What do you do when you’re tired of the digital sterility of the cell phone photograph, but you find its convenience too tempting to leave behind? Download one of the many available photography apps! These offer a stunning variety of capabilities ranging from panorama to HDR. Many are even designed to remove an image’s sanitary perfection by inserting “process artifacts.” Among these you can find interesting applications that replicate a variety of different photographic looks ranging from the scratches and peeling of wet plate collodion and the creamy smoothness of Polaroid, to vintage black & white film grain and the flares and light leaks of plastic toy cameras. And of this group of apps, none is more popular and has garnered more attention than the Hipstamatic. For a mere $1.99 the Hipstamatic will turn your phone into a camera with an amazing variety of lenses and film types. Used in combination these allow for a stunning assortment of effects. Some may scoff at the ease of this virtual processing, but the truth of the matter is, it’s fun!
When I recently began testing and experimenting with the Hipstamatic, I quickly capped off a number of shots. The application is marvelous at postprocessing, though the most important aspects of the picture−subject, cropping, and composition are still up to you. The axiom is true: a poor picture cannot be saved by clever effects.
With just a few taps, clicks and mouse movements, I created and printed an assortment of perfectly homogeneous vintage-looking photographs. The images were very nice, but it almost seemed too easy. And while I enjoyed the pictures, I found them ultimately too bland. With my background in the practices of the wet darkroom, I felt as if I had no real connection with these pictures. I stood in my studio with the pictures spread out before me, looked around and thought: why not combine Hipstamatic image capture with cyanotype printing? The cyanotype is a classic historic process invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. It’s simple, easy and inexpensive. Thus began my journey into creating the Hipstanotype. Should you wish to try it for yourself, here are the steps of my adventure.