Tag Archives: mobile photos

My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2012

My nine best on Instagram from 2012.

My nine best on Instagram from 2012.

Another year has gone by. I’ve been through some fairly major life changes. New city. New job. New friends. New experiences.

Instagram has gone through some major changes as well. The photo-sharing app with vintage filters opened its doors to Android users and a few days later was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in early April. A few Instagram users freaked out about the availability on the Android Market and even more freaked out after the news of Facebook’s purchase. Of course, this did nothing to slow its growth. In fact, during this 10 day period, the app saw explosive growth and ended up adding another 10 million users–1 million new users a day.

Then Instagram changed its privacy policy and people freaked out again–this time with the idea that Facebook was going to start selling users’ photos. This would all come to a close soon enough after Instagram apologized to its users and vowed to remove language that suggests they have the right to sell users’ photos. Oh, and a new version with a new filter was recently launched. Nice timing.

Now that you’re all caught up on the latest happenings of Instagram; let’s take a look at some of my personal top photos. For the second consecutive year, I have combed through my hundreds of photos and picked my top 10 of the year. I posted a good number of images shot with my Nikon D90, but this list is comprised of only photos shot and edited with my iPhone. You can take a look back at my top 10 photos of 2011 to see I have continued to grow as a photographer and get more creative with my shots. To view all my best photos from 2012, follow my on Instagram (@eric_wheeler) and view my hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2012. Take a look at my top 10 and let me know what you think!

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10 steps to get the most out of Foursquare for your business

Foursquare check in decal

Foursquare is definitely one of the most underutilized social media platforms. Sure brands such as the History Channel and Starbucks are completely killing it on Foursquare, but the location-based app is fantastic for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses in particular have a great opportunity to gain exposure, reward patrons with deals and earn customer loyalty. Chances are, your business already has a spot on Foursquare. Wouldn’t it make sense to claim your venue so you have control of it?

There are plenty of articles about Foursquare success stories and you can skim through a few case studies on the app’s website. Probably the best reason to get your business on Foursquare is for the check-in specials–those are deals users can unlock after a certain number of check-ins or for becoming the ‘mayor.’ Check-in specials are only the beginning though. The following is a quick how-to on getting the most out of Foursquare–without spending any money.

Setting up a ‘personal’ account:
  1. Create a new account for your business. To make this happen, go to foursquare.com and download the free mobile app.
  2. Fill out profile completely. This includes a good profile photo/logo, location, phone number, Twitter handle, and your company’s bio (160 characters).
  3. Add people you know & people in the area.
  4. Create lists & add tips. This is why setting up a personal business profile is important. Maybe you’re a restaurant owner who also serves pizza by the slice at local sporting events … might as well add a tip to those venues for fans to grab a slice during intermission. As the social media manager at KVSC-FM, I created a list of “KVSC’s Favorite Eateries.” The restaurants on the list are all underwriters for the station and the tips include special discounts for members of KVSC (a public radio station). Being a college radio station, I also created a list of tips for venues around campus such as “If you’re walking through campus or driving around town, tune to KVSC 88.1FM for college radio awesomeness! You can listen on mobile devices too. Just go to http://www.kvsc.org/listen.php” and “Make sure you get to hockey games in time for the pre-game intro. It. Is. AWESOME! Read more.” What’s really great about adding tips and lists is that you can link to websites and you can easily check the stats (e.g. “10 people have done this tip”).
  5. Connect other apps, check privacy settings. Foursquare has a number of apps you can connect such as Foodspotting, Instagram and The Weather Channel. If your business is on Instagram for example, you can sync Foursquare to automatically check-in at a venue when you share a photo (by the way, if your business is on Instagram, go ahead an connect your Tumblr and Twitter accounts too). Since you’re a business and not an actual person, be sure to make your privacy settings as loose as possible–make it easy for customers to get in touch.
Setting up your business page:
  1. Create/claim your venue. Unfortunately, this can be quite a drag–taking up to a week or more. This is good though because Foursquare is doing its best to make sure only real venues get claimed by the rightful manager. To get started, head to foursquare.com and sign in using the business account you just created or your personal account–doesn’t matter which. Search for your business and look for the “Do you manage this business?” and hit the “Click here” button. After that, just follow the steps. You will need to verify using the phone number of the business.
  2. Fill out profile completely: Profile photo/logo, Address, phone number, Twitter handle, website, hours and keyword tags. Restaurants also have the ability to add menus and prices.
  3. Create a special. Now that you’re managing your venue, go ahead and create your first check-in special. Foursquare offers a variety of specials to attract new customers or reward existing customers. Choosing a special for users who check-in to the venue for their first time might be a great way to get started. You can create multiple campaigns and test which ones work best.
  4. Add employees and managers. If you’re a busy manager or owner of your business, it might be a good idea to delegate the responsibilities of general venue upkeep to another employee. Also, you can add employees to your venue so they can’t become the ‘mayor’ and reap the rewards that your actual customers should be getting.
  5. Promote. You should get a window cling from Foursquare when you secure your venue … put it somewhere visible. Create fliers, Tweet it, include it in your eNewsletter, put it on your business card, train your employees to tell customers about it, add links to your website and anything else you can think of. Just be sure to follow the Foursquare brand guidelines.
Further reading:

