Why I love Instagram

As most of you probably know, Facebook recently purchased Instagram for $US 1 billion (which is about $AUS 2 billion if Adobe or Apple are charging…but that rant is for another time). This was disappointing on a few levels:
Firstly I don’t really like Facebook,
Secondly I had hoped that Google would purchase it for Google+,
…and Thirdly because I had offered to buy the company for $85, and that was now looking like it wasn’t going to be enough.

But none of this has been enough to diminish my love of this app. So I’m No Expert But…here’s why I love Instagram.

1. It can make remarkably average photos look sensational.
Allow me to present exhibit A:


2. It’s very easy to use
Just download the app onto your phone, then either take a photo with the app, take a photo with the phone’s camera or choose a photo from your library.
Open this photo in the app and start adding filters, blurs and borders.
Once you’re happy with how it looks you can then add it to your Instagram account, share it on Twitter or Facebook… and the photo is saved in your library if you want to email or text it.

3. Filters and blurs
There are about 18 filters available, giving you everything from pronounced black and blues, through to washed out reds and black and white. I personally like ‘X-pro II’, ‘Lo-fi’ and ‘hefe’. But it really depends on the photo you’re using.
The are only two blurs, but they are awesome. There is a circular blur that you can manipulate the size of, and that can used to cheat a depth of field. And there is a straight line blur which can create a pretty cool tilt-shift look.
One feature I’ve been using a lot is the ‘lux’ tool (the little sun like icon in the bottom left of your screen). It basically adds contrast and saturation to the image (the before and after shot above is a really good example of what it does).

4. But it’s not real photography
I can remember my guitar teacher telling me how he had played guitar for a couple of years and then bought his first wah-wah pedal…and suddenly everything he played sounded awesome. But he got so carried away with playing with the pedal that his actual  skills deteriorated.
This app can definitely have the same impact on your photography, an average photo can be made look pretty damn good. So you can get a tad sloppy.
But by the same token, I’ve learnt a lot about shooting with the filters in mind and have found that I’ve been getting better results out of Lightroom because I know what I’m looking to do.

5. It ain’t perfect…but it’s free
I discovered Instagram because I was annoyed by the shortcomings of Hipstamatic (limited preset looks, missed shots because the app was ‘cleaning the lens’, inability to apply effects to existing photos etc)…so initially it ticked a lot of boxes. However it would be great if the photos could be saved at a higher res (you can do this by using the camera in the app…but I don’t like that camera as much). I would really like to enlarge and print some of the photos I’ve taken…but the file size is so small that it look pixelated on anything larger than a phone.
I’d also like to have another black and white filter…the one that’s there already is pretty washed out and it would be nice to have one that had more shadows and contrast.
But seeing as I paid $0 for it…I’m not going to complain.

So if you haven’t already got it, then I recommend downloading and having some fun. If you’re using some alternative apps I’d love to hear what you’re using and why…and if you want to follow me on Instagram my use name is @sumo_21

I’ll leave you with some photos I took on a recent trip to Geelong and Warrnambool.


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