VSCO and Hipstamatic: Too many preset options?

See that long screenshot off to the left there? That’s the full preset filter list (thanks Tailor!) for the VSCO camera app on iOS.

I’m a total camera app junkie. I have tons of them and generally buy most in-app purchases in them (think I have all of the films/lenses/flashes they’ve offered in Hipstamatic since it appeared on the app store). But at some point there is just too much to choose from. So while I love VSCO and all of the options available I’m starting to think they’ve got too much there.

To combat that I generally stick to the VSCO X-only film emulations (like Fuji Velvia 50). I simply don’t see any way to keep straight which preset to use for a given photo with all of those options. To be fair VSCO has created a “for this photo” option in the preset list that uses machine learning to suggest a group of presets that might be good for a given photo but honestly I’ve never found those suggestions useful.

Hipstamatic is even worse because it splits the filters into films, lenses, and flashes. Their business model is selling these (boy do I miss the old days of the freebies they’d release) and once a month, on the first Friday of the month, they release a new film/lens combo. Lately these have mostly been goofy, nearly useless options or just rehashes of old stuff. I stopped buying them for the most part and catch up during the holiday sales period when they deeply discount the Retropaks.

All that being said, after years and years of use my go-to lens in Hipstamatic is Jane. It is a never-fail choice when processing photos in Hipstamatic. If you’re a Hipstamatic user and haven’t looked at Hipstography do yourself a favor and check it out. The site really isn’t being updated anymore but there are a ton of good combos you can download and use in Hipstamatic.

The Trouble with Trees

In #24 of his Ridgeline newsletter, Craig Mod says:

It’s true — photographing the woods is tough. (Which is why vistas, views, lookouts are so readily photographed.) There’s just so much information packed into every square meter, and, on a sunny day, so much contrast. I find woods can only be reliably photographed on rainy days, mist abounding, giving shape and depth to the otherwise shapeless and boundless.

I’ve found this to be true as well. Out for a walk something catches my eye. It might be the light playing in the leaves. It might be how the colors of the forest shift in interesting ways as I’m taking in a scene. Whatever it is, it seems worthy of a photograph, but once the photograph is taken what I usually end up with is just a mass of trees.

HDR mode, as great as it is, is no match for the human eye connected to the human brain.