Instagram my Backyard

Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
Høsten går mot slutten i Pats hage
About a month ago I went back into my backyard to continue the project I have been shooting for the past one and a half years. Some of you may already have seen pictures from the project in my previous posts Out of Comfort Zone and Challenge and Expand.

As I have written before this photo project is a way for me to push myself into doing different pictures than I usually do. First of all the subject is not my usual kind, since I tend to work more in the direction of documentary photography and prefer photographing social issues rather than doing nature photography – which backyard photography sort of could be said to be. Secondly I try to shoot in all kinds of different ways that I would not usually do or allow myself to do, simply pushing boundaries. It could be shooting with an unfocused lens, using long, handheld exposure time for blurry imagery, or it could be putting a 400 mm lens on the camera, using minimum depth of field, or something absolutely crazy. Again the point for me is to expand and challenge myself so that I don’t get stuck in my present photographic vision.

Lately I have been enjoying shooing with my cell phone and in particularly using the Instagram app. It’s nothing less that great fun. So what better than take my cell phone out in my backyard and shoot some Instagram photos for the project? The amazing thing with Instagram – and its equivalent Hipstamatic – is that it’s almost impossible to come back with boring or bad picture, no matter the subject. Being a professional photographer, it’s quite discouraging to admit to such an atrocity, because where does that leave my profession? I wrote about this dilemma in the post The Unbearable Lightness of Instagram on the blog of Blue Hour Photo Workshops – an educational organisation I am part of. My point was that although it seems like Instagram is able to create cool imagery almost but itself, with time and when we get used to the knack of it, the automatic coolness will start to fade. Then Instagram – and the likes – will only be one of many tools available for photographers.

And in the mean time I am just gonna go around and have fun with my cell phone and the little app. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

124 thoughts on “Instagram my Backyard

  1. My friend, once your talent overflows in these images. How you transformed your backyard as a subject of moving, stirring work of Art is just amazing. I have Instagram too but so far have not used it. Today, you inspired me to give it a try. Wishing you and your family all the happiness and blessings this holiday and everyday.

    1. You should really give it a try, it’s just to much fun. And thanks for the nice words. I wish you and your family all the best for the holidays, too.

  2. In my opinion working ou of our comfort zone becomes later very useful for our “normal” way to shoot because we can add to our communication something we have first experienced as a test, or fun, or just as an experiment. In todays world, so full of images it is important to keep our visual language evolving. And practice can help. I do not use Instagram (yet?) but htis is a reason for which sometimes I like to shoot Holga. Good photos and interesting words Otto, thanks.

    1. I think you are absolutely right, Robert, all the experimenting out of the box will add to our visual tool box. As to Instagram and Holga, there are quite some similarities between the two (even though the actual process is completely different) in that the photos on both cases look like taken in the 60’s or thereabout – quite grungy and less than perfect.

  3. I have yet to find the … whatever it is … for instagram. I have tried it a few times and have been totally unimpressed. Now you post images that have the imagination stirring and I am wondering what it is that I am not doing right. I will have to give it another try.

    1. Instagram is only a tool, if you don’t like it, do something else. But for me it was like finding back to the roots when I started photographing. Everything is fun as it was back then when I had no clue at all. So I would really recommend giving it a try at least.

  4. These are terrific shots Otto and I agree its hard not to “take & make” a fun instagram picture. I’m a big fan of iPhoneography and it helps me capture some fun shots when I don’t have my DSLR with me.

    1. I have notice how much fun you have on your blog. It’s just a different way of approaching photography, very informal and casual. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Hi Otto, I enjoyed this post very much. I haven’t tried Instagram, but from what I’ve seen, I like the dramatic effects. I’ve been experimenting with an HDR app, which is a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing, and happy shooting! : )

    1. There are just so many different apps out there, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all. But as long as it works I am happy. Thanks, Julie.

    1. It’s like Polaroid when it first came out – or digital printing for that matter. In the beginning it’s just toys until artists find a way to use the techniques in a more profound way. Thank you for the nice comment, Elena.

  6. The re-invention of the camera as Smartphone has deep popular culture and art history implications. I’m watching with enthusiasm at the changing climate of instantaneous shooting of everything to a newer trend toward more artful consciousness. As you have entered this arena, I am using my iPhone as another tool in my photographic toolbox. The point about its ubiquity and its ability to transform has, as you say, has its pluses and minuses. For me this new visual culture has its benefits to youth. As they use these innovative tools, I am hopeful that they see the world in new ways. I particularly like your first image, because it pulls me into what seems your quiet space for dreaming and repose.

    1. There is no doubt that the new cameras and apps that comes with Smartphones have or will have deep implications, culturally and aesthetically. And yes, it’s the youth that picks up the new trends, but I think older people will also see the potential, but maybe more over time. Instagram and the likes are definitely innovative tools.

