I am sorry, if you're not into Instagram at all this will all sound like gobbledygook. But anyway... This post is an homage to my "Nashville phase" - and I don't mean the TV series. Let's get down to the tutorial:
I have a super old version of Photoshop, but I am sure you can get the gist of it. The idea, again, is to make the most of using layers and blending effects because that's pretty much how the filters on Instagram work. You don't need to know much about photography to understand it either. When you compare your pictures before and after Instagram you just need to get an idea of the "temperature" of your filter. You can find a big breakdown of what it means on Wikipedia, but I think the image below translates it better than all the words they use to explained it.
In simple and plain English, you need to think of how blueish or yellowish or any-other-colour-ish the Instagram filter made your picture. Look at my example below:
On the left you have an Instagram photo that I will use as inspiration, on the right a similar picture (also taken with my iPhone) that I will use for the purpose of this tutorial. I start by creating a new layer that I will colour with some "orange" than change the opacity (check the next two images).
I kept the blending mode as "normal" but changed the opacity to 25%. You might notice that for some images that will be enough, but I thought, maybe because of the label, that my inspiration photo had a tint of pink, so there I went, creating another layer and now painting it pink. (I choose the tones very randomly, the whole process is a bit of guess work, trying here and there, until you achieve your chosen look).
Because I didn't want my "pink" layer to overpower the previous one, I chose under the blending mode the "soft light" option and changed that to 25%. You can tell the colours are a lot similar now, but I am precious and I wanted that kind of brightness, almost like there was a white light crossing my image... Can you tell that by looking at the inspiration photo or am I too picky?
So on top of my three layers I added a fourth one, a white layer! I kept its blend mode normal and changed its opacity to 18%, than I went down to the option gradient overlay and played around with it for a bit.
For me my composition had a line, so after changing the style to Reflected, ticking the box to "revert" the brightness/darkness and reducing the scale to a minimum of 10% (to allow me to see it better), I adjusted my angle to meet that "line" of my composition. If you want, you can even skip this stage, your photo might not need it, but this can add that little bit that makes all the difference depending on your frame. Check the other options like Radial and Angle and see what they offer you. I tend to keep the reverse window checked at all times though.
Well, in the end I thought that 100% was the scale that I needed and you can see the result below.
You could say the effect was achieved. Sometimes I like to select my original layer, go to image > adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and play around with it a bit. Below I will explain a cheeky way of making a quick border that might come handy - again, I will use the Nashville filter as an inspiration.
Start by adding another layer to the top of your composition. I coloured mine black because I am using Nashville as an example, but if you like Polaroid style, go white, or maybe a shade of grey?
On toolbar I selected the "rounded rectangle tool" and drew it over my black layer, leaving the area outside the shape to be the border I am looking for. Then on my layers window I selected the path tab and clicked on the little arrow on the right to see my options. I clicked on "make selection" and the border of my shape became that flickering dashed line, similar to a marquee tool. I then selected my black layers again on the layers tab (not the shape) and cmd + x (cut) to remove the black on the inside of the shape.
That's it, you're done. As you can see from the image above, I only adjusted the brightness and contrast of my original layer (the photo layer). Also, after using the rectangle tool shape you can delete that layer, it served its purpose of helping you to select the area and now there is no use for it.
I hope this is not too techie that puts you off and remember not to feel that you need to match the percentages and tones of this tutorial, it's all about finding what your photo needs. Be creative and play around with the possibilities!