How To: Instagram a Photo
Who knows how to add cool effects to their photos? You will soon, my friend.

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Vintage-looking snapshots are the latest photography craze. You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos styled with Instagram’s colorful effects, and maybe you’d like to try it yourself.

How can you apply Instagram-like effects to your photos without using Instagram? This is one way to do it. (Note: you may need to download the app and register an account to acquire certain filters.)

Since Instagram photos are square, I’m going to crop the image to match that format.

Grab the Crop tool, enter the same number for both width and height, and then drag the tool over the photo to create a square selection. Move the selection around, rotate it, or resize it to fit the composition you want.

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Create a new layer above the one with the photo. Fill it with a solid light pink color (I used #fde6c3 R=253 G=230 B=195). Change the blend mode of the solid color layer to Color Burn.

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Create a new Levels adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels) above the previous ones. Change the shadow output values for the Green and Blue channels to 26 and 88, respectively, and highlight output for Blue to 145. Then set the RGB input levels to 0, 1.43, and 212.

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Add another adjustment layer, this time for Brightness and Contrast (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast). Decrease Brightness by -12 and increase Contrast by 100.

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Add a new Levels adjustment layer on top of the others. Set highlight output value for RGB to 230, 243 for Green, and 225 for Blue. Set mid tone input level for Green to 1.06.

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Create a Curves adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves). Set the coordinates of the points for the Red channel to 255, 235, 0, and 43 and the Blue channel to 255, 240, 0, and 0.

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Finally, add yet another Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Raise Brightness a little, to something around 5, and set Contrast to 30.

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Not everybody likes a border around their pictures. If you do, here is how you can add a quick one.

Create a new blank layer. Grab the Rounded Rectangle tool and set radius to 15 pixels. Holding Shift to constrain proportions, draw a square smaller than the size of the photo. Right click on the path and choose “Make selection.” Inverse the selection and fill it with solid black.

TIP: Depending on the original image, you may want to use slightly different values throughout the editing for better results.

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Here is our photo, before and after editing.

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Instagram is a fun app that comes with many effects for a range of looks and styles. This guide covers just part of the fun you can have with all the original filters, so do some experimenting of your own to create even more Instagram-like photos.

Sample photo by Andreas Krapweiss. Edited in Photoshop CS5.

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
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  1. instagram is so easy though. I love it