Sunday, January 31, 2016

Instagram your Smart Phone Cemetery Photographs!

I’d like to think of this as my Contractual Obligation blog. I have tried to publish four Cemetery Traveler blog posts every month since embarking upon this escapade in 2010. It’s sort of a personal contract I’ve made. Rarely have I not met this goal. However, January 2016 has been a trying month for various reasons. As of January 30th, I had only published two. I cranked one out yesterday, “Cemetery Road Trip to North Jersey.“

So here it is January 31, 2016, and as my father used to say, “I’ve got a million things to do!” I temper such notions with something my daughter Olivia asked me when she was five years old: “Daddy, why are grownups so busy?” After thinking about that for a bit, I answered, “I guess it’s because they choose to be.” (As an example, I trudged half a mile in a blizzard last weekend to make the photo at right. Did I have to? No. Need to? No. Was it worth it? That's debatable!) So, tucked in with my millions of other things I need/want to be doing, I have written what amounts to my Contractual Obligation blog, my fourth blog of January 2016, presented here for your enjoyment.

New Photographic Tools
As I look out from my eyrie on all the cemeteries that need to be photographed, I find myself with a new tool – an Apple iPhone6. Not only that, but a friend turned me on to the “645 Pro” App ($3.99, and only available for Apple products, sorry), which gives you way more control over the image you capture than the iPhone’s own camera. Resolution is good with the iPhone 6 - you end up with 3MB images - and there are some basic in-phone editing controls. I’d actually made hundreds of photographs (if indeed these electronic images can be referred to as such) with the iPhone during the first months I owned it. However, it only recently occurred to me to use it to make photos in the cemeteries I visit.

Why bother, if I have real cameras at my disposal? Well, one word: “Instagram.” During the opening reception for a solo photography exhibition I had in the fall of 2015, the owner of the establishment showed me the Instagram images she blasted out to the universe to promote my show. She talked me into getting the App and setting up an account. I was told that it can be used to great advantage as a tool with which to promote your art.

So I’ve been, uh, Instagramming (if that is, in fact, an actual word) new images from cemeteries I’ve recently visited. They’re all “hash tagged” (“#graveyard,” for example) so people can find them if they look for images tagged with that word. You see, Instagram, as well as the Internet in general, is text-based – it can’t tell what the content of your photo or pdf is – you have to tag the file with text. Otherwise, no one will find it with a word search. In the course of the past month since I’ve been on Instagram, I have amassed a number of “followers,” that is, people who will see my images pop up automatically on their smart phones the moment I post them.

The photographs you see sprinkled throughout this article were made by me and my iPhone during the (current, as I write this) winter of 2015-16. You can only upload images to Instagram that you’ve made with your smart phone, by the way (you can also add a few lines of text, to describe the image, point folks to your website, etc.). It is mainly an image-centric method of communication, not text-based like Twitter. There’s no easy way to upload images from your computer to Instagram. You either have to have made the image with your smart phone (you upload it to Instagram directly from the phone), or you need some way (as with Apple’s iTunes) to transfer your image files from your computer to your smart phone.

So is all this gear and software going to make you another Edward Weston? No. These are tools. You need heart, soul, and talent to make successful photographs. Gear is fun and can open up new possibilities for you, but it won't make you a better photographer. If I sound tech-savvy, I’m really not. With anything ranging from Adobe’s Photoshop to Apple’s iPhone, I learn just enough to make the tools do what I need/want them to do! I always fall back on the basic photgraphic principles I've outlined in my book (shown below), entitled, Digital Photography for the Impatient!

Click to purchase from
So, here it is, 9:34 pm on January 31, 2016. Will I make my deadline and post this before midnight? Well, Super Bowl is not ‘til next week and hockey is in the All-Star break, so it looks good. All I need to do is transfer some of my cemetery images from my iPhone to my computer so I can size them and drop the resolution. Then I can pop them into the text here for your ultimate enjoyment!