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.
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!
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?
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:
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 here. Price: free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I know I know, it’s not even fall yet and I’m posting a photo from the dead of winter. However, I saw a photo of Lawrence Hall on the St. Cloud State University Facebook page in the summertime and I wanted to share this photo I took in February of 2009. The photo at the Facebook page is a completely different angle and the trees are green instead of leafless and covered in snow. However, seeing the photo stirred all kinds of emotions and memories related to a building I walked by everyday, but never set foot inside.
For two years, I walked from the Acacia House, crossed campus and approached this beautiful building. One of my favorite moments each day was walking under the trees and looking up as the tree limbs revealed the white bell tower perched atop the oldest building on campus. Many may complain about the lack of architectural continuity on campus (myself included), but St. Cloud State definitely has a few buildings I appreciate for different reasons and I couldn’t be more lucky than to passby Lawrence Hall on my way to KVSC.
The past couple weeks have been rather frustrating as a job seeker, but with my recent developments as a photographer, spirits remain high. Recently, I shot my first wedding with a friend, held my first art show in the St. Cloud Art Crawl and finally opened my Etsy shop so I can sell prints online.
I might also call my first art show a success. I was asked via Twitter by Kathrine McDowell to participate alongside her at the Le St. Germain Hotel in the St. Cloud Art Crawl a couple weeks before the event. Of course, this meant I needed to purchase prints, mattes, frames and whole lot more to make it happen.
My prints arrived the day before the Art Crawl and I still needed to purchase mattes. It always seems to be the little things that I forget with these hurried events. The day of, I ran out of tape, I realized I was missing some 5×7 prints from my online order, I forgot to print business cards/brochures and I had to get change an hour before the event started.
Although I started setting up about 30 minutes later than planned, I was ready to go as the first ‘art crawlers’ started to come in. With black and white photos elegantly displayed in black frames and white mattes, my art looked great propped up against a white table cloth.
As expected, the night was fairly slow and I only sold a few 4×6 matted prints and one small framed black and white of one of my all-time favorite photos. It was nice talking to people as they came in and telling them about how I got some of the shots. As the night began to wind down, I was pleased with how everything went and satisfied I had sold a few items. Then, as I was packing up, a man came over and was really excited as he looked at my large framed photo of The Colosseum in Rome. He told me he wanted to buy it but needed to get some cash from an ATM first. I excitedly told him I would wait for him and when he returned, I handed over my first large framed print–for $100. How exciting to know a 16×20 photo of mine is hanging in someone’s home!
Now with many of my favorite prints through the years already matted, I have taken the next step and opened my own online shop on Etsy. Since I first saw an old friend open her Etsy shop, which eventually turned into a brick-and-mortar store in Enid, Okla., I have wanted to do the same. Well, that is now a reality. Now when someone on my Facebook page tells me they want to buy a print or they would “hang that on their wall,” I can direct them to etsy.com/shop/photographybywheeler. I have not sold anything yet, but I do have 10 matted prints up for sale. Please check out my Etsy shop and if you see something you like, buy it! Or at the very least, help me spread the word.
I waited two long winters in St. Cloud, Minn. for picture-perfect snow to blanket my surroundings so I could trek the outdoors and capture the ideal winter wonderland through the lens. Though I think fresh snow is beautiful no matter when or where it comes, the temperatures in Minnesota are often too cold to get that perfectly fluffy snow that peacefully falls from the sky to rest on tree branches. Besides wind often making it impossible to stay on trees, the bitter cold known to permeate Central Minnesota in the winter usually makes the thought of spending a couple hours outside snapping photos a bit undesirable.
Alas, my winter dream came true this spring. Yes, spring. The perfect snow I was waiting for finally fell on April 20, 2011. The lakes in Central Minnesota had thawed out only days before and the snow that seemed to stay on the ground forever had finally melted away. When I woke up early in the morning and looked outside, I was excited to see such a perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of Minnesota. I had been to Quarry Park and Nature Preserve a couple of times before and figured it would be a great place to take in the spring surprise.
Thinking I would just hop out of my car and snap a few pictures before getting to my morning workout, I packed my camera and gym bag and headed out. Little did I know, I would spend the next hour and a half exploring the trails and capturing images of white trees reflected off still water, rocks climbing out of wintery surroundings and winding trails. I ended up snapping over a hundred photographs. The photos below are my favorites. Though the light was not necessarily ideal, I think they turned out nicely and no manipulations or adjustments were made. Shot with a Nikon D90. Enjoy!
Photos from Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park, Minn. taken April 20, 2011.
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.