  7. Since I’m still without a replacement lens after dropping my camera a few months ago, I’ve embraced iphoneography in the form of Instagram and am very much enjoying using it. Rather wish I had the iPhone 5 rather than iPhone 4, but even so it’s a good medium, and one that’s very social too! Also, I just found and followed you on Instagram 🙂

    1. Maybe being without a replacement lens is good for something at least: Makes you experiment with other tools. I wouldn’t worry about which version of iPhone, in the end it doesn’t really matter. As for the Instagram account, I haven’t been conscious enough to upload pictures, but I will have to be better in the future.

  8. Though I haven’t used it too much, I do have an Instagram account and it does seem to make my photos look better 🙂 However, there is a distinct difference between my photos – via Instagram or other places – and those of professional photographers. It’s more about the theoretical framework or vision or professional training that comes through the work of those who are the experts. Whether focusing on social issues or the backyard, professionals like you still have an amazing ability to capture something that I have yet to do. Bravo on your work. It is grand.

    1. As long as you enjoy what you do, and are creative, I wouldn’t compare the result with others, professionals or not. I have noticed on your blog that you do more than well enough, so it’s all about keep developing, whether with Instagram or other tools. Thanks for the nice words, Deborah.

  9. I don’t have the ability to use Instagram on my seriously old fashioned phone so am ignorant about its capabilities. Is the clever edging yours or an Instagram effect?

    1. You seem to be doing very well without Instagram. It’s definitely not something one needs to have. But, yes, those clever edges at you call them, are part of the Instagram effect – or can be.

  10. I’d not heard of Instagram, but I like this selection – even though you’re in alien territory! Above all it demonstrates that, whatever the equipment used, the key element is the photographer’s eye.

  11. I love these. I also like your article The Unbearable Lightness of Instagram. Such an appropriate name for the article. Brings back 80’s memories too!

  12. I like the creative aspect of these photos and they are fun! I have not used instagram due to lack of time for other things, but it can give you good ideas and expand your comfort zone. One reason why I got the Lensbaby optics, for the Creative output and seeing different. My backyard has provided Many photos for my blog when I couldn’t get anywhere else. Thanks for sharing Otto.

    1. Yes, Lensbadies are another gadget that would be fun to try out. So far I haven’t, though, but I would like to one day. Not that gadgets makes you better or more creative per say, but they do bring inspiration to the work.

  13. Otto, these are a lot of fun…and I so relate to your feelings about Instagram….it irritates me so that it makes all the photography knowledge people like you and me have amassed, seem available at the press of a button. I’m so annoyed that I can’t even look at the thing…so Bravo that you have overcome that fear. I must admit that just recently I started to post a few of my photographs taken with my I-phone on my blog after a long period of similar irritation with its capabilities. In fact, my recent post, Cheer, was taken with my i-Phone because I didn’t have my camera with me…:)

    1. I think your reaction is valid, but I still believe that my vision and my long experience with photography makes a difference. Yes, some of the knowledge I have acquired and gave my an edge in the past no longer holds much value, but instead I look at it as a constant development and try to have as much fun with new developments as possible, even if it makes it possible for everybody to make great photos. Which of course in the end isn’t really true. I would just play around and don’t worry about the ease with which these apps makes it for even non-skilled photographers.

  14. I have a Blackberry so I haven’t gotten to use those kinds of apps, but the photos do always come out looking very nice whatever it is of! Pretty pics, but I do enjoy your social issues-oriented photos very much as well 🙂

  15. I like these Otto, the first and the last are my favorites, the grey, green bluish colors give them a certain mood along with the textures. It does create a crispy fun look. I have not used Instagram, my phone is not my best friend, we have issues. Anyway, I think this is a very creative way to add to your project in your back yard. The bench is great looking too, looks like it is 20 feet long. Thanks for sharing, I love that knowing so much about photography you are not adverse to using something like Instagram to make an artistic statement.

  16. I agree with you… when I also first got my phone with Instagram I went crazy with it and I thought it was fun… a couple of weeks later the the novelty wore off and I enjoy my SLR much more.
    Having said that, I still like to take pictures with my phone.
    Have fun and click away in whichever medium you please 🙂

    1. For me it’s just the different approaches with different cameras or styles or apps, that makes it worthwhile to experiment with various equipment. It doesn’t necessarily create any better pictures as such, I believe.

  17. I have been using Instagram for about 8 months now, mostly for the photo a day challenge, but also for the immediate social aspect of it. I love it, it’s convenient, easy to use, and you can take good photos with your iPhone and Instagram (and the many other photos apps out there too!), but I really do have a hankering to have more time to spend with my DSLR…that is going to be my photography challenge for next year!

    1. There is not doubt that the technical quality of pictures taken with a DSLR is much better than any taken with a gadget such as Instagram. But they all have their own qualities which is worthwhile to explore. Good luck playing with your DSLR!

