Last week I read an article in the NY Times Lens Blog about photojournalist Ben Lowy using his iPhone and the Hipstamatic app in the field, and was blown away when I saw the images, with the look of an old Polaroid film camera, and knew I had to apply this to my urban industrial photography.  As you have seen from my work I love to “embellish” the images I take and create a piece of abstract fine art instead of just a photograph, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary, so to speak.

Despite the cold wet weather we had this weekend here in Astoria, I wanted to get outside and capture some urban grunge with this “new fangled” photo app.  So, armed with my iPhone and an umbrella (no DSLR, no lenses, no filters, no other photographic paraphernalia) I walked out into a steady but light rain to experiment. I must confess I really have never taken a “serious” photo with my cell phone before, I mean I have a DSLR why would I, right?  Well, the first thing that I liked about taking images with the iPhone was the freedom of just pointing and shooting again and became more exhilarated the more I shot. It took me a bit to stop fumbling and almost dropping the phone as I balanced the umbrella while turning the phone from horizontal to vertical (cursing and wishing it came with a wrist strap!) Luckily I did not have to worry about water getting into my camera or lens. The second thing I liked and the best part was, with this app I was able to change film, lenses and even the flash with just a swish of your finger. What fun! The only thing I didn’t like was that I had to wear my reading glasses to take the photos something I normally do not need to do looking through a view finder.

On Saturday, I walked along Ditmars Boulevard just to 31st Street (a little over a mile) taking images of some old familiar subjects and on Sunday, walked the same distance along Astoria Boulevard including views from the elevated subway; this is where I almost dropped the phone down on the Grand Central Parkway!  I guess I spent about two hours each day trying all of the different films and lenses. As Ben Lowy had stated in the blog article there is really no post processing other than downloading. All the artistic embellishments were done right in the camera or phone. I am one of those photographers that cannot take just a few shots and on a bad day will come home with at least 150 images.

I enjoy post processing because that is where I add my little artistic touches to my already abstract scenes and it will take me the better part of a day or days to complete depending on the number of images I have taken.  But, with these images my biggest decision was deciding what images were the best out of the bunch.  Not having much gear to carry around and knowing that the “camera” was doing most of the work I was able to devote my attention on the composition just like I did way back when with my little point and shoot camera.

Right now, I don’t think the cell phone camera and the Hipstamatic app will replace my DSLR and the wonderful zoom and fixed lenses that I love but, I will be more willing to use my cell phone camera and indulge in iPhone photography than ever before. I hope you enjoy my little “groovy”  trip back into photographic time.

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39 thoughts on “Hipstamatic Urban Astoria

  1. We have received our Hipstamatic primer and what better IP (intrepid photographer) to familiarize us with the process than Cate. Creative, expressive and imaginative, not to mention the great texture and tactile quality of the works. Great stuff, as always!!


  2. I love the Hipstamatic App – and they do offer an iPhone case with a wrist strap! I love the vintage feel and the ability to experiment on the fly. I like this set a lot – especially the black and whites


  3. I just love the freedom of snapping shots with my iPhone. My old iPhone 4 has been passed to my 7-year old so he can use it as an iPod, but I thoroughly enjoy looking at the pictures he takes and listening to the enjoyment he has explaining “his” photos. A few years ago he would use an old digital camera, I wrote about that here:

    I think I’ll head out for a photo walk and give Hipstamatic a try. Thanks for the inspiration!


  4. I’ll have to try the hipstamatic app! I have taken my iphone with me on several international trips as my primary camera. This could be a great way to take that to a new level!


  5. Excellent photos. I’m not experienced with the Hipstamatic App, but apparently it is very forgiving. The big plus about the iphone camera is it’s easy and quick. You’ve done it proud.


  6. I LOVE Hipstamatic and have been using it for years! You can shake your phone and it will pick the film and lense at random. You can also touch your finger on the photo display to make it full screen to take a photo. Then touch the screen to take the photo.


  7. Amazing photos! I have recently delved into photography myself, mostly using digital cameras and manual editing 🙂 Now, i’m more inspired to take other shots and use other cams for my photos! 🙂


  8. These are all great shots.. I too am trying to maneuver my way with my iphone..It takes the best pics..
    Well deserved of being FP!! Congrats!!


  9. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Hipstamatic rocks! I’m an iphoneographer through and through. The Foodie Pak captures amazing depth of shadow. Whilst the Blackeys Supergrain is excellent. Then there’s the Dali Pak! Surrealism on an iPhone?! Yes please!!


  10. The dichotomy is really interesting with hipstamtic and other apps like it. We seem to rushing towards the newest technology while trying to make that technology mimic archaic machines we so fervently are running from. I just saw an article link to, i believe, a kickstarter project that was a typewriter to you with your ipad. It is a litteral typewriter that has had the keys readjusted to strike the proper place on the ipad keyboard. I want one!
    Great shots by the 🙂


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