin and even slim their waistline!
Alright, this may not technically be a filter, but the ever-popular #nofilter tag has created the new photographer’s philosophy that no filter is, in fact, a type of filter in itself. Edges un-softened, colours unbalanced, sepia nowhere to be seen, ‘no filter’ shows photos in their raw beauty, and that, fellow photographers, we can all agree, is a bravely creative choice.
We’re conducting a reader poll: what’s your favourite filter and why?