Instagram filters explained

Instagram is a fun way to share your favourite photos with your friends and family. There are many preset filters available with which to play, so let’s have a look at the best of them and see how they change the look of your photos – as knowing when to use the right filter can help you turn your photo into a work of art.


Do we need to explain this one? The Normal filter is not actually a filter at all, but is handy to refer to if you want to check your ‘filtered’ images against the original.


Lark is an ideal filter for landscapes, as it increases blues and greens whilst de-saturating the red tones in your image. It’s also a good one to experiment with portraits, as it can give your subject a ‘model’ look.


This one is good for making your photos look ‘dusty’, giving them a vintage feel. Consider using this one if you want washed out colour in your photos.



Juno is the ideal ‘people’ filter. It makes your greens a little greener, cools your blues, warms up skin tones and makes your whites glow nicely. Using Reyes is great for selfies and portraits, particularly if you have a green, grassy background.



The Slumber filter adds a yellow tint and lowers the contrast to make images more moody and dreamlike, which is great for landscape and cityscape photos.



Crema decreases the contrast in your photos, which lends a rustic look to your image. It’s great for making your food images look more appealing.



Ludwig is a versatile filter that bumps up the blacks and subtly enhances the colours and highlights in your photo. This filter works well with portraits, selfies and sunsets.



Aden’s pastel tint is a good filter for making your subject’s skin look great, as the low contrast hides any blemishes in skin tones. It also improves any warm tones found in wood, foliage and red bricks, making Aden the ideal ‘autumn’ filter.



Perpetua enhances earthy colours such as the greens and blues found in nature, and it also makes oranges and reds stand out. This filter is good for creating an edgy look for your city scenes and landscapes.



The Amaro filter adds more light to the centre of your photo – and the darker your image, the more you will notice the effect. Try this filter when you want to give your photo a slightly aged look.



Mayfair utilises warm pink tones and subtle vignetting to make any photos taken in the daytime really ‘pop’.



The Rise filter lends a subtle glow to your images and softens the lighting on the subject. It’s a great one to use on your close-up portraits.



Hudson gives your images a cool look – and by cool, I mean cold. This filter tints your images with a slight blueish hue, making it look like you took your photo on a cold day. Use this one on your photos of buildings or city scenes.



Valencia fades your image and gives it a classic 70s film look. I prefer using Valencia when there are lots of blue and orange colours in my photo, because it saturates those colours and makes them look more dramatic.

X-Pro II


X-Pro II makes the colours in your image pop, and it also makes them warmer and more vibrant. This is a great one to use when you have a lot of colour in your photo.



Sierra softens your image and gives it a faded look. It’s best to use this one on nature shots or landscapes, especially if you want to create a calm and soothing vibe to your photos.



Willow is a monochrome filter that injects subtle purple tones into your image. It also creates a light vignette around the edge of your photo. It is beautiful filter to use for portraits, still lifes, landscapes and pics of old buildings.



This is my favourite filter, because you really notice the change in your photos when it’s used correctly. Lo-Fi increases colour saturation and makes the shadows in your image appear stronger. It’s a great all-round filter, good for food shots as well as portraits and street scenes.



Earlybird is another great filter that fades and blurs the image slightly, giving your image a slightly surreal feeling. This is another handy all-round filter that, when used, makes your photos look more ‘arty’.



This filter gives your images metallic appearance, which is great to use if your photo has strong shadows or high contrast.



Inkwell converts your image from colour to straight black and white, which is best to use with a bright image that also has lots of shadows.



This filter works similarly to the Lo-Fi filter, but the colours aren’t as dramatic. The best photos on which to use Hefe are ones that have lots of colour.



By using a slightly pink tint, this filter makes your images look warm and welcoming and is best used if you want to create a nostalgic, warm and fuzzy feeling in your photos.

Have you used Instagram filters before? If so, why not share which is your favourite and why?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.