#Infographic: The Rise of Cyberbullying in the age of Technology

There’s been a lot of chatter about cyberbullying lately and this new infographic from onlinecollege.org has some amazing stats to provide insight to how technology is affecting youth. I’ll let the infographic do most of the talking, however there are a few stats worth noting.

With girls aged 14-17 sending nearly 3,000 tweets per month, there is bound to be some negative conversations now and then. Kids are now growing up in an increasingly interconnected world where using mobile technology and online social networks is commonplace. As many would agree, a problem with online communication is that people can hide behind a persona and ‘bully’ others from a distance. Indeed, 7.5 million Facebook users are under age 13 and 81 percent of today’s youth say bullying online is easier to get away with than in person.

Please take a look at the infographic below and consider the teens you know in your life, or maybe you are one:
Cyberbullying Infographic with Stats About Teen Internet Usage
Source: Accredited Online Colleges


Instacanvas: An Easy way for Instagram Users to Sell Their Work

Click to view my Instacanvas gallery.

Click the image above to view my Instacanvas gallery.

If you’re an Instagramer you have probably heard of Instacanvas by now. Interestingly though, Instacanvas has received little media attention thus far. Some of the larger tech and social media news sites I generally turn to have yet to crank out a feature story on the new start-up. That is rather surprising considering the site is generating 1.2 million unique monthly visitors and supplying around 20,000 artists with galleries to showcase their work and hopefully earn some passive income.

The concept behind Instacanvas is simple, but I’ll turn to the Instacanvas website to describe its offerings:

With Instacanv.as, Instagrammers can signup to sell their art and then people looking for something cool for their walls can buy that art printed on stretched canvas. We’ll print it, ship it, and tell you that you’re the best too.

I first discovered Instacanvas while scrolling through my home feed on Instagram and was pretty excited about the opportunity to showcase my work and hopefully sell a few items. I’ve been asked by a few people now if I sell my work. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is a little more complicated. Printing, shipping and collecting money for my work can be quite difficult and time consuming (though, selling my work in person is a rather simple transaction). Instacanvas will hopefully solve some of these issues the next time someone asks to buy one of my Instagram photos.

Instacanvas appears to be open to everyone now, but in its early beta days (a few weeks ago), only users who were in the greatest demand were granted a gallery. This is undoubtedly where much of the early success of Instacanvas stems from. Using the power of Instagram’s 50 million users to promote a website is a sure way to gain some early attention. When I first heard of Instacanvas, I immediately started asking people to help me open my gallery via Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Instagram. I got the support I needed and about a week later, my gallery was open.

