How to I get the Instagram "Lux" effect without using Instagram?

  • I am kind of fascinated with the new Lux effect of Instagram. I want to "get" the same effect myself, during post processing. This is what I was able to get to, after playing with Levels, Contrast, Saturation and Shadows in iPhoto.

    My questions:

    1. Is it possible to get such an effect using basic tools like Picasa or iPhoto?If so, how?
    2. Is it possible to get such an effect in Photoshop/PS Elements/Lightroom (and the like). If so How?

    Original Photo: Original Image

    With the Instagram Lux effect and "Low Fi" filter: Photo with Instagram Lux effect

    What I could get: (at best, with my limited knowledge) photo after playing with Levels, Contrast, Saturation and Shadows in iPhoto

    I'm not familiar with Instagram; is it possible to show the effects of the Lux effect and the Lo-Fi filter separately? I don't know where one ends and the other begins, and it might be easier to deconstruct each on its own. (Someone previously analyzed the lo fi filter here).

    @mattdm - Typically filters in Instagram can only be applied one at a time. In this case, Lo-Fi is the filter that can only be applied at one per photo. Lux is a secondary option that isn't a "filter" according to Instagram, it is kind of like a button to just bring out vibrancy in any filter. So to answer your question, yes it would be possible, but they have stacked the two here in the examples.

  • mattdm

    mattdm Correct answer

    8 years ago

    So, here's what I got in just a few minutes using two basic tools: Curves, and Unsharp mask:

    replication attempt

    I used Gimp, but this is basic stuff any decent image editing software will have. Here's all I did. First, I used the curves tool to dramatically increase the black point, increasing shadow contrast:

    shadow contrast up

    Then, I pulled the curve upwards to brighten the (new) midtones:

    more midtones

    I didn't mess with the color channels at all; this is all the global "value" curve. I made these adjustments by eye, watching the tone of the house as I worked.

    Having done that, I resized to 612×612 (the size of your Instagram example here), and then used an Unsharp Mask with a radius of 10 pixels and a very high strength.

    This doesn't look exactly like your image, but I think we're in the ballpark.

    There's a sort of glow over the lower part of the house that's missing, and I couldn't replicate this with global adjustments without destroying the tones in the sky and the detail on on the tree branches on the left; I suspect that the filter applies a graduated vignette/glow/"light leak" effect somewhere in the pipeline here. If you compare the top half of my attempt to the Instagram output, you'll see they're really close; the difference is in the lower part.

    The original has flat lighting; this fake burst is part of what adds dynamic interest, but which also feels a little bit like cheating: Instagram is not just capturing what's there with a funky filter, but altering the reality of the scene.


    Update: this is with just an upsharp mask with radius 100 and strength in Gimp of 2.0 (Photoshop measures strength differently, but basically, about 10× higher than one would normally use if going for a natural looking image).

    with just unsharp mask

    The curves approach gives a lot more control and it's still what I recommend, but for quick and dirty replication of the effect, this might be all you need.

    _This doesn't look exactly like your image, but I think we're in the ballpark._: Man this *is* what I wanted. I did not want to create the *same* as Instagram, I wanted to know what/how that thing was being done. Thanks for explaining step by step... I learnt many things today. Awesome!

    If you step the Unsharp Mask radius *way* up (to the ~ 100px level) there's no need to touch the curves; UM does the tone forcing for you.

    @StanRogers It's true; that might be all there is too it. The effect in the example is really strong, and I was hesitant to bring the unsharp mask strength up that high.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM