Tag Archives: instagram

What Smartphone Apps Have Changed Your Life?

Has the way you live evovled by way of a smartphone app? What’s a non-standard add-on (besides maps, texting, etc.) that’s changed – hopefully for the better – the way you conduct daily life? Not necessarily saying they’re the very best, here are my immediate top three:

Instagram App1. Instagram

This app has literally changed the way I see the world and connected me with people from all over the globe through a very user-friendly interface, turning ordinary snapshots into art with the barest minimum of effort. I now see the world through “Instagram Eyes” and have gotten so much from what it offers Although the recent spam influx and terms of service update now have me exploring elsewhere, there’s no denying Instagram’s impact.

Dragon Dictation2. Dragon Dictation

This app listens to what you say and turns it into text. It’s like magic. It’s fast, intuitive, and lets you easily email, MMS, or copy and paste what you say. I’ve used it for years to handle texting and  composing blog posts, and it accurately gets the job done every single time. It’s been life-changing by by bringing my phone new functionality with incredible convenience and capability. Now that speech-to-text is built into the iPhone, I’ve been using Dragon less, but they were the ones to get it right first.

Pandora3. Pandora

This is the mobile version of the already robust website, but I mention it here because of how it’s impacted my enjoyment of music. Pandora is streaming radio where you create stations based on artists, songs or themes. It serves up related music, and gets better over time as you thumbs-up or thumbs-down what plays. I couldn’t begin tell you how much great music I’ve discovered this way. It’s a simple premise: “if you like this, then you might also like this” — and Pandora’s highly personalized  approach wins the day for me, even though I also enjoy similar services like 8Tracks. Even TheStreet.com says Pandora has “rendered terrestrial radio, on a grand scale, obsolete.” Consider how long radio has been in our lives as you consider that statement.

What do you think? What apps have made a difference in the way you do things? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Trade Street and Tree

Trade Street And Tree

Trade St. & Tree | See full size at 500px | Originals at Flickr

I’ve been meaning to document this doorway for a while. I ride by it at least a few dozen times every month. So it only felt right to work it into a montage. I snapped an image of it using Hipstamatic one day while waiting at a traffic light. Later, I realized it would be more interesting with the door part obscured and replaced with an image of a tree. I snapped the tree photo in the moment, especially for this image. But it still needed at least one more element, so I browsed through my repository of unfettered originals from here and there, and found the perfect complement in this outdoor light from a bar, Single Brothers, a few blocks up from where the door exists.

Trade Street and Tree

Originals at Flickr

So, I mix all this together in Photoforge2 with masks, a border, varying levels of curves/levels/clarification adjustments, and here we are: an image to accurately represent my creative vision that also represents a part of my city. There’s even more of Winston-Salem, on Instagram, courtesy the good folks at Airtype and their Winstagram project.

What do you think? Ever seen any interesting doorways in your city? What would you create in a photomontage? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Flickr to Instagram: It’s ON!

I just had my first whirl with the new Flickr mobile app. And… woah. It’s good. I mean really good.

The New Flickr App for iPhone

Flickr’s New App. Shown here with the “Mammoth” filter. Look out, Instagram

The new Flickr app for iPhone sports filters, easy browsing, a nice uploading interface… all on top of Flickr’s superb online Pinterest & Twitter integration. Overall, I must say it looks like Instagram got Flickr to step up its game. To that I say, well-played, Flickr. Well-played indeed.

Instagram in the crosshairsOperation: Target Instagram

If Instagram feels like it’s in the crosshairs, it’s with good reason. I had long been a fan of Flickr for general storage, but gravitated toward Instagram for the image discovery & immediacy of sharing. I have a feeling that’s going to change. And not just for me — I know more than a few folks who have been less than pleased with and seeking alternatives to Instagram lately thanks to spam or yanking its previews from Twitter.

