Since starting my blog and giving my website a facelift - A bit more than a facelift in fact, I fired the old website and hired a younger much more attracting replacement - I’ve wanted my social media profiles to match. My new obsession with the perfect Instagram photos that I can use within my blog has lead me on the hunt for the best photo editing app. Since launching my blog, my goal is to post twice a week, and the only way I can keep up with this schedule is to be able to photograph, edit and post on the go. I started by buying a new camera, the Fujifilm X-A2 with built in Wifi. So that’s the first hurdle, good quality photos are now on my phone with a quick sync with the Fujifilm app installed on my iphone. Next, I needed to be able to edit them and still retain the high quality of the original photos. I used to go straight to Instagram with my photos for social platforms, but Instagram doesn't cut it anymore. They have a huge range of creative filters and in app adjustments but there are 2 big reasons why I can’t use Instagram anymore:
1. You can’t pre-prepare several images and save them to your phone to use later. The only way to save the images you've edited in Instagram is to post them live, only then will the photo be saved to your phone.
2. The photo looses quality when you post it to Instagram and automatically gets saved at a small size. Which is fine for Instagram, but not when I'm using the same images on my website.
So far, Afterlight has everything Instagram has and more. It solves both of my 'head against brick wall' situations above and also lets me edit my images to my perfectionist standards. I’ve been using Afterlight for the past month since I launched my new website and I am 100% hooked. Every time I’m in a queue, put on hold, sat on a train with no internet (god forbid!) I am straight onto Afterlight. Opening up one my my carefully composed photographs which I’ve organised into an album named ‘Ready to edit’ and 10 minutes later I've made all the adjustments I need to the brightness, contrast, shadows and highlights, I’ve flipped between their 59 filters, settled on my favourite and saved the final image to my camera roll at the maximum resolution available. I’ll then flip over to my gallery, select the latest addition and move it to my album marked ‘Ready for Instagram’. It sounds excessively organised but it’s honestly the only way to keep up and not have to trawl through my gallery every time I want a photo to support a blog post. You can post your photos directly to Instagram and other apps from Afterlight, you can also take photos within the app but as I’ve previously mentioned I only use Afterlight as an editing tool and I tend to prepare my images in advance ready to post when required.
What control over images does Afterlight have that Instagram doesn’t?
There are a few image adjustment functions that Afterlight has that Instagram doesn’t but to be fair on Instagram they have upped their game over their last few updates and their list of adjustments is almost on par with Afterlight, just short of being able to adjust the highlight, mid and shadow tones individually. Afterlight has a few more filters, currently at 59 free filters compared to Instagram’s 40. However you can pay 79p to add extra packs. Afterlight also has a range of grungy looking film textures, including 13 dusty textures and 31 light leak textures before you even pay for the extra add on. I usually find texture packs like this cheesy but in fairness there are a few textures in there that are very tastefully done and again you can control the intensity of them which helps to make them more natural.
I usually tend to tweak my photos a little before I start applying filters, just to make sure the photo is the best it can be before I try and fix things using filters. In my opinion, filters are there to give your images some personality, I don’t believe they should be there to fix poorly exposed or badly lit photos. So after a few slides on the brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows etc I’ll try several filters. My favourites at the moment being Coral, Finn, Russ and Glacier - See examples below. After choosing the best filter for that specific photo, I’ll then play with the intensity of the filter much like in Instagram.
What is Afterlight missing?
2 words. Tilt Shift. It’s the only thing I miss from Instagram, although it’s pretty easy for me to apply once I’ve dropped my edited image into Instagram, but that's not the point. If I could do that within Afterlight too that would be a bonus when preparing images. It’s such a useful tool to be able to select the focus, especially when you have a busy background or text you want to blur out. I take my blog and Instagram photos with a 16-50mm lens on my Fujifilm camera, so I can achieve a blurry background using a low f stop but sometimes you don’t realise you need it when you’re taking the photos and it’s something you want to add in post production.
I take Instagram too seriously.
If you love your photos to be perfectly edited and need more filter options than you’ll ever possibly use, then definitely try out Afterlight! It is worth the 79p on the app store, and it is very worthy of it’s position in the iTunes chart - Currently number 12 in the top paid app chart.
The example photo I’ve used below of London is taken on my iPhone, so you can see what Afterlight can achieve with photos taken directly on a phone camera. I’ve tried to show you a few steps within the app, along with some comparisons using a few images from my October Favourites blog post.