I have a number of observations about a few different camera and film combinations coming up in the next week or two.
Let’s start at the high-tech end of the range with the faux low-tech Hipstamatic filters on the iPad Mini. To borrow from Jane Austen, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that taking photos in public places with an iPad or other tablet device is very uncool. I’ve been at remote mountain lookouts and been handed an iPad to take family snaps of strangers and I’ve turned around in the middle of a four hour hike in the Australian desert to see someone whip out a tablet to take a photo. On both occasions I adopted a haughty air of superiority as I used whatever “real” camera I had with me to take the same photo.
But I regard the iPad Mini differently. Firstly, it has a better camera than most big iPads, and is easier to handle for taking photos. Secondly, I don’t own an iPhone or a new generation iPod Touch, so if I want to join the mobile photography revolution it’s either the iPad Mini, or my work provided Blackberry, which I don’t count because it reminds me of work. So I’ve trotted out the iPad Mini on a few occasions recently, played with various photo apps and have landed on Hipstamatic as my current favourite.
I used to place Hipstamatic on the same low pedestal as Instagram, probably because of the predominately square image format and the fairly strong social networking angle of the product. I can’t stand Instagram because it seems to have become a vehicle for peddling pure drivel and nothing to do with photography. I regard Hipstamatic far above Instagram, largely after I came across Hipstamatic’s genuinely interesting Snap! Magazine (reading it on the iPad Mini of course). I fully acknowledge that its pithy, fast-paced styling is tailored for a generation with the concentration span of a house fly, but I like Snap’s strong photojournalistic content and styling. It makes me want to live in San Francisco.
I’ve also come to accept the unashamedly fake photo styling produced by Hipstamatic’s endless combination of “lenses” and “film” types, because (a) I just have to get over being such a purist film snob, (b) it’s a nice change from the clean images I’m used to getting with my digital and film cameras, and (c) I think the effects are pretty decent imitations of traditional film processing techniques - and for the most part, they look great. These sentiments are far better expressed by Chris Knight in a great article on Fstoppers about Jenny Woods, a young photographer who seems to be solely interested in the image rather than the process. Her work is a perfect defence against the argument that a particular “look” can only be called genuine photography if it’s produced using traditional darkroom techniques. See more of Jenny’s stunning work on her website.
Anyway, on a recent holiday weekend in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, I decided to put the iPad Mini and Hipstamatic, with a few of its less garish filters, through their paces. My current favourite film types are C-Type and D-Type Plates. Here’s a sample of the results, straight from the iPad Mini, using the Plate films and one or two others. I’m looking forward to exploring more of this exciting form of photography. I might even get an iPhone one day.