Anything that gets you taking more photos canbe a bad thing

INSTAGRAM, the smartphone photo-sharing app, hit the headlines in April when it was bought by Facebook for one billion dollars —despite the fact that Instagram hadnmade any profits. The app remains free to download and is ad-free, so Inot sure what Facebook felt it was buying. About a week before the sale, Instagram launched its Android version, allowing me to give the app a try. iPhone users had been raving about it since its launch in September 2010. I found it quite addictive. It allows you to display your images to a wide audience. Instagram forces you to crop images to a square format. This eliminates a sizeable chunk of the 16:9 images my phone creates, but I ve always had a soft spot for square photos, and I enjoy thinking about how to make good compositions in this format. Next, you re given the choice of a range of digital filters to apply to your photos, and there are a couple of rudimentary editing functions. The filters are a mixed blessing. They replicate retro image styles, or the look of toy camera photos, and a lot of Instagram users rather overdo them. Some think a digital filter is capable of turning a bad photograph into a work of art, but a poorly composed and boring photograph is always going to be just that. If you start from a technically competent and reasonably attractive photo, the cropping and digital filters on offer can produce a really striking image, and herein lies Instagramstrength. However capable cameraphones have become, I find the images they create are often rather sterile and bland but with just a little effort Instagram makes them something worth sharing. With the use of a few hashtags, you can get your little gems out there, and itgreat to see other users liking your photographs within a couple of minutes of them going online. Instagram integrates well with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare. My Instagram feed is full of attractive images from all over the world —and seeing a beautiful landscape or an amazing close-up on Instagram makes me want to dig out my DSLR and shoot something similar. Anything that makes me take more pictures and try something new can t be bad. The images are bit of a flash in the pan, given that there s a constant stream coming online all the time and theyconfined to your phone. A new website that recently launched —Instacanvas —aims to rectify this, allowing Instagram users to sell their images to others on canvas prints, getting a 20% commission each time an image is sold. So if there is something out there you really like, you can put it on your wall and remember it beyond its fleeting 15 minutes of fame on your phone screen. You may be lucky enough to make some money selling your images too.

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