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iPhoneography: Instagram

Instagram logo
I’ve decided to start a series of articles about iPhoneography and my favorite photo apps for my iPhone. For this first issue, its all about Instagram. It’s insta-awesome. Ista-fun. And FREE. Boom. You can’t beat that, right?

Iphone anyone? Oh wait, a droid? Now instagram is available for android phones but from what i hear, its limited in the number of filters. So, for those who dont know what instagram is, where have you been? Its been my addiction for a couple years now. Its an iphone photo app (and now a version for android phones). It’s actually more than just a photo app. It’s a photo social media app. Think twitter, but with photos instead of tweets. That doesnt even capture it completely. Think twitter, with an button for instant translation into nerd speak, or hipster slang. Basically, take iphone photos into instagram, apply one of many cool funky filters or editing effects, then add to the Instagram world feed of streaming photos. Its social in that you can browse other people’s photos and “like” them, comment on them, and even follow other users so their photos show up in your instagram feed.

So, how does instagram work? I can only speak for iPhones because, well, I use iPhones. It’s a free app in the App Store. If you don’t have it, then stop right now, go to the App Store, and download it. I promise, you”ll kiss me for this advice. Once you download the app, you need to set up your account. It’s the usual stuff, username, real name, email, etc. it’s always nice to look at someone when you interact with them online, so add your profile photo. If you don’t have one, simply hold your phone out, and snap a self portrait of yourself right now 🙂

So, now what? Well, you start by taking a photo (or using a photo from your camera library on your iPhone). I prefer to take a photo with my normal camera app that comes standard with my iphone5, but taking the picture within the Instagram app would save a step. Instagram is based on square format images, so if you are using a photo taken with the phone (not within Instagram) then it won’t be square, so you’ll first have to size and crop the image. I’ll use an iphone photo of leaves as an example. Open Instagram and choose your photo from your camera’s photostream. You’ll now have the image in the SCALE & CROP screen.

image of Instagram cropping screen and picture of fall leaves

choose your image and crop to your liking.

Just use your fingers to drag the square around until you are happy with it. You can make the square smaller, wich will zoom in on the photo. Once you’re happy with the crop of the image, click on NEXT.

You’ll now see your image cropped square, with a bunch of little thumbnails below (or on the side if holding your phone in landscape orientation). Each one of those thumbnails is a different filter, adding a different effect to your image. You can click on them and see how it alters your image. Here are examples of my favorite filters: Amaro, lo- fi, and earlybird.

comparison of 3 different Instagram filters on a photo

a comparison of my three favorite instagram filters on the leaf picture

There are a few little icons that also do cool nifty awesomeness to your photos. The little diamond with the circle -arrow around it will turn the photo 90˚. The little frame will remove any border or frame that is included in the filter. The droplet will allow you to add a blur to the image. There are 2 types of blur: one is a circle in focus and the rest out of focus, and the other is a straight section across the image that is in focus. Use your fingers to pinch the focus area smaller, move it to a different position, or enlarge the transition between focus and blur. Finally, the little sun with black and white center will increase contrast and definition. Play around with them and see what you think.

Once you have finished choosing your filter, click NEXT. That will bring up a screen where you can add a caption. most people add some sort of description, or saying, or something to go along with the image. You can hashtag as well to help people find the image by searching. Think of hashtaging (#) as a file folder label. You can add as many as you want. You can also add them later in additional comments to the image. There are various other settings here. You can also post directly to your facebook page, tumblr page, Flickr, etc.

instagram image of colorful leaves, using Lo_fi filter.

finished image, using Lo-Fi filter

Instagram has helped me be more creative in my regular work. It’s given me the freedom to be less than perfect and still have fun. They are only iPhone pictures afteral. No pressure. They don’t need to be well edited. I have to think about what I want to create and think how I can do that within the confine of an iPhone. Browse through instagram and youll see that photographic art is not about big fancy expensive cameras, but about the eye and creativity of the artist.

If you’re not on instagram, you should be. It’s free. It’s fun. It makes your Iphone happy.

You can find me (and follow me) on Instagram under the name Rocktog.


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  • April 29, 2013 - 2:18 pm

    Dave Brown - Great advice for the newbies. Great idea for a post.

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