I got back home to Austin yesterday. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in several days of photography and as you might expect, I shot like crazy. Even though the Fujifilm X100S was my primary camera and the Olympus E-PM2 my HDR on tripod camera, I still found some time to shoot iPhone Instagrams.
Did you follow my little excursions in the Netherlands on my Instagram? I’m posting my favorites here like I did my Singapore Instagrams. And in one sense, posting these shots is tacit acknowledgement that I now consider these images on par with my other photographic creations. They may not match the same absolute technical quality, but the creative energy behind them is no different from using my bigger and more expensive cameras.
I’ve learned to enjoy Instagram as its own form of social photography. It’s light weight, casual and immediate. I would shoot occasionally, post processes and instantly upload, all on the iPhone. It gives me a visual diary as the trip progressed and it’s a fun way to pass the time on trains. To truly appreciate them, they’re best seen on modern high-resolution retina smartphone screens.
What’s unique about this form of photography is that the image capture, processing, viewing, distribution and sharing all happens on one device. For people who have an iPhone 5S, their view of the photograph is exactly as I intended. There’s no screen calibration or color matching issues. As an artist, that’s awesome.
Computers are notoriously inconsistent image quality wise. They all have different monitors, video cards and color profiles that conspire to alter the artist’s originally intended image. When I occasionally view my photos on a lesser computer, I’m aghast at how terrible they look. The colors are off or they are incapable of reproducing the full sRGB gamut. How many people color correct their screens using special hardware? I do and I can’t claim that my profile is that accurate either.
The gold standard for photo viewing has always been the print. I’ve actually been (secretly) experimenting in this area, which I’ll eventually talk about in future posts. Seeing my prints large on 13″ x 17” paper is fantastic — you see details that you miss on-screen. The downside, of course, is that you, the online viewer can’t see them. The other major downside is that I don’t get to post process the look of the image directly on the paper. There is a time-consuming and imperfect process of color calibrating the monitor to the printer in the hopes of producing output that resembles the screen. The dirty little secret is while the camera can shoot in sRGB, and the good monitors can display in sRGB, printers can’t print in sRGB.
So in one sense, while my iPhone produces technically inferior images to my expensive dedicated cameras, the post processing and display pipeline is clearly superior. The small but high-res and colorful screens don’t impress like a large print but they have the advantage of always being with you. These Instagrams become colorful jewels that can be shared with the world which have enough details to jog the imagination.
Ultimately, isn’t that what counts? You view images with your eyes but you see them in your mind and feel them in your heart. These small square photos have a surprising ability to evoke feelings and memories, if not for strangers but certainly for the photographer. Perhaps that’s why Instagram is so popular.
Please support this blog by clicking on my Amazon Link before buying anything.