I first started using Instagram back in November 2010. I had heard about it, and just thought it was like any other picture storing app, so it didn’t really interest me. I only paid attention because a friend from NY (@anthonyquintano) used it all the time, So I thought I’d try it just to see what it was all about, I posted a few things and didn’t really think much of it. I did like the fact that you can post and instantly share to all your other social tools, like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, flickr and even Posterous (a services I still don’t quite understand).

My First Instagram Photo

I would use the app mostly while I go on business or vacation trips, it seemed to me like if I was going to share a picture it would be of unusual surroundings, not regular everyday type of things. Most people I knew were not instagram users, so I figured it couldn’t be personal things either. For almost a full year I wasn’t very active, ’till I posted a picture of a cloudy sky that look really cool to me, and then I started getting followers and likes. After that I started to get hooked.

Little by little a lot of my friends and people I know started signing on, and started using it, and the more I used it and browsed thru pictures, the more I found instagram to be a very social community. I found the #jj forum, which was started by Josh Johnson, he definitely found a way to keep the conversations going. I also found other users like @02q and @colerise who have highly stylized and consistent feeds with great photos in them, and at that point I was not only addicted, I was inspired.

As time progressed I was determined to take certain elements which I liked from some of the people I followed and integrate them into my feed. So I started working on different filters and trying out different apps. I did a post one time, and asked others to share which was their favorite photo editing apps to use on the iPhone and found some very useful tools from that.

I just recently also discovered that there are organized instagram groups, who post on a schedule about certain themes and user specific hashtags. I also found out about a couple of different tools that people are using to optimize their instagram experience. One which was really interesting to me, a programmer created what appears to be a simple script, but in fact is quite complex, it basically helps you remove your “ghost” followers from your account.

I have been constantly getting certain questions about instagram, that I had been wanting to create this post and explain a couple of things, but I just hadn’t gotten the chance to do so before. Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of different tools that are out there, that might make your instagram experience a little bit better. This isn’t for everyone, but I’m starting to find that just like me there are many others out there with a bit of an addiction to this simple little app.

Here’s some of the Apps that I seem to keep coming back to. They just work.

The iPhone Camera App is actually really great. It’s really fast and takes fast clean pictures. I find that it’s probably one of the best photo capturing apps when you’re on the go and really don’t have time to set up a special shot or anything like that. So just for normal picture taking, it works great. It’s always best to start off with a clean, high-quality image first, then you can do all your editing after.

Camera+ was one of the first Photo capturing apps I really liked. You can take pictures faster than you can with the iPhone Camera App, under normal circumstances, and they have great quick and easy to use filters, right from the start, before your picture even makes it to your iPhone’s Album, it’s already edited and ready to be used. I find however that if you’re like me, and take a lot of pictures without exporting them out, the app will slow down significantly, and can take a really long time to open.

Pro HDR works really well also. I know the iPhone Camera App has an HDR feature, and it’s really fast too, but I found that Pro HDR actually scans the scene and shoots two separate photos at the two extreme exposures and merges them together. If you’ve got the time, and a proper way to stabilize your iPhone, it’s definitely worth it. You can achieve some really nice looking images when using this app. Keep in mind that it’s very slow, it’s definitely not a point and shoot app, but the results are great.

One of my favorite Editing apps to use for instagram photos has definitely gotta be Snapseed. When I did my post and asked people to share which was their favorite editing app, this was the clear winner. I had not heard of this app before that, so I just had to try it. Once I tried it, I never looked back. It does have a steeper learning curve than other editing apps, things aren’t as obvious as others, but once we’ve gotten the hang of it, you can really do amazing things with it. I quickly found on instagram, that a lot of people are attracted to high-contrast, heavily stylized, and very bright shots. Doesn’t necessary mean that it’s a good thing, but it seems like it’s what most people respond to. It’s like eye candy, not necessary good for you, but it sure looks good, and everyone seems to like it.

People often ask me how I post my name of the photos. I found a not so simple way to do it, only because I wanted it to look a certain way, and I really couldn’t find any other app out there that does it quite right. The closest thing to it, can be done with an app called Labelbox which is pretty good and you can do some nice text effects on your pictures. Anyway, the way I do it; I created a photoshop layer of the graphic, exported a see-thru png file, sent it to my iPhone’s album and then used an app called Superimpose to add it to images. It’s an extra step not many care to take, but believe it or not, this might be the second most asked question I get.

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