Instagram-Ten Reasons to #Love

Final-Instagram-ProfileAhh…social media.  An absolute must for business owners, and an addiction for others.  My route to social media use was certainly business oriented, and after using different ones now for several years I definitely have my favorites.  I started with a Facebook business page, which seemed like a fairly easy transition from a personal Facebook page.  Twitter came next, although it is actually more difficult for me to write short tweets sometimes than blog posts.  After a friend suggested I try Pinterest I found myself hooked on this social media, although I think of it more as visual bookmarks and don’t find myself engaging in the social media part as much.  Then came Instagram.  My Instagram.  Why had I not explored it further at an earlier date?  I love photography, so this social media just seemed like a very natural fit for me.  It is definitely now ranked as my favorite social media.

Here are ten great reasons to love Instagram:

1.  It actually works as social media.  Meaning that you really can easily engage with other Instagram users.  The Instagram app allows you to quickly scroll through your feed and “heart” user photos you like and leave comments.  It is easy to make friends from around the world!

2.  As with Facebook, you are able to easily read through all comments so that interaction between users is encouraged.  Just type the @ symbol in front of a friend/users name in the comments section of any feed so they are pointed to a particular photo!

3.  Like Twitter, hashtags are used to quickly identify keywords for a photo, or to identify the photo with a particular group.  I have a hashtag that I assign to photos that I want to appear in my Instagram feed on my website.  Very easy to do!

4.  Like Pinterest, the photos are truly amazing – stunning in their beauty.  And while Pinterest boards typically contain photos from many different users/sources, Instagram allows you to focus more on an individual photographer’s work.

5.  Instagram is a photographer’s mecca.  While you may add photos to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram was really designed by photographers, for photographers.  So if photography is your thing, this is the social media for you!

6.  No writing required, other than the hashtags.  You can write a brief (or longer) description if you want, and some great Instagrammers do, but you certainly don’t have to.  Writing pressure off!

7.  This social media actually encourages you to LEARN a skill – how to be a better photographer.  With photo editing apps like Mextures, folks share their formulas for their photo filters on Instagram, thereby sharing their techniques.  And often they share a list of the photo editing apps they have used.

8.  How did they do it?  Look at different feeds and try to figure out how a particular photo was created.  Then download some new photo editing apps and try to recreate a photo you see.  I guarantee you will become a better photographer just by doing this!   Also sometimes photos are made available for others to submit their edits to.  Great interactions!!

9.  It is the perfect way to visually display your products for a business.  I use my feed for all my photography, but have seen some businesses beautifully display their goods using their Instagram accounts.

10.  Other services, like Printstagram work with your Instagram photos for printing purposes.  Create business cards, magnets, calendars, posters, t-shirts, and prints for yourself or your business.  Can’t do that with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  The folks at Facebook took a look, and purchased Instagram in April 2012!  Smart move.

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Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 12-Mix It Up

snappyhappy-galactic

I have certainly missed some weeks of this photo challenge as I have been creating my new Shopify web site, however am delighted to be able to finish the last couple of weeks, and plan on going back and completing the weeks I missed.  The idea for this final post is to “mix it up”, by using at least two out of the 11 different image edit options covered in the last 11 weeks via hosts We Live in a Flat and Fire Bonnet.

Beds-RawOriginal Bed Photo

I went back in time and pulled some of the first product photos I took with my kitties.  All four photos were taken with my DSLR Sony camera.  I decided not to pull them into Photoshop to blend out the white sheet I used as a background, but chose rather to completely edit these with the photo editing apps on my phone.

To start, I edited each of them separately with the photo app Afterlight.  I particularly wanted to use this app because it would easily allow me to “straighten” the photos, as well as apply other more standard editing techniques like brighten, contrast, sharpen, etc.  I then pulled the photo without cats into “Over” to add text, followed by a trip through “PicsArt” to add an artistic effect.  Last but certainly not least I turned to the “Moldiv” app to use the collage effect to pull all four photos together.  This is the finished result.  Hope you like it.  Saying “Here Kitty Kitty” certainly works for my guys!

Here-Kitty-Kitty Final Edited Photo

I want to thank our hosts We Live in a Flat and Fire Bonnet for this super challenge.  Even though I missed some weeks, I feel my editing skills with photo apps have tremendously increased.  And have filled up space on my iPhone and iPad. 🙂

Here is a list of all the photo apps I tried during the past 11 weeks:

Snapseed
Afterlight
Photo Toaster
100 Cameras
PS Express
Toon Camera
Bokeh Lens
Pic Art
LensLight
VSCOcam
Pho.to Lab
TextonPS
easyTITLER
Montager
Phonto
MobileMonet
Waterlogue
Glaze
Moldiv
Split Pic Pro
PicsArt
Mexture
Over
Alien Sky
Fragment
Disco Sketch
DistressedFx

Many of these I tried and did not even touch on during the challenge.  And although I guess this is showing some preference, I think that the one singular app that has me most enthralled me is Mextures, because it lets you create your own filters!  That being said, most of these apps are wonderful and well worth the time to explore.  So try some, and enjoy all that the new digital world has to offer.

Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 11-Text on Photos

Great-Big-Skies

We join weliveinaflat  and Firebonnet this week for the text on photos challenge.  The Moldiv and Studio apps are very well reviewed at weliveinaflat, and I encourage you to see all of her fine examples, and great thoughts on the many wonderful uses for text on photos.

I decided to give a few examples using the Over app, after discovering it via Instagram.   This is a paid app for the iPhone and iPad.  You are also able to purchase additional packs/fonts with this app, although I think the standard ones are very nice.  Over has a simple little half-circle “disk” off to one side that allows you to easily scroll to “add”, “edit”, “save”, “share”, etc, so is quickly learned.  It also has some interesting standard fonts like “Goon”, “Live Simply”, and “Lanhy”.  They are all a little more handwritten and rather free-spirited than most fonts, and give a nice modern touch to your photos.  Over also lets you add artwork, including some selections where you can add a preselected word or words to your photo.

