Getting started

Feel free to get creative with your subjects,an "arty" photo is at home on Instagram. Familiarize yourself by looking at the popular page, found by clicking on the "star" at the bottom of the screen. Instagram is easy to use, but there are great add-ons that can make your photos stand out in news feeds. Here are six ways to hone your Instagram skills. The first three are editing tools in the Instagram app, above and beyond the retro-style photos the app is known for.

Zoom

Close in on the most interesting part of your image by using Instagram's scaling feature. Use your thumb and finger to enlarge the image and then move it around the square to "crop."

Sharpness and blur

To add emphasis to an object, use the "teardrop" tool on the top bar to select an area for maintaining a sharp focus while blurring the surrounding area.

Contrast

To add high contrast,use the "sunburst" icon in the lower left corner. If it's too much, just tap it again to revert to normal contrast.

Double filters

Take a photo with your phone (do not use Instagram) and open in an app such as Filter Mania for iPhones, which offers 12 free filters such as frost, neon and aqua (for a realistic splash of water). Apply a filter, save and send it straight to Instagram. Now you can also add any of the Instagram tweaks described above. For light effects like lens flares and spots known as bokeh lights, try LensFlare and LensLight at $1 each from iTunes.

Android users can opt for free app Pixlr-o-matic, which offers lots of filters, including light effects. When you're finished, export to your camera roll to use with Instagram.

Text

A word or two of text can add a strong message to your photo. Phonto is a free app from iTunes that includes the popular typewriter font, along with others. Android users can try free LabelBox — the old-fashioned Dymo label look is popular on Instagram.

Collage

Combine photos into a collage using $1 PicFrame from the App Store. Once you've got a layout you like, send direct to Instagram for special effects. Honeygram is a free collage-maker for Android.

Sure, the 30 million or so Instagram users may see your finished photos, but savvy shooters have turned their Instagram pictures into portfolios. Try a site like CopyGram to post a Web page of your Instagram pics. Unlike with other Instagram Web viewing sites, people don't need to have an Instagram account to see your page.

Want more?

Hungry for more Instagram advice? See "Tips to 'Tell' Better Photo Stories on Instagram"

6 Tips to Use Instagram Like a Pro