Long before Facebook forked out US$1 billion for Instagram, regular users knew its true value. Take an average photo with your phone, run it through Instagram and voilà -- a photo your friends would swear was taken by a professional. Not that you'd say anything to dispel that theory. After all, you did take the photo, right?
The magic of Instagram is its ability to improve your photo and give it a polished finish, simply by applying an effect. It works in one of two ways. You can take a photo from within the Instagram app or you can use a photo already sitting on your phone. What Instagram does is present you with a ribbon of different effects running along the bottom of your photo. Click each effect to see how your photo would look if you applied one of these. Some effects highlight colour; other effects change lighting or apply borders.
Not sure whether to take your photo on portrait or landscape? It doesn't matter because Instragram only does one kind of photo: square! Once you take your photo, you can upload it to the Instagram web site where others can view it and 'follow' you to receive notifications of your photos. You can also follow them. Note that a low-resolution photo (non-print quality) is uploaded to the site, while a high-resolution (print quality) version is kept only on your phone.
Top 3 must-try features:
- Some effects such as 'Nashville' and 'Lo-fi' place a border around your photo. You can remove this border by pressing the button in the top-left corner that looks like a postage stamp.
- After you've snapped your photo, a sun icon will appear on the screen. This is the Lux effect feature. Pressing it adds vibrancy and brings out more detail in your photos.
- The 'tilt-shift' effect is an ultra-cool feature that focuses on one spot in your photo and slightly blurs everything around it. Look for the raindrop icon running across the top of the screen.
What can I do with my Instagram photos?
Make magnets of your images at www.stickygram.com. Great for the fridge or as gifts. It's a bargain at US$14.99 for nine magnets, with free worldwide delivery included.
Turn a selection of your photos into little books at www.printstagram.com. Choose from the Tinybook (three for $10, 24 photos in each) or the spiral-bound Minibook (two for $20, 50 photos in each).
Create a custom iPhone case covered in your images at www.casetagram.com. Cost is US$34.95, with free worldwide delivery included. You can be sure your case is an original!