Changing Expectations with Instagram’s New Avatar

a_texan_winestopper_-_october_21__2016_at_0507pmFor me, Instagram has always been a place to share my phone camera’s photos. I have seen others including National Geographic and 500px share their professional shots and I’ve come to accept that. But personally, I like the constraints that a phone camera (aka iPhone for me) imposes on you. Initially it was the square format but now you can post your 4×6 photos as well. The filters allowed you to treat your photos like art (I never really understood the #NoFilter [1].)

With each iteration, phone cameras are getting better and better. Right now, even with the smaller sensor size, they allow for RAW capture that you can edit in apps like Lightroom, Enlight, Snapseed, VSCO, etc. that are almost as good as their desktop versions. With speciality apps like Prisma, there’s no illusion for depicting reality as it literally urges you to treat your photos like art. That’s a direction I like. However, with Instagram, if you follow the right people, there’s always the expectation of showing off your best photos. Although now you have your ‘camera’ on you all the time, the pressure to capture great photos can get to you and more often than not, you’re less likely to post if your previous one was really good.

more_lucy____-_september_24__2016_at_0751pmOf course, there’s an entire parallel and even larger community that is using Instagram to share photos, good or not. But most of this community had been living on Snapchat where no one is appreciating your photos but rather looking for where you are and what you are doing. The photos take a backseat and sometimes literally, with the countless overlays of emojis and text. To take that on, Instagram launched its newest feature – Stories. Photos that you’ve taken in the last 24 hours can be added to one stream with no captions, titles, or even locations [2]. But more importantly, there’s no pressure to edit your photos or present the best of them. You just click and share with minimal tagging with colors, emojis, or text. More importantly, like Snapchat, these stories disappear in 24 hours.

So with one notable addition, Instagram has resolved that dilemma of whether a photo is good enough to share on your feed or not. Now you basically can ‘dump’ your so-so photos in the Stories and curate the best ones for your main feed. Think of your main feed as your primary gallery showcasing your best works and your stories as the behind-the-scenes process. It’s the director’s commentary for your movie. Heck, the commentary may be for a movie that never made it to the screen or a movie that has no commentary at all. All the rules are out the window.

I follow some insanely talented photographers on Instagram and their ‘stories’ in terms of the photo quality can be crap but it’s fun taking a look behind the scenes. Or the cook who shares the final product on the main feed and all the steps involved in 10 separate photos on the Story, with a few videos thrown in. This Instagram I like and it may be Mark Zuckerberg’s wisest acquisition at what now seems like a steal.

  1. I never quite got the intent behind #NoFilter. Is it meant to indicate that this scene I’m presenting to you is just as glorious as it looks? That implied that your other photos are heavily edited to make them look pretty. I’ve no problems with either except I don’t believe photos always are intended to depict WSIWYG unless you’re doing photo journalism in Aleppo. []
  2. A sign of my greying age is that I had to google to find out how to use it the right way. But soon, I was somewhat mollified when others asked me about it []

The Missing Likes on your Instagram photos

Update: This seems to have been quietly fixed on Facebook now.

There are two ways you can ‘like’ a photo on Facebook when shared with Instagram. One is when you click the photo to enlarge it and click on ‘like’ and the second is when you just click ‘like’ in your News Feed without enlarging the photo. Strange, right? Especially since both ‘likes’ are for the same photo.

Instagram lets you connect to Facebook and share your photos on your Timeline the same time you publish it on Instagram. You can also go back to a photo in your Instgram and click Share on Facebook and enter a different caption than the one you used on your original image within Instagram. These two methods worked seamlessly before but nowadays are at best unreliable. You choose to share on Facebook and for hours nothing shows up on Facebook so you go back to Instagram and explicitly share again and now two copies show up. At other times, the first method works as advertised.

Back to the original problem of two sets of ‘likes’ on the same photo. Facebook changed the way Instagram photos showed up on the News Feed. Earlier it just showed up as a photo upload and marked it as Via Instagram just like it would if you uploaded it using iPhoto or Lightroom on your desktop. Now it classifies Instagram as an app and says, ‘XYZ took a photo with Instagram’ with XYZ, photo, and Instagram all hyperlinked. So if you like this ‘activity,’ you end up liking only this activity that has one photo, akin to liking an album versus liking a photo in that album. Only if you click the photo, you end up liking the actual photo. People in a hurry end up liking the Instagram activity involving just one photo whereas others like the photo. But strangely, those two types of ‘likes’ never meet.

Why would Facebook make this so confusing? If only they bought Instagram and made photos uploaded via the app, part of Facebook…oh wait!

Instagram Insta-grumble

Instagram 2.0 review: Insta-grumble:

Across the board distinctive elements of each filter have been compromised. Filters that were washed out are now more contrasty. Filters that were contrasty are now more washed out. They’ve all drifted towards the same look.

Instagram said that all the filters have been completely re-written to work with the new live preview system and to output far higher resolution images, and it seems to me the re-writes just haven’t nailed the original look. I have a feeling this may be for technical reasons, that the new engine for live preview just can’t support certain features like textures.

(Via www.myglasseye.net)

Instagram is one of the apps that I use most of the time on my iPhone, apart from the regular Mail, Twitter, and Facebook. I love the ease by which you can take neat photos and share it instantly with your network. The filters available are just right and although there are plenty available, I used only a handful, frequently depending upon the mood and context. Heck, I even share all my Instagram pics on my Facebook account; most often get ‘liked’ by multiple people.

If the above linked review is accurate, then it is indeed unfortunate. The vast difference between the filters is what makes choosing between them so much fun (have never used Poprocket so am not sad it got cut but have seen others use it). If all your photos look the same, as the new updates does, why wouldn’t you rather use the built-in camera app or other generic apps? I hope the folks at Instagram aren’t compromising on its unique arty factor in lieu of unnecessary convenience. The app might get more popular but it will lose the crazy (hipster?)fan following it currently enjoys (guess you can see the need for getting more funding take precedence). On the upside, the quality of photos is definitely much better now so you don’t lose detail in which otherwise are just crappy cellphone pictures.

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