Why do I photograph?

This question, via Om Malik’s excellent blog, is an interesting one that I haven’t asked myself. So why do I photograph? I love the process of trying to see things differently and a camera helps focus (no pun intended) that process. Whether its a different angle or crop, or different light, I always enjoy the challenge in trying to see things in the world differently.

As stated in other posts here I am also an iPhone photo app fanatic. I love playing with VSCO and Hipstamatic and the endless possibilities they bring to photography. Sometimes the tools are useful to make things look more like what your eye saw (top) vs. what the camera produced (bottom). Thanks Lightroom!

More often than not it’s to bring a sense of something else to the photo, a vintage look, a fantasy aspect, or maybe a sense of motion that wasn’t there in the first place. Whatever it is I love doing it and its the thing about my iPhone that brings me the most joy.

The building I work in is on the grounds of what was the Glenview Naval Air Station. When they turned it into commercial and residential use they created a park, Gallery Park, with a lake. This is an overlook on the lake. Edited with Hipstamatic Jane lens, Irom 2000 film, and Apollo flash.

The Jane lens adds a vignette around the outer edge of the photo it’s operating on and boosts the brightness in the middle, that’s its signature effect in my opinion (I’m sure it does more with the colors but in my mind those are the main things). Irom 2000 is borderless and warms up the photo a bit. The big surprise in the combo for me in this picture was the Apollo flash. Not only did it up the contrast in the photo but it really boosted the greens. I’m not sure if this was intentional or a bug but it worked wonders on this picture.

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.