Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In which we discuss the merits of Instagram, & August Photo a Day Challenge Day 7: 8 o'clock

For today's Photo a Day Challenge prompt, "8 o'clock," is another image edited using Instagram.

Taken with my Samsung Dart

 Have you tried Instagram? I put off trying it until yesterday, because I had assumed it was just some fad with little real merit. Why use Instagram when I can achieve pretty much whatever visual effects I like with a computer program, such as Picassa?

Then a few days in to this photo challenge I began to get frustrated with my lack of tools for uploading photos. I currently use an old iBook G4 with somewhat limited capabilities (read: half the time the USB ports don't work & it doesn't have an SD card slot). Which leaves me to either upload my photos at work (and thus not post daily) or use my phone for most of my photo a day images. So I've been playing around with using my phone for the challenge photos, and it has proven to be extra challenging.

Even with a fairly basic camera it's generally possible to adjust the shutter speed, aperture, & film speed to make the available light work for a shot. With my phone, the settings are essentially day or night, and there isn't even a flash. Taking a picture in low light? It will probably look grey. Want a close-up of something? Unless you're okay with blurry, forget it. Now I could buy a second micro SD card, use it in the micro-to-SD card converter to take photos on the camera, then transfer the micro SD card to my phone, and then upload them to wherever. I do kind of want a micro SD card with a larger memory anyway. But doesn't that all that sound rather, um, complicated?

Which leads us to Instagram. For months I had secretly been admiring some of the photos friends had taken with it. I was intrigued. But I was still convinced it was beneath me because it made photo enhancement too easy. Basically my thinking was "if Joe Shmoe can use Instagram to take snapshots, then it's not good enough for my photographs." Which is kind of like saying "if Joe Shmoe uses this type of pot to cook with, then it's not good enough for my cooking." Faulty logic much? A tool is a tool, and its ease of use doesn't preclude the use of said tool to create art. So eventually I got down from my high horse, and began to see the value in this new tool. With Instagram I can boost the quality of my phone photos and easily upload them, then use them any way I like. It's not without its flaws of course, but so far I think I like it.

What are your thoughts on Instagram & other apps like it? Do you love it, hate it, feel neutral about it? How do you feel about digital photo editing in general? Do you digitally manipulate your photos at all, or are you a purist? I'd love to hear your opinions, so please do share!

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