Love what you an do with paper.
Hipstamatic is in the family of iPhone camera apps that let you make your photos look like they were shot on a cheap toy camera. That’s kind of counter-intuitive after dropping a couple hundred on your phone, and the results can range from dramatic to kind of trashy. This all depends on the filters you use. Hipstamatic’s model is a little different than those of Instagram, Camera+, and the like. Instead of giving you the option to shoot first and be creative later, you need to choose your filters first and hope for the best. The filters come in the form of films, lenses, and flashes that apply the effects directly to your shot. this gives Hipstamatic the most analog feel of any of the camera apps I tried so far. While this can be a hindrance, I like shooting with Hipstamatic because I have to fiddle less with my snapshots and still get good results. I won’t be discussing all of the features of Hipstamatic or go into step-by-step detail, but I’ll go through how I stripped my gear down to create a few of my favorite combinations.
To be honest, Hipstamatic is a bit fussy. The way filters are applied, through different lenses and films with not so obvious names about what they do can be really confusing. (This is why I disabled all but a few options that would leave me with the best results.) Sometimes it also seems more concerned with simulating a real camera than making it easy to take good photos. There is no going back to straighten that crop and the filters do not preserve the original image – what you see is what you get. Also, be prepared to cough up a buck for new camera packs once in a while. (That’s not a criticism, just a fact.) I normally pick up new packs as soon as I see them. That’s because Hipstamatic uses a limited release model for some camera packs so they may not always be available. That can be disappointing if the one lens/filter you really want isn’t in the store anymore.
I should also note the app has an oddly long processing time. I’m not sure if this is due to slow image processing filters or a desire to simulate the analog process. Luckily an earlier update added background processing so you could keep clicking the shutter. The original version made you wait this oddly long time between shutter clicks. This is no longer the case.
I was able to tame the Hipstamatic beast by severely cutting down on my options. The only real way to do that is to take a lot of pictures and see how they compare based on films and lenses. The good news is that someone already did the legwork for you. The Hipstamatrix is a great resource to narrow down the combinations to use to get the look you want. Your mileage may vary, however. For example, the cleanest “unfiltered” looking photo in the matrix uses the Robo Glitter lens which always gives me the intended star effect. I don’t know how they were able to take the sample photo without one. But, for the most part, the matrix is very helpful.
Overall, the look I was going for was to try to stay on the unprocessed side of the scale. I think I had my fill of over-processed, filter on filter, photos…my own included. So I tried to narrow it down to a good color combo, black and white, a straight out of the camera look, and some warmer looks. By using the favorites in the app, you can set film, lens, and flash to something that works to give you the look you want. Favorites are important if you want repeatable results. Hipstamatic also has a shake to randomize feature. That’s great if you want to remove this thought process and hope for the best. But since the app only gives you one chance to get a shot, I prefer to have repeatable results.
So my goal was to create a few settings to take much of the randomization out of the app. I try to avoid the artful, random color splashes from simulated light leaks or the effects of artificial aging. I wanted to have clean to no borders with good image quality with variations in saturation and warmth.
The first image quality setting is the toggle next to the lens. Slide that lever all the way to the top. This will give you the maximum image quality but longer processing times. I never fool around with trying to start out with the largest image that I can get. Turn it to eleven.
Next, my goal was to have clean borders. So, using the Hipstamatrix, I was able to narrow down my choices to just a few.
The DC film is a nice color choice for clean black borders. The goal of most films is to provide unique borders while lenses provide the filters. Some options for lenses and films cross those lines, but the films I go with are generally for border effects.
My black and white option for film is the Claunch 72 Monochrome. This has clean black borders and also provides the best monochrome color contrast.
I also wanted a white border choice just in case I wanted to contrast with the image. The clean border choice for white borders is Blanko or Ina’s 1935. Ina’s gives the photo a soft white border and Blanko has a crisp line.
Lenses provide the filter effects. Sometimes when paired with the right film, they can result in some pretty neat secondary effects. Sometimes it just looks like a ruined photo. Since the film settings I use don’t have secondary filtering, I normally don’t have to worry so much about layering effects. I also prefer to avoid the lenses that can result in random splotches on the image.
My go to lens would be the Loftus lens from the Foodie Hipsta Pack. This lens really generates nice saturation with a macro effect (blurred vignetting) that I think really enhances the photo. I have a camera favorite for the color version and the black and white version of this using the DC and Claunch films – this is, by far, my favorite combination.
My second goal was to try to find a just out of the camera look. It’s kind of a toss up between the Helga Viking and the Hipstamatic standard John S lens. They both take good images. The Helga images tend to have a reddish hue while the John S has more of a green cast and heavier vignetting. Both take pretty sharp images so I keep favorites for each using the Ina’s film.
Another option I wanted was to have a low-contrast, yellowed, 1970′s snapshot effect. This favorite uses the Alder 9009 lens to suck the contrast out of the photo and the Blanko film for a sharp white snapshot border. This is one of my “when the mood strikes me” options.
My final favorite is, unfortunately, not available right now. I picked this up last weekend during a limited weekend re-release. The Lucas AB2 lens gives an image a rich golden tone that leans to earthy browns. This is now a favorite that I pair with Ina’s 1935 and keep in my bag.
One of the remaining options for customization is flashes. I very rarely use a flash and haven’t really experimented with them much. One trick with Hipstamatic is that you can turn on a flash effect without turning on the actual camera flash. You do this by sliding the flash bar to the first dot (in the middle) instead of all the way to trigger the flash sound. Flashes generally provide random effects, pops of color, or color tints to the photo. Some just bump up the exposure. I put a Pop Rox flash on my favorites just in case I want to try to use it. I still rarely use a flash – even a simulated one.
My approach to trying to manage all of the options and combinations that are available with Hipstamatic is to narrow it down to just a basic set. Then I experiment here and there based on my standard settings. Occasionally I’ll try the green-tinted John S with the hotness of the Alfred Infrared film and get some interesting results or abandon my clean lines for some Kodot XGrizzled. It’s convenient that you don’t have to mess with filters afterword (because you actually can’t) and the images are ready to post to Instagram, Tumblr, or wherever. You can post directly from the app and tag your photos with the filters you used. Tagging can be a messy series of hashtags, but it helps other Hipstamatic users find great example photos.
I enjoy Hipstamatic. It doesn’t make you a photographer, but it is fun to play with. I like that a once and done approach may get you to think about what you’re going to shoot before you press the button. I guess another benefit is that it can take the blame for my bad photos too.
Here are the combos I’m using right now. Happy shooting:
So I finally got into Google+ over the weekend and so far it looks pretty nice. There’s room for improvement of course – but that’s to be expected in a not-yet released product.
One potential problem I realized during my hour-long commute this morning, is G+ gives complete editor control in the hands of a post author. That makes perfect sense when you’re posting something to your stream. But this rule also seems to apply to comments under posts. That means there may be some postings you won’t be able to be edit or delete once they hit your stream. This could be an ugly situation once the spambots (you know they’re out there) start exploiting it. For example: make a public post in your stream so anyone can comment, and spam could be deposited in your conversation thread that you have no way of removing. That is, unless you decide to trash the whole post – not such a great option. I can say from my experience running message boards, spammers can be relentless. Without moderator control, it could make for a really bad experience.
Now I don’t know what Google has up it’s sleeve to protect against spam. It’s entirely possible they’ll have anti-spam capabilities in place based on their email experience. Plus, this could all change by the time G+ is really released to the wild. Other than my imagined problem, the experience is great and it’ll be interesting to see how the service evolves.