I have yet to see a physical canvas print, but the Instacanvas website claims they have developed proprietary image resizing technology that enables them to make beautiful canvas prints, up to 20 x 20 inches from Instagram photos. Of course, I would be absolutely delighted if I sold a few pieces, but I might even buy a print or two for myself or as gifts. The price is reasonable and I’m curious to see how my Instagram shots would look on 20 x 20 canvas–I have never printed Instagram photos larger than 5 x 5 inches. Maybe you’ll be the first to see my Instagram photos on stretched canvas?

Please click here to view my Instacanvas gallery.


My Arsenal of Photography Apps for the iPhone

My iPhone 4 not only takes great photos, there are also lots of great photography apps.

My iPhone 4 not only takes great photos, there are also lots of great photography apps.

When I decided to buy an iPhone 4 a little less than a year ago, I was mostly excited about being able to update social sites from my phone, check email and keep my life better organized. Little did I know … the iPhone 4′s camera turned out to be my favorite aspect. That does make sense considering I’m a photographer. However, I really did not think I would be using my iPhone as much as I do to snap artistic, high-quality photos.

The mobility of the iPhone (it is always with me) and the high quality images produced makes it the perfect everyday camera. The Apple iPhone 4 has unparalleled specifications including five megapixel images, optional HDR, tap to focus and a 2.8 F-stop. Add in thousands of photo apps available in the iTunes market, and the iPhone is hard to beat. Listed here are my 13 photography apps I keep on my iPhone:

  1. Instagram is a must for photographers or anyone with creative intuition. This five-star rated app creates a social experience based around the application of a variety of filters to photos taken in the app itself or from photos in your iPhone’s photo library. Added bonuses include tilt-shift generation, ability to tag your photos and share your creations on several social media sites and email. 100 million users can’t be wrong. Read my full Instagram app review herePrice: free.
  2. Adobe Photoshop Express (PS Express) allows basic edits to photos such as contrast, exposure, saturation and tint. There are also a few basic filters, effects and borders you can apply. I have the free version and is all I need for quick edits. The $4.99 upgrade might be worth it if you do not plan on purchasing any additional photo apps. Price: free.
  3. MagicShutter is a great concept, but not very intuitive. The idea is for the app to turn your iPhone into more of an actual SLR camera by being able to control exposure lengths. I have definitely made some cool photos with this app, but every time I use it, I have to re-teach myself. Still fun though. Price: $2.99.
  4. TiltShiftGen is another favorite photo app of mine. If you are familiar of tilt-shift photography then you will love this app. When I first got into tilt-shift photography, I was using a long, complicated post editing process in Photoshop and it was hard to get the effect just right. This fantastic app does all the work for you and has the necessary saturation, brightness, contrast and vignetting features to get exactly the effect you want. Price: $0.99.
  5. SnapShot Postcard is another great concept and one I wish I had when I was traveling through Europe–finding postcards, correct postage and a place to actually mail them while traveling can be a pain. This app does all that for you. The best part? You get one free postcard with your download. Price: free.
  6. PostalPix is a similar concept; only instead of sending postcards, it simply allows you to order prints directly from you phone. Prints start at 29¢ and offers some miscellaneous products such as metal prints and mouse pads. Price: free.
  7. Tiny Planet Photos is a novelty app that is really only fun a few times. It turns your photos into a … you guessed it, a “tiny planet.” You have to have the right style of photo for it to work right. Here’s my best photo, with the “early bird” filter applied using Instagram. Price: free.
  8. 360 Panorama is another app that has a great concept, but is a little difficult to get good results. The app creates a full 360 degree panorama in real-time. You just hold the phone out and hit record. Kind of fun, but I think I wasted my money on this one. Price: $1.99.
  9. AutoStitch is similar to 360 Panorama, but it does not capture the image in real time. Instead, the users takes several photos and then lets the app stitch them together automatically. This is definitely a cool app and very easy to use. Price: $1.99.
  10. Halftone is another novelty app for bringing a little life to your pictures. The app provides several comic book-like filters and the ability to add captions and thought bubbles to photos. Definitely a fun app. Price: $0.99.
  11. Photosynth is another real-time panoramic photo app developed by Microsoft. It has a five-star rating, but I find it a little difficult to use. The most recent upgrade allows users to submit photos to Bing maps. Try it out for yourself. Price: free.
  12. Postagram is an awesome app similar to SnapShot Postcard. What sets this app apart is the ability to choose photos from your phone, Facebook or Instagram. Additionally, you can add a personal message, save addresses and the photo pops out of the card! Also, an online version of the card is saved as well and the recipient can easily post it on Facebook or thank the sender. If you have Instagram, this is a must have. I send Postagrams as thank you notes all the time. Price: free. *Bonus – follow this link and you and I will both get a credit to send a free card: http://sincerely.com/u/2oo4s6.
  13. WordFoto is a really cool app that acts as a word cloud for photos. Take any photo, add some text and the image automatically converts to words. Sort of a hard concept to explain, so look at some images created here. Price: $1.99.

