Hipstamatic = iLomos

I have a confession to make — I like blurry photos. I’m not talking about poorly focused images but the kinds of images that ┬átake on a dreamlike quality because of motion, lens flare or a variety of other factors. I think that’s one of the reasons I like Lomography so much. Lomography, if you’re unfamiliar with it, ┬ábegan with the 35mm Lomo LC-A camera which was manufactured in St. Petersburg, Russia during the Soviet era. Because of shortcomings in the manufacturing process, each Lomo camera that was produced had slight defects in the lens resulting in blurry, sometimes dreamlike images. Today, Lomography generally refers to photographs taken not only with the Lomo LC-A, but other “toy” cameras like the Diana and Holga.

I went digital several years ago and while I still shoot film occasionally, I don’t own any of the cameras that fall under the Lomo umbrella. I’ve written before about creating Lomo like images digitally but those experiments have been post production, in other words I manipulate the photograph in Photoshop after I’ve taken it. Recently though, I’ve been experimenting with another more intuitive method for creating digital Lomos using my iPhone and an app called Hipstamatic. Available on Apple’s App Store, Hipstamatic essential gives your iPhone the ability to mimic several of the toy cameras used for Lomography.

Hipstamatic lets you switch between several types of film, lenses and flashes. While the app is ready to use immediately after download, you can add to your fun by purchasing additional “Hipstapacks” which add additional lenses, films and flashes to your camera. The app itself was $1.99 and each Hipstapack is .99 cents, a bargain if you want to experiment with Lomo style photography without sinking money in to cameras and film processing. Once you’ve taken photos with the Hipstamatic app, you can upload them to Facebook, Flickr or email them. You can also order prints from the Hipstamart Print Lab which will ship them to your door.

Here are a couple of examples of what the app can do, these were both taken in very low light. The first shot was taken with a simulated infra-red film while the second shot of a couple of computer monitors was taken with the Bettie lens, Pistil film and the Berrypop flash. No flas is actually involved, the app adds the effects digitally after you snap the shot. I’m going to be shooting some more with this app over the weekend so I can do a better assessment of how it will fit into my toolbox. If you’re interested, you can check out my Digital Lomography Photostream on Flickr.

Cheyenne NappingHIP_318483483.855532

Reproducing the Lomo Look

I’ve been taking photographs for as long as I can remember and like many others they get incorporated into my journals. I’m a also a big fan of “experimental” photography and I’d say that Lomography falls into that category. For those who don’t know, Lomography is a art movement that has grown up around the Lomo camera. Originally produced in Russia and now in China, the noteworthy feature of the camera is it’s imperfections. The manufacturing process creates a lens that creates vignetting and distortions in the image and the distortions vary from camera to camera. Images from Lomo cameras tend to have a dreamlike quality that are created through a combination of the distortions built into the camera and the color saturation created by cross-processing of the film.

I’ve been thinking about buying a Lomo for years but every time I come close, I back away because of two things. The first is the hassle of finding someone to do cross processing of the film, most corporate shops won’t do it and those are the same places that are driving the mom and pop operations out of business. The second issue revolves around the potential environmental harm of the processing chemistry itself.

Still, I like the esthetic of images produced by Lomo cameras and want to produce those types of images myself. I’m still thinking about buying a Lomo but in the meantime, I’ve decided to tinker with creating similar images digitally. I’ll call them digital images in the style of Lomo since I’m sure that diehard Lomographers would have a stroke if I called them digital Lomos. Here are a couple of examples:

PT_AlexandersCastle_72.jpg
PT_Bunker_72.jpg

If you’d like to see some actual Lomo images and learn more about the Lomography movement, jump on over the the Lomo website.