I’ve always been a huge fan of Photoshop – so much so, I almost went to school for graphic design! I started off playing around with Photoshop over ten years ago in my spare time, and it is something I use every day when I’m preparing my pictures for Instagram. I’m self taught, having learned most of my skills off of old Livejournal tutorials and Tumblr! 🙂
Here is a brief tutorial of a simple editing process I use to enhance most of my photos for Instagram. This particular combination of colors/designs won’t look good on EVERY photo, so rather than following this tutorial blindly, I encourage you to play with the settings on each of the tools I outline here to find the right settings for your particular image.
This tutorial is made using Photoshop CS5 for Mac. If you’re using a Photoshop Elements program, you can still use this tutorial to make your images sharp and perfect for Instagram. Just skip some of the coloring steps and instead focus on enhancing the quality of the image! Elements does have some great tools for editing colors, such as Hue/Saturation and Levels, and I encourage you to play around with those so you can take advantage of everything your editing software has to offer!
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Select Your Picture
First thing you need is a LARGE, HIGH QUALITY photo to work with. Trust me when I tell you that every picture you take during a parade is NOT going to be great. For example, look at this shot I took during the Spring Trolley show in 2016:
No amount of editing is going to make that arm clearer, unfortunately. It’s also not an ideal picture to use because she is blocking her face, partially blocking her partner, and there are a lot of people in the crowd in the background which can be kind of difficult to crop out. Just like with professional photographers, though, not every shot is going to be a winner! That’s why your finger should be constantly clicking during shows!
The lens that I use for most of my Disney photography is the Canon EF 75-300mm lens for my camera. This camera lens allows me to zoom in close and takes very clear shots. It’s great for parades where people are constantly moving. I highly recommend this lens to anyone looking to start photographing shows and parades at Disney! Here’s my guide on how to find the best spots to view parades as well to make sure your photos turn out amazing.
The photo I’m going to be using today is this picture of Ariel I took on my most recent trip to Disneyland. Isn’t she just the cutest?! As you can see, it’a large and clear quality, which is perfect for what we’ll be doing today!
First things first, crop your picture. We’re going to focus on Ariel, so we can get rid of all the other stuff around her, like the parade float. The closer we can get, the more detail we will see.
Now to sharpen. Simply go to Filter –> Sharpen –> Sharpen, and Photoshop will automatically sharpen the image for you. You can select the “Sharpen More” option if you think it needs to be sharpened more intensely, but I like using the simple “Sharpen” option because it gets the job done, but in small amounts. Sometimes I’ll click it 2-3 times before it has sharpened it enough for me, but that way I can go slowly. I often find the image doesn’t need to be sharpened as much as I think it does!
The first thing I do after sharpening is brighten the image. Even in the gleaming California sunshine, this picture of Ariel is just a bit too dark for me. For this particular photo I am using the Brightness/Contract tool. You can get here by going to Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Brightness/Contrast.
I like increasing the brightness and then DECREASING the contrast. This makes the image look softer and lightens some of the shadowing, making it look less intense. Here are the settings I am using and the result:
Next step – coloring! I do apologize to those of you using Elements or another photo editing software, as some of these steps are strictly on the newer versions of Photoshop only 🙁 I will provide alternates at the end to try and help you achieve a similar look using these programs.
For many of my pictures, I am able to achieve the look I want by using just one tool – Selective Coloring. This tool is very specific in how it works – there is a tab for each color, like red, and four sliders per color. If you adjust the Cyan slider on the RED tab, it will increase or decrease how much cyan is mixed in all the red in the image.
Same thing with yellow, magenta and black – using the red as an example, decreasing the yellow will make the reds in the image less fiery, whereas increasing the yellow in the reds will make the reds brighter and more orange-y. Make sense? Selective coloring is a hard tool to understand, but hopefully with practice you’ll learn how to adjust the sliders to achieve the look you want! I used only three tabs with this picture, and as you can see, I barely touched the black and white tabs.
You can get a SIMILAR result if you use the Hue/Saturation tool. It can increase the saturation in specific colors as opposed to the whole image to make them pop. You can decrease them as well to make other aspects of the image stand out!
Now here is our image with our coloring! Sometimes I go a bit more saturated than normal – Instagram is, unfortunately, notorious for destroying photo quality. This way I assure it stays bright even when condensed for Instagram!
As far as sizing goes, you definitely want to save the image as a JPEG. I generally try to save the image as large as I can. I usually resize it down so that it is around 2000px in size length wise, so it is still a relatively reasonable file size but still large enough that when I upload it to Flickr, I won’t lose much quality.
Which brings us to the final step – getting the image to your phone! You can do this a multitude of ways – you can email the image to yourself, save it to your iCloud and sync it across your devices that way, or do what I do – upload your images to Flickr. Then, I download the images off Flickr and save them to my phone to post to Instagram. This way I have them all on my Flickr account to access at any time. Sometimes if Flickr is down I simply AirDrop it to my iPhone.
And that’s that! There are options for editing your pictures on your phone, but that is for another post! 😉 If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I can try to assist you!
Happy editing, everyone! Have you followed this tutorial and gotten awesome results? Drop a comment below, I’d love to see!