Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture...

Despite owning an iPhone, I wouldn't describe myself as a particularly gadget-oriented individual. I don't really take advantage of my phone's capabilities; I still use a regular iPod because I don't want to tie up my phone's memory with music files, and I still carry around a digital camera at all times, because I like its macro features and zoom lens. After almost two years of owning it, I have just slightly over two pages of apps, and only 21 of them didn't come with the phone. Of those, I probably only use 8 of them regularly.

Still, when Justin got a smart phone a couple weeks ago, I couldn't help but feel a little deficient when he announced the number of apps he'd gleefully installed on his new acquisition and it was more than three times as many as I had. Not surprisingly, he's way more into technology than I am, but I still felt like I should be doing more to use my phone to its best advantage. So I went on a app hunting spree, and found four new ones (included in my count of 21, so up until just recently I only had 17,) for a variety of useful things like converting metric to English measurements, storing my grocery list, and scanning those annoying QR codes that advertisers have decided to stick on everything nowadays. (Man, that last one makes me sound old and grumpy, doesn't it?)

By far the best of my new apps is Instagram, a free version of the popular photo-editing program Hipstamatic, which features a variety of built-in filters that mimic the photography effects seen in vintage film cameras. It lets you create your very own digital Polaroids, and it makes iPhone photography a much more creative, interesting process. Here are some of the pictures I've edited lately using Instagram:

Sunset, from the corner of Clark and Division.

I actually snapped this photo after work this winter, when the sun was setting earlier, but never did anything with it because it wasn't that good on its own. Cropping and applying a filter that slightly intensified the colors made it much more compelling.

Mosaic, Wicker Park.

I love mosaics, and I saw this one on the side of a school when I was strolling down Division last week, killing time while I waited for Justin's family to arrive for dinner before seeing The Rose from Stambul. I love how vibrant and saturated the colors are.

Ghost Sign, Wicker Park.

I also spotted this one when I was out on my walk last week, and we all know I can't resist documenting a ghost sign when I see it. I like how the filter in this one washes out the color a bit more, and adds to the faded, retro vibe.

Chopin Theater, Wicker Park.

This one I snapped during an intermission for The Rose from Stambul, which was playing at the delightfully eclectic, perhaps only slightly over-decorated Chopin Theater. Virtually every interior surface of the building was covered in some sort of kitsch, so photo opportunities were rife. I think the colors and composition of this photo give it a certain aura of mystery.

Instagram is the most exciting app I've downloaded since Angry Birds, and I appreciate the fact that it's caused me to be more aware of my surroundings as I search for the next quirky photo opportunity. Not only am I getting better use out of my iPhone, I'm also exercising my creativity and finding greater beauty in the world around me. Not too shabby...

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