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?

Lesson 14: Another Way to Be Hip

In yesterday’s lesson, we used an included “lens” and “film” in Hipstamatic to create some interesting effects in our photos. One of my personal favorite combinations in Hipstamatic is the combination of the Helga Viking lens and the D-type plate film, which creates a black and white, tintype effect.

However, that lens and film combination costs extra, so I thought today we would look at how to create a similar effect using the Camera Awesome app, downloaded in lesson 7 and further explored in lessons 8 and 12.

One of the differences between the two apps is that in Hipstamatic, you frame and shoot and you’re done. In Camera Awesome, you have more decisions to make while shooting and then you apply different edits to get the effects. The disadvantage is the time it takes. The advantage is that you have a “normal” photo to work with and you can always get back to the original to try something different. In Hipstamatic, you get what you get.

I often take photos with Hipstamatic and then take a similar photo using Camera Awesome or my DSLR so that I have both the Hipstamatic version and something I can control. I always have to laugh when I’m standing somewhere with my DSLR hanging around my neck while I’m taking a picture with my iPhone.

In any case, let’s take a look at what the tintype effect in Hipstamatic looks like compared to using edits in Camera Awesome.

This is what I got using the Helga Viking lens and D-type plate film in Hipstamatic of my dog taking possession of my husband’s shoes:


I took a similar image using Camera Awesome and started with this:


I tapped the magic wand to get into the edit screen, and then did the following (click to enlarge):

camera awesome vintage.001

Next, I added a preset and a filter. If you need detail instructions, you can look back at lesson 12, just choose the Lone Star preset and the Cyanotype filter.

camera awesome vintage.002

Finally, we’re going to add a frame to the photo–I didn’t show all the screens, but it’s basically a repeat of selecting a filter. The main difference is when you’re done, it’s time to tap the done button.

camera awesome vintage.003

Now, let’s compare the Hipstamatic to the Camera Awesome version:

I did this same exercise with a landscape photo of the fog in the hills this morning. I added a square crop to better emulate the Hipstamatic look, which is done using the “Transform” option from the editing choices. Here’s a comparison of the results:

Your Assignment: Find three types of subjects to photograph: a person or pet to photograph up close, a room or garden to photograph from a bit further back, and a large open area to photograph from far away (like up the length of your street). Using Camera Awesome, photograph all 3 of these subjects. Now try applying the editing instructions to see which of them you like best with this type of look. Which kind of subject do you like best?


Lesson 13: Getting Hip

OK, I was going to wait before introducing a new app.  Especially another one that costs money.  But, I can’t help myself.  Today, we’re going to look at Hipstamatic.  The good news is that it’s available for several types of phones; the bad news is that it’s $1.99.  And, there are so many add-on packs that you’ll probably want to spend several dollars before you’re done with this app–it’s a little addictive.

But, we’re going to start with some “included equipment” to keep the cost down.

Hipstamatic’s tag line is “digital photography never looked so analog.”  Essentially, through the magic of software, the app creates images with the characteristics of old, analog equipment.  The irony is wonderful.

If you look in my iPhonography Gallery, you will find many Hipstamatic images.  The vast majority of the ones I chose to share were created using an add-on pack that simulates a tin-type effect.  However, since that’s not included, I’ll save that one for later.

The way Hipstamatic works is that is allows you to change the “lens,” “film,” and “flash” to create the look of the historical equipment you choose.

Today, we’re going to select the film and lens, but let’s not use the flash.  To do this, click to enlarge the following instructions:

20130809 13 Getting Hip.001

Now that you’ve got the hang of switching lens, let’s choose the Buckhorst H1 lens (with the bright orange circles).  Next, we’ll choose the film.  Click to enlarge the instructions:

20130809 13 Getting Hip.002

Let’s choose the Kodak XGrizzled film for today’s lesson.

I have found it takes a while of shooting with a particular film and lens combination to figure out what effects they create.  I suggest not trying another combination until you feel like you know what that combination will do.  You can save the combination by tapping the star and creating a favorite.

Now, let’s try taking some photos.  Click to enlarge the instructions on how to get back to camera mode and enlarge the viewing area:

20130809 13 Getting Hip.003

Now it’s time to take photos.  Hipstamatic will create the effects and save the photos to your camera roll automatically.  Once you find a combination of film and lens you love, you’ll find it’s an incredibly fast way to get a really cool effect–very hip.

After you’ve taken some photos, here are instructions you can click to enlarge so you can see how to find your photos from inside the app:

20130809 13 Getting Hip.004

To get back to the camera mode, tap the image to see a frame with buttons and tap the bright yellow camera icon in the upper right corner.

One last pointer about Hipstamatic:  it creates square images.  This can have an amazing effect on how you view the world.  It also makes our earlier lesson on symmetry come in handy–symmetry works particularly well in square images.  Of course, asymmetry will also work if that’s what the subject calls for.

Your Assignment:  Go photograph everything!  Photograph small stuff up close, big stuff from far away, bright lights, indirect lights, skylines, dogs’ noses, and your key chain.  Photograph anything and everything that will hold still long enough for you to grab a shot.  It’s digital!  You can delete what you don’t like.  Take a look at what you got and decide the following:

  1. What kinds of subjects work really well with these effects?
  2. What kinds of subjects really don’t work well?
  3. Why do they work or not work?
  4. Can you take something that didn’t work and make it work by changing the angle or distance you’re shooting from?  Try moving your body up and down.

What do you think?  Is this a film/lens combo you can get addicted to?