Here are my examples of Over using these preselected words.  First is a photo of the area in west Austin near where I live (but no I don’t have a home…or views…like this).

This-is-the-Life

The second photo is one I also took in a small town west of here, and altered using my own filters made with Mextures, which I can safely say has become my new favorite photo app!  Made that red rock really red!!  Word added courtesy of the Over app.

Breathe

So, go ahead and try out the Over photo app; I think you will like it.  It seems that text on photos really works best if you can apply it over more solid color areas of a photo.  This way the text doesn’t get lost in the photo’s details.

Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 9-Double Exposures

snappyhappy-galactic

This week’s photo challenge will be a difficult one for me, I think.  Welcome back to Week 9 of the Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge hosted by We Live in a Flat and Firebonnet.  This challenge is discovering ways to create double exposures.  We Live in a Flat describes them this way:

If you have a film camera that allows you to expose the same frame twice to different subjects, you will end up with a photo that comprises the two scenes overlapping each other. Photos taken using this method are called double exposures. And in the case where there is more than two times the frame is exposed, the result becomes a multiple exposure.

I love the link to the video tutorial for good double exposures on We Live in a Flat’s site, especially the end of the tutorial that explains how to quickly create a double exposure in Photoshop.  However, since we are focusing on photo apps, I decided to try that same technique in my new app Leonardo, which also allows for double exposures.

It does seem that photos often look better with this technique in black and white; also I’ve noticed that photos where at least one photo is not too “busy” also work well.  So here goes…

I chose to use a photo of the Houston skyline, already adjusted in Afterlight and Mextures.  Then I took a quick photo of my husband’s eyes, again edited in Afterlight and converted to black and white.  As a “half” photo, I also knew the blending would be easier, so cropped the eyes appropriately.   Then I pulled both photos into the Leonardo app.  Here they are:

Leonardo-Eye-12-Snagit

Leonardo-Choose 2 photos to blend

Then, using the “blend” mode offered in the lower right-hand side of the screen, I selected the “burn” mode from the choices given.  This one seemed to blend the two photos best.  Once that was selected I fine-tuned the opacity on the eye photo so that the eyes blended better with the sky.

Leonardo-Eye-11-Snagit

 Leonardo-Adjusting the Opacity Levels

Having the original of the eyes in black and white caused them to be blue like the sky, achieving just the effect I was after!  Success!!  Here is the final photo.

Final-Eye-in-Sky

App Challenge Image
Eyes in the Sky

Mobile Device: iPhone 4s
App Used:  Afterlight, Mextures, Leonardo

Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 6-Color Filters

snappyhappy-galactic

We are now at Week 6, the mid-way point, of the ongoing 12 week photo challenge being hosted by We Live in a Flat and Firebonnet.  We Live in a Flat gives a good description of this week’s new challenge, color filters.

One of the easiest things to do with a photo app is to apply a colour filter. Tap to apply and there you have it, a boring photo given a little extra zing. Minimal effort.

I have to agree that applying a color filter, or other types of artistic filters, is one of the easiest things to do with all the new photography apps for phones and notepads.  In fact, it’s almost too easy to get carried away with all the options out there.  Sometimes the hardest decision to make is choosing which readily available photo technique to apply to your photo, or knowing when to put the proverbial paintbrush down and leave well enough alone.

100 Cameras in 1

This is a fun little app that I have explored before.  See my review from March 2013 here.  This app lets you apply those color filters with an easy tap of the finger.  The neat thing is that you can apply filter on top of filter, for almost unlimited choices and final look to your photo.  It is straightforward and simple to use, developed by world renowned photographer Trey Ratcliff.  If you have never had a chance to visit his site, you should do so.  He offers great photography tips & tutorials.  Since I have reviewed this app previously, I won’t review it again here, but as we are discovering color filter apps this week, I thought you might be interested in this one.

Mextures

This is my latest discovery, happened upon quite by happy accident this week while cruising through instagram and reviewing comments there.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I discover this!  An app that lets you create your OWN filters.  The Mextures app has more than 80 original high resolution textures made specifically for photographers by photographers.  You can choose from pack selections such as Radiance, Grit & Grain, Light Leaks, Emulsion, Grunge, Landscape Enhance, and Vintage.  Within each of these packs are numerous filters that you can apply to your photo.  And with each individual application, you can adjust the opacity of the filter.  But here’s the best part…rather than the old method of deleting a filter if you don’t like it, your filters are applied in true layers the way they are in Photoshop, so that you can rotate, hide and adjust the opacity of them as needed, seeing results in real-time  (via the eye symbol, again as in Photoshop).  Isn’t that so very cool?

And if all this isn’t enough, you can also choose to capture your favorite filter combinations and save them for later application on another photo.  Or not. Also within the formulas screen there are “guest” formulas that you can apply with a quick tap of your finger to your photo.  Want to explore them more?  Simply open the layers tab on any given one and you can see how many/which packs/opacity level the guest used to create the unique filter.

This is the app for anyone who wants ultimate control over their photo filter!

Here is my entry for the week.  Original photo (the same one used for the 100 Cameras in 1 sample).

Color-Filter-400x400

Original App Challenge Image
A Break in the Clouds

Mobile Device: iPhone 4s
App Used:  Snapseed, Mextures

And here is my final photo, altered with the advanced filters from Mextures.  Let me know what you think!

Color-Filter-2.1-Web

Final App Challenge Image

Want to have fun and participate in the photo challenge, or just visit the other entries?  Just click on the Snappy H’appy Logo at the top of this post!