This is not to say it’s perfect. It’s still not as snappy as Instagram, since applying filters and edits takes a bit longer — but you can do meaningful edits right from within the app like adding text, brightness/contrast, and basic retouching. You have to use a separate 3rd party app at present to do any of that for an Instagram upload. Conversely, features like the ability to tag people in photos, browse your favorite groups, and do batch uploads (thanks, Emily @_@) were already baked into Flickr. Having these tools now in the mobile app — along with just basic functionality like being able to zoom in — makes Flickr’s app superior to Instagram on a number of noticeably important fronts.

Given the massive leap forward of this latest edition, I’m optimistic that things will only improve further for Flickr going forward. Here’s a closer look with video of the new app from Flickr’s blog:

 
What do you think? Are you a fan of Instagram or other online photo networks? What’s your experience with Flickr been like? Let us hear from you in the comments.

If you like this, share it on Twitter (and thanks).

Instagram Spam Protest: “Go Private Day” December 4, 2012

Instagram spam has been exploding, with no stop in sight. Formerly attractive hashtag photo groups are now becoming polluted with ads for more followers and get-rich-quick schemes: Instagram Spam

Hashtag: #OneDayWithoutSpam

Users have become increasingly annoyed at the situation, organizing an informal “instaprotest” by setting their profiles to private on December 4 and using the hashtag “#OneDayWithoutSpam” in related posts.

Instagram Spam

What do you think? Will a protest make a difference? Have you noticed more spam on Instagram? Could this affect Facebook’s stock price? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Met goes Online for the Photo-Sharing Masses

Instagram, meet your ancestors: an exhibit’s digital version bridges the generations of old school photo manipulation and our social media-fueled image sharing obsessions.

There’s an astounding display of pre-computer-era photomontage and photomanipulation now exhibiting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. It’s got everything from vintage trickery to surrealist expressions, all done before the advent of digital tools like Photoshop. In a beautiful irony, the exhibition is made possible by Adobe, makers of the Photoshop software.

But you don’t have visit NYC to see it…

What’s amazing to me, and what inspired this post, is that there’s an equally astounding digital representation of the works available for your browsing pleasure – more than 200 in all. Online, for free. Which is pretty darned sweet.

Faking It - Manipulated Photography before Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's website.

Click this link at the site and enjoy.

An innocuous “Works in the Exhibition” link just above the fold at The Met’s website takes you to an incredible look at what’s inside. I call it incredible not just for the content (which is beyond incredible to me), but because it exists online for our easy perusal and sharing. I’m thrilled not only to see such amazing art here, but also to see The Met’s embracing of the digital community in order to promote the exhibit.

The site features an elegant photo slide show, complete with sharing functionality to Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and other networks. They even offer hi-res jpegs of some of the works for extra-close viewing or downloading via fullscreen mode.

Download select images from the exhibition

There’s an app for that, of course

Perhaps you would prefer to view these works on your iPad? No problem. The free iPad app accompanying the exhibition offers easy browsing of a handful of the included works and an interactive quiz exploring the motivations and techniques.

There's an app for that.The app’s target audience seems to be the kids, and I bet this would make a fascinating case to a young creative mind about the power of photo manipulation as art and the importance of questioning what we see – with the latter becoming ever more important considering the issues raised by digital photo editing and popular notions of beauty.

More than just “fakes”

Long before Instagram or Photoshop, there was darkroom wizardry. What got me interested in the exhibit in the first place was its inclusion of amazing photomontage art from the likes of Jerry Uelsmann (my all-time top inspiration) and Angus McBean:

More than just "Fakes"

Jerry Uelsmann, “Untitled,” 1976.                       Angus McBean, “Christmas Card,” 1949,

In my opinion, the app and companion website add tremendous value to the whole endeavor, allowing people to connect and interact with historically relevant art in ways that are common these days because of experiences like InstagramPinterest – and especially Photoshop. Huge props to Adobe for sponsoring this.