  18. LOL The Norwegian became a German expressionist or a French impressionist with a tap of his finger! I remember your first garden photos. It is fun to use the new apps. I have hipstamatic. I agree with you. I have my basic knowledge in place ( composition etc, I’m a painter) with this app it is fun. and soon another project with a specific subject matter starts to evolve. Have fun playing and deleting 🙂

    1. A lot of experienced photographers are sceptical towards apps like Instagram or Hipstamatic or other gadgets, but I think the clue is what you point to here, that if you have your basic knowledge in place, those new toys aren’t a threat, but just another tool to play around with.

  19. How often, when you use Instagram, do you know which filter you are going to use? Part of the fun is seeing all the different versions available bit oh having to make that final decision . . . love the fun you are having in your garden Otto!

    1. I have absolutely no idea which filter I am going to use before after the fact, it’s trying out and playing with the different options after the picture has been captured.

  20. I love it! So vivid and the colors and perspective make them look almost like paintings or something. Is instagram better than camera+? I have the latter.

    1. I honestly don’t know what camera+ is. But is anything better? I think whatever works, works. We play with what we have – and make the best out of it – and have fun in the process.

  21. Love your photos….I’ve been having such fun with my iPhone over the past year using different apps. I’ve only used Instagram to follow other photographers; I’ll have to check out using it for photos myself.

  22. These are great photos! You’ve made art out of your back yard for SURE.

    I want to ask how you create that “look” (which I can’t even describe) – that, I don’t know: is that what ‘instagram’ means? Does ‘instagram’ create that more than 2D depth in the photos/that colour, tone? I reckon they’re great 🙂

    1. Instagram is an app that works with smartphones like iPhone. And yes, it’s Instagram that creates the special look. You take a picture and then you have a bunch of presets that turns the picture into this special Instagram look. It’s very simple and very basic, but with stunning results as you can see.

      1. Sorry, if suggesting Poppytalk to you is offending, but they often publish beautiful photos of the ‘decayed’ and your autumn photo celebrates that aspect in colour and theme. Didn’t mean any harm.

          1. It is a Canadian designers blog that uses pretty photos. It was prettier a year back (a bit too commercialized by now to my taste) Still it sometimes offers beautiful photos of all things decayed, vintage and handmade creative. Never mind Poppytalk. I like your photos! 🙂

  23. I like this set a lot, Otto. The filters in Instagram provide some really creative ways of filtering the colour palette and I like the treatment you have given these shots.

  24. Hmm, jag har svårt för detta med Instagram och andra så kallade appar i våra smartphones. Du har en ide, du funderar och du vill göra annorlunda bilder…javisst, men det kan du väl göra ändå!?
    Du är en duktig och kreativ fotograf, du behärskar dina kameror, du kan tekniken…varför inte använda dig av detta…du behöver väl inte dessa “nymodigheter”, eller hur?
    Kanske tycker du att jag är en tillbakasträvare, dessutom skriver jag på svenska…ja, jag provocerar, jag blir så otroligt trött på dagens alla måsten…måsten att vara up to date, att vara inne, att anpassa sig…
    Är det dagens mantra, dagens verklighet…proffs måste anpassa sig gentemot amatörer för att ha en chans?
    Den verkligheten vill jag inte leva, det tåget kliver jag av!
    PS. Jag uppskattar verkligen din blogg, dina bilder och målande berättelser, det sticker ut, det är proffsigt och samtidigt inlevelsefullt och känsligt skrivet.

    1. Veldig interessant kommentar, Gertie, og jeg forstå din innvending mot Instagram og andre apper. Selvsagt kan du gjennomføre dine ideer uten å bruke Instagram. Så, nei, jeg trenger ikke disse «nymodighetene», som du sier. Men mitt utgangspunkt er nok litt annerledes. For meg et det bare morsomt å prøve noe nytt – ikke for å anpasse meg i forhold til amatører eller siste mote, men fordi jeg ser Instagram som ett av mange verktøy jeg kan ta i bruk og ha gøy med. Det er ikke noe jeg må, men noe jeg har lyst til. Når sant skal sies, er jeg nok den siste som er villig til å anpasse meg det som ansees som riktig eller siste skrik, men hvis jeg ser det er noe å hente deg, er jeg villig til å prøve ut. Det går tilbake til mitt utgangspunkt om ikke å stivne i mitt bildespråk og måten jeg ser verden på. Men bakstrebersk? Det synes jeg på ingen måte du er, det er bare bra å provosere og reise en relevant diskusjon.

  25. I love playing around with Instagram and recently Avery…gives life a bit of energy boost when you least expect it! You got some cool photos of your backyard. 🙂

  26. I can see that I need to experiment with Instagram. You’ve inspired me. Thanks for visiting my blog and pressing the like button. That’s how I meet so many nice folks around the world. Looks like you have a great blog here, so I’ll follow you, and see where you lead me! 🙂

    1. Thank you for returning the visit, Marsha. It’s really the great thing about blogging, the way you get to meet people from all over the world.