iPhone App Review: Instagram

Great Wall of China taken this summer and edited with Instagram.

Great Wall of China taken this summer with a Nikon D90 and edited with Instagram.

Let’s call this my first iPhone app review. In my very first blog entry I promised to throw in some posts on photography. Living up to that promise, I want to talk about one of my favorite iPhone apps: Instagram. This is the perfect iPhone application for someone who’s into art and wants to share his/her world with others through photos.

Taken from the Instagram website, Instagram is “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.” The app definitely lives up to its motto and it is super easy to use. All you do is choose a photo (either by taking one using the app itself or by choosing from your iPhone’s camera roll), apply one of the filters, name the image and you’re done! The app even has the option to apply tilt-shift to make your pictures look miniature or more mysterious by blurring the edges. In short, Instagram is a great way to make otherwise boring or uninspiring photos come to life with simple filters. The photo in my Gravatar at right was manipulated using Instagram and I now use that same image across all my social media platforms (this might be a good time to attribute the photographer: Danielle Morris).

Photo of a bar in Rapid City, S.D. with tilt-shift applied.

Photo of a bar in Rapid City, S.D. with tilt-shift applied.

The Instagram iPhone app also is very much a social media application and even mimics some of the same features as Twitter. Users can create hashtags, use @mentions, add a location and follow other users. With photos of people you follow showing up in a photostream, Instagram is essentially Twitter, but with photos. Another fun aspect of this iPhone app is that you can send your creations out across a number of sites supporting photos. I typically add a location via Foursquare and send the photo to Facebook or Twitter (sometimes both). The photos you see in the sidebar at right are Instagram photos synced to my Flikr photostream.

The one drawback of Instagram is that the actual website is worthless from a user standpoint. Although every Instagram photo published on another site has its own URL, the site contains no way to share the image, comment or rate the photo nor does the site contain links to any other photos. Basically, the site does not support user profiles. This is a little frustrating and disappointing all at the same time. However, I’m sure the developers chose to keep the website simple and maybe they are still laking the infrastructure needed to host the nearly 300,000 photos uploaded each day. This means Instagram is limited only to iPhone users (as well as  iPad and iPod Touch users).

I found a donut shop that had bacon on their donuts!

I found a donut shop that had bacon on their donuts!

Many organizations are using Instagram already and it will be interesting to see what type of marketing campaigns will be launched using the app. I currently follow NPR, the Boston Celtics and MTV just to see what type of images they come up with and to see how they are using Instagram to connect with their audience. Although KVSC-FM does not have an Instagram account set up, I have used the app to create interesting photos to post on the station’s Facebook wall. Organizations with a larger following could easily conduct contests or use the app for awareness efforts of national or worldwide events. How do you see Instagram being used as a marketing tool?


