Looking back, the 6th picture I took for instagram was the first one that I really loved.
I started using instagram like most people- taking pictures of friends at a bar. In fact, interestingly enough, it was the night I broke edge, at Unos with work friends I had left a month earlier, when I quit my job and started my new life and this blog. Someone else was using instagram at the bar, and I said what the hell, I like taking pictures, maybe there's something to this. My first picture was a terrible picture of a girl I kind of liked. My second was of another friend who had left apple. I used Toaster for these, which is pretty funny, since I probably haven't used it since. My third picture was of another friend (who just got married 2 weeks ago), using good ole Gotham, a filter I'm still mad instagram got rid of.
But they were terrible pictures. I wanted to see what instagram was all about, and actually posted them by accident. I followed the few friends I had who used instagram, and they followed back. I had like 8 followers.
The next day, I went and explored the north shore of Massachusetts, driving the "Cape Ann 500." I posted 2 pictures from Ocean Lawn (which Caspian's song "Sea Lawn" is based on), and started to see the appeal of instagram. Right away friends commented at how awesome of a place it was, and I even had on location services, which made a friend text me and ask me what I was doing in that area. I went and got beef with him after I was done with the journey.
The view from Sea Lawn
Sea Lawn. Remember this horrible filter?
Right away, I began to love instagram. I suddenly realized even more how much I like taking pictures, just from being able to collect them in one place with cool filters and have friends see them. I posted the picture of the ocean I started the blog with, from a harbor in Gloucester using Walden (which used to be my favorite filter- since replaced by Hudson since it does basically the same thing in turning pictures more blue), and I was in.
On the way back home from Mass, I took this picture out the window while driving over the bridge:
and the sort of artsyness in it made me realize what I wanted to do with instgram- find beautiful spots, find hidden beauty in weird things, and post something beautiful every day.
Sure, I've posted pictures of dogs
and other random things. During Halloween I posted only scary or Halloween themed things. During Christmas I did the same, posting pictures of christmas lights and christmas trees. But generally the only theme was that pictures had to be beautiful or at least just interesting. I had no interest in posting pictures of friends or reposting pictures. I used to have a hang up about it, saying that people "didn't know how to use instagram" when they did that. I've since learned that everything has its place and to not question other people too much for how they use it. We all have our thing, and mine is to have hopefully good pictures of gorgeous places and hidden beauty.
Back in August, I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of using instagram. What started on hour 7 of partying at Unos one random night has turned into something that I truly love- something I spend time viewing every single day, something I try to post on every day. It's become something that has truly changed my life for the better, and I wanted to follow the lead some of the random people I follow started by collecting my 9 favorite pictures and collecting them into a picture with the hashtag, #9ofpride. This was incredibly hard to do. Sure, there are plenty of filler pictures- pictures when I had nothing and I wanted to put something up. There are plenty that I thought were great, but looking back, I don't quite see it anymore. But there are a LOT of pictures I've taken that I truly love, whether for their composition alone or from the story or feeling behind them. Here's a bunch of runners up:
This was taken the morning after Thanxmas at a random pond near Adam's house that I drove to solely to see if I could get any good pictures. It was a disgusting day and generally a gross beach, but it was covered with Canadian Geese, and I managed to get a shot I absolutely love of one swimming away.
This was taken on a day my Mom and I talked about golf but never played. We went to the putting greens at Point Sebago, and I loved the way this tree looked juxtaposed against the sky. This is the first picture where I double filtered too, if I remember correctly. That's why there's a weird ring of light around the tree.
This is the view from the Somersworth River Walk, a short walk along the river next to otherwise ghetto grossness. I took it one day in late fall, and just the utter stillness of the river and the glow of the trees makes me love this.
There are better pictures taken at Stonehouse Pond, but I just love the ridiculous blues of this one.
This picture didn't quite come out how I wanted it to, with the weird yellow/brown in the distance and just how busy the picture is, but I love it. It's from the height of Georgiana Falls, what I refer to as "the best place ever." This is one of my favorite views in the world.
Very random, but I just like this because you can't tell what it is. It's one of the lights upstairs at Royale in Boston.
This is from a great weekend in Vermont. It's not hard to take a good picture of Amanda, but her looking at a sunset with a fall backdrop (even though this was in March) was perfect. Such an emo looking shot. Pretty girls in winter hats= good.
This was from the next day: Just one of my favorite dogs sleeping in a chair. I love the grain of the wood and the brownish feel of the whole picture. It's a bit sad because you can feel Damien's age in it, but it just gives me a warm "awww" feeling.
This is from Kittery Trading post- a statue of an Indian holding a skull. I took other shots of the sky and the line of birds that you can barely see at the bottom, but this emerged as my favorite from that day.
I really love this one, and it was hard to cut. This is looking up at a spider web that was on a tree at the top of a mountain. It wasn't even really raining that much- it was more that I was in a cloud, so everything was misty and gross. Using Earlybird and selective cropping makes this look kind of like a glass of soda, and I love it.