  27. hello, sir… i love it that your backyard has a healthy profusion of trees, plants, fallen leaves and what nots. how you photograph them certainly makes the place more interesting. and you shoot them wonderfully well – whatever camera you happen to use. really… 🙂

    Merry Christmas, sir Otto! btw, i saw a film before from your country re: Santa’s birthplace and origin of Christmas – lovely. Warm regards… 😉

  28. I guess I just don’t get it with the instagrams. They are just photos to me, maybe with some enhancements. Sorry I have no device that does these. I can enhance my photos in a photo editing program. Also how can one know the real results until they see the picture ilarger on a computer. I don’t know that I would want to do any changes or enhancements through a camera on such a small screen. I do like your park bench here and the angle you took it from. I do believe in working out of your comfort zone and also look at things from different angle. I can capture scenes and nature, but I can’t seem to capture people. Maybe when I get a new camera with a good zoom then I can capture them without my being in their face. LOL Anyway wishing you a very merry Christmas.

    1. I think the deal with Instagram and the likes is how easy it is to play around with the photos and the visual expression (as well as the connectivity with other people using Instagram). Yes, you can enhance photos in Photoshop for instance, but not with the click of one button. It’s just fun, nothing more, not necessarily to be taken too serious – although it can, too. If Instagram doesn’t feel like a cool app, then there is absolutely no reason to use it. I think it’s great when all over us approach photography from our various standpoints.

  29. I wish I had access to instagram… Sadly blackberry isn’t offering it yet. That said, I like the shots of your backyard It has a nostalgic feel to it… 🙂

      1. By then I might have other interests … but sure. 😆
        BTW, I just want to say thanks for your insights and generous spirit… I’ve learned great things about photography from you. Thanks! 🙂

  30. I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures, Otto! 🙂 I’ve heard of Instagram, and seen the neat pictures it can make, but have never tried it. I was so excited to see what your pictures, a professional photographer, would turn out like. They are amazing. So warm and welcoming. And I appreciate your candor in the post, when you discuss how it’s hard to admit that a little app can have such cool results. But do not underestimate your native talent. It does make a difference, and your pictures are all the more compelling because of it.

  31. How did you feel about Instagram’s decision to use our photos in ads? It sounds like they’ve backed off of that decision, but if they continue with it, I’m going to delete my account.

    1. Yes, I will deleted my account, too, if the new terms stands the ground. It’s not acceptable to be forced to deliver photographs for Facebook/Instagram to use and sub-licensing without consent from the photographers.

  32. I particularly like the first photograph in this series. The last one, of almost suburban detritus, is also intriguing, like a suburban forest floor. Thanks for visiting my blog and liking the lion tree photograph (Central Park, NYC). All the best!

  33. I didn’t previously note this post, and I’m glad I saw it! I love the effect of the Instagram photos. I have the app and haven’t done anything with it yet, mostly because I was a little unsure of what I would do with it! Now I have a newfound inspiration. I’m very curious. It says a lot of wonderful things about you, Otto, that your professional eye and sensibility was open to using a fun iPhone app! I learn so much from you!

  34. Beautiful photography all around, but this series is definitely my favorite so far. As a writer I believe wholeheartedly in “write what you know,” and I think there is merit in that sentiment for photographers as well. We have a tendency to want to take pictures of the exotic and extraordinary, but we often forget how remarkable the ordinary can be right around us. Thanks for the reminder.

  35. These are very cool, Otto. I’m really enjoying what you’re doing with this project. It’s fun to see someone else photographing their backyard, too. 🙂

  36. I enjoy your Instagram photos. Processing is not going to go away, but neither is good “traditional” photography. A processing app won’t automatically make a great photo, but it can certainly give some interesting effects. It should be used appropriately–otherwise, it will become boring and typical. There will always be a place for skill, knowledge, and discernment in photography, though. With that as a starting point, both traditional photos or those with “further” processing can be impressive and more enjoyable. Keep up the good work and have a great New Year.

  37. Your artist’s eye is very evident in these lovely Instagram photos. It is great to play lightheartedly in one’s medium as it can really jumpstart creativity and be refreshing as the pressure is less. The thing I think is great about cameraphones and Instagram is that it has interested many people in taking photos who might not otherwise do so. I wonder how many are then inspired to look deeper into the medium via a SLR or more advanced camera because of this play. It could be the start of a new artist’s journey just as a simple cheap box of watercolors starts many a child down the road to painting masterpieces.

    1. I agree with you and believe, too, that quite a few people are drawn into photography by proxy of cameraphones and apps like Instagram og Hipstamatic.

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