A quick post written on my iPad while enjoying my vacation here in beautiful Vietnam. I make a lot of Instagram snaps and here is the way I edit photos in the application.
I do not use the pre-installed filters, they are random permutations of image adjustments that distort my photo too much. Instead I go in edit mode.
The most important adjustment to any image is its composition: use zoom in/out, move left right, make sure the horizon is straight with the left most edit function. Then, on to brightness and contrast. Move the sliders and see whether your image improves or not. Next, highlights and shadows. That's it.
You see the functions I don't touch: saturation, color overlays, structure, blur, etc. etc.