I love this one because of 2 reasons- 1. It's Sebago Lake, and you're supposed to be able to see across it. The gross ice and snow shifts mixed with a horrendous day turned it into a vast desolate wasteland. The other reason I love it is because it reminds me a ton of the cover to Envy's "Recitation," which is an amazing album.
This was taken on the way to Halibut State Park. I pulled over because of how awesome this statue I'd never seen before was. Remember when Sutro had that weird pinkish line on it?
This one is the gross pond in between Blue Job and whatever the other mountain next to Blue Job is. It's not the most photogenic area, but on a super summer day from this view, with HDR and Snapseed editing, it looks like a rainforest. So much green!
This one is looking up the stairs of the dumpy little castle thing in front of the Magic Hat Brewery. I took it when Jake and I visited there earlier this summer. I generally only take nature shots, but I absolutely love the weird shapes and angles you can get when taking pictures of buildings.
This is from the day before that visit, from Sugarbush Golf course. One of the most photogenic golf holes I've ever seen.
And lastly, one of my more popular pictures (tied for 3rd most likes at 82): This is the fire tower at the top of Cardigan Mountain. I love fire towers, but put one against a great sunset with some filters, and you've got gold.
AND FINALLY, my favorite 9, my 9 of pride:
This one is the least obvious and also one of the first I thought of. It's just a tree with some leaves, but I love it so much. I took this one day when I had been sick for like 2 weeks last year. I had missed most of the fall foliage because it just rained horribly and killed most of it, then I got sick and didn't really leave the house. Josh was working on his car outside with our landlord, and I went out to talk to them just to get some air. This is a tree right in our backyard, and I love how there's a gradient across the middle leaves from yellow to orange. This is just an example of a picture I got on a day I figured I'd get nothing, and me just attaching a lot to it- a weird random picture that epitomizes fall a bit, at least how it was for me last year.
This was taken on my 2nd hike of the year- Mount Agamenticus. Right when you get above the tree line (not very high- it's a small mountain), you walk right into clear cutting that would normally be hideous. I had recently discovered the wonder of the HDR program I use (iCameraHDR) on low light/weird clouds situations, and knew this would look awesome as I took it. Once I added Earlybird (or Rise- can't remember) to it, it looked like a post apocalyptic world, and the trees suddenly looked so far away. I love how the light from the clouds touches all the dead trees in the middle. Another shot I had no idea would happen, since it was super ugly when I started the hike. I ended up with some amazing sunsets/cloudporn shots that day.
As you're now seeing, there seems to be a theme to my favorite pictures. This was from an ugly day after a few in a row that were beautiful, where I met Jake and Wyatt in Portsmouth, since they were up and I texted Jake like crazy the night before telling him he should be at the party we were having. We couldn't think of anything great to do, so we decided to meet on the coast of Portsmouth, at Rye Harbor State Park, or wherever we could find parking. Of course, right as I got there, it started raining, but we walked around the rocks anyway, and I found a dead seal. We let Wyatt wander a little, and I took a million pictures, hoping to get the "child exploring the world" photo. This ended up being it. Through HDR and my newly discovered Snapseed (SUCH a good program), I brought out so much color in a field that I promise you looked NOTHING like this. It looks like an alien world full of flowers, and he's just setting off on an adventure. I love that kid, and I'm happy to feature him in one of my favorites.
This was from the same hike I got the spider web shot from, a rainy, ugly hike up West Quarry Mountain. I was bummed out I had no view from the top, but I got plenty of pictures with the creepy fog I was stuck in. I saw a bunch of these guys and took pictures not even necessarily for instagram- just to document them because they were cute. As time went on, I found myself really rooting for this picture to get likes, more than most of my others. I just think this little guy is cute, and I loved the double filter and serious darkening I did to the picture to make it more dark and make his color pop. Him getting likes always made me smile. I used to hate the blade of grass over his back, but I've grown to love the color it brings to the picture.
This was taken on the Somersworth River Walk, the same place I got those trees above. This was an ugly, boring day with me literally looking for things to take pictures of for instagram, just for something to do. When I saw this ice reflecting a tree, with leaves stuck in it and under it, I instantly saw the combination of seasons- something I love to try and capture. This is a weird photo with a lot going on, but a lot of friends really liked it too, which made me pretty happy, since I was sure I'd be the only one who appreciated it.
This was taken on the same day, and it's basically the same shot as the reflection one in the runners-up. This is me realizing how much I love how murky ugly ice and cloudy days look insanely blue when HDRed. AND I realized just how mcuh Amaro can help bring out even more crazy color. This isn't what this day looked like AT ALL, but how cool would it be if things actually looked like this?
This year's Thanxmas was great, but also kind of sad toward the end, when Kevin, Pog and I just sat in the dark reminiscing about things while wishing more people had stayed late with us. I randomly realized that Kevin, who was wearing a mullet wig, sweatsuit, ridiculous glasses and christmas lights wrapped around his head, looked pretty hilarious while having a serious talk about life. I took a few pictures thinking it made for a weird/cool looking shot, and realized it was actually beautiful- like he was some space cadet. It reminded me of an Angels and Airwaves cover. I wish I had taken some shots of attractive girls with this lighting and not drunk kevin, but I still love this shot, and it's not like anything else in my instagram collection, which makes me like it more.
