Lesson 93: Old Places, New Dressing

Now that winter is upon us (well, some of us more than others) in the northern hemisphere, even the tired old subjects we see everyday take on a whole new look.  One of the fascinating things about photography is that everyday is a new day.  Every minute is changing light.  You can always find a new way to see the same thing you looked at last season, last night, the last minute.  This change is particularly dramatic as the seasons change.

So, in today’s lesson, I invite you to revisit a common, convenient location like your own yard.  Put on an extra layer or two if it’s especially cold in your neck of the woods, but by all means, get outside.  Even if you don’t have snow where you live.

Go out early–when the temperatures drop to freezing overnight and you get out before the sun has had a chance to warm things back up, frost can be a spectacular subject.

In fact, even when the frost isn’t that dramatic, like in these images, it still creates a different look by brightening what can otherwise be dull looking plants when there’s no frost.

On the particular morning I pulled out my iPhone to capture some frosty spots in my neighborhood park, the sun was low, shadows were long, and colors were drab.  After taking a few images with the Apple camera app, I decided to use the Hipstamatic app with the D-Type film for the tintype effect.

I like how the frost-covered plants look in the tintype effect–they jump out more with their frosty coating.  The Apple Camera app works, too.

 Your Assignment:  Pick a place that might feel a little tired as a photographic subject.  Your yard might be one such place.  A place you walk regularly might be another.  Make sure your iPhone is fully charged and then head out at sunrise (which isn’t so early these days) to look anew at what you’ve seen a hundred times before.  Look at the shadows and light.  Look for frost bouncing back the rising sun.  Look for new angles and new ways of seeing the same old thing.  Try the Apple Camera app.  Try the Hipstamtic app.  See if you can make something old look brand new.

Lesson 88: Hip Heads

In yesterday’s lesson, I took a rather mundane photo of the recent sculpture addition in my local park, a giant head.  I did several edits on it and showed you what I did.  Now, for those of you who are not particularly excited by the prospect of following 17 steps to make your image more interesting, don’t forget about Hipstamatic.  This gives you the ability to create many effects in a point-and-shoot way.

We first looked at the Hipstamatic app back in Lesson 13 and again in Lessons 14, 24, 29, and 30.  The thing about Hipstamatic is that you choose the “film” and “lens” you want to use, which is the same as picking a collection of editing effects and the camera does all the work for you.

In the 3 examples shown here, I used the same lens:  Helga Viking and 3 different films.  The first is the Ina’s 1935 film.  It gives the image more color and makes the sculpture pop out more.  The second example used D-Type Plate film, which simulates an old black-and-white Tintype photo.  Finally, in the 3rd example I used the C-Type Plate film, which intensifies the contrasts and shadows and also adds a touch of color.

Your Assignment:  Dust the cobwebs off of Hipstamatic and choose a lens/film you want to use.  Take an image of your favorite subject and then try changing to a different film.  Experiment with the film that creates an effect that works best with your subject.

Lesson 29: Hipsta-Classic

In lesson 13, I introduced the Hipstamatic App.  In lesson 24, we used the lens from the tintype pack.  Today, we’re going to use Hipstamatic with the D-type film and the Helga Viking lens.  The Helga Viking lens is part of the Williamsburg Starter Hipstapak; refer to lesson 13 on how to purchase additional hipstapaks.

I am particularly fond of this combination–I tend to like virtually everything photo I take with it, no matter what the subject is.  As someone who does a lot of landscape photography, I appreciate the front-to-back depth of field the Helga Viking lens provides–it works great for big landscapes.  Add to that the look of black-and-white tintype and you have instant classics.  Take a look at the gallery at the top of this lesson for examples.

Lesson 13 also explains how to change the lens and film in the Hipstamatic app.  One thing I didn’t explain in lesson 13 is that Hipstamatic has a feature that will select the lens and film for you when you shake your phone.  I do not like that feature–it causes me to end up with a different lens and film than I wanted when I least expected it.  So, let’s turn that off:

A handy feature that I use is setting a combination of film and lens as a favorite so it’s easy to pick that combo when I’m in a hurry.  Once you have the D-type film and the Helga Viking lens set, click the curved arrow at the lower right to turn the camera around and you’ll notice a star at the bottom of the case.  Here are the steps to save the combination as a favorite:

Now that it’s saved, to pick this combo, just tap on the star and then scroll through your saved favorites and pick this one.  It saves time in that you don’t have to switch to the back view of the phone and scroll through the lenses and film separately.

Now that you’ve got the Helga Viking lens and D-type film, it’s time to go shoot!

Your Assignment:  Try this combination in both indoor and outdoor settings.  Compare the photos you take to the ones you took in Lesson 24 with the Tinto 1884 lens.  Notice how what’s in focus is dramatically different?  What kinds of subjects do you like best with this lens?  Do you like having everything in focus compared to the Tinto 1884 lens?  Are there some subjects that work better with the Tinto 1884 lens than with the Helga Viking and vise versa?

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?