So, I’ve been living with Instagram for three months now, and decided to share a few random thoughts about it. I use Samsung phones, and they seem to have rather good cameras: I was very happy with my Galaxy S2, but this went a bit strange (didn’t like a 64 Gb memory card any more, which is no use to me as I keep all my music on there). So, a cash-purchase of an S3 was necessary, after a bit of reading around. Much nicer, although I would have been happier if the S2 had lasted until the end of the two-year contract next May.
Both have great cameras, as I said, and I enjoy taking snaps when out and about so, having finally overcome my initial reservations concerning Instagram, I created an account. I had been a little concerned about having to type lots of hash-tags each time I posted, but a friend recommended Instag, which takes the hassle out of that particular aspect of it, leaving me to concentrate on the images themselves.
My second reservation (also solved by my very helpful friend) was that I would have to apply the Instagram filters to everything, but there is an option to post unfiltered pics. That’s great, as I had promised myself that I would not overdo the effects, and also means that I can use various other apps to edit the images. I have a full screen of photo-related apps on my phone, so I’ll list my current favourites, in case it inspires anyone else to have a look at them:
- Photo Editor – took me a while to find an app which includes histogram/levels/curves function (whatever you may know it as) plus some other very usable effects. Not exactly full-on Photoshop but one of the better free apps out there, and free from some of the more pointless (IMO) effects which seem to plague some apps;
- Camera HDR Studio – I had been using HDR Camera, but seem to be favouring this one currently: It takes two photos for true in-camera HDR, which is obviously easier to keep the phone still for when hand-holding, as opposed to the three which HDR Camera takes. Currently have it set to shoot in b&w and then play with the HDR effects before sending it to Instagram, where I may use the inbuilt effects to add a colour tint;
- Photos – I can’t find a Google Play link to this, it just appeared one day on my phone as part of the Google+ package, but also has some nice filters built-in;
- Little Photo – If I need yet more photo-editing, this is also interesting to play with, once again offering effects which I consider useful rather than stupid (hey, each to their own, and if you want to add moustaches and hats to photos of friends, all power to you; enjoy!).
- Instagram – this is also pretty useful, if you want to post the photos! By opening Instag first, you can then copy the tags from here to the clipboard, and the app then offers to open Instagram for you. Nice, easy workflow!
Armed with this little lot (and a fully-charged phone!), I’m good to play around, whether I am in the city, or on a walk in the countryside; home or abroad; travelling light or carting all my real camera gear. Yes, folks, I enjoy this way of working: To me, once I have seem an image or pattern to point the camera at, this is the exact opposite way of working to using Photoshop. There, I will think about what I want to do with my image, sitting at the computer and using a decent monitor; with Instagram, I will work reactively, trying various filters or effects, alone or in combination, often standing in a field or in a crowd of people, and posting it without the same degree of agonising over minor tweaks. Which can be fairly difficult anyway, if you are constrained by time, battery, or simply standing in bright light staring at the screen.
Is it art? Not for me to say, but I do like the results I’m getting, and trying to avoid the more clichéd aspects of the genre (ooh, did I describe Instagram as a ‘genre’? It must be art then!). The instant way of working is a pleasant contrast, and I am also surprised by the size of the images produced, having assumed they would be rather low-res. Click on one, then click again to see full-size. Neat, huh? I also subscribe to the Satiregram feed, just to help me stay clear of the more obvious clichés (and to have a laugh with also)!
There is also a more social aspect to this: I posted a shot in Instagram from Cracow, Poland, and got a query about where it was taken, just a few minutes later. Looking at the feed of that person, I realised that they were also in the city at that same time as I was. Our paths may even have crossed that day!
For this, as with a lot of my work, I do it for my own enjoyment. If other people like it too, that’s great, but I don’t go seeking out followers. If you do want to check me out, my Instagram username is red_lenses, or click here to see my feed. Yes, ok, I may have used their own filters a little more than I intended to at first, but it’s still fairly tame compared to some of the over-the-top, push-the-HDR-until-it-hurts photos I see there. But I’m having fun with it, whilst being creative too, and that I enjoy.