I use VSCO’s HB2 filter on all my photos. I usually tone it down to 9 or 10, depending on the photo.
Then I up the contrast by 1 or 2 points, the clarity by 1 point, and the sharpness by another 1 point.
Depending how bright the photo is, I sometimes lower the exposure, highlights and/or saturation by 1 point as well, but this particular photo didn’t need any of that.
Next I select the Vertical Tilt feature. If you’ve not played with this one before, it’s the little icon marked below in red and it’s my secret weapon.
What it does is tilt the perspective of the shot.
So for example, with this particular photo, I’m obviously not tall enough to take a photo of a building from dead centre, so the lines in the shot are tilted and look messy.
With this little tool, I can tilt the top part of the photo towards me, which will make all the lines nice and vertical.
My final VSCO step is to crop it, so it all fits in neatly, and then I export it to my camera roll.
The second app I use is Afterglow.
The only two features I use on this one are the Brightness and the Contrast tools, both of which I up by about 10-20 points, depending on the photo.
UPDATE: A few people have asked me why I don’t just use Instagram for the brightness/contrast. It’s literally just because I like to plan my feed in advance (I use Mosaico) and it’s easier to save photos from Afterlight, so I can upload them to my planning app and see what they look like with the rest of my feed.
Instagram is just as good an editing tool! :)
And finally, Instagram.
I use the Structure tool on Instagram to add some final extra sharpness and definition to the shot. Between 5-10 is usually enough.