Monday, December 19, 2011

Does Hipstamatic intimidate you?

One of the first mobile photography apps I downloaded was Hipstamatic. I opened it and immediately felt intimidated and confused. I didn't touch the app again for months. My friends @punkrawkpurl, @tomiejane, and @lucky_chucky started something called the Hipstaroll and that prompted me to give Hipsta another shot.

Being a lover of the editing process, the first thing I had to get over was the perceived loss of creative control. With Hipstamatic, your creative choices are made pre-shot. You select a film, a lens, and a flash (if needed). Each of these items have distinct characteristics and they can be combined for a wide variety of styles/looks.

The second issue I had was adjusting to shooting based on a tiny viewfinder window. It seemed like I could never line up the shot the way I wanted. Once I found out that you could adjust the viewfinder to fill the screen, I jumped in and started finding combinations that I liked.

Below are a few tips that got me going with Hipstamatic.

To change the lens, swipe left or right over the lens image. Touch the icons on this screen to change the film, the flash, the camera body (this has no effect on the final image), to shop for new items, and finally to shoot.

You'll see this after touching the film icon. To change the film, swipe up and down over the film image. One important note is to click the "Edit" button from this page, which will allow you to turn on/off the shake for random feature. I hate this feature and keep it turned off. If you keep this on, the slightest bump will change all the combinations you previously selected.

You'll see this after touching the arrow icon. This is the tiny viewfinder window I mentioned earlier. Push the yellow button to snap the image. You can also turn your flash on/off from here. I prefer to shoot from the full screen viewfinder. Pull from opposing corners of the small viewfinder to expand (see the next image).

This is the full screen viewfinder. Simply touch the screen to snap the shot.

Hope you find these tips helpful. I look forward to seeing your shots in the weekly Hipstaroll! By the way, my favorite Hipsta combo is John S with AO DLX. What's yours? Do you have any other tips for using Hipstamatic? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deconstruction Art

One of the sub-cultures evolving on IG is a group of artists interested in taking their photos and creating completely different works of art using the myriad of photo editing apps available. 

I recently was in San Francisco and was inspired by some of the Christmas window displays. Here's how I approached the challenge of creating new art from something I photographed around me.

1. First I cropped my image and adjusted the contrast, saturation and sharpness I wanted. I used PhotoToaster for this step.

2. Next I loaded the cropped image into Diptic and used a vertical triptych layout. After loading the image into all three boxes, while still in the select mode, I used the layout slider in the top right corner of the app to create the different sized boxes. 

3. I loaded the image into Decim8 and used a combination of Bunker and 2600++ effects to achieve the desired look. 

4. I used Iris to apply about 30% polarization and 25% vignette. 

5. The next step was to add the grunge text effect using Filter Mania's grunge filter. 

6. Finally, I pulled the image back into PhotoToaster to tweak the sharpness and color to my liking. 

That's it in a nutshell. The key for me is patience and a willingness to play with things until I get something I like.  Not sure what something does? Try it! 

Happy mashing. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

IG Sub-Cultures: Good or Bad for the IG Community?

First of all, this post is intended as a discussion more than as a sermon, so please leave your comments and/or thoughts in the comments below. I'll apologize in advance if this comes across as jaded or negative, but I think it's more authentic if I say what I'm really feeling about this topic. So here goes...

I have noticed that more and more elite, members-only groups are emerging on Instagram. I am not a member of any such group, because (a) I have never been asked to join one and (b) decided many months ago that I would decline to join if asked to join any group that excluded others. However, I follow/support and am followed/supported by many members of such groups. At the risk of offending them I am asking some tough questions about their groups and any others like them.

1. Why are these groups even needed? If its just to get people to the Popular Page, then what fun is that? I know getting Pops is a good way to get exposure and grow, and it doesn't hurt anyone else to do so. However, if people are primarily Liking your pics just because your name is one a membership role or you use certain hashtags, then what did you actually accomplish?

2. Do the leaders and members of these groups realize how elitist they may appear at times and how excluded it makes non-members feel when they promote themselves and their exclusive members so aggressively? That seems very unIG-like behavior to me, and although I believe it's unintended, it seems to be becoming the consensus among many non-members. I'm not personally opposed to these groups, but I am opposed to "mean Instagramming". If you promote your group publicly and then deny membership to an interested IGer, then how are you helping the IG community?

3. The tough question may be: "Who made YOU mayor or Instagram anyway?" I mean seriously, who are any of us to establish ourselves as some kind of expert to decide who is good enough or can be in a group? Nobody is perfect here, and we all started out somewhere. In a thriving community we all look out for one another and encourage each other and grow together. But some of the members-only groups seem to have agendas of controlling people's feeds or promoting themselves more than anything else. If I'm missing their contribution(s) please let me know. I want to believe there is something worthwhile about to emerge from these groups, but they only seem to be getting more exclusive.

4. Finally, I have to be introspective on this too. After all, I'm writing a blog post about IG and I'm no expert or authority. Although I started this a with others as a way to share tips and insight for Instagrammers, is it just more of the same crap I'm complaining about? Is this just more elitism? Does it belittle anyone or make them feel excluded in some way? I certainly hope not.

5. Are you in one of these groups? Is it a good experience? If so, how is it good? And is it just good for you or are you making IG a better community overall in some way? Explain.

6. Sorry again for my skepticism or negativity about these kinds of groups, some of which may be truly altruistic behind their secret doors. If so, convince and convert me. I want to believe it is so. But, if these groups are counter-productive to the IG community experience of encouragement and sharing, then what do we do about it? Is it something we just ignore, or something to stand against?

UPDATE (12/20/2011): Since my original posting of this article, We Are JUXT have unveiled their previously secretive plans and seems to be making a positive contribution to the IG Community, so Kudos are due. The AMPt and JUXT relationship is still confusing to me, but there seems to be some overlap. Likewise, Gang Family has been offering daily scheduled posting events to help people get to the Popular Page. Since this is an important goal for many folks, so I guess that makes it positive too. Also, there seems to be an #antiJJmovement afoot, against Josh Johnson, which shocks and astounds me, because I think his individual contributions to IG are incredibly generous. Needless to say, people take the Instagram community seriously and strong opinions are forming pro and con about how the community should exist. I think the important rule of thumb is to NOT let it get mean. The allure of Instagram to me (and many of you) is the positive, creative, encouraging environment in which to share pics, editing work, and comments/stories. Lets keep it that way, through encouraging and supporting one another.

Commence discussion by leaving your comments below.