Life is Different with a Smart Phone

wheeler has an iphone

I was pretty excited when I got my iPhone...

More specifically, life is different with my Apple iPhone 4. I think most people see me as a tech savvy person, mainly because my Tweets and my blog focus on social media and its relation to the field of public relations. Anyone who knows me at a more personal level knows I cannot be away from my iPhone for more than a few minutes. However, it was only a few years ago when I purchased my first cell phone and only a few months since I upgraded my seemingly worthless Sony Ericsson slider phone.

I waited as long as I could to purchase my first cell phone. I was a sophomore in college when I finally walked into AT&T to start my first plan. This came as a necessity. I was president of my fraternity and vice-president of the student body at the time and I was always needing to contact someone and having to go home to look up a number and make the call from my dad’s land line was not very practical. So I caved in and bought my first phone.

As I upgraded phones through the years, I gradually started using more and more features–from text messages to video–my phone was becoming more important. When I put my slider phone through the wash a few months back, I decided it was time to make a true investment and upgrade to an Apple iPhone 4.

I was never really satisfied with any of my prior phones and this was a major step for me, which coincidentally came with a larger monthly bill. I ultimately made the decision based on a plethora of needs. I was becoming more tech and social media minded and I felt this would be the perfect way to really help me become more influential in the social media world. Besides that, I was forgetting things all the time–meetings, deadlines, due dates of class assignments, etc. Getting a smart phone would hopefully alleviate some of these problems.

Sure enough, I was able to sync the handy email and calendar to my Google account and now I get notified anytime something important comes up and I almost never forget anything. Google apps makes it easy to search by typing in keywords, speaking into my phone or even by snapping a picture–so the answer to any of life’s questions are always just a moment away. I downloaded Textfree so I could send unlimited text messages without running up my monthly bill. I downloaded a few games to keep my attention when I’m bored (may I suggest Angry Birds?). I have several photography apps for my creative side (instagr.am is awesome). I have several news apps so I always know what’s going on in the world and most importantly, I have several social media apps to help me build my online reputation.

In short, I feel lost without my iPhone and I am always using it, tweeting, checking email, reading news, checking weather, using the GPS and of course communicating with friends and family. Lastly, I would pitch the iPhone 4 specifically for the FaceTime function. It’s great to walk across campus while video chatting with a friend. It’s even more fun to FaceTime with to my niece in Texas who I never get to see.

Blog inspired by Mary MacDonell Belisle.


Then I saw my Life in Pummelvision!

I believe I came across this gem of an idea a few weeks ago via TechCrunch. I immediately fell in love with the concept: Pummelvision flashes your life before your eyes using photos from around the web. What Pummelvision does is it collects photos you already have posted to Facebook, Flickr, DailyBooth or Dropbox and puts them into a short, high quality video, which automatically uploads to Vimeo or YouTube. What really draws me in is the intense music and high-quality photos that flash by at a perfectly fast rate.

After reading the article on TechCrunch and watching their video, I went straight to the site and uploaded my own Pummelvision (above). It turned out to be a great way to showcase some of my photography over the past couple years. The only negative I found is the site takes a day or two to process your video, but that beats me trying to do it myself. Another downside is there is only one soundtrack. However, I can appreciate that decision–the site is trying to maintain simplicity, and since they went with such a unique and fun score, I’ll deal.

It will be fun to see creative Pummelvisions by photographers and people who lead interesting lives. Photo apps for mobile devices and social photo sites are all the rage these days and I could definitely see Pummelvision teaming up with Instagram and some other leading mobile photo apps in the future. I would definitely like to see NPR’s Instagram photo stream in Pummelvision.

The site has some of the better videos featured in gallery form, and YouTube is already gathering quite the quantity of Pummelvisions as well. My favorite so far? A collection of photos of cups of coffee. Now I don’t even like coffee, but with the music, speed and variety of coffee mugs and surroundings, this video is pretty sweet.


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