Lesson 24: Using Hipstamatic to Include and Exclude

In yesterday’s lesson, we talked about making choices to include or exclude different parts of a scene.  I showed you some examples that were all shot vertically and talked about the fact that this in itself is an act of exclusion and inclusion.

Now, I’d like to continue that lesson in the context of an app we downloaded several lessons ago, Hipstamatic.  We’re going to use a lens from an add-on pack, the Tintype pack.  It includes both C-type and D-type film along with the Tinto 1884 lens, which is the one we’ll be using.  For details on changing lenses and making purchases, see Lesson 13.

Hipstamatic introduces a couple of interesting choices in the context of inclusion and exclusion.  First, the frame is square.  It doesn’t matter if you turn your phone horizontally or vertically, you get the same stuff in the frame (believe me, I forget this almost every time I launch Hipstamatic and try turning the phone until the realization that it is still a square hits me, usually resulting in me smacking myself in the forehead for my stupidity).

Having a square frame makes a considerable difference in how you visualize your subject when it comes to inclusion and exclusion.  There is something totally different about taking a square picture over taking a rectangular one–the 1-to-1 proportion changes the balance of the photo and cuts things out that you might include in a rectangle.  If you’ve started seeing the world in a rectangle, it’s a great time to get out Hipstamatic and try shooting square.

Hipstamatic also introduces some unique effects on the photos that can include and exclude by where the eye is drawn.  For example, the eye is drawn to sharply focused areas in the photo.  Compare these two photos:

Notice that in one, my husband is sharply in focus while in the other, my dog is.  This dramatically changes what the photo is about even though both photos are otherwise quite similar.  To create this largely out-of-focus look, I used the Tinto 1884 lens.  One of the challenges of using this with the D-Type film shown is that you can’t select where to focus.  If you tap the screen, it takes a photo.  This makes it a bit of a trial and error game to get what you want in focus.  Based on testing with the Tinto 1884 lens, it seems that about the center of the frame will be in focus if there are no recognizable faces (notice my husband’s face was covered by the wind blowing his hair in the second photo).

However, take a look at these two examples, also using the Tinto 1884 lens:

Notice how in one, the rock in the background is sharp while in the other, the rock in the foreground is in focus.  The foreground rock is not in the center of the frame–however, if you squint, you can find a “face” in the pattern in the rock.  Ironically, facial recognition does not work for dogs even though it seems to work for rocks.

My advice, take several photos and check what is in focus.  Changing the angle you’re holding the camera to the subject may help Hipstamatic focus where you want–refer to the earlier lesson on holding the phone square (although you may need to do the opposite to get the focus you want).  If you are taking a portrait of a human, the facial recognition will work quite well as long as the human is somewhere near the center of the frame.

Your Assignment:  Pick a subject that you’ve taken photos of before using a rectangular frame.  Consider how the square shape of Hipstamatic affects what you can include in the photo.  Try different compositions to see what works best in the square shape.  If you have purchased the Tinto 1884 lens, try this lens to see what you get in focus and what you don’t.  Are you able to control what is included in the photo by the focus?