rolling with the cafenol

The hipstamatic app is still my favourite toy and to a small extent it’s got me interested in the history of photography. Some of the lenses and film types usable in the camera app are based on old, sometimes cheap cameras that are no longer made (at least not in the way they originally were). Info on those is fairly easy to come by. For example the Helga lens = <a href=””>Holga camera</a> and the Jane lens I’m pretty sure is based on the <a href=””>Diana</a> camera.

Naturally some looks or combinations have become my favourites but I muck around with it quite a bit and am left with enough time to sit with the filters that I’ve never really found a use for, and to try them again.  <a href=””>Cano Cafenol</a> is one such film. It was named after a photography business guy, Gabriel Cano who created a technique whereby photos are developed in a solution of <a href=””>instant coffee, washing soda and vitamin C</a> which used to be called Cafenol but is now titled <a href=””>coffee processing</a>.

<a href=”” title=”Cano set by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Cano set”></a>

I took one shot with Cano Cafenol and each of the currently available 29 lenses to see which one I liked with it best. <a href=””>The results: inconclusive</a>. As is often the case it’s not the look of the image, it’s whether or not there’s actually something interesting going on in it.


Hipstamatic have added a few more filter recently. Oooh that’s right I’m talking about an _app_.

The first pair are the nicest; a two for 99cents deal and are connected with the photographer Ben Watts who I’d not heard of before but upon further investigation is an Australian who specialises in fotos of brawny black men at the beach. I had to make do with a nice day in the pre-humid phase as an demonstration.

<a href=”” title=”Into by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Into”></a>

There was one extra free lens added to the starter pack, named buckhorst. Kind of subtle, which I like.

<a href=”” title=”Miserable Roof by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”240″ height=”240″ alt=”Miserable Roof”></a>

And I just noticed another. The hipstamatic people must’ve jumped into bed with Nike because these two B&W films (and case) are branded with comet logo. A bit to hard to understand as it doesn’t really sit well with the ‘hipster’ image. Maybe they were desperate for cash, cash, cash! And I have to say I’m just not a fan of black and white. There’s more than enough black, white and grey in the world, and especially in Korea.

<a href=”” title=”shrunken head by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”240″ height=”240″ alt=”shrunken head”></a>

photography pt 2

I haven’t talked about the little computer programs, called ‘apps’ for the iphone, mainly because it seems like such a boring, nerdy thing to do. And I should probably just write and post an entry as soon as I think about it rather than deliberating for weeks. Deliberating, indeed. If you don’t have an iphone this is going to be useless, so click away, now!

I’m mildly amused with retro-style camera apps. It’s pathetic really, isn’t it? You’d think that someone like me would see a name like ‘Hipstamatic’ and steer well clear of it. My only defence it that I am getting into this with my eyes open, and accused of being a hipster, falsely or not, all I know it I don’t feel like one and I don’t think they would wear an addidas top every day they’re not at work.

And ‘Hipstamatic’ is relatively expensive too. Some of the others (I’ll get to them later) are givin’ it away for free. The hipstamatic app is $2 american (that’s less than $2 Australian (LOL!)). And if you want extra lenses/film/flashes, which are all essentially filters, they come in packs of two or three and cost an extra 99c each. I was really surprised with myself that I bought them–bought them all (about 5 packs in total). But did so under the reasoning that almost everyday I end up wasting some smallish amount of money, like I’ll buy something to eat for five bucks and get halfway through and think, well that was a mistake wasn’t it.

I think the thing that gets the hipstamatic app out in front is the nice packaging. It looks nice and it looks fun. Fun is at the heart of this retro-foto mini-veer, veering away from the 40,000 megapixel ultra-HighDef telephoto lens stuff. Here’s what it looks like:

<a href=”” title=”IMG_0323 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”240″ height=”160″ alt=”IMG_0323″></a>

It’s skinnable in the way mp3 players or browsers are. This is the ‘Mr.Blingy’ skin that comes with one of the packs. It looks nice but actually is hard to see if standing in sunlight.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_0322 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”240″ height=”160″ alt=”IMG_0322″></a>

This is the back, the ‘Cowgirl’ skin, released as a freebie during the recent SXSW thingo. As you can see the view-finder is rather small, which is part of the whole analog thing. If you want to square up exact dimensions when you’re shooting, then the standard camera app on the phone is obviously better. Sometimes the little viewfinder has resulted in wonky shots but sometimes the unpredictability has added nice touches, like here with ancient krean cybermen:

<a href=”” title=”Ancient Cyberman by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Ancient Cyberman”></a>

I like how the wheel is partially seen in background.

At present there’s 12 film types and 9 lenses when fully decked out. There’s also 7 flash types. The iphone camera flash is fairly poxy and eats up the battery like all get out. I guess the flash would be good if you were at a party and taking fotos of your friends. I’ve no friends and go not to parties, so haven’t found the flashes very useful. Anyway, there’s a lot of combinations of look that can be cooked up, and I’ve had a jolly old time messing about in that way. From the really hot:

<a href=”” title=”Maintenance by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Maintenance”></a>

to cool:

<a href=”” title=”Oksu Stn by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Oksu Stn”></a>

One of the really neat things about it is now that these kind of phones are internet capable is that you can take a foto and upload it straight to the internet. With hipstamatic there’s the choice of sending it to Flickr, fuzzbook, tumblr or an email address. This eliminates the whole process of having to wait until you get home, plugging the camera in to the computer, transferring, transferring again to internet. Who can be bothered with that now? Not me. Small conventional cameras like cannon Ixus, take note. Similarly, the hipstamatic filter sets are good, and good enough, because with time literally speeding up during the last twenty years, who’s got time to be messing about with GIMP or photoshop? I don’t even know how to use photoshop.

It would be good if hipstamatic had a zoom function, but this is not their fault, there is no zoom on the normal iphone camera, and I guess it goes against the whole retro ethos. Also, when I’m sending fotos to flickr, and typing a title for the foto, hipstamatic wants me to start Every Word With A Capital Letter, which is Dippy. Also, all the foto formats are square. It’d be good to have a few rectangle. There’s no good postcards in Korea so I make my own and rectangle works best for that. The square format seems to work best for small things and intimate settings. Expansive, landscape shots look boxed in.

Once or twice I’ve wondered if I will look back at some of these shots in 10 or twenty years and think, I wonder what colour that really was, and perhaps wish I’d just taken a normal foto.

For a minimum or two and up to 7$ it’s been fun, and has got me enthused about taking fotos again — something I’ve done little of in the last two years (barring special occasions). I even took a USB stick down to the printer the other day and had some printed.

june 9

I could say I’ve been beavering away at my master dissertation but I haven’t really. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and how I’m not concentrating on it as much as I would like to. I just contacted ze supervisor and confirmed what I was hoping, which is that the halfway point is kind of flexible so all is well.

I have been continuing to work my way through grand theft auto 4. There’s not much that can be said about that. It’s a kind of a singular journey. When I am talking to people on the phone recently I realise I don’t have that much to say, in part due to the fact that I have been playing the gta4, and it would be easy to conclude that this is making me a more boring person, but then what would have I been doing and saying if I had not started the game? “Hot tub time machine was funny/boring/depressing”, or “How about that new iPhone!”. In the end I think it makes little difference.

* * *

I’m on a B&W kick.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_5260 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”281″ alt=”IMG_5260″ /></a>

It’s funny how with normal settings I wouldn’t think of possibly intruding on people’s supposed privacy with my camera but when I think, ah stick it on black n white,  it’s arty, look at the everyday life of the bus-waiters watching free TV in the mild, pre-wall of humidity summer.