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How to use iPhoto’s best filters and effects

Knowing when to use iPhoto's powerful filters and effects is an important creative skill

iPhoto filters

Main_WebGiven the ease with which you can access powerful but also easy-to-use photo-editing software, more of us are keen to try it. iPhoto is the perfect example of this, loaded with features to help you perfect your images as well as make them sparkle with a new filter.

The beauty of iPhoto is that all of these features are easy to apply and remove if they’re not working; to the extent that even if you’re not an image-editing expert you can move through the app and make changes with confidence. This is partly because you always have the Undo button to fall back on, but also because you can constantly refer back to the original image and see what your edits have done to the photo.

These pages will offer a rundown of the best filters and effects you can apply to your photos, and why each of them deserves to be tried out.

Top 10 filters and effects

1 B & W

Referring, as you might expect, to a black and white effect, this filter instantly brings some classic style to your images. Better suited to cityscapes, you can use it to transport any image back in time by using this filter to drain the colour from it.


2 Sepia

Another filter with retro tendencies, Sepia will be familiar to anyone who has used Instagram or a similar app on their phone. Washing your image in a reddish-brown, Sepia is a great way to add age to an image that isn’t reliant on vibrant colours.


3 Antique

This is pretty similar to Sepia in the shading it adds to your image, however Antique can be added in stages for a less intense result. The filter has nine levels of increasing intensity, giving you the opportunity to find the level of colour that suits your image.


4 Matte

This effect is ideal for use as the cover for a greetings card, as it drops an eye-catching blurred border right onto your image. The oval shape places focus on the centre of the image, and can be adjusted to make this area smaller as you see fit.


5 Vignette

The Vignette effect is identical to Matte, except using a black frame instead. Using the Vignette works on most photos, and similarly to B & W and Sepia, gives a retro feel to your most-prized images – as though it has become a Victorian postcard.


6 Edge Blur

A more subtle way of placing focus on the centre of your image. Edge Blur, as the name alludes to, blurs the very edge of your photo in the same shape as the borders of Matte, but without the change of colour. Again, you can increase the size of the blur with a counter.


7 Fade

Fade gradually increases the blue in your image, naturally fading and dulling the other colours. This ages your image as though it’s been left in the sun for a while, and can give something taken recently a whole new level of depth and freshness to it.


8 Boost

This effect is designed to add more luminosity to the individual colours within your images. So the contrast is heightened, and so is the vivid look of your photo. Boost also comes with a counter to increase and decrease the intensity of the effect’s application.


9 Saturate

Similarly to Boost, using the Saturate button significantly raises the brightness of the various colours within a photo. They become much more vivid with each click, and the effect can also be applied more subtly than the Boost effect.


10 Contrast

Contrast increases the gap between the light and dark areas of your photograph, meaning this feature is best applied to photos with lots of shadows, and an existing contrast between light and dark. The effect is perfect at enhancing this difference.


In detail: Using the Effects panel

Click the annotated image below to view it at full size.