Cloudinary Blog

Instagram-like Filters with Cloudinary

By David Walsh
Instagram-like Filters with Cloudinary

This is a reposting of an article written by David Walsh. Check out his blog HERE!
Apps like Instagram are a testament to how brilliant a few color modifications can make a photo. We've seen hundreds of Instagram clones pop up, and even the CSS and Canvas specs have a

filter property which allows us to modify imagery. As nice as those APIs are, they only modify an image for view on the client side -- once the user tries to save the photo, they get the unmodified version. So how can you generate Instagram-like photos with artisitic filters? The awesome media service Cloudinary provides an easy method to generate artistic, filtered photos with a very simple API. Let's have a look!

Cloudinary Filters

Uploading an Image

The best way to interact with images is initially uploading them to Cloudinary, which is incredibly easy. Cloudinary provides APIs for all popular web languages, like PHP, Node.js, Python, Java, etc. The following will upload our sample image using Node.js:

var cloudinary = require('cloudinary');

cloudinary.config({
	cloud_name: 'david-walsh-blog',
	api_key: '##############',
	api_secret: '##############'
});

cloudinary.uploader.upload('landscape.jpg', function(result) {
	console.log(cloudinary.image('landscape.jpg'));

    /*
    <img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/landscape.jpg' />
    */
});

With the image uploaded to Cloudinary, we can perform any number of transformations, background removals, and other optimizations, either on the fly via URL modification or via their sophisticated API.

page load speed

Image Enhancement

Sometimes adding a few slight color modifications to a given image can provide the small improvement that keeps the image looking "natural" but spectacular. Cloudinary provides a useful set of enhancement transformations to bring out the vibrance in photos, including: improve, gamma, auto_brightness, auto_contrast, auto_color, fill_light, vibrance, contrast, and viesus_correct. The following URL pattern will get you a few of those enhancements:

<img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/e_auto_brightness/landscape.jpg' />

<img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/e_gamma/landscape.jpg' />

Check out how awesome each of these enhancements make our sample image look:

Cloudinary Filters

Sometimes the minimalist enhancement makes the image look best!

Adding Artistic Filters to Images

If you want to bring artistic flair to an image, or even let your users bring filters to their imagery (via your awesome app that uses Cloudinary, no doubt), you can bring those images to life by adding an art:(effect-name) effect to the image:

<img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/e_art:aurora/landscape.jpg' />

<img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/e_art:audrey/landscape.jpg' />

You can customize the level of effect application in most cases with this pattern:

<-- 70% -->
<img src='https://res.cloudinary.com/david-walsh-blog/image/upload/e_art:audrey:70/landscape.jpg' />

Check out a showcase of transformations from our sample image:

Cloudinary Filters

It's amazing what advanced math calculations can do to the display of an image. A simple image taken with any camera can be made to look majestic if you have a service like Cloudinary to bring the filter to fruition.

My second week at Mozilla I won a competition amongst the web developers to create something amazing, and what I created was a photo filtering app like Cloudinary. The problem was it used the canvas API which doesn't save out its filters, and it required knowing the math behind the filtering. However cute my app was, it was a nightmare for both users and developers. Cloudinary's API for using simple and artistic filters is incredibly easy -- coding your own route probably isn't worth it. Artistic filters are just another reason why you should jump at Cloudinary for your personal and app media!


David Walsh David Walsh is Senior Software Engineer at Mozilla, having worked extensively on the Mozilla Developer Network, Firefox OS TV, WebVR, internal tooling, and several other Mozilla efforts. He shares his knowledge on his blog at http://davidwalsh.name. You can also find him at @davidwalshblog on Twitter.

Recent Blog Posts

Why the Future of E-commerce Is Live

In a previous post, I discussed how “going live” is gaining popularity across industries and verticals. What began as a way for gamers to jam together has evolved into a medium for broader entertainment and business purposes. To continue the conversation, this post unpacks the current trends of shoppable live streams to shine a light on how brands are leveraging “lives” to connect with shoppers in new ways.

Read more
An Overview of Live-Streaming Video Trends

“Let’s go live.” For decades, that’s what newscasters say as they cut to real-time footage of a colleague reporting in the field. The live-video feed adds visual interest and perspective to a story beyond what can be communicated by someone sitting behind the news desk. In the same way, live-streaming video nowadays adds context to other consumer environments. From gaming and events to shopping and social media, “going live” enhances everyday experiences, and it’s something anyone can do with relative ease.

Read more
Readying Live Streams for Video on Demand

When planning a live broadcast or stream, companies often overlook the redistribution phase, but live-stream videos are useful well beyond their initial streaming. Why? Because not everyone watches the first run. For a wider audience, it makes sense to repost live content on your website under an “events” tab, on YouTube, and other social sites for video on demand (VOD). However, preparing footage for reposting can be a lot of work.

Read more
Optimize Visual Media for a Fast and Captivating Digital Experience

Did you know that humans process imagery 60,000 times faster than text? In fact, 90% of the information our brains process is visual, which makes it seem a no-brainer—pun intended—that brands are connecting with consumers through visual content online. However, adding media assets like images and videos to websites comes with a tradeoff: the more media, the heavier the site, which results in a noticeable slowdown in page loads and a reduction in content quality.

Read more