New Garden Lens

Back in 2008 I posted about how, enamoured by the distortions and light leaks of Holga and Lomo cameras, I was on a path of digital processing and manipulatiing photos to emulate this elevation of mundane pictorial record to something that 'felt' more like a memory. Here's some of the many images I've worked on since then under the theme of 'botanic nostalgia.

I also said that although the process was labor intensive, working in photoshop with many layers - I preferred it to the scripts or software that allowed holga and lomoesque effects at a touch of a button. As of a week ago, this is no longer true since I discovered the iphone app  Hipstamatic (which emulates the look of photos taken by the original Hipstamatic) which does, truly, a brilliant job of randomizing the colors and exposures to create quite beautiful versions of mundane subjects - see above. I have actually taken the exact same photos on my regular camera and tried to do the same with less successful results.

There's another app made by the same company called Swankolab which takes photos taken on your iphone (or ipod in my case) puts them through a digital retro darkroom lab to achieve similar results. You can also take one of your Hipstamatic prints and process them further in Swankolab. This means you have a variety of 'film' and lens' choices and then a variety of processes where each combination and the order in which you combine affect the outcome.

I am now officially a fan and they are legion. This past week the NYTimes published a series of War Photographs  taken on an iphone using Hipstamatic on its front page which electrified the digital community who cheered the recognition of the medium as front page cover worthy. There's an interesting piece in the Atlantic about the artfulness about the medium referencing the Pictorialism movement at the turn of the century and the current iphone as art exhibition currently touring the country.

How 'good' the images are, are only half the story. The other half lies in the equipment itself, the iphone/ipod. I started a twitter account in spring last year with the idea that I could send out images that didn't require a narrative like they would in a blog post. I also thought it could be more documentary or chronological. That didn't really play out well as it required me to actually have my camera with me at all times and then I still had to select, edit (reduce the size, crop etc) before posting to twitter. I always on the other hand have my ultra slim ipod in my pocket and as this article about the new age of the connected camera explains, the 'processing' is entirely different- you take the image- if you like it you email it. In my case I email it directly into my flickr account where I then immediately blog it to my twitter account. This is game changing in this new age of micro publishing, blogging call it what you will especially for me as my main trade here is more visual narrative.

So add up portability, immediacy and artfulness and you see the potential of my new garden lens. Will it replace the tedious post processing that I've been doing? Absolutely not, because I just enjoy it in fact I've started experimenting with a combination of Hipstamatic, Swankolab and Photoshop. I also don't always process images, sometimes it's the old school decisive moment driven by opportunity and being in the right place at the right time.  I am however loathe to get any more 'technical' with my equipment - I still use a Pentax Optio 750, now minus the protective shutter- it got stuck so I removed it as in ripped it out. Upgrading to a DSLR is crazy  expensive and not a priority and I'll admit shallow as it is- I really don't like the look of those clunky things. At the grand price of $3.98 for both those apps I feel newly equipped and looking forward to energizing my twitter stream- which incidentally, the new version is integrated with flickr and  allows instant views of photos if you click the photo icon on the right of the post.

ipod got stolen- no more hipstamatic until they make an app for the android which is what I have now

upgraded my camera to a Olympus EP1

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