Step-by-step Add filters to your photos
1 Find your photographs
In order to use filtering we need an original image. Photos automatically displays your images grouped by collection, but you can switch to Albums or Folders if you prefer. You can also import photos from an external drive, USB drive or microSD card if they’re connected. You can filter anything, but portraits and action shots tend to produce the most interesting results.
2 Get ready to filter
Photos’ interface is very simple and straightforward: there’s no sign of the various palettes, toolbars and inspectors that so many image editors have. Instead there’s just one simple toolbar at the top of the screen with options for sharing, printing, displaying and editing your pictures. The one we want is the Edit tool towards the right of the toolbar, so let’s click it.
3 Try the automatic option
You should now see a number of thumbnails. Let’s look at the top one, ‘Enhance your photo’. The white line near the centre is a slider, and if you drag it backwards and forwards you’ll see your photo change. This adjusts the level of automatic enhancement, which is Photos’ best guess at improving your picture by adjusting brightness and other attributes.
4 Fiddle with the filters
If enhancement doesn’t do what you want, it’s time to use a filter. Scroll through the list of available filters at the right of the screen and click on the one you want to try. Everything here is non-destructive, so you don’t need to worry about overwriting the original image with a filter you don’t want. The slider at the bottom of the image adjusts the intensity of the effect.
5 Adjust the effect
You aren’t limited to the filter’s default settings. If you click on Adjust at the top of the panel you’ll see a selection of sliders that you can use to fine-tune or completely transform the filter. If a label has a jaggy bracket (>) next to it, clicking that uncovers more options – so if you click on the Light label you’ll be given options to adjust exposure and related settings.
6 Add a vignette
In addition to the individual settings for light and colour, you can make other changes in the Adjust panel: you can remove red eye from photos; use spot fix to remove minor blemishes; and you can use the Vignette tool to add a vignette effect as shown here, where the edges of the photo fade out. No changes are saved until you click Save, so you can experiment safely.
7 Try another app
While Photos’ filters are good, other apps have different filters available so it’s a good idea to experiment with a few to find filters you’ll use most often. A popular option is Fhotoroom, which has a selection of free filters and some paid-for ones. The app opens with a selection of other people’s images. To edit your own, click on Open Photo – it’s the box with an arrow in it.
8 Experiment in the app
As you can see, Fhotoroom’s interface is a bit more complex than Photos’, but it’s actually quite straightforward. The bit we’re interested in is the Presets icon at the top right of the screen. This gives us access to the app’s various photo filters. As with Photos, just click on the filter you want to try and you’ll see the results instantly. Changes aren’t saved until you click Save.
9 Adjust the effects
The Exposure tool enables you to adjust the characteristics of your image – increasing the exposure level you can make the image much brighter, for example. You can also change colour saturation, sharpen the image, adjust highlights and shadows and generally mess around to your heart’s content. The trick here is to make small adjustments: too much can mean losing detail.
10 Try before you buy
If you click the three-dots or More icon you’ll see additional filters including Tilt Shift, which is great for making landscapes seem as if they’re models, and denoise, which can improve grainy photos. The other filters here are in-app purchases, but you can try them out to decide if they’re worth paying money for. You’ll probably find that you can manage happily without them.