This is one of those shots that I'm most proud of, and also one with great memories attached to it. I am a strong believer in instagram being for iphone (or android) only. I also (even though I clearly edit my pictures) try to keep them fairly close to how they looked in real life- at least so much as it could be believable it was just 1 filter. So all of the shots I see of the moon frustrate the hell out of me, since it's just people with multiple thousand dollar cameras taking pictures of the moon then putting them on instagram. Listening to new Caspian songs at Phil's parents' house on the 4th of July, a telescope was brought out around midnight, and Phil tried to take a picture through the scope. So, no, it wasn't my idea, but my iphoneographer, steady-as-hell hands captured it a bit better than him. Darken it a little, add in Sutro, and boom, I have a sweet moon shot that is still iphone only. It was a random happening at a random party that could have sucked but ended up being one of my favorite nights of the summer.
This is my favorite shot of last year, and one of my favorites of all time on anything. It's funny that I now notice the line on the right side that usually ruins pictures for me. This was taken on the Somersworth river walk- it's crazy how many pictures I love came from there. This is a disgusting river full of pollution. The bubbles at the top and bottom are just waves of disgusting muck. BUT, it was incredibly reflective and I took this shot just to show how well you could see the reflection. I flipped the picture upside down and was blown away by how clear it looked- and blown away that the muck at the botton looked like snow piled up, and the much at the top like snow falling. I had my ultimate winter shot, and no snow was involved, and it was just a gross river reflection with muck. This epitomized something I was going for- finding beauty in everything. I love this shot, and wish it had gotten a billion likes.
It's funny how I can honestly say that instagram has changed my life for the better. I find myself pulling over on the side of the road for shots. I go to weird places and explore way more than I ever did before, always with the quiet agenda of "getting a good instagram." I go out of my way to get the shot I want, and spend a ton of time going through photos, putting together HDRs, editing my favorites in Snapseed, and trying out different filters. Sure, it's partly just a time killer- something fun to do when I'm bored. But it's so much more. This last year (and a half) of not working has really driven the point home to me that life is special, and too many people waste it doing bullshit things they don't care about. Work and the exhausting aspects of life sucks the souls out of people, and if there's anything I wish people did more, it's appreciate the small things in life. And if a social-networking photo program has done anything for me, it's forced me to do just that- find the best places, get the best angles of those places, and share them with the world. I love looking through my collection and knowing that every picture has a story or an emotion attached to it- a feeling. Before instagram, I appreciated a lot of the smaller things and loved a good view, but now I search for them, sometimes even if I don't have my phone on me. A crappy day where I don't want to do anything can instantly turn into a better day when I realize there's a good sunset outside, and boom, I'm now outside, breathing fresh air and looking at something beautiful that I may not have even bothered looking out the window for before instagram. A lot of it is my outlook on life, and my ability to live such a life, but a lot of it is this program too.
Sure, there are now ads. Sure, I get frustrated when I see someone with TERRIBLE pictures have thousands and thousands of followers while I've been hashtagging like crazy for a year and still have less than 500. Sure, I get made fun of from time to time for the hashtagging, and I did it to my friend the first time I saw her do it. But I'm proud of these pictures, and I want people to see them. It feels fantastic having people from other countries like my pictures, and even better when they like so many of them that they decide to follow me. It's crazy that because of this program, I sort of have friends from other countries that I'll never meet in a million years, but who I'll talk to over instagram- or a random dude from the northeast who hikes 4,000 footers and we compare hikes and make jokes like we actually know each other. It's weird how instagram makes that almost normal. It's kind of like it shows all the good that social networking can be.
Facebook, to me, works great only when your friends post good things and use it too. Too many people have abandoned it or barely use it anymore, and facebook is trying to make it worse and harder to use every day. Twitter, to me, is fairly useless other than for quick jokes or links. It has a need and I would feel a little sad if it was gone, but it's not that important to me. I would feel an absolute hole in my heart if instagram died out. I love the simplicity of it and deciding who I want to follow and comment on. I love how easy it is to find people, and for my friends that use it, I love it for the same reasons you do- it's a perfect way to connect to each other through pictures. Here's to another year of awesome pictures! I already have a few who are definite front-runners for best of next year.
Taken on hour 12 of swimming on my Full Day at Fernal this year:
Taken on the second to last Swim Thursday of this year:
And taken on a rainy Squamtoberfest Saturday:
It's funny- began this year thinking for sure I was going to buy a really nice SLR camera. But I've noticed something with most of the people I know who own them- nobody really uses them for anything. They seem to be photography killers. I feel like I'm not sure if I'd even use one. I have an iphone and instagram. What else could I possibly need?
currently listening to: Passion Pit- "Gossamer"