Instagram initially caught on because of its many cool filters, with which you could mask the flaws of your phone’s camera and make images look better than they were. Recently, it released five new filters that mimic film-like qualities, showing how mobile cameras are getting better. The need of the hour is not masking flaws, but changing the tone of a photo to deliver a cool effect.
Shift is a new app on Android, although it has been available on iPhone for some time now. Its basic purpose is to make custom filters — just like how you can on Windows or Mac. Here’s how you can do that.
An Easy Interface To Make Your Own Filters
The charm of Instagram is in how easy it is to use for anyone. Shift keeps that core theme intact — while you will be making your own filters, you don’t need to be an expert photographer or graphic designer. After all, choosing the right filter is how you can get noticed on Instagram.
On every photo, you will see three circles as well as two meters under it. The meter on the bottom-left is to adjust the filter level, while the meter on the bottom-right adjusts the filter colour. The three circles determine how these effects will be applied on your photo.
You can move the circles around individually by tapping and dragging any one. You can move all of them together by tapping and dragging on the image. And you can pinch in and pinch out to rotate the circles or bring them closer together. Made a mistake? Tap “Undo”. It’s all quite intuitive and you’ll be proficient with it in no time.
Once you have a combination you like, you can save it as a “favourite” for use later. For some reason, Shift adds its own name to the filter, which is a little annoying — customising that name would help you identify a filter more easily.
You can take a photo from the app or choose one from the gallery. After editing, you can even share it quickly with other apps, including Instagram — in fact, Shift doesn’t have its own community for sharing photos; it almost seems to push you towards using Instagram for sharing.
Shift works only with still images, not with videos, so you’ll have to rely on other tricks to create unforgettable Instagram videos.
What You See Is What You Get
Shift is all about putting power in your hands. It doesn’t try to hand-hold you at any point, so you are free to mess around with your creation as you see fit. The what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach to the image makes it easy for you to edit an image to what looks good to your eyes.
The downside of this hands-off approach is that there are some people whose images will look far better than yours do. It comes down to aesthetic sense. If you’re good at figuring out how to add the right filters, your photos will look better. Shift tries to stoke your imagination with an “Inspiration” feed of how other people are using the app, but it only shows you the end result, not the filter combination itself. Or you can look through these 10 professional photographers on Instagram for inspiration.
It would have been useful if Shift let you share the filters you create, so that your friend with the great aesthetic sense could tell you how to make your image better. But for now, it’s all up to your eye.
Why Shift Is Great Nonetheless
Despite these shortcomings, the make-your-own-filter model is actually pretty great to use. On Instagram, there are only those fixed few filters. But photography is often about expressing yourself, not just about taking an image. Shift is that expression through filters. Couple it with some of the tried and tested tips to get more likes on Instagram and your popularity will skyrocket!
You are encouraged to put your own spin on things. To show the world an image from your perspective — not the objective representation of that photo. In a nutshell, Shift is about making photographs look how you want them to look — and isn’t that what amateur visual art is all about?
Download: Shift (Free) for Android< [No longer available]
Download: Shift (Free) for iOS
How regularly do you use Instagram? Would you want the ability to make your own filters in the app? Throw your thoughts in the comments below!