Thanks to the Met’s generous actions in the digital realm, I’m even more inclined now to physically visit the museum, see these works in person and probably buy a catalogue in the meantime (and speaking of catalogues, check out these other more than 300 Met Museum catalogues downloadable for free).

Having been a graphic artist for many years, I’ve practically lived in Photoshop as an operating system, and working there is my favorite part of design, more so than typography or arranging layouts – leading right up to today with my own iPhone photomontage creations:

The Aha Moment - Richard Smith

“The Aha Moment”
More of my stuff at RSMITHINGS.com.

I’m happy to have signed up for a My Met membership thanks to this excellent digital representation, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of what’s to come – something I hadn’t much considered until discovering the online component of this exhibit. Props to The Met for harnessing and embracing the power of the Internet for cultural benefit. Now go visit The Met’s site, metmuseum.org and discover something cool for yourself.

What do you think? Does such open sharing increase or decrease the value of museum offerings? Or is that a non-issue in our world of mobile photography, photo-sharing networks and interconnectedness? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Up With The Sun: a MobileArtistry Feature

The Instagram-based group, MobileArtistry, includes me in their gallery today as a featured artist. I created this montage as an example of my style for the feature and did the following writeup on my technique. My huge thanks to them for the highlight.

Up With The Sun - click to see more like this at Pinterest

Up With The Sun – click to see more like this at Pinterest

Ever since seeing a book of Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontages in college, I’ve been fascinated with the art form and have since become motivated to become a professional graphic artist, designing for over 16 years now. Manipulating reality for artistic effect in Photoshop has always been my favorite part of designing, so when I discovered iPhoneography, and especially the app Photoforge2, which is very similar to Photoshop, I was hooked. It was seeing the evocative iPhoneography of Sion Fullana that inspired me to give it a go, and Sion was even good enough to share his guidance with me on what apps to get started with.

Repost of Up With The Sun at MobileArtistry

Repost of “Up With The Sun” at MobileArtistry

How The Magic Happens

I basically take photos all the time with my iPhone 4 of whatever I find interesting. When the urge to create strikes, I’ll mix ‘em up and see what happens. It’s really as simple as that. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed, and other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving.

For this montage, I combined two photos I took on a Saturday in late summer: one of a wig mannequin at a beauty supply shop, and another of a rising cloud at a winery out in the country. Both were shot originally in with Hipstamatic, using the John S. lens. Wig girl was shot with Rock BW-11 film, and the cloud was shot with Blanko film. You can see the originals at my Flickr stream.

Originals for this montage - click to view at Flickr

Originals for this montage – click to view at Flickr

I brought wig girl into Dynamic Light and gave her the Solarize treatment. I also used Noir to get the right mix of monochrome highlights in the cloud scene. Next, I brought both images together in Photoforge2, each on its own layer. I set wig girl’s blending mode to Overlay, then selectively hid and revealed bits of each layer via masking. Finally, I did some minor cloning cleanup in Filterstorm, then added the copyright & signature with Phonto. I named this after a U2 song lyric in “Gone,” an expansive rising track that seemed appropriate for this composition.

What’s amazing to me is how, as I’ve become adept with a few apps, I can pull techniques from each of them almost like selecting colors on a palette. It’s like having a box of tools to achieve an artistic vision… that fits in your pocket and makes phone calls, too.

Thanks very much to MobileArtistry for featuring me – it’s an honor to be included with such beautiful, creative art. Definitely check out their great gallery for consistently innovative creations.

Mr. Waspy – Single Image Sundays

Mr. Waspy

Click to see this fellow in a montage,
Mr. Waspy McFlowerstein” at Pinterest.

I saw this guy hanging out one morning from the inside of a glass door (hanging out, ha!) and snapped a few quick images using a Photojojo macro lens and Hipstamatic app via iPhone. With a slightly different angle, I then featured this fellow in a montage: Mr. Waspy McFlowerstein.

What do you think? Ever experimented with macro photography? What do you think of wasps? What would you name this guy? Let us hear from you in the comments!