Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 23, 2012
Some years ago I went to a Syracuse University football game with my friend Josh when they were playing a team they had better have beaten, which they did. There was one guy who pretty much lost his mind on every play, whether the team was playing offense or defense, and at one point Josh decided to take the guy’s picture on his phone and upload it… somewhere. I thought “how cool is that”, and wanted to do that sort of thing one day, but I didn’t have a smart phone.
Last May, I finally got my first smartphone, but found the transition from a regular cellphone for more than 15 years to a smartphone kind of daunting, so I decided to take my time before figuring out which image service I was going to use. It took me a long time, probably 9 months, before I finally decided which way to go.
I decided to go with Instagram for Android, since it had just come out, because there were so many iPhone users that were talking it up so much that I figured it had to be relatively easy to use. I found that it was easy enough, but that there were also some things associated with its use that, if you don’t know about them, will throw you off.
For instance, it probably took me 3 or 4 days to figure out how to take a picture with it. I thought it would work like Barcode Scanner where you just opened the program and it would open up the camera so you could take your picture. Instead, it opens up and you see this little toolbar at the bottom with 5 things on it, and the one in the middle activates the camera.
The second thing I learned is that you’re going to end up cropping your image in some fashion, which pretty much means you have to adjust your image on the fly to the proper size if you want to get it all into the picture. That is, unless you want to take the time to take lots of pictures of the same thing or start adjusting, realize it’s not right, and start over again. I’ve figured this one out; don’t get too close to your subject and you’re probably going to be good to go.
Cropping is pretty much one-dimensional; you’re going to end up with a square and that’s that. You can move your square around, but that’s the best you’re going to get.
The thing I’d read about that a lot of photographers didn’t like were these filters that you’re offered once you’ve cropped your picture. I tested them, as there’s your normal picture then 3 other choices, and frankly I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to use the filters because they all make your picture look surreal; well, maybe that’s why you’d do it, but what’s the point of doing it on your phone?
The last thing you get to is what your picture is going to look like and where you want to send it. I send my pictures to Twitter, Facebook or both, and that’s pretty much it. There’s this GeoTag thing you can select if you want to let the camera tell people where you are, but I have that setting off by default; I don’t like being tracked, as you know. You also have an space above where you can type in your message; is has to be somewhat short if it’s going to Twitter to get your entire message in but if it’s going to Facebook only I guess you could probably write a book.
You’d think that would be that, but it’s not. Turns out that instagram.com is only a site promoting the app; you can’t see your pictures there, which threw me off. A quick question on Twitter brought a response saying to go to Webstagram (make sure you look at the link; you can’t type in what you think) and set up an account there, which is what I did, and then I could see all my uploads, which works great because now if I so choose I can download my images from there to use in blog posts later on instead of having to keep everything on my phone.
Now you’d think that was all there is but once again I turned out to be wrong. Just last week I found out that people can, and will, subscribe to your picture page. I started noticing the Instagram icon at the top of my smartphone, in the area where it’s usually showing things that are running, and I wondered why. I clicked on it and it told me I had messages and likes; really? I went to check it out and indeed, I not only had messages but there’s more than 40 people following me; wild! I decided to follow one person so far and we’ve talked about a couple of her pictures here and there. That’s an interesting social media benefit that I have absolutely no idea how to really use, and I’m going to have to think about this one some more.
If you’re predisposed to want to check out some of my images, you can go to my Webstagram link, and you can even follow. One of the people, someone I know locally, said I seem to post a lot of pictures of food. Hey, it’s what I like to comment on! 😉
Now you know what I know about it; if you have any tips you’d like to tell people, please go ahead.